Today I discovered the power of getting out of a rut. It was a rut that I didn’t even know I was in.
I typically write chronologically. I write chronologically, quickly, and then go back to revise the writing, the plot, and so on. That’s my usual process.
As I have been toiling away on my second novel manuscript (the first, as I’ve mentioned before, was trite and not publishable, not even close), I’ve been learning a lot. I’ve been learning a lot about myself and my sub-conscience, but I’ve also been learning a lot about writing.
I started out with a bevvy of ideas. In fact, the original story was comprised of about 6 picture books and one really awesome episode of a show about exploring Peru. You would have no idea if you looked at it now. The family trees I built for the characters? They’re long gone, because the characters have ALL changed. There is maybe one idea left from what I originally set out to do, but that’s about it.
I have been writing regularly, passing my goals and being fairly pleased with the outcome. I know that when it is all finished up (draft one, I mean), I will need to go back and make some changes. In fact, there may be some major changes, including cutting a few chapters, reorganizing the order of the first few chapters and potentially even revising one of the characters “screen time.” To think, I had nearly cut her altogether when suddenly, she fought back. Apparently she’s very much needed for the manuscript after all.
Today, I looked at what was written and realized that there was some missing information. I realized that I knew it, because I am the Omniscient to the story. But no one else does. I hadn’t even hinted at some of the things that make up the story and make it meaningful. I’m trying to be vague here, by the way – don’t want to give up too much information. So I realized that some things were missing and that my word count was potentially a bit too low (I’ve been working on picture books for years, remember … 500-600 words total) and made a list of what was missing. These were the scenes or chapters that I needed to write. I was able to hammer out two of them today, of the total five I have planned.
They changed everything.
The flow of the story – suddenly, it clicks.
The importance of main character – suddenly, I know why she exists. I thought I did, but she revealed a lot to me today.
The voice of the narrator – it was strengthened in a way that I can’t quite measure, but know is there.
The plot as a whole – suddenly it is clearer than ever. When someone asks what the story is about, I can now, without a doubt, give a synopsis that sounds like I’m in fact the writer, and not just the reader figuring it out.
What got me out of my “rut” (I didn’t know it was a rut, until the writing became so much better!) was writing out of order. I wrote the scene as a backstory type of moment, and scoured the manuscript for where it would fit. I struggled, a lot. Should it go at the start? No, too revealing. Should it go after this scene? No, not revealing enough. Should it go here? YES! PERFECT! But wait. I had to go in and revise the opening and closing, to tie it into the prior and coming chapters.
My point, my friends, is that sometimes doing something totally out of your normal approach is exactly what you need to do it better. With this new information revealed to me by the narrator (the one who tells me what to write … it sounds weird but it is so, so true), I have a renewed sense of purpose for the story. The rest can now be written, because it is all coming together.
And once it’s together, I’m going to cut through it with no mercy, because there’s an overweight pirate and a little boy waiting to be written about next, and if I put them off much longer, they may just kidnap me until I write them.