Saturday, April 28, 2007

Man That Hurts!

It's been an interesting two days. Yesterday I realized that I had written myself into a corner. I got so excited about the story I was on that I ignored my instinct of where it should go, and instead forced it where I wanted it to go.

And, surprise!, it didn't work. I'd had this inkling that things were not working for two or three days now, but I ignored it. I knew where I was going; surely I was on the right road.

But, no. My train was completely derailed and headed for Louisiana when I intended to go to New York City.

I've seen this before. And not just in my work. (Though certainly I've seen it in my work.:)) You try to force the plot, pacing, whatever. Now, rough patches happen, and that's not what I'm talking about. Those can be cleaned up with a good heavy edit. I'm talking about writing cancer. The kind that you simply have to go in an cut out or it will poison your whole story . . . come to think of it, that's really is a good metaphor, because that's just what you have to do. You have to cut.

You have to back up to wherever you got derailed, and start over. And then, on top of that, you have to go the right way. You have to avoid that right turn that looked so perfect at the time and stay true to your course.

That's where I'm sitting now. 20,000 words in, and I had to go back to 10,000 words, cut, and start that part all over again.

And it's really hard. That 10,000 words represents a lot of hours and thought. And there are some darn good scenes in there. Some of them I will be able to rescue later (just minor pacing issues--too much too soon) but some of them . . . most of them . . . will just be lost.

But you know what? I'm not going to end up in Louisiana.

And that's worth it.

And I can hardly complain. I got those 20,000 words in 6 days of furious writing on an idea that won't quit. I can't expect all of those hasty words to make the cut. But some of them will. Probably 12-14,000 of them.

But 6-8,000 words are something I just have to let go of and chalk up to experience.

Tonight I am going back to the place where I cut to and starting that journey afresh. You can wish me luck, but what I really need is simply the ability to see where I got off track and avoid it this time. And if hindsight is 20/20 as they say, I've got a clear view all the way up the track.

See you in New York City.



Michelle Zink said...

Boy, do I know what you mean!

I was all the way up to 60,000 words when I realized I needed to refine my plot before continuing.

I wasn't on the wrong train, per se. More like I'd boarded without my ticket and was just hoping I'd be able to get away with it.

The things I needed to do weren't so serious that I couldn't have gone back and fixed them in a big revision once the book was complete, but at the same time, I knew the book would be better if I stopped, went back, and refined my early plot points before finishing the book.

So about a week ago that's what I did. Stopping that furious forward progress hurt. Now I'm back at page 100 instead of moving forward from page 220, but I know the book, both the parts I've finished and the parts I've yet to write, will be better for it.

So I'm getting off the train and running home to get my ticket.

And I'll see ya in NY, Aprilynne!

trinathegranny said...

Ouch, it sounds painful.

David L. McAfee said...

I think we've all been there before. You get to a certain point in the story and you think "Oh! This would be interesting" and you run with it. Then 20K words or so later you realize that neat-O turn is going to bite you. Ugh. I feel for you, Aprilynne. Been there.

Here's wishing you "the ability to see where you got off track."

ORION said...

That 20,000 word stymie!
So familiar to me.
A road taken many times -- it leads you to nowhere...but maybe it does. It convinces you to think more clearly about what your book is really about and that's a good thing...
BTW I am laughing. An ARC of LOTTERY is on sale on eBay! How funny is that?

Maprilynne said...

Wow, Michelle. I am always so encouraged by your comments because you and I are doing the same thing at the same time . . . like always!!!

Pat, I went and checked out the ARC. That's hilarious! Just wait till ripped copies of your Book on Tape go up. That's the only one that made Steph mad.:)

Michelle Zink said...

We're in this together, bay-bee!

reality said...

And I just wrote something similar on Saturday, two days ago on LJ.
Unfortunately at 70,000 words.
The good thing is I have sat and thought and taken the family out on the weekend for some fun.
And presto, Sunday night inspiration struck.
I am back to work today. But starting with a slow rewrite.
Good Luck, Maprilynne and Michelle.

Demon Hunter said...

Although I have not had to cut that many words...yet, I can relate to having to go back and take out scenes and events that did not work out. Just follow your instinct and you'll continue to do well every time! :*)

Anonymous said...

Ouch! I'm sorry. Good luck this week heading to NY!!
:) KC

Levi Nunnink said...

Gosh... this post really hits a nerve. I can't tell you how many times I've done this. The worst part is, I have the feeling that I might be doing it right now.

Maprilynne said...

It's a very disturbing feeling. Especially as it becomes stronger and stronger while you type more and more words tyring to deny it. *Sigh*:)

Adrienne said...

Totally hear you. BUT they weren't wasted hours, you needed to write those words in order to realise you didn't need those words.

Ain't being a writer fun?!

Maprilynne said...

*Laugh* Apparently it must be--I'm still doing it.;)

Jaye Wells said...

I came to this same conclusion last night. Sat down figured out my wrong turn happened about 40,000 words back. As you said not everything is going to hit the trash, but most of it. I am trying not to panic and remind myself that I learned a lot about my characters on this detour. But that's cold comfort at this point. I was almost done, and now I'm back to barely begun.

Maprilynne said...

I am SO feeling for you Jaye. 40,000 words! Ouch!!