A sudden illness laid me low so I don’t have a ton of scintillating prose for you this week. I’ve made good use of the downtime though:
Just like the fun stuff, I journal the rough stuff. Given how writers need to torment their characters I chronicle every twinge and ache. I’m currently smacking Edward around in rewrites and a reference file saves time.
I find this works for anger too. Hell, I find arguments easy to write in general, but it clears the mind enough to write it well.
And, of course, reading still feeds the muse even when I don’t have the brain power to create anything.
Illness and other downtime is inevitable. How do you make it work for you?
Strange days, the weeks around Christmas and new years. I find it difficult to keep motivated due to the disruption in schedule (and a nice cold I’m working on – achoo!) Certainly not a time to start anything new. So I thought I’d review:
Finally finished gathering comments on my first draft and started proper rewrites!
Keeping it short this week because I’m up to my knees in story slurry.
The plot fell apart once I got put everyone on a boat to the continent. Effects with nonexistent causes abound, stuff happens without consequences, and useless character tail-chasing brings the action to a crashing halt.
So many craft books talk about the pitfalls of the “mushy middle” but I honestly thought that the sheer amount of stuff I have to cram into the second act would prevent it happening to me. Yet somehow boring departures/arrivals, exposition, and wheel-spinning are all in there and I have to hack them out.
This thing may never map out to a predictable plot structure but A must lead to B because C and have D lingering effects. Trying to include all the facts only left me with enough red herrings to stock a fishery and I’m having to cut out every one to avoid confusing the reader. I’m re-outlining to clarify themes and character arcs, which probably adds as much new junk as I’m cutting out.
The book’s taking a new shape I can’t define yet, but taking this wider view has already answered some long-standing plot questions. Repeated “edit-edit-edit, walk away” cycles tend to make fixes obvious, to the point that I can almost feel when another bit is about to snap into place.
Has anyone else experienced slump in the middle of your WIP? How did you straggle through?
That’s how many I’ve managed to get through in this first round of edits. Which sounds good until you realize I started rewriting in July.
I do think I’ve figured out what’s slowed me to a snail’s pace – it’s excessive perfectionism. I’m doing sentence-level polishing when I should concern myself with the broader issues of story structure: filling in scene gaps, answering research questions, and pacing.
The root cause isn’t lacking “flow” or time – it’s terror of showing my beta readers something less than perfect. But worrying over every turn of phrase at this stage probably makes nonsensical dialog worse, widens plot holes, takes vague cause/effect into “what was I thinking?” land.
My resolution for March: instead of a scene a week, a scene every 2 days, fixing the big stuff. Let’s see if I can do it.