Help ROW’ers please – painted into corner


This old lady is in desperate need of some inspirational help. I am painted into a corner and cannot quite figure out how to jump to safety:( My fault , definitely my fault, made the cardinal mistake of taking my eye off the ball. I will shamelessly use being so ill last year as an excuse for not keeping the characters in check but really –  am I master or slave in this writing business?

Now I don’t think any of have read my Sefuty chronicles so will give quick resume so that you’ll appreciate my problem

Ellen’s Tale ,set in 2161, is historical research on Ellen who lived and loved 50 years previously. The book is made up of archival material. Her love affair with Bix (Feral) is recognised as being the turning point in saving the country’s population from extinction.

The Storyteller’s Tale is about a new companion to Ellen, Bix their friend Jack and Ellen’s three children – Ria – condemned to death by the village she lives in – rescued by Jack. He attempts to salvage what he can of her trashed life. She to is recognised by the archivists as being instrumental in the country’s revival. There is a new archivist recording this part of the Chronicles as the first has gone missing on a field trip.

Jack’s Tale again being collated by the new archivist (friend of the missing one) narrates from letters and diaries the escalating dire events which leaves Jack missing. At the end of that book KENNETT son of Ellen and Bix and LORNA adopted daughter of Ria and Jack meet the archivist (herself out on a field trip) the children, who are now in their 50s and a little put out  their lives are being examined and maybe not properly understood, make a deal with archivist – knowledge of former archivists disappearance in exchange for permission to examine the old archival materials themselves.

Okay you get the picture? It is a Future History (my genre found at last:) not just because it is set in future but because the chronicles are historical, based on archival material.

The reason for the population peril is ‘The Great Climate Wars’ of 2060-2070; fifty years before Ellen’s Tale begins. Throughout the three novels their have been hints and references to these wars, there have also been a couple of puzzles set up. I have also received queries from readers as to how/why/what of certain incidents. So

The Ancestor’s Tale is being written to explain a little – not in total that never happens in the archives. Kennett and Lorna are in the archives examining old documents and beginning to understand more about the parents. So far so good. Just for a slight change I was going to have a tiny (repeat tiny) thread running through of non archival material in Kennett and Lorna’s thoughts of the intervening years to tie their lives into those of their ancestor’s.

While I was ill last year and lying on my bed for hours Kennett and Lorna began to weave wonderful life stories to me:( they took over:( they demanded their fair share. So I began to trim the ancestors to allow the two to breath. Mistake. Give a character an inch they take a thousand miles!

This last week as I have had visitors and my back has stopped any lengthy sit at keyboard I began to look at what I have written/dictated/edited over 18 months and have discovered a major problem.

I have written 2 books. Ancestor’s will be coming in at nearly 200,000 words if I continue- there are already 140,000 without the bits still demanding to be written. I cannot work out what to do:( :(

I don’t want a book that length, it will not fit with the others.

The Ancestor’s, I don’t think will stand entirely on their own without reference to the original characters.

Kennett and Lorna’s life, un-archived, would be a total departure from the format of the previous books.

The only way I can think of getting the children’s lives archived is to have the field trip archivist interview them but that would take away my shock ending as she would have to appear at the beginning, not the end, of the book.(finding shock endings is not that easy!:)

If I leave Ancestor’s for another time I would need to find some other link back to the character’s, also not easy.

I could abandon Ancestor’s – hard as I have been involved in it for so long and it does need to be somewhere in the Chronicles to explain the history- I was going to write a collection of short stories at the end of the Chronicles, after the 5th book, next year, stories about some of the minor characters who have influenced events – so I suppose I could completely re-write Ancestor’s, prune a lot, and write them as part of the short story collection. ( I had my format ready for those so would have to change my thinking there quite radically. Then I would be left to find a reason for Kennett and Lorna’s story – they were in the last book so they have to be in this one.

I have been concentrating on the Ancestor’s, that part is ready for the oft to friend from forever/editor (who probably won’t be able to as her partner is very ill)

If I am going to rewrite Kennett and Lorna’s story I will need to do it during JUNO – which has started and not do Blue Moon as planned – so I need to decide quite rapidly!

My brain has gone dead – frozen like a rabbit in the headlights. Has anyone out there have any ideas of what I do with my corner painting – please – all suggestions welcomed.

As to ROW80

Only done some editing this last week. I have had sad visitors and a bad back – did thrash our some new names for characters and new villages and names of commands – friend from forever /editor is so very good at names – words and their origins and roots being one of her passions. She also helped with some Family History stuff for memoirs etc – her other great passion – research. So the coleection I am putting together of life story, memoir and family history (I want to pub in matching binders) took a few more steps foward while she was here. Takes the mind off other stuff.

No time for reading, blogs and barely time for Triberr and sponser duties on ROW80 but did mange those at least

Last but certainly not least thank you Eden Mabee, Beth Camp and Ann Stanley for concern shown at my silence – has given my confidence a huge boost I always kind of imagine I’m invisable (I don’t mind you understand – I have always thought this) to find I can be missed so quickly made me feel def. wanted – so, many thanks and isn’t ROW80 great – truly supportive network

Hope everyone has a good week and all the best for coming one:)


17 thoughts on “Help ROW’ers please – painted into corner

  1. I would split it into two books, unless there’s some reason that won’t work. Might take some work around the middle, but if you take a look you might also find a natural break. Good luck sorting it out!

