Author of Middle Grade novels about friendship, family, and figuring out where you fit in.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Simple Fixes

Happy spring! I think... (I'm still wearing more layers than I should be right now, so I'm not sure this is spring OR happy.)

What I do know is, it's the season for lots of writing and revising. Well, it is for me, though from what I've read of my followers' tweets and blog posts, it sounds like many of you are spending much time in The Cave, too.

The thing about dwelling in The Cave is that sometimes I feel like I'm never going to see the light of day again. I'm finding myself stuck on one petty thing after another. Sometimes it's an enormous plot issue (like that entire chapter I need to rewrite) or just a matter of, "I need to get from THIS scene to THAT one, but I don't know how to transition."

Whatever the problem is, I can't let it keep me in the dark for so long. I'm trying to keep in mind that some of the issues that have stumped me the longest have ended up being resolved by the simplest fixes.


A few WIPs ago, I had a scene where my MC was having a conversation with his mom, and they weren't getting along. She asked him something... but I couldn't figure out how he'd respond.

The solution? After spending too much time coming up with answers that didn't fit, I decided he shouldn't answer at all. I had him say nothing. And it worked!

More recently, I was working on the outline for my current WIP, and once I was about eight chapters in, I couldn't figure out what came next. I knew what the ending was going to be, but I didn't know how to get there.

Instead of trying to squeeze and force a weak storyline to get from point A to point B, I tapped my backspace key a bunch of times (this might be why that key is now broken), and I deleted the previous two chapters. So, those chapters weren't working? Simple: get rid of them. I wrote a new, more natural path to the climax of the book, and it's much better.

This may not be the case for every obstacle that has me puzzled, but it's encouraging to keep in mind that the solution might be simpler than we think.

Writers, how have you fixed plot holes, adjusted your storyline, taken care of scenes that don't work, etc? Has it been long and complicated, or have you found ways to see the simple solution?


Laura Marcella said...

Some revisions are smooth sailing but most of the time it's a stormy passage to get to the other side! First-draft revisions are the most overwhelming because there's soooo much to fix. After that it gets much better!

Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

Tiana Smith said...

A lot of times, I find that the fixes are pretty easy (why didn't I see that solution before??) especially if I just give it time. What's hard for me right now is that I'm working on revisions, and while I see the problem, I'm not seeing the solution. Gah. Maybe I need more time.

Laurel Garver said...

I absolutely agree that many problems have a simple root issue. Fix it and the story flows. How simple that revision itself is depends on how much comes after that wrong turn. At times it does, as you say, require removing entire chapters to get going the right direction again.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Shelley. I'm going to take "but it's encouraging to keep in mind that the solution might be simpler than we think" and run with it. :)

Anne Gallagher said...

Whenever I have a problem, I always work in my garden (or if I can't I clean the house) and the answer usually simple and right in front of my nose.

It's always the simplest things we overlook that make the most difference.

Theresa Milstein said...

I love your methods of getting around problems. Sometimes we need to slash, other times, the best course is to do nothing. A character who says nothing can be more powerful.

Friday was spring-ish here. Yesterday, was windy. Spring is coming soon, I hope.

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