Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Re-writing is a bitch!

It's been awhile since I last posted, having managed to efficiently write myself into a corner, or a hole. I'm still in the process of trying to recover from it and it was something that was both unexpected and unplanned for and really threw a spanner in the works of what I'm doing. 

The story I am writing follows quite a tight time line, while not everything is action-based, I want the plot to move along quickly (during this section of the book) to keep the reader interest and in part to show the tension in the plot. There's not a lot of time to waste. And I planned in advance for this, having a structured plot-line, so I knew exactly what should be happening at what times. However I done this using a skeleton plot and never actually wrote a time line. I had tried to stay clear in setting down firm times for things happening because I felt that might constrict my writing somewhat, what I didn't foresee was that my time line had dead time, and rather annoyingly - dead time which had to be filled. 

This dead time is a few hours long and comes immediately before some major plot twists. It's an empty space which needs something tense and exciting, because the character when facing the next part - is tense, on edge and tired. Some months back, when I first encountered this dead space I came up with a plan to fill it. It seemed a simple plan at first, a task/event where the main character would meet with another - show some personality, have some conflict and ultimately, some immediate resolution, then move on. A quick and action-packed little filler. Simples!

If only! When I first wrote my skeleton for this, it was complex. There was a lot of dialogue and a lot of action - and a lot of complex explaining needed so the reader would understand what the characters were doing. I gave it a shot, and it fell apart. It didn't feel right, I liked the overall scenario but I was trying to write was going to take a good 20,000 words and it felt awkward, and slow and didn't fit with the plot-pace I had already established. I tried stripping down what I had already written, effectively halving what the characters were doing but still it felt awkward and difficult to write, there wasn't a flow - and the dialogue didn't fit, the characters were too busy, and in the end, it just wasn't right. 

So after months of being stuck in a rut, I finally decided that I had to move on. It's been very frustrating. I know what happens after this dead time, I can rattle off what happens for the next full day. It's written in note form and I'm raring to write it, but I feel I must write this part first. It impacts on the next part - and again, that left me stuck. If I couldn't write this bit, then I couldn't write the next. Another month passed, apparently the requirement to write this part acted as a departure of my muse leaving me left with no story, growing frustration and a lack of confidence of being able to ever get out of this rut. 

Then to yesterday, and today. I took to my story with a vengeance, I re-wrote the start to the dead time, stripping it down and leaving it open to change. And I'm happy with that. Immediately everything seemed much better, the dialogue flowed better, the timing worked - and ironically, the lesser the word count, the happier I was. The pace picked up again. Now I have a gap to fill and after a month of fighting with myself on leaving it empty and moving on, or struggling forward to fill it - I've decided to leave it. I am still working on filling that gap, but it can no longer stop the progress on the rest of the novel. The fear of not knowing what happens is still there, but I know roughly what needs to happen, and I reason now I can move on and be able to fix any minor things after that dead time has been filled. 

It's been an eye-opening experience. I have planned so hard on this novel and invested so much into it that I never imagined being stuck in this way. But I feel better now, I felt before I had this scene weighing me down creatively, like it was a ball and chain I was hauling around after me. That it had the power to make or break everything I already had and all the work I'd done. It almost did. But for now, I'm moving past it. I'm excited to write the next part and feel that once I'm back in the 'grove', that stubborn dead space will be filled, and with time to think, it will be more exciting than what I was struggling to write before. ~Kitty