    • alberta says:

      Ye -s coming to that conclusion – not two books as in a follow up but probably split the story up with parts of it somewhere else. Am busy mind mapping all the different ideas and re-reading what I have – miles behind on JUNO now but I may catch up if I put head down next week and let fingers fly:)

  2. I would split it into two books, unless there’s some reason that really won’t work. Good luck sorting it out! You’ll get there. :)

  3. tmycann says:

    Or you could approach it as a future find of a lost journal–more of an adjunct book along the lines of what JK Rowling did with some of the textbooks the kids read in the Harry Potter series…?

    • alberta says:

      Don’t know those books never having read further than the first book:( but the short stories was going to be an extra – explaining odd things and having minor characters in – I think some of the ancestors will have to go in that book right at the end :) a lot of advice and many hours in the garden and I begin to see a way of getting across the paint without leaving footprints – so thanks to everyone for helping me clarify and sort my mistake:)

  4. Lee McAulay says:

    You have my sympathies.
    I got myself into a similar mess last year by writing the book that spoke to me… without a structure. Like I used to write, years ago, with my first few novels, just a start and an ending and a couple of scenes in between as ideas, and I’d write my way between them like I was exploring a new country.
    Only I got lost.
    My story’s purely historical, and I used place names and people that turn out to be inaccurate. I’ll need a lot of spare time to make it work properly. Time I’d rather be writing new stuff, works that I’ve already storyboarded, things I can write by throwing words at the story instead of wrangling with factual errors.
    Sounds like you’re in a similar position. I now think of this stage as the point where I need to check the map, to get my bearings again, and sometimes that involves DRAWING a map. A real, proper visual map.
    Might that be useful in this case? Or an Ishikawa (fishbone) diagram? Often when we’re stuck, looking at the problem in a different format can show where the poo-traps are.
    Good luck!

    • alberta says:

      Am intrigued with the fishbone – never heard of that – am off to investigate mainly ‘cos I’m a fiend for new:) I thought I might get out the old mind map I drew months ago of the structure and see what I can figure from that – beginning, I hope, to see a way through but not sure. Had a day in garden pondering aspects of solutions and the like. So if nothing else the garden is smarter for my painting:)

      At least all my historical facts are of my own invention so as long as I keep them accurate to what has been said I cant be had up on them:) thanks for advice – now where is the Ishikawa diagram – lets see. . .

  5. Eden says:

    I think that rewriting Ancestor’s Tale probably is your best option, but it seems a lot of extra work for not much benefit.

    Could there be a way to add in, about half-way through the present manuscript, another climax… enough of one that you could split Ancestor’s Tale into two books? Not so much a flow such as the Lord of the Rings (which is technically all one book in three parts) but slightly more of a series setup…

    Just because you can envisioned a certain number of books in the series already, doesn’t mean you can’t add one more. And it would be a lot less writing for you.

    I hope you find an option that works for you. Much love, Alberta.

    • alberta says:

      I think that’s what I’m after a way to do this without having to re-write too much. Read this just as I fell into bed last night so have allowed the thought of new climax to seep in – hopefully brain will begin to flip through the book and find something of the sort – thanks for suggestions and surport – I suppose even if they have to split into two – the plus side is there are two books almost finished – that has to be a bonus – yes?

  6. violafury says:

    I have absolutely no ideas for you, sweet lady, with the exception of your last suggestion. Just glad to know you’re okay and with us. I myself have written barely at all, but that’s okay.

    • alberta says:

      Thanks -yes I’m still here and okayish:) writing it all down is helping me see foggily:) is all my own fault- in many years of looking after children my golden rule was keep a grip on the boundaries and here I am having allowed these two – who aren’t even real for goodness sake – to take over – must be mad!

  7. Becky says:

    That’s a tough one, Alberta. If I were you I would think about which option intuitively felt more exciting, because it might be both the easiest and the best path. It seems like you need to tell kennet and Lorna’s stories, though, and the easiest way seems to do that within the ancestors tale… Are you sure it’s too long? Or could you trim down all the fat and see what you have left? It a very tough situation, I empathize. My first novel attempt, at first I did not have enough story, so I added and added until suddenly I had too much, and like you I cannot figure out how to untangle them. In this case, if you are committed to writing them as future histories then it seems like within ancestors take – or by coming up with their own reasons to be archived – is the way to go. Maybe this format is too confining in some ways? Or are there other ways to keep within the genre, like have Lorna or a descendant write a personal memoir? Just ideas! Very tough problem, good luck!!

    • alberta says:

      Trim the fat? Yes as I edit I throw great lumps of it to be rendered down:) I am over half way editing now and the word count will be too high for the series – the mistake was in allowing the children to tell a story instead of just reading them – I never meant the first book to be a series so choosing that format wasn’t a problem but it does get more restrictive for me as I continue the books one of the reasons for bringin the Chronicles to an end next time – but . . .

      personal memoir might work – all the archival material so far have included letters, diaries, recordings etc – toyed with idea but cannot think how it would slot into the ancestor’s accounts – I could change the slant of the ancestor’s a little and see if there are parallels that can connect.

      Thanks for taking trouble to try and help:)

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