Monday, February 23, 2009

Longtime Sunshine

Ok. I know, I know. I haven't posted an update on my first attempt at a novel in quite a while. My writing time has dwindled the past two weeks due to a sick wife, then a sick son, then the ever present day-job deadlines.....Ok, fine. Those are excuses everyone has so I'll throw those out the window. I do have a problem that I'm sure everyone else has had but I don't know how to handle it.

My story has....blossomed from the original idea and I want to run with the new concept. It's nothing extremely major but my main character's motivation has changed. I feel like I should rewrite the majority of what I have and shuffle a few things around to make it work. I know, I should just write everything and then rewrite later but the beginning of the story really needs to change. (Plus, I hate the stuff I wrote in the beginning. It's amazing how even a little experience can really make you a better writer.)

I've been debating how to proceed for about a week and it's time I just make a decision and get back to writing. How do you handle a change to your story that affects everything that preceeds your current train of thought?


Cullen Gallagher said...

I just keep right on going - because often it will change again. Or, sometimes I'm not even aware that something has changed until I begin to edit the first draft.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I throw up.

Scott Parker said...

When I was writing my first novel, I was one of three. Each Wednesday, we'd get together and present out mark-ups of the previous week and deliver new chapters. At one point, as I was burrowing into Act III of my story, one of my friends asked "By the way, what are you Japanese characters doing during all of this?" Without batting an eye, I told them, in detail, the actions and movements of my Japanese characters. When I finished, both of my fellow writers told me one thing: "Put all of that in your book."

It threw me b/c I, of course, knew everything that was going on. What happened was that I stopped writing Act III and rewrote Acts I and II, inserting all the extra scenes. It was simultaneously agonizing (I was going backward) and exciting (I was writing the scenes I already had in my head and didn't think I needed). The book is better for it.

Two other things about writing my first book. One, I invented a character, Harry Truman's partner, Carl Hancock. I had one idea of how he'd act and what his ultimate outcome would be. Along the way, Hancock looked up at me from the page and told me he had a different idea about his outcome. I had outlined the entire book. What I did was let him move around but Inside the Confines of my outline. That was my structure and it was upon that structure I built my first book.

Two: Once I realized what Hancock wanted to do, I let all the other characters move around but only within the confines of my outline. As such, the characters started to live and breath and take on a life of their own. It was liberating for me.

Now, let's look at Book #2. I had a pie-in-the-sky mindset that I'd "just write and see what happens." Didn't work. I started the book with Outline #1. Didn't work. I changed the protagonists and went back to "just write." Didn't work. I tried to outline Book #2 with Protagonist #2. Didn't work...although there is hope here.

Long story short: for me, outlining with the right characters for me seems to be the way I write.

Book #1 for me involved me going back to the beginning, in the middle of the writing of the book, to fix the beginning. The book ended up pretty good. Book #2 for me involved fits and starts and allowed me to realize that outlining seems to work for me. I finished Book #1 in June 2006. I still haven't written Book #2. It's taken that long to realize How I Write. It's all a process, fits and starts and everything else.

Hope this little insight helps you do what YOU think it right for you.

David Cranmer said...

I can't top Scott or Cullen's advice. You will settle on the right avenue for you... Hope your family gets well.

Jacob Weaver said...

Thanks for the advice! I think I'm going to go ahead and write a quick character outline for all of my major characters (the ones I currently know about anyway) and my plot points. Then go back over what I've already written and rewrite/edit that to fir the outline. I can move on fresh from there and hopefully not have this problem further down the line.

Who knows. It may be a bad decision but I'm learning as I go.

Thanks again!

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