The fix

I’ve been thinking about the problem that has had my stymied for the past several weeks. I just couldn’t find a way around this little stumbling block and I was at a stand-still. I’ll admit that even though my goal is to publish this year, I wanted to give up and move on to another project, one that I hope would be far easier to complete.

But I’m not one to give up so easily. While I waited patiently at work for customers to show up, and yes I worked on Mother’s Day, I pulled out a sheet of paper and started to jot down notes.

Who’s after Jasmine?

I began by writing down the names of my characters, the ones who are the most likely suspect to be terrorizing my main character, detailing their history and the reason why they may be stalking her. As I scribbled my notes, I had one of those moments of brilliance. I may have figured out how to save my story! I finally had my Eureka! moment.

And now the dread washes over me, hours after that brief elation. I realized that by figuring out how to fix what’s wrong with the story I would have to sit down and introduce a new character. Well, that not quite true. My savior is already in the book, but they haven’t been fleshed out thoroughly. My task is to beef up their part, including their motivation for seeking out Jasmine. Luckily, that all came to me while I jotted down my notes throughout the day.

I’m excited about this. The way the story ends has bothered me for some time. One of my beta-readers actually called me out on how I resolved the story. I made a liar out of my character. They are not duplicitous in any way. Awkward? Yes, but not malicious nor psychotic. Now, that character can be true to themselves while this new character gets to enjoy a promotion of a sort and fully embrace a role that I could never really develop.

It should only take a few minor rewrites to incorporate them into the narrative. I’ll have to tweak some dialogue and create a few key scenes along the way, but as I have already deleted some other scenes, I should do so seamlessly, or at least that’s my hope.

To think that I’ve been wracking my brains in search of an answer and all it took for me to find it was to write it down. It allowed me to focus on the problem while not confronting the issue. It worked itself out organically. I just hope I do it justice. Also, I hope I remember how to fix it.

Out of story, well sort of

I ran out of story to edit! Okay, that’s not entirely true. I still have half the book to do, but I hadn’t gotten around to printing it yet. In the mean time, I’ll enter what I do have onto my computer and save it. Once I’m done, I’ll print off the other half and get started with that. It’s so simple!

But it’ll have to wait until tomorrow. It’s late and I have to work in the morning. Still, going though four chapters is impressive. There were only a few minor changes. I fear the bulk of what I need to rewrite is still ahead of me.

Yikes!

Tangled mess

As I try to rewrite this tangled mess that I laughably call a book, I’ve come to realize that writers are a masochistic bunch. Luckily I am indeed a masochist, or at least that’s what I took away from the tangled mess of what once was my love life.

Making the cut

I’m going through my book, again, and mercilessly slashing it to bits. I have a bad habit of keeping things in solely because I wrote it. I’m a genius, after all. Only I’m not. I can’t even fool myself into thinking that.

I don’t know how many times I’ve read and reread each single line. Some are great, some need a little bit of polishing, and some are crap. On one particular paragraph I added this little note: Who cares?! Shorten or delete paragraph! There are other lines and paragraphs that I have marked as needing to be cut out. Those parts have bothered me, but I resisted. Enough is enough! I’m taking care of business now.

I’m finding it difficult to delete those words I worked so hard to write. I’m discovering that not everything I wrote is worth saving. I say I’m discovering that fact, but the truth is that I already knew. I guess what I should say is that I’m finally accepting that I need to be a little more discerning as to what makes the final cut of the story.

I’ve read, and I’ve cut, and I’ve rewritten and finagled spelling, grammar, syntax and I’m still not satisfied. As a whole, I’m pleased with the story, but there are those places that cause me distress. I’ve reprinted the whole book, or I’m in the process of doing so, and it comes in at 400 pages, double-spaced. I want to trim that down some.

I’m only on the second chapter, but I’ve managed to cut out maybe a thousand words. I’ve cut out a secondary character’s story arc, one that adds nothing to move the plot forward. There’s another character that needs to be rewritten. I haven’t figured out how I’m going to do that. It’s a puzzle that I need to put together, and I have no idea how the finished picture is supposed to look like. I’m a little stressed.

I’m going to continue reading and making my notes, tweaking it so that I can finally send it to someone to proofread. I’ll correct as many of those as I can find, but I’m sure there has to be several stupid mistakes per page. I can’t wait to be done with this. Why did I think I could do this? I must be mad.

I’m also really tired.

The joys of outlining

That has to be one of my most sarcastic titles I’ve ever written. The joys of outlining…excuse me while I weep silently into my pillow. *Muzak version of Pharrell Williams Happy plays in the background while writer wails miserably into a pillow* Sorry. I don’t know what came over me. I’m a little tired right now. Maybe I’m still emotional after Seattle’s Super Bowl loss on Sunday. Back to the reason I’m writing today….

I’m working on outlining my book, hoping to get a visual of my story main points and how it fits together so I can rip it apart and put it back together. I’m deconstructing the book scene by scene, highlighting the main points in each. It’s been slowing going so far. I’m only on chapter two, but I also didn’t do a thing yesterday. I’m off from work today, so I play to catch up and get as much done as I possibly can.

I’ve never worked with an outline before. I confess this to my friend who wrote back in astonishment that I could have gotten through college without learning how. In fact I did learn how, but it’s not a practice I’ve kept up with. I always felt that it constrained my writing so I didn’t bother to remember. It’s coming back to me, and I still hate it! But as I put the outline together, I’m grudgingly having to admit that it may be a useful skill to have.

Though I am far from done, I’m convinced this exercise will help me make a better umpteenth draft. There is one scene in particular that bothers me, but not so much that it’s there but rather because of the person to whom the story is being told. I’m hoping to find a better place for it and maybe this process will help me locate it. The other option is to cut it out, which I’m not entirely adverse to, but I believe the back story the scene shows is important. We’ll see how it goes.

If this works, I will apply this process to another book I’ve already written but needs a lot of work. Maybe this is the tool I’ve been needing in order to progress to the next step in my desire to become a published writer. Only time will tell, as the saying goes, but there’s another saying that may be more appropriate. “Get off your fat ass and get to work!”

I think we can all agree those are truly words of wisdom. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an ass that needs getting off of, but ironically I’ll have to sit on it to get this particular work done.