Friday, August 17, 2007

A Different Way

I have a certain routine when I begin a book. I hear a sentence in my head, wonder why that sentence was said, who said it and what the story is behind it. The story begins to reveal itself and I listen.

I don't do a lot of plotting beforehand, but I do a lot of thinking and will occasionally make notes. For the most part, I just start writing.

Lately I've had some difficulty in coming up with additional words for a work in progress. I finished the book and realized I'd rushed the ending and was short on my word count. I'd come up with all sorts of scenarios, but just couldn't make them work. I was stumped. So I went to my writing buddies...you know, those people who will understand your terminology, commiserate with you and be honest with you. I'm fortunate to have about eight people I can go to. So I thought, why not ask them all?

I put together an email with my dilemma. I knew what I wanted to have happen, but couldn't decide in one particular instance a decision my heroine must make. So I wrote it all out and the four or five options, fully intending to send it. But amazingly enough, after I wrote it out and read it a half dozen times, I knew what I should do. Seeing it written out like that opened my eyes.

After that decision was made, I felt better but realized I was still stuck on a few other things. So, during an IM session with a friend in Texas, I told her what my problem was and during that twenty minute conversation, I realized why I was having the problem. I had killed my villain off too soon and there was no longer any external conflict. My hero and heroine were bored, and so was I.

So, even though I'd written about five thousand words and was almost to my word count goal, I cut them out and started over. And you know what? It didn't hurt like I thought it would because I know I'm headed in the right direction. It felt good and fresh. What a relief!

So, how about you, do you find different ways to think and plot when you're stuck? Have you ever realized you were going in the wrong direction and had to do major surgery to your manuscript?

4 comments:

Deborah Matthews said...

In DECK THE HALL, which is the ms. with Steeple Hill Inspirational, I finished the book, was within the word count, but felt the ending was too rushed. So, I added in a few scenes between my hero/heroine to make the ending more logical and realistic.

Carla Swafford said...

Back about one hundred years ago when I knew how to finish a book, *sneer* I would skip the scene that I was stuck on and keep writing. Yeah, it sounds strange but it's amazing how you can figure out what went wrong and go back to fix it.

BTW, everytime I delete a sentence or more, I paste it in my "history" file for that book. On an odd occasion I'll use the sentence or scene later.

Barb said...

Carla,

I LOVE the "history" file idea! I really need something like that. It's hard to throw away words that you worked so hard to put together on paper. This way, you just store them for a while. ;-)

I also have skipped a scene here and there. Last week, I just skipped the last half of my first book and just started on the second book (brother's story).

As long as I"m writing something, I'm happy.

MaryF said...

Well, hell, if could just stay on target and finish writing my dratted story.

As you can tell, today, I have a love hate relationship with my writing.

But I love all the ideas.