How to RECON Your Novel to the End

Alright, Alright, Alright!

I learned a new writing tip today! Happy dance!

A few days ago I wrote how determined I was to finish my novel this summer. Good, bad or ugly, I’m gonna finish this baby and put it to bed. One way or the other I plan to type those two words of the promised land, “THE END.”

Why has it been so hard to get across that finish line?

Because over the past few months, I’ve felt like a writer lost in a maze. Always backtracking to start over. Now, after reading about RETCON, I’m gonna grab a pair of shears (electric) and cut through those damn hedges. 

Hmm, maybe a chainsaw. Whatever, then I’ll insert a lovely statue later to fix the holes.

Boy oh boy, I can’t wait until I return from holiday to take my work in progress to RETCON depth!

Writers Keep Calm and RETCON Jean's Writing

Let me explain.

Thanks go to Janice Hardy who published an article by Laurence MacNaughton on using a Retcon to power through a story. Now if you’re scratching your head thinking what the hell is a Retcon, you’re not alone. I did the same thing.

Retcon is short for “retroactive continuity.” 

I’ve kept a spreadsheet in excel to track who does what and when. But let’s be honest, that doesn’t always work. Sometimes I get in the zone, writing like a reporter on a deadline and up pops an absolute contradiction to a previous event or timeline.

What to do, what to do? Do I stop, or go read through all of the hundreds-thousands of words until I located the passage in question and then decide which direction I want the story to go? Next thing I know I’m stuck in a quagmire of rewrite-swamp.

Here is what I learned from Mr. MacNaughton. 

  • I can avoid that swamp and keep moving with a plan in mind.
  • I can manipulate things anyway I see fit.
  • If my childless, unmarried, protagonist suddenly appears with two kids in tow, I can type RETCON and go with her. See where she takes me. Fix it later.

If you’ve ever watched a soap-opera on TV, this happens all the time. A kid appears out of nowhere, the writer throws in some crazy explanation and the audience eats the storyline up. That’s not what I’m suggesting. But Mr. MacNaughton explains the idea a lot better. Click below and read all he says on RETCON. Then meet me at the water cooler.

Bitmoji image - Let's Discuss, Jean CogdellClick on the link below and read the entire article and tell me what you think.

Is this something you think might help you get to the end of your novel?

Do you have a problem with keeping everything straight in your plotline?

Plot Problem? Fix It Fast with a Retcon By Laurence MacNaughton, @LMacNaughton





You can join in the fun

Thanks to Janice Hardy for a great writing exercise on her website. Join in the fun and rise to her challenge. You should hop over to The Other Side of the Story and get writing because the Winner gets a 1000-word critique. Here is my entry. 

Spring Forward

She turned the last clock forward an hour. Whoever invented Daylight Savings Time had a mean streak. Can’t squeeze more than twenty-four hours out of a day no matter which way you turn the hands on a clock. It had to be a man who thought up an idiotic idea like that because no woman in her right mind would bother with such foolishness.

At the refrigerator, she stopped and made a note for James to change the batteries in the smoke detectors. She didn’t think they had the right size so he’d need to go the store for more. She added a question mark to the note.
Lord, just thinking about tomorrow made her tired. Church in the morning, assuming she didn’t over sleep, afterward lunch at the in-laws and James Jr’s T-ball game at four. Sunday hadn’t been a day of rest since the birth of their first kid. 
She slipped through the screen door and settled on the porch swing. The warm breeze and the song of the tree frogs washed away her stress. Fireflies winked in the grass keeping time with the symphony. In these stolen moments, when her world stopped spinning, she recharged her own batteries. With just eight weeks left of school, she soon wouldn’t have much time for quiet reflection.
The door creaked behind her, and she stood turning to follow James to bed. He was right morning would come all too soon.  An hour earlier to be exact.

Porch swing



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