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ODTAA vs multi-Causality

One of the tricksiest parts of writing the kind of story I do is that, at some point, all the storylines need to collide thanks to Causality. I set up a gazillion characters with their own agendas and associated storylines and somehow, they all need to intersect believably for the denouement. Finding their common threads is part of the fun, but getting the various sides aware of those common threads when it’s not to the advantage of the other threads to let them know…that sometimes takes some fancy footwork.

The other extreme, ODTAA, or One Damn Thing After Another, is the most commercially successful kind of book. There might be one or two little bits of setup that makes it all come together at the end and make it look complex, but primarily, you can pick this book up and set it down any time you want…read it over time, and a simple reminder about the basic characters is all you need. If you look at even the monster books that make it big, they’ll generally have a fairly straightforward plot. TV shows used to be the ultimate ODTAA. In general, they still are, with just one or two recurring threads tying it together, one season to the next. There’s nothing better or worse about types, just different.

I’m on one of those “pulling strings” scenes now. In an ODTAH book, our hero would be in the bar and the bad guy would just conveniently spill his/her secrets, all in the name of keeping the plot moving. In mine, after four books of setup, Secrets are coming out and my kids have somehow found themselves in a similar situation, not a bar, but still…and making the necessary Revelations believable…ain’t easy. I’ve had the basics of the scene for some time, but now, knowing what comes before and after, it’s time to make it work. It’s coming together rather quickly, which isn’t that unusual…I’d have expected it to eventually, but what scares me is that it’s coming together in a brain riddled with virus, snot, saline and mucinex.

I think I should be afraid. Very afraid!

Problem is, it could be legitimate. I can’t not write it out. When the words are there, you’ve gotta use them. Sure, that’s what backups are for…if a clear head decides it’s garbage, go back to an earlier version and start over…but there’s also the possibility I’ll get this bar scene stuck in my head permanently and have to write around it for the next twenty years! ARGH!!!!

Just once, I’d like to write an ODTAA…..

8 comments to ODTAA vs multi-Causality

  • Apparently, it’s a real help to me to have claimed a deadline to start a story series…when I haven’t done a serial before.

    At least the world-building and ideas are going well, though the writing of episodes is stil not, and the deadline is likely to have to be pushed back anyway.

    But as a motivator, it has helped, and I like how it’s developing so far. — What’s odd (for me) is that I began with no characters, just an idea or two, and had to invent them on the fly. That’s why Augie, Zeke, and company have kept changing.

    My fiction writing for what’s probably longer fiction has tended to have a high angst quotient. I’m not sure why, but it’s there.

    As a reader. I’d say CJC keeps ODTAA coming at full tilt in some books, not as fast in others, but does so in order to distract the readers (and her characters) while she pulls it all together with Causality, generally.

    In what I’ve read so far from your NetWalkers series, you have plot line threads developing on their own, sometimes in parallel, and they come together as you go. I like both approaches. (Heck, I can like the ODTAA approach too, a lot.) But I like it when you start seeing things intersecting, causing other complications, and finally resolving, or leaving threads dangling for another book.

    From what I’ve seen, your style is similar in a few ways to CJC, but it’s very different in others, a good thing, to be both unique.


    Jane, have you ever tried Chines or Japanese brush painting, with bamboo brushes and sumi ink and watercolors? I just saw a few of the supplies, while ordering from Hobby Lobby. I’m curious about it, both from the (beautiful) and different technique and how the materials and tools would work, both for painting and for calligraphy, maybe. (It might help me master using brushes and painting, on which I need lots of practice.) I didn’t see any books (such as Foster’s or others) on how to do the techniques, so I’d need to order that elsewhere. I’m not likely to order until January, if I can afford it then after paying part of my taxes. But I’ve enjoyed refamiliarizing myself with watercolors and pastels, and look forward to more. So this sounds very good too.

    I did errands today, got home, and ordered a couple of other things. The remainder will wait until next week or later.

    The set of small tubes of acrylics arroved yesterday, so tomorrow, I should get to practice some and try to tone down the reddish cast to Zeke-not-Zeke’s faceup, to get it more toward a golden brown. Looking forward to this, even if I slip up and have to remove the facesup that’s there. It’s still a learning experience. It’s really neat to see I’m making progress learning and improving my techniques.

    The set of large tubes can show up any time now. Won’t mind at all. In fact, I’ll be very glad when they do.

    I have been studying and practicing with SVG the past few days, and have made progress finally. I’m stuck on something currently, but I’ll figure it out. When I get unstuck again, I should have something to show you.

    Best Wishes,
    Ben W.

    • You’ve nailed CJC. She’s one of the most versatile writers I’ve ever seen/read.

      One of the things I’ve discovered…the early part of both the ‘NetWalkers and Ring books went fairly fast with world building and character building happening with each scene as an infinity of possibilities began to narrow as decisions were made. Now that I’m several books into both series, there are so many elements set in stone (or print, as ’twere) that MUST be (a) accounted for and (b) explained as we come into the end that the whole process is just harder.

      Add to that the hiatus from both while waiting for DAW to decide which I would be working on next…that keeping both series booted and ready to go for edits was creative murder, in retrospect…and the subsequent pull back on the verbal offer after several years so going to the completely different marketing mindset…and getting the writing moving again is, at times, a bit overwhelming. I should just start a new series, but this story deserves an ending and I ain’t gettin’ any younger…physically, anyway. 😀

      Chinese and Japanese inkwork is possibly the most Zen of all Zen artforms. It’s a lifetime of study and practice. I choose to admire it from afar. Our garage mural was based on the Japanese watercolors, but only visually.

  • ready4more

    Jane, I love your “wrestling” with causality and timing. The complexity of your stories means that I always find something new when I reread your densely layered books. It means that although for most authors, once I’ve read their books I can remove them from my Kindle or just keep a master copy archived, I keep your books on my Kindle at all times, and go back an reread with genuine pleasure anytime. Even CJC does not give me the same depth of involvement and need to reread. I’ll be rereading your books for decades to come (but I’ll still crave more!)
    P.S. Please write more about Alexander and Bucephalus ala Blood Red Moon (maybe as a novella), after you get Homecoming Games wrapped up, as I’d love to provide support for Closed Circle authors. Now back to work!

    • Thank you soooo much. <3 That's what I always hope to hear.

      I DEFINITELY want to write more shorts about the Alexander era. I just need to get this pesky book done. It's developed some pretty cool twists on its way toward a resolution...

  • Walt

    Jane, you don’t have to write ODTAA. You live it. 😉

  • I’m not sure. I think if round tuits stick around too long, they become less mobile square tuits….

    On the other hand, perhaps square tuits are stylish, I don’t know. Seem to have too many, round or square tuts….

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