Tuesday, November 10, 2009



The inimitable Mighty Proctor, She of the Many Names (CS Harris, Candice Proctor, CS Graham, and many, many other aliases) was right: The godawful slowdown I've been suffering was in fact my subconscious trying to clue me in to certain, um, *problems* in my story.

Of course, the subconscious mind being the Creepy Wee Beastie that it is, the poor thing has trouble communicating with this thin skim of gray matter that walks in the light and believes it is all that exists. In short, I got bad sleep and bad dreams, bad writing and no writing, all of it getting worse and worse until finally I was at my wits' end and the Creepy Wee Beastie was able to speak clearly.

My problems were three. And they were important.

One. My protagonist was not outsider enough. Not by half.

Two. One of my subplots stank. Really, really stank. That is to say, it contributed nothing to the central thrust of the book, and if anything muddied the waters of the themes as I see them.

and Three. My Act I climax *needed* to hit A LOT sooner. Which meant collapsing some of the early 'action' (which, frankly, could afford to be collapsed), which led to old characters saying and doing different things, and to new characters coming in to make things happen.

Of course, fixing Problem #1 meant amplifying and creating problems, and fixing #2 meant writing out a character I was rather fond of anyway.

Needless to say, the result is a complete, from-page-one reboot of my manuscript.

I think I may be able to save a few paragraphs here and there.

So it goes.


Charles Gramlich said...

You've just described true bravery, my friend. Such a reboot requires maximum courage. Good luck as you enter the lists.

Avery DeBow said...

The fact you know AND acknowledge the issues is huge in itself. That you're ready to tackle them without equivocating or hemming and hawing shows the depth of your dedication. You are indeed a brave man and a writing warrior. Go forth, and take no prisoners!

Barbara Martin said...

It is extremely difficult as a writer to cut portions out of a beloved manuscript. Congratulations, Steve, and may your rewrites go well.

Bernita said...

Grimy business at times, writing.
I'm quite familiar with that "at wit's end" business.Think I may be in the same place you are, but needing a reboot of more massive proportions - if I can but screw up the courage...
Maybe the character you are fond of might have a story of his own?

Steve Malley said...

Charles, Thanks!

Avery, thanks, and I won't!

Barbara, I have, so far, found about 150 salvageable words. Unless you count 'the'. I can always use a good 'the'...

Bernita, *so* great to have you back!! More massive than throwing out the manuscript and starting over? Wow. And yes, I suspect she does... :)

Erik Donald France said...

Yes, indeed -- good luck. The only thing worse is losing all date with no backup file. 150 saved words are better than nothing, eh?

Lana Gramlich said...

Kudos to you for your willingness to "do the work." Sometimes, after working for some hours on a painting, I'll realize that a major change needs to be done. Unfortunately it sometimes needs to start from scratch & in those instances, I just cave. I do the best with what I've got already, rather than digging in & "doing the work." Cursed slacker genes!

cs harris said...

Ouch. I'm sorry to hear that I was right. I admire you for 1) admitting to yourself that serious problems existed, 2) identifying them and figuring out how to fix them, and 3) plucking up the courage to tear the thing apart and do what has to be done. I know it hurts. Good luck.

I wish it were possible to figure out how to identify when we're having a bad writing day because we're just "off" for some reason versus those times when things aren't going well because there's a fundamental problem with plot or character. But I haven't been able to spot a difference yet.

Shauna Roberts said...

Wow. That's some major rewrite. How's your fancy steampunk word-count-thingy handling going backwards?

I hope now that you've figured things out, you'll just race through rewriting.