Wednesday, June 27, 2007

This is Not a Post on Detail

Maven Darcy Burke I was going to write a post piggybacking Maven Erica’s Monday post on detail. I thought we’d try a workshoppe in which you could post passages showing us detail using a setup I provided. Sounded fun! And then the following happened.

Monday I got some great feedback on the first 55 pages of Notorious, which I was planning to enter in the Indiana Golden Opportunity contest. Then, I got feedback from a contest I entered (and didn’t final in – Monday was an up and down sort of day, but mostly up overall – hey, I finaled in the Summer Sizzle!). Wonderful comments from all parties, despite a giant problem with the opening scene and one of my main characters. Both are fixable, but how does fixing them affect the rest of the ms, which I am nearly halfway through final polishing? Ack!

I got up Tuesday morning and immediately attacked the opening scene, eager – no excited - to incorporate the suggestions I’d received. First off: remove leftover plot point from the very first version of the book. Easy enough. Second: fix the implausible backdrop situation. Takes some finagling, but doable. Uh-oh, the h/h can’t meet in the same way. What about their banter? What about their delicious, lovely banter? For the love of God, WHAT ABOUT THEIR BANTER? Everyone liked the banter so I have to find a way to work it in. Okaaaaay. Deep breath. Uh-oh again. The hero’s first POV scene has to change and everyone loves that scene. I. love. that. scene. It shows his character perfectly and sets up a call back in a later scene. Argh! Another deep breath. Maybe I can still keep it if I just tweak the order a bit. No problem. We’re still working here, people. Now I need to pepper in the secondary character’s link to the heroine a little better so there aren’t questions about her. No problem. Except, as I type, I suddenly realize the removal of the leftover plot point ruins my villain’s motivation! End excitement. Begin teeth gnashing and hair pulling.

And here I am. I think I’ve actually figured things out, with the primary thing being, why am I freaking out over this? There are lots of reasons and I’m not going to bore you with them, because they’re not that important. The important thing is that I have a plan. I am nothing without a plan (right Maven Lacey?). For awhile today, I thought my plan had been obliterated and that was crushing, but plans are meant to be changed. Plotters probably hate hearing that, but I think it’s invariably true. Flexibility is key. I’m a plantser myself (I’d like to claim this as MavenSpeak, but others have used this term long before I). I plot and pants and know that sometimes things do not turn out as I’d planned, but that this is maybe for the best. Hey, I never planned to get married at 21. I was going to go to grad school and travel. I also never planned to have kids. Not that I didn’t want them, I just didn’t pick out names or plan it (okay, in the interest of full disclosure, we really, really did plan – God did we plan – once we decided we wanted to have them, and even that didn’t go according to plan).

What’s my point? Oh yeah, these blog posts are supposed to have a point. The point is, life deals you some cards and you just play them the best you can. You can make it work. After all, this was supposed to be a blog post about details.

Your turn: How do you deal with unexpected change? Do you cling to what you know and kick and scream the whole way? Or do you embrace it with giddy excitement and see opportunity where others see soul-crushing disappointment?


lacey kaye said...

Yes, plans! Plans change! THANK YOU!

Glad to see you're right on track with this. Can't wait to see your fixes (but will have to, because today's a very busy day for me).

Attitude is everything :-)

MerylF said...

I thrive on forward movement and change, which is one reason my colleagues drive me batty. Luddites, the lot of them. They don't even like changing the toner...

Luckily this translates ok to my writing and, after I squash the ego (how DARE they say that! It's perfect! Bah!) I can work in change no problem.

Glad to see you got through what sounds like some tricky edits :)

B.E. Sanderson said...

Unexpect change? I roll with it. I reserve all excitement and/or gnashing of teeth until the change has been dealt with. Once everything is fine, then I can either hoot with happiness, or grouse about my bad luck.

Sorry your unexpected fixes are giving you trouble, but it sounds like you're tackling them. =oD

Maggie Robinson said...

Plans, schmans. But I admit I am often loath to use the cut and paste feature, or God forbid, delete. Just because I wrote it and hit "save" doesn't meant it should be, though. :)

I'm really good with real life change.It's fiction that makes me suffer.

Isabel said...

Attitude is everything :-)


Though I still have a hard time with change. When it comes to my book I take it one comment at a time.

Maggie, this is an awesome quote, I'm really good with real life change.It's fiction that makes me suffer.


Bill Clark said...

The point is, life deals you some cards and you just play them the best you can. You can make it work. After all, this was supposed to be a blog post about details.

What is it they say about life is what happens while you are making other plans?

I often look back and shudder at the thought of what would have happened if all my so-called plans had come to fruition. Thank goodness life took over instead!

Vicki said...

It depends. If I really liked what I had and then I'm told it doesn't work it's sometimes hard to change it.

Once I let it lie for a few days and go back to it then I almost always see they were right. That's when it becomes exciting for me.

I'm trying to get past this have to wait a couple of days first thing though.

Marianne Harden said...

I love the 'ah ha' moment. Just love it. I'm a panser, so planning / plotting never go as expected.

I write a scene and then go for a walk. Strange, how the heart pumping faster seems to clarify things. Too bad, the exercise hasn't worked off my piano (the part over the fence last.)

But still, I do love the 'ah ha' moment---er, moments.

I carry a notepad, write down the new discovery, makes notes of scenes that will need to change in order to make the new development work, jot down some ideas about where and when to add foreshadowing, and then run home and make the changes.

Of course, the changes come after a quick snack. Hmmmm, maybe that is why the piano is still hanging (literally) around.

Kelly Krysten said...

