Stuck in the Middle: Or, singing the rewrite blues

Once upon a time, my rewrites were going GREAT! I mean, things were just ticking along as quickly as they could, and some of the scenes I discovered – even I liked them! I raced towards the midpoint and then …

And then I hit the big ol’ midpoint wall.

I’m not sure what I did wrong (although that is one of my “hunches”), or if I’m just tired, but suddenly, I have no idea what I need to write. I can see the midpoint, I can see the crisis points and the climax … and I can’t quite connect the midpoint to the crisis points. Chapters and … “something wonderful I haven’t figured out” is missing in that section, and it’s driving me insane.

Sigh. Maybe that means it’s time for a break. Pushing really hard as I have been, maybe what’s broken isn’t the WIP exactly, but me.

What do you think? Have you ever hit the rewrite wall when you’re about half-way done? You can see the end … but no possible way to get there? Let me know – I’d love the help!

Take care, and have a great week. Hope your writing is going fabulous!

Revision and Plotting: Do as I say, not as I’ve done (pt 2)

As promised, here are the last 5 tips, or my advice on writing that sometimes, I’ve had a hard time remembering, and other times, has been learned the hard way. (for part 1 of this post, see: Revision and Plotting: Do as I say, not as I’ve done (pt1). Hope it helps!

  1. It’s your story. Protect it. Only you can tell your unique story, and while others will try to help you – and you need to accept some changes – beware of them trying to change the direction of where it’s meant to go. Certainly you can change your mind, but protect the essence, the little nugget and vision you had of it, which is what makes it yours and unique.
  2. Be open to critique. Understand it’s part of the process, and it will make your writing better. Remember point 6 and 7 when considering what critique to accept or reject, but critique is the only way to really gauge the reaction of your reader and what your writer is successfully conveying.
  3. Make yourself a revision road-map, and clear goals. I can’t tell you how much difference this has made to the revision process. It means you’ll hopefully have to go through fewer drafts, it makes clear the weaknesses and strengths, AND it will keep you going when things start to get hard. (For more on this, check out my post on revisions: Light at the end of the Tunnel: Revision Pt. 1 & 2)
  4. Breaks are not evil. You need to rest, or you’ll burn-out and crash. I’m terrible at this one, but I’m getting better. Remember, your brain needs breaks sometimes too, allowing it to refuel. Taking time to nurture yourself will only make you stronger – and doesn’t have to mean lack of productivity. Because …
  5. Just get writing, already! Above all else, worrying about writing, fretting you can’t find the time, it’s not good enough, taking too many courses, allowing in too much input, etc, etc, what you HAVE to do is get writing. Because that’s the point of all this, right? Sometimes all you need to clear your head is to stop worrying about everything else, and just allow the words to flow from you. You can worry about everything else later – and I’ll bet you’ll be less stressed about it after a productive writing session. I know I go kind of batty if I haven’t been doing enough writing. For most of us, it’s a part of who we are, and to deny it is foolish.

So, have I missed any tips / mistakes you make? Want to share so everyone else can avoid them? Come on, giving advice is SO much easier than taking it. 🙂

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.

Revision and Plotting: Do as I say, not as I’ve done, Pt 1

Do you ever have a moment when you pray to whatever you believe in that maybe, just maybe, you’ll start getting smarter? That maybe you’ll stop making the same ridiculous mistakes again and again, ever after making your life more difficult?

I do. Especially when it comes to my writing. As with many things, it’s so much easier to give advice than take it. So, I’m going to suggest ten things I know about writing that you SHOULD do … and which sometimes I’m not smart enough to remember.

