Since reading on Hugh Howey’s site about the “5 down and 1 in the hole” technique, I’ve been thinking of Mermaid Boneyard. As you know, I was on an extended writing hiatus.
I do that.
But I’m fired up again. To take a novel and look at it as five parts — say Five Acts — freshens the writing process for me. Suddenly my story is exciting again. What I really like is that the technique rearranges the pigeon holes in my head. The story has been thrown up into the air, caught by the wind, and sorted into entirely new piles.
For instance: You remember that my hero, Walter Braithwaite, was loosely based on a real person. (Very loosely; a gossamer thread connection.) If Walter as a child goes under the water on a fantasy adventure, does grown-up Walter serving as Chief of Staff at Gallipoli behave differently than history says? This tenuous premise was only to be known to me (and those who read it here) but it would not be in the novel.
With a Five Act structure, I feel strongly that the first part should reference the real Braithwaite. Why be coy? Be proud of your premise, honey! What seemed unimportant in a novel now seems critical in order to fulfill this new technique.
And so, just as I feel that Chapter One is in the can, along comes a new plan that requires a new Chapter One. A whole prologue-like section. A novella.
Research on Gallipoli (ugh) appears to be my next move.
If ever I imagined Mermaid as a YA novel, that is clearly no longer the case.