I roll with it. MY stories stray so much from my original idea for the better, imo, I would be in hot water if I didn't make the changes. But you illustrated perfectly why it's such hard work. Every minor change trickles down.

Darcy Burke said...

Merylf said:
They don't even like changing the toner...

Bwa! When I worked outsid the ole homestead, I hated when people wouldn't change the toner in the copy machine. Drove me nuts!

B.E. - Sounds like your flexibility serves you well!

Maggie - Isabel was right, that's a great quote!

Bill said:
Thank goodness life took over instead!
Amen, brother! Classic quote from my husband when we were dating, "Well, it's not like were going to get married." (This was a mutual thought at the time.) Then he laughed and said, "Now I've said that we'll get married and have ten kids." He was half right. :-)

Vicki, the waiting IS hard! I probably should have waited to tacke rewrites yesterday until I talked through the issues with a Maven. Unfortunately, even Mavens have lives (gasp!). But, it turns out Mr. Burke is a great substitute Maven.

Marianne, I haven't heard "piano" before! LOL. I agree that exercise helps the thought process. I should have done that yesterday.

You're all giving me such great comments! Man, I love this blogging thing!

lacey kaye said...

I write a scene and then go for a walk.

Me, too! I like to de-stress from the whole writing thing and take a few minutes to think about what I just did and what I'm about to do. Especially if I'm planning to write two scenes in one day.

I like Bill's quote. So true.

I'm definitely a changer. I'm totally good with changing. It's not my PREFERENCE, don't get me wrong, but I can delete like a pro. It didn't used to be that way, but once I started seeing terrific results (clarity, prose, characterization, fun) I got really friendly with the delete key. Which probably drives all the other Mavens crazy. I'm the one who's always suggesting rewrites when something doesn't work. Doesn't work? Get rid of it! Change it! You're the author, for God sakes. You're not etching into a stone tablet.

But then, I also have *scads* of free time ;-P

Darcy Burke said...

Kel, I like when stuff strays. Keeps it fresh and interesting for me.

Lacey said:
But then, I also have *scads* of free time ;-P
What I wouldn't kill for that for the next two weeks! I love the delete key now too. Very liberating. In fact, I'm currently deleting...

ERiCA said...

I often look back and shudder at the thought of what would have happened if all my so-called plans had come to fruition. Thank goodness life took over instead!

I could not have said this better! Exactly the truth.

Lady Leigh said...

Congrats on finaling! A Maven's first- two in one contest! Luckily you aren't in the same category ;-)

I am currently terrified of unexpected change. Not with my WIP, but with my birth. I KNOW that what I most need is to trust and be flexable, but I just started to freak out that something UNEXPECTED is going to happen (which it will, I'm sure.) SO, I'd like to say that I roll with the punches (my WIP has certainly changed in many ways I never foresaw) but currently I just want to hold tight and pray that everything looks that way I want it to!!!

Jacqueline Barbour said...

Just popping by the blog to say I'm not ignoring all y'all, but am on the family vacation in Minnesota. And the Internet access here is...gasp...dial-up. (I'm sooooo spoiled!)

As the Mavens know, I had some pretty disappointing feedback from a contest on my first manuscript, the opening for which I *thought* I'd finally nailed, damn it! Let us just say that I was not a happy camper. I told the Mavens in chat I would probably just shelve the manuscript for good, in large part because everything I've ever done to make it better seems to make it worse instead :-). Maybe the problem is that it's just not fixable and it's time to move on. After all, that was the first manuscript of any length I ever stayed interested in writing long enough to finish. How am I going to stay interested enough in it to write it from beginning to end a SECOND time (especially when I have yet to find the enthusiasm to do the final edits it needs in THIS iteration)? Besides, I just couldn't think how to fix it without ruining the best part of the story (the likability of the hero and heroine).

But then I had an epiphany while making sandwiches for the flight. (Usually, I have them in the shower, but apparently sandwich-making is also good for epiphany production.) I think it's a great idea. Darcy (who was still on chat at the time, bless her) agreed. But it DOES require effectively writing the book over from scratch.

Anyway, long story short(er), I admire Darcy's ability to set aside what she's done before and write fresh. I find it VERY hard. Because once it's written, that's the way the story IS and it's very hard for me to see ANOTHER way to tell the story once it's there!

lacey kaye said...

Hey! We miss you!

Leigh -- I don't have kids so I can't really imagine what you're going through. But I'm sending good, healthy wishes your way!

Darcy Burke said...

Leigh, thanks for stopping by! Man, I hear you about the birth. My first child's birth did NOT go according to plan (and yes, I had a birth plan and a doula). My biggest fear was that I'd have a c-section, and guess what? I had a c-section. And the world didn't end. It wasn't the birth I dreamed of, but the joy of my daughter has far exceeded anything that happened that day. (In fact, being her mom is so far from what I'd planned, it's frightening, but that's a post for another day.) I'll be thinking of you!

Jacq - glad you're in MN safe and sound! On dial-up - blech!

Anonymous said...

Darcy, I’m glad you’re getting the rewrite figured out. Been there, moaned over that. Most of the time, though, I love change, which is why I’m always eager to start a new book. And tear my house apart, and repaint, and buy new tee-shirts, and… The list goes one. It’s a wonder I can sit at the computer long enough to finish a book. Looking forward to you new opening scene.


Kelly Krysten said...

BTW, Erica, I tried to e-mail you about the Tampa RWA meeting, but the e-mail address on your website didn't work.

ERiCA said...

Hi Kelly! I actually did get your email yesterday, I just hadn't had a chance to respond yet. (Stupid 3rd-world-country dial up internet!) I just wrote you back. Sorry if you thought I was ignoring you!

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