Writing Linear vs. Chunked

I’ve mentioned a few times previously that I am struggling a bit with Part II of the My Name Is Not Heather Stokes trilogy. This is mainly due to the structure I am intending for the novel: the narrative follows three or four different characters, and contains a lot of flash-backs – similar to the first book. However, where the flashbacks grew organically in the first book (certain scenes lead naturally to a revealing flashback), the flashbacks are not as integral to the current events. They are there for the reader’s interest and education. Of course, I could change this. Perhaps that will make it easier to write.

At the moment, I am writing the novel piecemeal. I have the first several pages and the ending down. These were very easy to write, because they are inextricably linked to events in the first novel, occurring just after or during events described, but from a different perspective. I also have two of the flashbacks written. I’m very proud of what I’ve written so far, and I expect everything will fall into place as smoothly as they did in the other texts I have written in relation to Heather Stokes.

Let me tell you about Part II – Two Guns. It’s called “Two Guns” first and foremost because the investigators are both named after guns: the older, socially-adjusted Richard Steyer (there are hints that this is not his original name), and the younger, more taciturn Remington (his name, we discover at the very, very end, is, in fact, Remington Remington. He is very bitter about this). The story is told from the perspectives of Steyer, Rhodes, Kondorf, and Byron. The flashbacks are mainly moments from previous Phoenix murders, which occur in Phoenix (of course), then Detroit, and San Francisco. I chose these cities for a specific reason (although Chicago would be more fitting for that reason, I changed it to Detroit due to the house fire pandemic).

The narrative begins with Kondorf and Byron finding Heather’s car shortly after her abduction, and ends in the same place Colossus ends (plus a few minutes). You learn a lot about Rhodes’s values (yes, there are a few), the dynamics of the hostages’ families, a bit about Tech and Steyer’s past, and Kondorf and Byron’s strained relationships with Heather. (The first time Byron ever laid eyes on Heather, she was sitting at the top of the flag pole in front of the school.)

Part III (would it be too derivative to entitle it The Downward Spiral?) is almost exclusively current events, what occurs after the end of Part I and II. It spans about a week. I might have enough material for the length of a novel, but I’m also debating on including all this back-story I’m writing for Rhodes, to give the reader a different perspective of him. I will cross that bridge after Part II.

I think the main issue I am having with writing Two Guns is the belief in the back of my mind that it needs to be written in a linear fashion, similar to Colossus. What is interesting about Colossus is that it started as a short story, so I had the misshapen bones to hang the flesh of the story on. I re-wrote it, bulked it up, and now I’m still coming up with scenes that need to be included.

I don’t think Two Guns can be written in a linear fashion like that. It needs to be chunked, then re-written. I have already figured out what is vital to the plot (what needs to be included based on its relationship to Colossus and Part III); I just need to work out how they will fall together, in what order.

But that can come later. It is time to write.

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