The Plot Thickens Like Jam on Toast — Day 396

Joined up with Swamptoberfest yesterday, a group writing-marathon in cyberspace. Kind of exactly like a bunch of writers getting together in a study room in the university library or perhaps a bookstore, except that everyone was thousands of miles away from each other and talking via Skype and Twitter.

I found it a little difficult to tell you the truth — editing the second draft takes a certain amount of concentration, and popping in and out to a Skype or Twitter conversation did get to be distracting. But on the whole, very cool — a lot less “lonely” (if that’s the right word — it’s not, but for lack of better…) than writing by myself. There is something about the solidarity that comes with knowing others are going through the same trials and tribulations at literally the same time. If you are a writer looking for an occasional writing group, I highly recommend subscribing to The Gig to hear about upcoming Swamped with Words events. (Click on the floating “Follow” tab, bottom right to sign up for email updates.)

Most importantly for me, last night’s Swamptoberfest was a great excuse to focus on my novel for the first time in a long (long) time. This session, I was spending much more time editing than writing, which hasn’t been the case through a lot of this second draft. Of course the big reason why I didn’t “finish” the first draft was that the story had changed direction so much that I felt it was easier to stop and start again instead of trying to stitch together different scenes. So it shouldn’t be surprising the amount of rewriting I’ve had to do.

However I’ve come across a new problem. There is a scene that I want to keep, except that it’s long and it doesn’t really fit. That ate up a lot of time last night, trying to decide whether or not to cut it. I’m still undecided. At first, I wasn’t even sure how to go about deciding. I was going to just cut it and worry about it later, but that seemed a little drastic. Then I was going to keep it and worry about it later, but then I had to make certain plot decisions surrounding it, and that seemed dangerous if it was going to be cut anyway… does any of this sound familiar? It’s new territory for me.

The most frustrating thing I think is that I can’t see the big picture. I’m wrapped up in the scenes, stuck in the plot like a fly who has the wings to hover above the toast but whose feet are caught in the jam. The more I struggle, the more stuck I get.

Ultimately, what I have to do is determine why I want to keep it. If it’s simply because I like it, then it has to go. You can’t just keep a scene in and waste a couple thousand words because you “like” it if it doesn’t move the plot or character development along.

Originally, the scene was written to reveal something about the main character, but I think that point may have already been made. The scene also introduces new characters into the story which I find appealing in itself because this is essentially a two-person story. A “fresh face” or two would always be welcome. But they won’t make any other appearance in the story, and the way the scene is written now, it doesn’t offer any of the typical “sideline” goals you want in a novel like comic relief or backstory revelations.

When I write it down like this, the choice becomes obvious. But still, I feel like there is something there in that scene. I already know it’s not one of my “darlings” (it makes me cringe in a way actually…) so whatever is drawing me to it is something different.

I think I’ll have to let it roil in my brain and come back to it later.

Overall though I’m very happy with my progress. I updated my novel-o-meter — 71% there! Of couse, by the end of the second draft I’ll likely be at 110% or so, but then that’s a third-draft concern really, isn’t it?

~Graham

Novel Writing Hours

Today (Yesterday): 4.5
Total: 50.25

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3 Responses to The Plot Thickens Like Jam on Toast — Day 396

  1. Hell, you talked me into cutting the damn thing.

    The Swamped With Words thing sounded like fun. Wish I hadn’t been on a client gig at the time.
    TC/The Writer Underground’s most recent blog post: Steve Jobs: The Earthquake Has Stopped

    • Graham Strong says:

      Hey Tom,

      Yeah, it was fun. That was their second one (I couldn’t make the first one either…) so I’m sure there will be more to come.

      Hope you had a good trip.

      ~Graham

  2. Pingback: Day 425 - I'm In Love... | Graham Strong’s Novel Writing Blog

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