Novel Writing Mistakes (2)

This is the post you hope to never have to write…

Rewind to the weeks leading up to November 1st, 2016. I was preparing to enter National Novel Writing Month with the outline of my fifth novel: Breaking Bread. I never have all the details worked out when I write, just character studies and a list of the major events that need to move the story from start to finish. This gives me, the writer, a lot of flexibility as the novel progresses.

Not every writer writes this way. There are “plotters” –who have all the entire story mapped out in exhaustive detail. There are “pantsers” — writers who “fly by the seat of their pants,” having only the major ideas of the story figured out. And of course there are all combinations of writers who fall in between. That would be me.

There is no right way to write. Whatever method works best for you, your style, your habits — it’s all good. Unless of course you are posting the novel to your blog for everyone to read… Which brings me to my problem. I have come to a point in the novel where I have changed my mind about how the story moves toward its climax. The new direction I want to go is in conflict with some details I wrote in previous chapters. In other words, I’ve painted myself into a corner. Nevertheless, I’m thrilled with the new idea and am determined to make it work. This isn’t the first, nor will it be the last time this happens.

I have two potential solutions:

  1. Keep going with the draft the way it is and find a reasonable explanation for the part that doesn’t make sense. This is the less acceptable solution in my opinion. It feels like cheating. And I think on some level the reader can tell that you switched gears halfway through. I’ve only done this on one occasion and was happy with the end result. If I were only writing this as a serial piece and not as the draft of a book for publication, I would choose this alternative.
  2. Return to the section of the story that interferes with the logical progression of the new idea and change it. This could be a major rewrite or it could be a matter of editing out a few strategic sentences or paragraphs. Sometimes even changing a few words can do the trick. This is all I will need to do to make my new plot point make sense.

The trouble is… I have already written and posted (and you have read) the part of the story I will need to change. It is entirely possible that I’m overthinking the importance of this particular incongruity and none of you will pay it any mind. However, that is the tangle that has prevented me from proceeding with the story. I feel like now that I have explained, I can move forward.

These are the issues you face in drafting the first version of your novel. Rewrites are inevitable and in this particular instance, when Breaking Bread is finished, it will give me an opportunity to explain how I edit and proof read. That was part of the reason for posting it all to the blog in the first place… to show the process from start to finish. So bear with me while I walk through the wet paint to the end.

37 thoughts on “Novel Writing Mistakes (2)

  1. Well, the key word here is “draft”, in my opinion. Yes, you’ve posted and we’ve read along, but it is still a draft. I say make the changes however you see fit, and we keep enjoying. I may have to adjust my opinion of who the villain is though. 😃

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s it, exactly! I’m hoping it won’t be too obvious… 😀 Anyway, I am going to ‘scribble’ away over the next few days and hopefully have some new excerpts before the weekend! As always, thanks for reading along!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. OK, so it was Brad all along! Having painted yourself into the corner, I should take off all your clothes, so you don’t ruin them. Throw them to a good friend. Scrabble out of the paint……….Hang on! I was getting a bit carried away there. Option 2 it is then!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We know it’s a work in progress. Even though we’ve already read, it doesn’t matter if things change.

    I’ve been in this exact position before. And I wanted desperately to change a few details after I’d posted part of a story. But I think I just kind of ignored what I’d written before and continued as though I never mentioned the details I wanted to change. I have no idea if anyone noticed… but I always knew that if I was going to even think about publishing, the story would be in for some HEAVY editing anyway.

    I don’t think I plan ahead enough when I start a story. Maybe because what I get in my head is a scene or a few scenes… then I build a story around them. So I know those scenes… and I’m dying to write them so I do. And then I have to figure out the rest of the story. Which sometimes never happens!

    Okay… I’ve rambled on long enough to say… you’re writing a draft — change anything you want! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. On occasion I will hit “Publish” on a post and hours later the light bulb will come on over my head as I am thinking of just the right turn of a phrase or a new thought to help really pull the whole thing together. “Edit.” Out with the old and in with the new. Surgery a success. Do what ya have to do Meg. It’s like you’re performing open-heart and we’re in the cheap seats watching. Sometimes doctors have to make changes on the fly once they get in there!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am really struggling to pick up the story again. I need a transition piece and I can’t seem to write it! I’ll get there. I hope to have some time to write this weekend. No pierogi parties planned! I figure the fumbling and stumbling I’m doing with the novel can be material for showing what NOT to do. I’ll have blog material at least!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been reading not just for the story, but to follow your writing process, so I personally would go with #2. I would guess that a good number of your readers have been doing the same. The book will exist beyond those of us who have been following the blog, so do what will make you happy with the finished product and don’t worry about us. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is good to hear. I hadn’t initially planned on posting to the blog but then someone else mentioned the writing process side of it, too. Well, at the moment I’m still kind of stuck so… 😦

      Like

  6. Don’t worry about it – just go for the revision option that you (& everyone else) clearly prefer. Think of the first version as a ‘demo version’, much like the obscure versions of classic songs that see the light of day years down the line. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is the first time I’ve ever worked out my thinking in public! A risk, I realized but now it’s a learning opportunity. I am going to go forward with my new idea. If I can get the words back, that is…

      Liked by 1 person

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