Friday, February 3, 2012

When Something Doesn't Feel Quite Right

Well, I finished my first draft of the new manuscript on Thursday. I posted a little about the emotional aspects on Crime Fiction Collective today. I'd love for you to pop in and comment.

But here, at Suspense Novelist, I'd like to focus a little bit on how I got there. How I was able to finish it in the first place. What my process was.

Writing the last few scenes sat in front of me for days. I didn't exactly ignore them, but I wasn't completely on board with a couple of the aspects I'd carried over from the original manuscript to try and use again with the new one. I didn't really know I felt this way until I realized there was something making me reticent to keep writing. Something felt off.

As writers, we need to pay attention to our instincts. To our own bodies. When we feel uncomfortable, we're probably on to something important. Rather than muddle through and end up with something I hated (and readers would hate at least as much), I took a little time and tried to figure out what felt "icky."

Most of my ending felt great. It hummed. It connected. But one little element felt contrived and totally amateur. Something my husband would hate. With the help of my morning pages brainstorming session, I came up with an alternative. Not nearly as melodramatic, but equally absorbing. At least I hope so.

The take-away here is to have a plan, but be willing to veer from that plan when necessary. Pay attention to whatever reluctance you might have about a part of your plot, or a character, or a setting. Examine it. Decide whether it even merits a place in your story. When you are fighting something, there's probably a very good reason.

CR: California Fire and Life by Don Winslow.

It's all better with friends.

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