Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Full Dimension

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.

16 comments:

Sarah Pearson said...

I think you've just given a perfect demonstration of three things:
1. Crit partners are awesome
2. Leaving time between edits is very important.
3.Where there's life in an MS, there's hope :)

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Hi, Paisley. Enjoyed reading about your story's journey. Good luck!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Thanks Sarah. You are so right. And a little distance can change your perception, too. I have had the habit of rushing through thangs and am realizing it is better to take it slow and easy and pull everything you can out of your work.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Thanks Dawn. It is a great feeling to have it done. I want to read over all my stories and tighten them so I can start sending them out.

Jill James said...

Paisley, what a great lesson in doing it right. Sometimes we have to dig deeper, be willing to delete, and make happily ever after, just a little happier.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Thanks, Jill. Your comments make me realize I really did the right thing by taking my time and making it the best I can.

Mona Risk said...

Hi Paisley, yes conflict is the name of the game. Mills & Boone had me revise three stories and put aside five stories because the conlict was not strong enough between hero and heroine. I am sure your CP will be happy now and I am sure your story will be fantastic. Congratulations on typing The End. Now send it out please.

morgan said...

Hi,
Conflict is the name of the game, but sometimes there can be too much. I've read books that seemed like melodramas.

Relax a little and give yourself a break.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I promise, Mona. I am getting all my stories to send out. A friend of mine is checking over Night Angel for me and says it's a winner. Can't wait to see what she thinks will give it an added boost before I send it out.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Thanks Morgan. I will take that break and spend time with another set of characters for a while. Then I can see this story with fresh eyes again before a final run through.

Carly Carson said...

I am finally learning to start with an organic conflict. It is so much easier than rewriting, a step, which, like you, I've had to do. You're lucky to have a cp who will tell you the truth.

Josie said...

Paisley,
It's interesting the way you describe your writing process, because it's very close to my own. Your new improved story sounds wonderful. The key is to keep writing.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Thanks Carly. I am very lucky to have my CPs - two of them that never let me get away with slopping work.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Hi Josie, I have this thing inside me that says I must finish what I begin. It is part of the Camp Fire Girl oath. I was a leader for 13 years and guess it just stuck. Not a bad motto to hold true.

Denise Pattison said...

Great post as usual, Paisley.

You are a great writer and you take critiques so well, much better than others I've done.

It's hard to delete, it's hard to make sure that what is in your head is what comes out on the paper.

It is amazing how each book we write shows our journey as a writer. Keep writing!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Thanks Denise - I am thinking it is the person who does the critiquing that makes the difference. :)