Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A Time to Chill

I'm revising Chapter Twenty-Two of my manuscript, recalling how it was a section of the first draft where my writing speed really slooooooowed doooooooown.

My heroine was about to enter an overwhelming new place and meet several new characters--an intimidating situation for both of us. After all, I had to create this place and all these people.

Rather than face the challenge of encountering a brand new environment, we called in sick. Literally. She'd had a rough week, physically, emotionally and spiritually, and didn't have the world's most robust constitution to begin with (gee, I wonder where she gets that from?). She wakes up unable to move, delaying her arrival by a day.

We both needed one more short chapter to gather strength, to prepare ourselves for the changes ahead. As I reread this interlude yesterday, it felt choppy, halting. In a word, ill. The worst sign was the final line:

"[finish chapter somehow]"

Great. Thanks, Jeri of the Past. Very helpful suggestion.

Happily, on second draft it's turned into an interesting chapter that rounds out some of the backstory and mythological elements of the various cultures. By taking the time to slow down, I was able to deepen the story and work out some thematic kinks.

I guess the writing lesson here is, trust your instincts. If a section gets tough, sometimes you need a bit of time to get your bearings before moving on.

Note: that means pitch a tent, not build a house. At some point (a few hours or days later at most), you just have to plunge ahead and do your best. Fix it on the rewrite, I always say!


Just bumbled past your blog and fell immediately into an...an empathy trance. Or something like that.

I always wonder if the chapter actually reads slow to everyone else, or if it just reads slow to me because it wrote so horribly slow.

I also noticed your blurb on accuracy in details from a few days ago. Not sure if it is kosher to go back and comment on ancient history but I was tempted to. ;)

Posted by: Blogger Muab at 8/05/2005 1:07 AM

Welcome, muab! Feel free to comment on any post. Blogger notifies me by e-mail whenever someone comments, so I'll see it no matter how old the post.

It is hard to assess one's own work. That's why trusty readers are so important.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 8/05/2005 8:33 AM

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Jeri Smith-Ready is a Maryland author of books for teens and adults.

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