And a little bit of shifting

Usually by the time I near the 100 page mark in a rough draft, I have to do some tweaking to the plot.  I do it again at about 300, too.  It’s generally forward tweaking both times.  This time, though, I had to go backward and tweak.  I know, I know!  I’ve always maintained that when you’re writing rough draft, you pencil in changes in the finished material in the margin and push forward, but we’re talking chapters here, so I spent yesterday tweaking the first two chapters and writing a brand new third.  From here, I think I just need a quick run through the old third, fourth, and fifth to change them to four five, and six.  Writing chapter seven today would do my heart good.  It will be a long day, but it’s do-able, and then I’d be back on track for my weekly page count.

Why the tweaking?  The pace was too slow, and I didn’t like how it was taking forever to get to the real problem.  “Oh, it’s this.  No, it’s this!  Oh, look, this is the real problem.”  It was making me tired, so I just jumped all the way back to the third chapter and put it all out on the table.  Instead of decreasing the tension, it increased it, and I’m much happier.

Snow is still dusting, but the roads are cold, and watching the dry bits of snow drift under the passing cars is mesmerizing.  Having a substance that can be in all three phases (gas, liquid, solid) within such a narrow temperature shift is very, very cool.  One of my favorite YA short stories when I was growing up was called A PAIL OF AIR.  I don’t even remember who wrote it, but it’s stuck with me.

28 Comments

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28 responses to “And a little bit of shifting

  1. Thanks for sharing about the things that go through your head as you write – hearing you explain the where whys and hows is always helpful.

    I found and read A PAIL OF AIR today – what a cool story! I liked how it paints this world that is both harsh and yet warmly boiled down to very human essentials. And I loved how the eerie strangeness of their world is simply a manifestation of scientific realities that we just don’t normally experience. And yet there is a hint of the mystical to it – that their survival under those blankets alone shouldn’t have been scientifically possible. But it was…

    Happy writing! I hope you find yourself back on track with your weekly page count goal.🙂

  2. Tami

    My favorite was one I read over and over as a pre teen,that was a long time ago but I cant remember the author either,its called-grin-A GAME FOR DEMONS.The progression to the Hollows much later was oh so natural!

  3. Jenetta

    I just started following your blog and I have to say it’s fascinating to read about how you work through writing a book. I used to love writing when I was little but that’s kind of petered out for me. I never had an idea I could run with. It’s so much fun to think about the process you went through for the last eight books. What an exciting discovery each book must have been for you. Thanks for sharing with all of us!

    • Thanks, Jenetta. 😉 You never know. You might someday pick up a pen again. It kind of like Geometry. If you’re not ready for it, you can work all day long and get nothing, but when it clicks, it clicks.

  4. Stephenie

    Its flurrying here in Iowa City too… which is so not cool. I don’t like it… If it were warmer I would be able to get my car to a gas station, but nooo! Tiny tiny hatchbacks do not drive well in snow.

    I need to work on my short story for my Final Portfolio, but for me the snow is just a depressing reminder ad I want to crawl back in bed. Blegh. Off to search for a winter job!

    • I’ve been enjoying living back in the “city” where I can walk if I need to. Our gas consumption has dropped dramatically, and I love it. Good luck on the job search!

  5. Judi in NJ

    Sounds like MI blew you a Welcome Back kiss yesterday. Sweet. Beautiful. Enjoy.

  6. JanisHarrison

    A “First Draft” is just that — a first fleshing out of the skimpy bones of the story line, no matter how detailed your “outline.” It’s when we sing hallelujah for word-processing computers. They’re so easy to insert, reposition, etc, not just words but whole pages. I recall reading through a paper for some class, realizing I had missed an entire substantiation of a point, and I had to RETYPE the whole blasted thing on my Smith Corona (ca. 1911), including footnotes. In the middle of the night, of course, before a long day that started with an early class and finished with 4 hours at my job. I don’t really miss those days…

    • Hi Janis. I had to type my college papers on a typewriter, and I remember resisting getting a computer for the longest time. Now I don’t know what I’d do without one. Go through a lot of paper and pencil, I suppose. I don’t miss those days, either.

  7. Marsha

    I like how you seem to write your stories as if you are reading them for the first time. I find that I rush to put my thoughts to paper and then when I go back to read it I think” no one will understand what I just said but me”. I’m not sure my story is ever going to see the light of day.

    • JanisHarrison

      Marsha, dear, that’s the most important time, when you leave a piece for a while. Sort of like bread rising: you leave it alone for a while, then come back and work out the big holes and knead in the texture. Time and again I’ve read published authors describing that “aging” or “proving out” time–it’s essential. A hint: sometimes I get a vignette, a whole scene, maybe a chapter. I slam it down — don’t worry about typo’s or anything–and leave it for a while. When I come back to it I can see what I need to fix, or build up to, or whatever. Usually that’s when I have to get down to the first, barest Outline, and work on Background and Character Development. Don’t be discouraged, hon; you’ve taken the first step, and you know what every journey begins with…

    • Thanks, Marsha. It is sort of like reading it for the first time since I don’t ever know exactly how it’s going to turn out. That is exciting for me, but for a lot of writers, it’s scary and can lead to writer’s block when they become afraid to put anything down.

      Rushing through is exactly how I write my dialog. I can “write” a 15 page chapter in two hours, but it’s only dialog. No one CAN understand what I wrote. There just isn’t enough information on the page. But ten hours later, it’s filled out and fleshed in enough to carry a story.

      Fast is okay if you go back and tweek, and it’s never as scattered as you think it is. Trust me on that. 😉

  8. Niko

    Yay for progress! Though by this point, I think we’re all so enamored with Rachel and her world she can talk about leaves for twenty pages and still hold our attention.😀

    • Val-OH

      Maybe.. But I’d rather she talk about Trent for 20 pages. lol

    • Niko

      Well Val, as you learned last night, I have an interesting way of looking at things…. my version of Rachel talking about leaves for twenty pages would entail something like: “Hmm, green leaves remind me of Trent. What could I possibly do to Trent with these leaves? Bury him…. roll in the leaves…. tackle him…. take advantage of him….” *grin* That’s probably why I’m not the one in charge, no?😀

    • Val-OH

      Who doesn’t?! Especially sexy ones with Trent and Rachel! ~dreamy sigh~

    • Niko

      I love the way you think!

    • valerieohio

      Yeah Niko… I like the tackling and taking full advantage of idea very much. If we were in charge Niko it would be time for Trent and Rachel to have a sexy PARTY! Yeah BABY!♥

    • Niko

      Hehehehehehehehehe… I like parties…😉❤

    • Val-OH

      Whoops, that comment that is up there should be down here…

    • Hi Niko. Mmmm, twenty pages, eh? I’ll see what I can do. . . . -laugh-

  9. Good for you to have that kind of control, Kim. Best of luck with Chapter Seven today. And the snow? Your vignette is why writers write – they see life differently, providing those who don’t write a picture in words.

    • Thanks, Jeannie. It went pretty well yesterday, and I’m back on track and loving the result even more. Especially since it had a big change with only a little effort. That doesn’t happen very often. 😉

  10. I loved that story! I initially guessed it was Asimov, but in fact it was Fritz Lieber.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Pail_of_Air?wasRedirected=true

    • Hi Norm. If I’m remembering correctly, it was in an anthology that Asimov put together. At least, that’s where I saw it. Fritz Lieber. I wonder what else he wrote . . . Must go look.