Saturday, December 27, 2014

My Writing Process: Major Plot Overhauls

If you follow my blog regularly, you may know that I'm working on my third Shalan book. If you follow it really closely, you may recall, a long time ago, while I was working on the rough draft for Kisses and Lies, the second, yet-to-be-released book, that I found that I had to overhaul an entire chapter when I realized (based on a dream) that it was all wrong. It introduced a main character, but did it clumsily and, well, all wrong. She wasn't the person I meant her to be in the first iteration, so I had to go back and just completely re-write the entire chapter. I think it made the character real and sympathetic, whereas before she had been flat and not really very nice. 

The reason I bring this up is that I recently wrote a pivotal chapter in the new manuscript. I won't give anything away, but it's a life-altering event, immediately followed by another life-altering event. When I got finished, it just didn't feel right for some reason. I had no idea why, so I quit writing for a bit in order to stew on it. A couple days later, it finally hit me--there were two problems. One, the first major event took place too early in the plot and before another foundational event had taken place. And two, the second life-altering event took place so soon after the first one that it lets Harry and Dee off the hook way too easily. It protects them from having to grieve the loss of a loved one.

So instead of having to overhaul a chapter, this time I find I'm in the midst of overhauling the entire plotline. Instead of the first crisis happening a third of the way through, I'm working to make it appear in the back half and then give them a little time to wrestle with their sorrow before saving the day, so to speak.

When your check engine light comes on. You can get it checked right away and fix what may be a minor problem or you can figure it'll take care of itself and have a huge expense down the road. Similarly,I probably could have kept going and the plot would've limped along, but I feel like it would have been deeply unsatisfying to write and even more so to read. So I'm glad I stopped writing when something started nagging at me instead of plowing on with the story as it was.

Too bad my word processor doesn't have "Check For Plot Holes" light. I guess if it did, there'd be more successful novelists in the world.

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