May 13, 2011

Shake it Up

Blogger fell off a cliff I guess. :-O So, this was delayed, but that's OK. On with the show ...

Last week, one of my crit partners asked me out on a writing date. I went for the social interaction, skeptical I'd get much of anything done.

Wrong. The change of location, routine, computer and usual accoutrements did me good. A scene I struggled with finally unfolded in a way which flowed and worked. It really surprised me as to how much I got done.

There amid all that noise and clamor, I became very productive. Maybe because of no free wi-fi, so no internet distractions. So, having nothing else to do but hunker down and work, I did. The change of scene worked wonderfully for me. Or maybe it was the yummy organic, decaf, nonfat mocha.

I have my scheduled writing time and I'm pretty self-disciplined, but the change of pace was refreshing and invigorating. Stuck? Block? Try a change of scene.

I've been revising my first novel again. I did a speedy revision in January / February, then I slowed down and started over. My biggest issue with it has been the beginning. I knew it didn't match the rest of the story. They fit together logically, it's just that the beginning wasn't as dynamic. Wasn't as exciting as I wanted it to be. So, I started playing around with new chapter ones. I wrote about seven different ones since January, knowing I was getting closer and it was improving but it still wasn't where it needed to be. Each one then required revising the other opening chapters. Gah! I was starting to feel stuck on a merry-go-round.

A few weeks ago I gave my crit group a new chapter one, which they liked. It gave one partner an inkling of inspiration to where she said to me, "Why don't you try X?"

I had considered X before, but it took the beginning farther back in time. But I kept an open mind and considered it. I had some issues with X, so we discussed how to make it work. Together, we came up with a solution. Then I went home and wrote the new chapter one as an experiement. I sent it back to my crit group with the former chapter one revised as chapter two. They didn't like it. They loved it. Ya know, so do I. Finally!

Beginnings are tricky. I see now I was looking at it wrong. The right point wasn't the incident that sent the plot into action, it was the point which changed life as she knew it for my main character. Which was earlier in the story than where I'd been trying to start from. Who knew? Anyway, it gave me a lot of insight as to finding the right start on any project. I wrote more on beginnings HERE.

Not only does the beginning have me more jazzed, so does the rest of the story. Has me pumped and excited.

I've found watching Babylon 5 while working on the revision inspiring, too. Watching great space opera while working on space opera is a win-win. No, I don't copy any of their story ideas, but the way they constructed the series to keep getting bigger, richer and more dramatic, and how everything impacts everything else, is what inspires me. I'm not actually writing as I watch, but when I'm writing and feel I need some inspiration I think about the show and what it might do if in the spot in my story. It helps.

My crit group is convinced I'll get requests for the full manuscript now and sell this book because of the revisions. It'd be great if their prediction comes true. I daydream that if it ever does, I'll spend at least an hour jumping around the house screaming my head off.

I'm pretty excited about how this latest draft is turning out. Even after reading this work a few million times, I now enjoy reading it again. It seems less like a chore. It's like a whole new story. Well, in many ways it is. Sometimes I'm not sure what's in it any more. If I had intensive changes to get through yet, I'd opt to take a break from it at this point to clear my head. But what's left just needs polishing and changes to keep it tracking with all the changes that come before it now. I tied up all the loose threads two revisions ago. Now its just a matter of adding details I want to focus on and fluffing things out, and deleting those that no longer work or fit.

The main plot of the story never changed. It's all the myriad details. They make a difference. I shook them up. A lot.

I'll be done with the revision soon and I've started working on a new query letter for this novel. Another aspect which is tricky to get right. Eventually I will though, because I won't give up until I do.

So, I shook up my routine and I shook up the beginning of my novel. Shake ups can be great. Have you tried one?

Reminder that Monday is the Laughter is the Best Medicine blogfest. See Leigh or Lydia to sign up.