Remember my previous post? You know, the one about how I was stuck with my current project and wondered why I was bothering and whether I should start something new that excited me?
Three of you took the time and trouble to comment. Thank you Sandra, Anma and Paula. You all gave me lots to think about. And I did.
Sandra, I did go back and re-read what I'd written. And guess what? It wasn't too bad. Not perfect but I didn't expect it to be so. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised - that is for about 25,000 words. And then it went pear-shaped. Why on earth did that happen?
So I gave myself that talking to. I mean, if it had started well and the story was cranking itself up nicely and was saying what I wanted to say, why did then fall apart? And at last, I found the problem. Or rather both of them. I did not get deep enough into two separate plot lines and characters. One original character didn't do anything after the beginning other than brood and mope about, whereas a new character was not properly fleshed out. She was nothing but a 'baddie' and not the flawed, damaged, annoying and also empathetic person she should have been. The writing was flat, the pace turgid and the ideas began to dry up.
So, it was time to go back to the beginning again and read through until I found the two precise sticking points and re-write extensively before moving on again. In fact, the places where it all went wrong, came well-before the moment I stalled, hating every minute of it.
The moral? A novel goes off the rails well before the final, inevitable impact.
The daft thing is, I have discovered this nugget of truth in my work before. When my brain finds excuses not to write, it is because it basically does not believe in what I'm writing. I should have learned my lesson before now. But it's glued to my forehead now.
Writers are not the same and we all have different methods of writing. It's time I accepted the way I am. I work best without a detailed plan. I've known it for years but it's time to confess that I am neither a planner or a pantser. I cannot keep going until the end of the first draft and then revise. I can't write in a complete muddle in the middle. t works for me is to keep re-reading what I have written, rewrite it and then and then carry on for another five thousand or so words. Then, when I lose the joy, instead of flogging a dead horse, I go right back to the beginning again and correct the reasonably acceptable beginning and then rewrite what I wrote after that and then carry on for another five thousand words and so on and so forth right to the very last word.
I agree it sounds a waste of a lot of energy: taking three steps forward and then two back. Progress is slow but it's sure. And what's more it works for me. And that's all that matters after all.
And that new project? All in good time. I've started my current novel and what I start I always finish. Just don't ask me to rush. But do feel free to shout at me if I haven't got a workable manuscript by the end of the year.