I’m about to type ‘The End’ again. This is the third time I’ve reached this milestone on this story, my fourth manuscript. The first attempt was so close to being finished, I was glowing with anticipation of sending it out. My critique partners had been busy with life and hadn’t had time to read my chapters for a while, so I kept on writing. As I started that final chapter, my CP finally had the time to do a quick read to see how the plot was going. Not so good – she told me I needed to start over and put conflict into my work. I was devastated. “But, I have conflict,” I protested loudly. “Not enough,” she answered.
I was overwhelmed on how I could do this? The task seemed insurmountable. How could I go back and rewrite this story? Right from the beginning, I had known what would happen, when and how. I sat in front of my computer for days (well, maybe it was weeks) trying to figure out how to rewrite the plot with more conflict. Nothing happened. I couldn’t do it. I put the pages away and made quilts, repainted a room and avoided writing. Avoidance is an easy thing, but after a while it wasn’t working for me anymore. I pulled out my standby, my inspiration that never failed me. I put my Phantom of the Opera DVD into the player and watched it twice. My muse started taking interest in changing their habits, reworking their story and accepting that conflict would have to be faced if we were ever to get their story told.
The first thing I did was (shudder) delete. Some of the chapters in the beginning were fine, but as I edged toward the end, I started seeing the story in a different light. Yes, if I changed this here and made my hero or heroine miserable there, it might just work. It got so easy to toss problems and horrible situations in their paths that one of my friends told me the only thing I hadn’t put my hero through was tossing the kitchen sink at him. (Hmmm, no, I just couldn’t do that to the poor hero, too. He was, after all, quite a charmer and needed a break.)
The second time I was close to finishing, I didn’t like where the ending was going. Somewhere along my writing journey, my craft skills caught on. I finally figured out how deep POV could really add a lot (my online teacher will no doubt still question that I figured it out enough) but I went back a third time and added ‘why’ to my characters’ actions. I had spent enough time with them that I knew why they acted in certain ways and what would work to make them ‘perfect’ together. As I entered those final two scenes, my stomach clenched and tied in knots. I really cared about my hero and heroine. I not only wanted them happy, but I had to find a way to give the villain one redeeming quality. After all, he was the hero’s brother. I am happy now. I believe I have added that conflict and found the way to show my characters in full dimension, bringing them full circle and letting them step into that ‘happily ever after’ realm.