Okay, so imagine this line, where the left bracket indicates the beginning of a story:

[___________

Now imagine this line like this:

[__________ _    — —]

The dash and the underscores indicate the problem I had with this story: I knew where it was going to end; where it HAD to end.  And I knew most of the beginning and middle and about half the end.  And they didn’t match up quite right.  Kind of like two railroad track layers who realize the are off center as they approach one another.  And you can’t just make some huge leap of faith from one track to another.  Readers won’t like that; it gives them headaches.  For instance:

“Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess.  She was so beautiful that her stepmother was jealous.  Under the advice of a magic mirror, she decided to ditch her stepdaughter into the woods to be eaten by wolves.  But instead of being eaten by wolves, the stepdaughter met seven dwarfs and lived with them. Then one day, a prince came by and saw her in the glass coffin because she was killed by a poisonous apple that her stepmother gave her when she dressed like a witch.  Her kissed her, she came to, and they lived happily ever after. The end.”

Yeah, you’d be pretty confused.  “Wait, what happened with the coffin and the apple?  Dressed like a witch? Huh?”  Stories have to have a certain flow, and even though Kurt Vonnegut violated it most of the time, at least he alerted you of it right off the bat.  But in that example above, the story kind of backed up in an unwanted way like a sewer pipe.  And so did my “Between the Lines” story.  Or it would have, had I attempted to just write past it.  I really had to think about how to make the end justify the beginning without going, “Oh yeah, she died because her stepmom dressed as a witch and poisoned her.”  What?  I always hated an author who pulled deus ex machina on me, which is why I stopped reading Arthur C. Clarke.  “Oh yeah, the monolith has these God-like powers.  Turned Dave Bowman into a giant bubble baby.  The end.”

So, on a scale of 1 to 100, I had 1-70 fleshed out, with small gaps from 70-80, then a gap to about 90, and then 95-100 was the end.  90-100 was already bridged, but 80-90 was a huge gap where the two story lines had no middle ground without a serious, mind-jarring bend.  And there it sat for two years.

Today, while my workplace duty was just sitting around waiting for crap to be installed and nothing was going on, I managed to restructure the story so now I have 1-85, and 90-100 where 85 and 90 point to a middle that just has to be filled in.  And it works.  This means that my alpha draft is finished.  The beta draft will be a complete combing of the story, filling in smoother dialog and references, and then a second beta will smooth it down for real editing.

Even better?  “We Three Gatekeepers” (the second in the series) is in final beta, awaiting editing.  So if book 1 sells, book 2 is raring to go.

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