It’s quantum. That’s what it is. Everything is uncertainty: the drawing of pieces into their necessary positions without knowing quite what the necessary positions are.
Everything I’ve written in Oneiromancer is there because it hopefully leads the reader to a place that’s a logical consequence of the set-up. Now my characters are facing their final obstacle, their grand climax. Unfortunately it’s all become a little… quantum.
According to Heisenburg, you can never know where a subatomic particle is until you look for it. The act of observance collapses all the probability-waves and makes an option resolve itself. Behind is the story I’ve observed so far. Ahead is a great fog with just rough shapes and behaviours, the whole phase-space of ideas. I need to weave all these possibilities into Story.
But sub-atomic wrangling isn’t the easiest task. I need to tease all my characters into position at the right time. My real problem is that I’ve not the clearest idea of where I want people to go, or why there’s pressure for them all to be together at the same time. I thought I had it: I wouldn’t have been able to start writing without some idea of where I was going. But now I’m at the gates and it’s not resolving as it should. So I try pieces out: I write scenes that I think bring me closer, have the right ‘shape’.
But by writing these scenes, by setting them down, they are being observed. Once they’re in place they become solid – and so the next scene has to be set around that and so the chain reaction builds. It’s quantum. Of course it’s not permanent or immutable – the Large Hadron Collider that is the second draft will soon be brought in to smash errant words or paragraphs back into the primordial letter-soup.
(Maybe we’ll find new fundamental punctuation like this way. The atomic stop. The strange dark matter that forms the space. The semi-gluon.)
And even these ‘ghost scenes’ pull on the mind. It takes a lot more than the LHC to erase the memories of scenes deleted. That is, generally, a good thing: the author is left with a deeper understanding of what his characters are going through, even if that barely reaches the reader’s consciousness. Unless the scene is overwritten, in which case none of this ever happened and a new leg is inserted into the trousers of time.
It’s my own damn fault. Narrative causality + internal logic = pain in the arse.
I need to write this thing.
But I can’t because the pieces aren’t in the right places.
That’s what this first draft is. It’s making mistakes, it’s going up blind alleys, it’s rewriting the past with what you need to be true now and then going backwards in time to foreshadow all that made today possible.
It’s also time for A Map.
If ever in doubt about where you need people to be, if you’re not seeing what you need to see, a map is usually a help – to me, at least. Just a sketch of the physical environment that details the space the scene will operate within. Then – then I’ll be able give my action gravity and form and continuity.
And then, because I’m a wizard, I’ll send my characters back in time to make the past fit in with the present I desire.
Because that’s how you write. Base over apex, arse over tip, action and reaction swapped. Which is wonderful. But if there are no limits, if the ending shapes the beginning and not the other way round, how the hell do you limit your imagination? What tells you what’s ‘right’ and what’s ‘wrong’?
I’ll get back to you when I have an answer.