For the last two months I’ve been struggling with my work in progress, Robot Dawn. For a while, I just thought that my story had become so complex that I no longer had the intellectual capacity to deal with it. Of course, complexity issues generally mean that the author just can’t see the structure for the remainder of the story. In other words, plotting is the problem. Plotting is the story structure that provides clarity and a path through the wilderness. It turns chaos into meaningful structure. While the initial plotting provides the guidance necessary to see my way through the maze, it has to be reworked from time to time to take into account all those inspired events that have provided excitement but also may have caused the story to drift off the original intended path. This inspiration isn’t a mistake, but it does frequently provide deeper insight into the story that could not be seen in the beginning, and this may require some reworking. Also, subplots can’t always be well defined or plotted at the beginning, and they can need some additional plotting and reevaluation concerning the sequencing relative to the main storyline.
It’s time for a new plotting session.
This problem seems to arise in all my long works. I get two-thirds of the way through the story, and the wheels come off. Desperation and much gnashing of teeth follow. I’m always afraid I’ve lost all my skill as a writer. But this disillusionment is part and parcel of the author’s craft. The author seems to jump at the chance to become discouraged. I discuss this disillusionment in detail in Story Alchemy, Chapter 9, pages 127-130.
Last night while in one of my hypnogogic states (see In Pursuit of Sleep), I realized that I need to suspend writing Robot Dawn and concentrate on plotting for a significant period of time. This means relooking at the prima materia and plot diagram for the central conflict and each subconflict for the entire work.
Could be a while before I get back to writing the actual words.