When we cut down a different street to avoid traffic, a short cut might be a good thing, but as it pertains to writing, we benefit from considering each move—which is something I failed to do last week.
You see, after listening to good advice and allowing it to rest, I let myself print out the first draft of the novel in progress after ignoring it for over a month. In this first “top down” review, I planned to make big-picture notes on flow and consistency. I’d mark where things need to be expanded and where I need to cut, before getting into a chapter-by-chapter examination of the story.
One easy-to-solve flaw I detected, involved a character I first named Stanley, Stan for short. He appears in one chapter, and is mentioned a few times later in the book. Somewhere along the line, I decided I’d prefer to call him Sebastian, nick-named “Sebbie,” and I changed his name.
During last week’s first-ever analysis; I realized I missed changing Stan to Sebbie in several places, so I called on the Microsoft Word Gods to conduct a “Word Find.” When Microsoft informed me I’d missed “Stan” 65 times, I didn’t occur to me that, while an important character, Stan/Sebbie only appeared briefly--so the number Microsoft came up with should have triggered research.
Instead I took a short cut and hit “Find/Replace All.”
The next time I looked at the draft, I found:
Stand, Stands and Standing morphed to Sebbied, Stebbies, and Sebbieing
Understand and Understanding became UnderSebbied and UnderSebbieing
Distance turned into DisSebbiece, Circumstances to CircumSebbieces and Mustang to MusSebbieng
As I turned pages, I discovered Resistant turned to ResiSebbient, Assistant and Assistance became AssisSebbiet and AssisSebbiece; Instance became InSebbiece and contestant became conteStebbiet. Every time I think I've found them all, I find another word with "Sebbie" instead of "stan" in the middle.
Instead of fixing my mistake, I created a new language.
What shortcuts have backfired on you?