Thursday, April 29, 2010

*hack hack hack* - There Goes Your Novel

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* t...y...p...e... t...y...p...*


(The above is an actual demonstration of real life events.)

So, what does all of that mean?

Well... There is almost nothing quite as heartbreaking as a writer as when you're on page, say, seventy, of your first draft and you realize that you can't go any further in the story because you've backed yourself completely in a corner--or gone in a completely different direction than the story was supposed to go--and then find yourself slowly, with tears in your eyes, deleting the last thirty-forty pages of what you spent the last few days writing.

Not that you want to, of course... You'll fight it. You'll try to convince yourself that it DOES work. That you just need to approach the story from a new angle. That those scenes you're so in love with ARE necessary for the plot and the characters. That it all HAD to happen that way. But eventually, and I hate to be the one to break this to you, you'll realize it's just not true. It's time to kiss those scenes goodbye and realize they will, sadly, never see the light of day.

So why do this, you might ask? Why not just let the story flow naturally? Why not use an outline so this doesn't happen to you? Why force yourself into something?

There are many reasons.
  • You did use an outline, and you hit all your key points, but now your next book won't work. (Yay for series!)
  • You evolved your characters so much that they're unrecognizable and wouldn't get to the next set of "key points" they need to get to.
  • You didn't hit all of your key points because you WERE trying to write naturally, and now you've got giant plot holes and no way to fill them.
So... what do you do when this happens?

If you're anything like me, you save a draft of your writing (SAVE THAT DRAFT! YOU WILL THANK ME LATER!), and then you remove the section and start back from the point where the characters started to deviate from the progression they needed to follow.

This may feel forced and unnatural, and it will. There's no getting around it. So you'll go back through and edit, revise, edit, revise, fill it, edit, revise, change things... (That's another story.) But eventually, it WILL flow naturally. Really.

And pretty soon you'll have a manuscript that you can be proud of, because you worked twice as hard for it. (Or eight times as hard... As is my current revision number.)

How about you? Have you ever had to start over from almost the beginning?