When writing is like wrestling an alligator: A midweek ROW80 check-in

Last week, revising my story felt like wrestling an alligator. There were a few moments where I just sat there trying not to pull my hair out. I had one chapter left to revise, near the end of the story, only something wasn’t right. It was one of those scenes where earlier pieces come together, only the pieces weren’t fitting properly.

So I hit the pause button and created a chapter-by-chapter outline of what happens in the story, complete with scene locations and timestamps. I found a couple things: One, the timestamps in the middle of the story were out of order. Two, the reason that later chapter didn’t work was because of the setup in the middle. So I decided that, before I called the second draft done, more work was in order. I spent Saturday afternoon staring at the outline, formulating a plan. I know the story will be stronger for it.

Has this ever happened to you? You’re almost finished with a draft only to realize that the story needs yet more attention. Now that I have a solution, I’m happy to be implementing it. But for a while, when I knew what was wrong but not how to fix it, yes, writing this story felt a lot like wrestling an alligator…

Which leads to a midweek ROW80 check-in…

ROW80LogocopyWriting:

  • Finish a second draft of my novella “Good Old-Fashioned Magic.” Revised/rewrote two scenes. Every chapter has been revised, but I made some changes to the middle of the story that have a ripple effect, so I’m trying to smooth things out. Also dealing with smaller, nitty-gritty issues, like making sure the timeline of the story is clear.
  • Write a first draft of another novella novelette. Finished at 13K!
  • Read a minimum of four books on the business or craft of writing. Four of four books read. Goal met!

Social media:

  • Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. Met for Tuesday and Wednesday, not for Monday.
  • Blog two times per week. On track to meet this goal.
  • Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. On track to meet this goal.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

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8 thoughts on “When writing is like wrestling an alligator: A midweek ROW80 check-in

  1. One of the things I tend to do when working on the second draft (and sometimes the first) is create a timeline. I do this in a separate file. Others swear by Excel, but Excel and I are not friends. 🙂 Since I’ve started working in Scrivener, I will add the info I used to put in the second file in the comments section, which I have found excellent for keeping me on track and on timeline.

    Congrats on your progress!

    • That’s a great idea, Ruth. I definitely benefited from writing down the time stamp for each scene. It showed me a couple places where I needed to rearrange chapters/scenes. I like the idea of making a timeline. I don’t use Excel too often, but even typing something up in Word helps.

      Thanks!

  2. I’m revising my scenes out of chronological order, so I know there’ll be some inconsistencies to iron out later. Once I’ve gotten through all 60 scenes, I will do another readthrough, and make notes for things that need to be addressed, along with what I already know is going to be a fat research list.

    And that timeline idea of Ruth’s – that’s something I really haven’t done; but it would have been a very handy thing to have done, and I will be doing it for each book in and of itself, each duology pair, and then the series as a whole.

    If I focus on all that still needs to be done before I’m ready to publish this series, it’s hugely daunting…so I’m focusing on one scene at a time (well, in several projects, to be fair), and that seems to keep things at a mental level I can tolerate.

    I hope the tweaking has helped! =)

    • I try to revise in order–emphasis on try. At some point, I end up jumping from chapter to chapter to change things. I went back and forth with this manuscript a lot. Like you, I’ll need to do a read-through (I’m giving it a month or two cool-down period) and make sure that everything is consistent.

      I like Ruth’s timeline idea, too. I need some way to keep track of what is happening when–that way I don’t end up with two Tuesdays in a row or, as happened in this WIP, scenes that are out of order.

      I also break big projects down into smaller, more manageable tasks. A scene or a page at a time. For me, that’s how things get done.

      Thanks, Shan Jeniah!

  3. Ack! Timelines! I’m so glad my beta readers catch when I’ve totally messed up a timeline. One time a beta reader said “How can the sun be bringing out the golden highlights in his hair? I got the impression this scene was in the evening.” LOL I’m looking at something now in my latest book trying to figure out if something happened that night or the next night.

    I hope you put that alligator DOWN! 🙂

    • Timelines tend to be something that trips a lot of us up. It’s those little things, like your example, that get past us. Thank goodness for beta readers. They’re awesome at catching that stuff.

      Thanks, Lauralynn! 🙂

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