  1.  Plot the damned book. No, I don’t mean you have to use a spreadsheet and know every detail of every scene, or remember each day of your fictional character’s life (although if that’s for you, go for it). What I am saying is have some kind of a plan. Maybe it’s just an idea of a direction that you jot notes about. Maybe you opt for the “25 things that have to happen” list, or just the major turning points, but if you give yourself a bit of a road map, you make your life SO much easier, especially when it comes time for revisions. Yes, I have started with no idea where I’ve been going, and I’ve written detailed plot cards; the first is too little for me, the second too much (I get bored). Which leads to my next point …
  2. Plot and write in YOUR way, not the method that works best for Mr. Bestseller or Ms. NewYorkTimes. Certainly, as you grow and learn your craft, your methods will likewise change and evolve. That’s great. They should. And who knows, maybe you will write and plot like other writers … and maybe you won’t. Don’t worry about it so much, and just get on with the writing and discovering your own method. Which means …
  3. Never stop learning. Take courses, read books, talk to other writers. I think it’s dangerous to suddenly reach a point where you feel you have nothing left to learn. Why, are you perfect? How did that happen? And if you are, where are you supposed to go from there? Your books might still be good, but they’ll never get any better, which personally, sounds boring. So, keep learning, keep trying to expand yourself however you can. Sometimes you’ll learn / realize something that will knock you back on your butt, but that’s okay, it’s just a growing pain.
  4. Avoid information overload. Respect your own intuition, too. Okay, so once you’ve read all those books, it can be really easy to think, gee, I’m not doing ANY of those things, and I must be terrible, I have to change how I’m doing this, I better try that … Stop. Consider. Are there areas in your writing (craft, methods, etc), that you know need improvement? Than maybe some change is needed. However, don’t change everything just for the sake of change. Some of what you were doing was probably working for you, and if it’s getting the results you want, don’t toss it needlessly.
  5. Know what input to accept, and what to reject.This is something that takes confidence and belief in yourself, and which changes over time. It applies to critiques, workshops, classes, knowledge in books. Before accepting – or rejecting – anything just because, let it sink in for a bit. Some will stick, and feel right. Others … won’t, so let them float away and disappear. Which leads to …

A break for the week, since this post is growing too long! Next week I’ll have the final 5 things you can do and hopefully avoid my mistakes.

Meanwhile, what mistakes / tips would you share? Come on, it will be cathartic.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.

Favored Old Friend: “What if”

Halloween is just past, and one of my favorite holidays. I didn’t dress up this year, between dragging the kidlet out (kidlet was a horse), and work and whatnot. And yet, I love dressing up because it allows me to consider my favorite “what if” of all time: what if we could really become who/what we pretend we are.

Yes, you say, this sounds like a familiar kind of quote. And it is. On the philosophical side, we ARE who we pretend to be, since that’s what we show the world. But I’m about is the “what if” of becoming the dragon you dress up as, the princess, the ghost.

No one captured this better, I think, than an episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” by Joss Whedon when one Halloween, the main characters become their costumes. Buffy, for example, is dressed as a 17th century damsel, and she becomes just that. Willow goes as a ghost – and becomes non-corporeal.  Xander is a military commander, and his plastic gun shoots bullets, and he saves everyone’s butt.

What if one day you could do that? Or what if everyday you could do that? Pull on the costume and presto! You have all the knowledge and background to BE that character. Imagine the possibility of seeing the world through so many different eyes and perspectives.

Of course, that’s not why I wanted to become my costume as a kid. Somewhere around the age of ten or twelve, I became obsessed with the 19th century. And maybe I’d read a few too many fantasies where the heroine is whisked back in time because of some magical doll, vortex, whatever. Somehow I started to become convinced that I’d mistakenly been whisked forward in future, and I really belonged back in the 19th century. Naturally my costumes had a historical flavor – not always 19th century, but the “idea” of the princess, the Elizabethan lady, the 19th century lady.

That, I think is the kicker. What we dress up as is the idea we have of some role, some existence. But it isn’t necessarily the reality. Take my 19th century obsession, for instance. I didn’t fully grasp at the time what it would mean for me, as a female, to be thrust back into that period. Just how different life would be. What would be expected of me – in decorum, action, speech, role.

So what would happen if the idea of a role and the reality collided? Hmm … sounds like a very interesting “what if” to me. 🙂

Who would you be if you could dress up and become anyone or anything? Come on, don’t be shy, comment below.

Thanks for reading. Have a great week!