Your opus awaits. Everything you have said and wanted to say is written in that ever-so-imperfect first draft. You are undaunted. You are meticulous, or so you thought. You planned out everything, or maybe you didn’t but just decided to write it out and hash it out later, it doesn’t matter. The end is always the same…even for planners. Your work in progress is an unmitigated mess.
Don’t worry, I feel that’s normal. Unless it was written in a single day with no interruptions, you’re going to have to unravel a stream of differing thought patterns and mood swings. If you’re like me, it took several months to several years to write your objet d’art. That means different season, different schedules, different moods (both good and bad), different everything. Sometimes you feel like it, sometimes you don’t. Again, that is totally normal. There are days when I feel like I could write the entire story in one go, but there simply isn’t enough time in a single day to do it–and I have a day job.
Here’s the crux of the issue. You sit down to read your newest baby and find that it is indeed ugly. You set down to fix that ugly parts and realize that you missed the mark in more ways than one. For me, I found that I missed all the plot points by a mile. What happened there? My theory is that I didn’t have clearly defined marks by the time I started writing.
So what does one do about said action? I thought I had the correct answer at one point. I said to myself, “Self, what would you do in this situation.” I didn’t answer…because I was talking to myself, so…
I didn’t know that answer. If I did, I would surely have done it, right?
Because I was answerless, I flailed at my work trying to come up with some sort of solution that might satisfy my need to complete my novel. What I did was simply restructure it. Put the things where they should have been. That’s good and all, because it really did need to be done. The problem now ended up being that I had gaping holes in the story where I was missing whole scenes, whole chapters even. Actually, I was missing the entire second half of the second act. In a hundred scene outline, that’s twenty-five scene at a thousand words per scene, that 25,000 words! Yep, you guessed, I became overwhelmed. All that hard work, all those many nights spent at the keyboard wasted.
Now looking back on it, 25,000 words seems like a lot–and it is, really. That represents twenty-five days of work, really. Maybe even less. In the course of a year, that is only one-twelfth of the time it took to write the entire novel from start to finish (actually it only took me two months to write the first draft, so…my goals were much larger back then, I guess.) The point is that it isn’t really that bad. Twenty-five days is much better than, say, two-hundred, right? So what do I do now?
After climbing off the ledge, I decided to go back to the beginning. As some of you already know–or may not, if this is the only part you see of my blog–I use the Snowflake method to begin the project. So, that’s what I did. And guess what, I found the reasons why my first and second drafts missed their mark. More importantly, I got my mojo back for writing. I found that between the first and second drafts, I was so caught up in my first novel getting published, I forgot all the details of the first draft. On the second draft, I just took for granted that I knew my characters and their motivations. What I didn’t realize was that they had all changed. I needed to go back to the beginning and figure out if they still were the same as when I wrote the first draft. They were not, of course. They were vastly different and I struggled through the writing to find out that gruesome fact.
So, now, dear reader, if you are stuck, or simply cannot find your mojo for writing because this current piece has dragged you down. Don’t blame the story as being uninteresting or bland. It probably means that you took a lot for granted and didn’t take the time to really understand the characters and their motivations. Without those, plots don’t make sense. You need motivation to get through the plot. Characters just don’t walk around aimlessly, fighting hoards of goblins, crossing swamps and deserts to go nowhere. They need a reason to be in the story or you don’t have a story. Remember that.
So, I hope you learned a bit of something, if not about yourself, then about your characters and, as always, happy writing.
If you like what you read, there are more articles and posts from T. Lee Messick that can be found here:Welcome to Everspyyre
Here is the link to find T. Lee Messick’s latest novel: Copper Rain by T. Lee Messick
The son of the most famous man in the world, legendary Crown Breaker Ghreggry Laurelbane, Kalan wants to live life in obscurity and try to forget that fateful day when he ended his father’s life. When a tribal woman and a university man come looking for a wizard to help them bring back the rain, he must face his worst nightmares.
Amad-Dûr, the Magistrate of Yuln, runs a clean city and wants to keep it that way to ascend to the throne as Emperor of Aerolia. Kalan’s swindling ways threaten that plan. As Kalan struggles to make enough money to go north in search of his mother, he must elude the city guards and the ire of the Magistrate. Amad-Dûr has another problem, he needs someone with even the simplest of training in the arcane arts to perform a spell to control the chimera that has stolen a harp that calls the rain.
Kalan’s choice is clear, or so he thought. He must help the Magistrate with his spell or his friends will certainly die slowly and painfully. In doing so, he might doom the whole world to an arid death controlled by a tyrannical emperor who commands a chimera.