Distance and Perspective

When I first started writing this novel, which seems extremely long ago now, the metaphors that struck me most forcefully were architectural. Constructing a plot seemed to me like building a house: I needed to dig a foundation, build a frame to hang my ideas on. Then there were awkward pipes and wires sticking out everywhere and unfinished stairs the unwary might fall down, holes in the plot big enough for rodents to enter through and take up residence inside.

The house is not complete yet, but when I think back to that time in comparison it seems very done. The big holes have been filled in; it’s been insulated with a soft filling of fine words. The tubes that carry in power and water and information have been concealed behind walls, and the walls themselves painted soothing, harmonious colors. Someone has even hung art on those walls!

And that, I find, is currently my operating metaphor. I’m adding a touch here and there, stepping back to gauge the overall effect, marveling at how the addition or subtraction of a single word or phrase can ripple through the entire composition. Line and color.

I think 2/3 of the book is how it needs to be. It’s the last third that is the killer, though, and always has been. Act III is where the plot either thickens or curdles and falls apart, to use a different metaphor. Where the things that people have been becoming and realizing must ripen into action and choice.