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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

IWSG April. Cutting...Back



It's Insecure Writer's Support Group day!  For those writers looking for the support of peers, join us the first Wednesday of each month. Thanks to Captain Alex Cavanaugh and his minions, you can find more info and contributors here. 


You know what they say about first drafts?  All you have to do is finish them?  Well, here’s what they should say about second drafts.  They.  Are.  Bloody.  Hell.

There I was editing away.  Cutting lines and adding paragraphs, and then, like a truck driver with a load of cement who encounters an unexpected cliff, I stomped on the air brakes.  About a third of the way through my first draft, I’d clearly gone on a backstory roll. Page after page of tangent, essentially, an entire chapter that could be condensed into two or three sentences and seeded in somewhere.  Bottom line? 

The.  

Action.  

Just.  

Stopped. 

I’ve spent days now, pondering how to clean it up, how to attach the threads from what I wrote before the dump, to events that occur afterwards. Ugh.

I"m not an outliner.  I wish I was, but sadly, the only way I can get a story out of me is to write it.  I actually remember sitting at the computer while this pile of backstory poured out, delighted to have discovered something so important about one of my main characters.  Yikes.

But, a wise writer once told me that backstory is how we writers tell ourselves our tale.  So, even as I ponder how to cobble together this project into something palatable, I’m cutting myself some slack.  The brain dump may be way too much detail for anyone else, but the information allowed me to make an otherwise unlikable character sympathetic.

That has to count for something, right?

Right?


I'm a few days late, but wishing all you A-Z bloggers luck for the month of April!

14 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Maybe print it out, cut it apart, and then find a place where the condensed line or two could go? (I say print it out so you can have both it and your manuscript up at the same time. Unless you have two computers.)

mshatch said...

Oh, that happens to me all the time, lol, and revisions are HELL! Maybe you can divide up all that backstory into small bites and sprinkle in earlier?

Jan Morrison said...

Oh, I so recognize this moment in revising!Yep - the first draft we are telling ourselves the story and I compare it to when you accidentally ask your teenager about a movie he just saw. Nooooooooo...you think as he goes on and on - "and then this big guy came in - no, he came in earlier and I forgot but he had this hat that was green." So be kind to that info dump and yourself and take a big breath and tell your story again. You can do it!
And I also recognize that brain freeze that happens when you meet with this indigestible bit of gristle in your story. (hmmm...could be a metaphor accident in the making - I'll just ignore it and carry on). You will get through it, I promise. And to further muddy the waters with mixed metaphors I think it is like knotted silk - just tease it ever so gently and the knot will fall out.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

That totally counts for something!

I don't do a ton of character profiling etc before I start writing. I find I learn more about characters through the actual storytelling.

Leandra Wallace said...

We gotta do what we gotta do to get that first draft done. =) But I agree, revising can be brutal, especially when we're right in the middle of the mess we created. But it'll get there, you got this! =)

Joanne said...

sounds like you are working through it and maybe there's a different tangent that the story needed to go. Not done yet. Keep at it..no doubt getting better each re-write, however many it takes

Karen Jones Gowen said...

I agree with the writer who told you backstory was how we tell ourselves our tale. I'd just keep at it and not worry about how much until later.

Bish Denham said...

I'm sure you've thought of this already, edit those pages out and save them in a separate file for later reference. It's good the the end result gave you insight to your character. I bet there's more to come.

Robin said...

I know you will figure out how to use this information threaded through your story. And, yes, it was necessary. You figured out a character. Ultimately, your story will be better for it.

Chris Votey said...

One book I did for NaNo years ago that I did end up finishing, I wrote a beautifully written scene where a character has to burn paper. The issue was, she lived in a paperless society, so even seeing stacks of paper was a rare thing. She assume just light the whole thing on fire, and had trouble getting the fire going.

In my second draft, I just cut the whole thing out. It pained me to do it, but it was ultimiately useless for the story. Then I rewrote the scene.

Sometimes to do our masterpiece, we must re-do things to make it just right.

Connie said...

Best of luck to you with your editing and revising. It can be a painful process, but at least, you can see progress.

susanbruck.com said...

I like to push through my first drafts, too. And second (third, fourth....) drafts can be brutal. When I feel like just chucking the whole thing because it's too big of a mess, I walk away--do something else and come back later or the next day. Sometimes I see things from a new angle when I do that.
Good luck! You have what you need.

Jenni Enzor said...

I heard a writer a few months ago talk about writing a book is like building a house. Sometimes you have problems with the paint color, but sometimes it's the foundation or the walls. When I figure out something with the back story, it's that essential foundation stuff. It might be messy now--but it's going to make this a stronger book overall.

Weekend-Windup said...

I would go with the story teller...