Novels That Spaghetti


Writing or revising a novel, you’ve got to be flexible.

Novels that Spaghetti

They refuse to be set in stone until the absolute last second. I’m about halfway through a draft of a new novel and realized that I’ve got to slow down and redo my outline or at least re-evaluate where I am on the story.

Jon Franklin calls this “spaghetting,” when a story gets so tangled — plots, subplots, character interactions — that it has to be sorted out. Small things can get it out of whack. A comment, a move to a new scene, an emotional reaction. Something that you’ve recently added just didn’t work, but you haven’t figured it out, yet.

For example, if a chase scene moves to a new city and in that city, nothing works, then don’t send the chase scene there. Back up until you get back to a place where everything is working and then re-outline, re-think, re-write.

I’m not way off on my story, but this is more of a character story than I’ve written before, so I’m trying to make sure that the character interactions are right. I’d left out small scenes, small conversations — really, less than ten lines or so — that needed to be there for the emotional tone to be right. Since I’ve added those, the story feels more on track and the slight adjustments in the outline give me more confidence. This will work. At least, for a while. Until it spaghettis again.

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