The Passed Note Issue 4 June 2017 - Page 10

As for the plotting of the book, let me try to answer without giving away any spoilers. The book is about memory and fate and choice, and there is a nested mystery-within-a-history that drives the plot. Key characters have different, and often intentionally wrong, memories of the central story that makes up the background to the novel. The novel is about peeling away the layers of truth and untruth. Getting that right-making sure that it both cohered and furthered the emotional storyline taking place in the novel’s pres-ent - took an enormous amount of planning. I knew where I wanted to go, and that helped a lot. Things changed along the way, even some big things, but the story ties up the way I knew it would from the beginning. I could always ask myself as I plotted the details, how does this move things towards the finale?

I spent the entire first year of writing the book just outlining the plot. Before I committed a sentence of narrative to paper, I had the entire thing blocked out. I remember making outlines of the book’s structure with three-columned tables that described 1) what the actual true history was, 2) what each individual character believed at different points in the unfolding narrative, and 3) how the information or misinformation affects what Stephanie, the protagonist, knows or thinks she knows, as the story unfolds. Without the outline in that much detail, I don’t know that I could have kept all the threads from just getting impossibly, permanently tangled.