Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Something Wasn't Working

So (yes, I use that word a lot! I know I do! I know!), I've been struggling lately with a project. I knew it needed work. I knew there were words to eliminate, things to tighten, weight to lose. Oh, wait, that was me personally. The jeans just aren't as loose as they should be. But I digress . . .

Something wasn't working with the project in question. The big question was: what?

It took me quite a while - I'm a bit slow at times (ha!) - to figure out the answer to that question.

Today, I figured out the answer. It wasn't an epiphanous (nope, not a word, but I'm using it) moment, lightning striking, bright light bulb going off in the shadows of my mind, a hand slap to the back of the head, or anything jazzy. There was just a sense of AH-HA, but more like ah-ha.

A whisper and not a shout.

I guess I was trying too hard to figure out the problem, so, had it been a snake, it would've bit me in the . . . nether regions. I couldn't see the problem.

I do now.

What does all this mean? Well, a rewrite of sorts, but not a total revamp. There's this character - well, two characters that are almost identical in nature, and what's the point of two of the same characters when just one will do? Now, say all that really, really fast, and you'll understand my thought process as I came to the conclusion that a character's perspective, but not the character, must go. So, as the Queen of Hearts once said in Alice in Wonderland "Off with her (well, his in this case) head"! Okay, not literally, the character is still important and serves a purpose. But . . . the character's perspective isn't necessary. The elimination of, and/or reworking of certain parts of, this perspective will eliminate words (aka lose some weight - ha!) and tighten the narrative.


So (yes, again) have you ever come to this same conclusion in your pieces of brilliance? Have you realized you have two characters that are pretty much the same? Have you (will you) eliminated said character or (as in my case) only the perspective of said character? Did you regret the moment of elimination - character and/or perspective?

You see, there's a sense of regret that the brilliance (at least in my little world) of this character's perspective, the blood, sweat, and tears, the loss of hair I can't afford to lose, the weight (hey, now, I did lose weight while writing the initial draft), will no longer be a part of the story. And yet . . .

. . . the brilliance will still remain a part of the story as I incorporate pieces of each eliminated section into the other sections of each chapter. Geesh, try saying that three times fast.

So, off into revision mode I delve as I eliminate and tighten and (hopefully) lose some weight in the process!



Stina Lindenblatt said...

I had two crit partners who couldn't tell my two characters apart (the mc's bbfs). I didn't think they were anything alike (one had ADHD), but I did, at one critter's suggestion, cut one friend. The story was much stronger for it.

Okay, I did have another character (guy) replace one character in the first chapter for sake of the dialogue. ;)

Bossy Betty said...

Isn't it great when this kind of stuff happens--when there is a realization? Happy revision!

Jemi Fraser said...

Congrats on the quiet epiphany! I had a similar feeling in my previous ms - but it was about the beginning not a person.

Lady Glamis said...

So are you not working on your fantasy piece right now? Hmm... :(

I had to do this with Monarch on my huge rewrite. I had two characters that both served the same purpose, and I ended up combining them into one person. That was a very difficult decision, but it worked out great in the end.

Scott said...

Stina – I didn’t eliminate the character, just his perspective. I’ve only done this in Chapter One, so far, but I felt such a feeling of ‘rightness’ once I did this. I’ve struggled off and on with this character’s perspective for a while now, but it took the moment of epiphany for me to realize the perspective had to go.

Bossy Betty – yep, it’s great. Thanks.

Jemi – thanks. I think these epiphanies happen all throughout the writing process. Some are small, others medium, and some are just big . . . like eliminating a perspective.

Lady Glamis – I am working on the fantasy piece as well. This other project is one I definitely want to query, maybe later this year, maybe next year. It’s always in the back of my mind. So, as I’m working away at work the other day my thoughts kept coming back to this project, this child of my heart and mind, and what I needed to do to a) eliminate the words I need to eliminate and b) make it the best I can possibly make it. As I mentioned in my response to Stina, “I’ve struggled off and on with this character’s perspective”. Everything just came to a head. So, I revise one chapter per night (well, most nights, sometimes life is too crazy) and then do some work on the fantasy project. It’s all about balance!

Lady Glamis said...

Oh, I totally get that. I should be doing that with Monarch, but I still need to let it sit for just a bit longer, then I've got some final edits to do.