The Wednesday Word

Today was the day. It was. It was on the calendar, marked as a definite ending. The new novel to be published this day. It didn’t happen. Now, I could say I had a premonition it would be this way, but it wasn’t anything to do with that. Nor with the injury that’s slowed me down.

The story wasn’t ready. There are truths about writing (chuck wendig, so be warned). You can plan it, you can pursue it, you can do it. But it will never be the same for each one. Either we learn more with each story, or we go on producing [the other stuff].

Not on the Cards isn’t finished. It’s close. But during the Review – Revise process, I’ve found some really good moments to expand on, some very, very, very powerful ‘results’ to aim for, and some changes needed to be made. Why? Because I want a good story, well told. And I’d like to do it and get it finished and move on to the next one.

A good story is fun, it’s exciting, it’s even exhilarating, but there’s more than one story waiting in line (37 at last count, one in completed first draft stage). I don’t have time (time, time, time) to waste.

But that’s not how story happens. Regardless of what I want, how much planning and strategy goes into it, the story has the last say. And the last say in this story has become so much better than the original planning indicated. One of the benefits of planning is the flexibility the writer gets from it. Plan A for Not on the Cards was written out, a beat sheet for each main character, a scene outline for all four parts (the three disasters were a bit soft at this stage, but I always know it’s going to ‘get there’ eventually).

I wrote the first quarter, found a very powerful first disaster (well, I think so anyway). What happened in the first quarter meant a few changes to be made to amend the style and direction of the second quarter. Done. Found a very powerful mid-point (same proviso).

When I got to the end of the final quarter, I looked back at the third quarter. It was a bit weak. It didn’t quite sing.

It’s a common thing for me to go back on the first review and delete huge chunks. I did. 25% delete, delete, delete (after a new revision was created, of course). I rewrote it. Reviewed. Revised. Reviewed. Revised. Reviewed. Revised. Stopped. Thought about it. Struggled to get to the computer, so I thought and thought and pondered and – whammo! – there, that’s it! The very, very, very moment of the end of the third quarter.

Now to rewrite the fourth quarter, but as I’m going, I see a new end. This new end wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t listened to the story. It would have been as planned. It would have been less than it could have been. Less than it now is.

Because if it’s not planned, if the obvious and cliche and standard isn’t dealt with, then that’s all that happens. The story ends up with the obvious and cliche and standard. But having written all those things down, it’s easier to see exactly what they are, how much less than what is required to make this a good story, well told.

It’s important to listen to the needs of the story, and the characters within.

Next scheduled publish date: 14 March 2018 (and then I’ll look at getting the Ghost story completed).

And no, no cover design yet.


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