Keep Going

My little brain has been pulled in several different directions this morning, none having to do with writing. So like many times before when I've not known what my writing post would be about, I'll just jump in.

Right now, I'm drafting a new manuscript. I've been working on it since about the first of September, and I'm a little over 25,000 words, which is a little over 100 pages. This is the first novel manuscript I've written where I've found myself in the wonderful zone almost every day. The words are flowing with relative ease.

Sounds great, right?

That part of it is. But . . .

I haven't known how good any of those words are. The first chapter was OK for first draft. Tension, conflict, suspenseful ending. Then it sort of all fell apart. A couple weeks ago, I decided to bring in a character earlier than I intended - well, actually, he decided it when he showed up in a knot of people - to bring in later. I was surprised when he turned around and spoke to my protagonist.

So I went back and added some chapters from his point of view. It helped, but didn't solve the problem. I kept writing, but my concern kept growing. There was no zing. None. Zip. And I have way too many characters.

Friday I wrote a scene with this same character who surprised me before. Good scene. It was a scene I hadn't planned, and when he got out of his car, I didn't know what he was going to do. Before he got out, I thought I was going to chuck the entire scene and have him do something else.

Boy, am I glad I followed him.

Turns out the scene is my new Chapter One.

But he won't be the one doing what he did. He showed me what I need my protagonist to do when the reader opens the book.

Most of my work this week will be rewriting this chapter from my protagonist's POV. And adding the much needed tension and conflict to her chapters up to where I am now. All of that will grow out of this new chapter. It will give purpose to what I've written so far and a whole change of attitude for her as well. Those are the things that have been missing. So when I get back to this point after making these changes, I'll move forward again. I may still have doubts as I write, but they won't be these huge ones.

As you might have guessed by this point, I'm a somewhat organic writer. A pantser. But I'm a pantser with a plan. Going in, I know my main characters fairly well, although I find out much more about them seeing them in action. I know the beginning (or so I think!) and end, and a few plot points in between. But the overall journey is pretty much off the cuff as I write.

This is going to be a good story because it has good bones. But to find it, I had to keep writing through all the fear that it was going nowhere. I had to keep writing to find the spark.

Like I said at the beginning, this manuscript started out different from any others, and it's continuing that way. Maybe that's a good sign. I hope so.


Jackie Houchin said…
Thanks for sharing this writing struggle. I love your candid remarks, they are so honest that I feel they are speaking to me personally. It takes a good writer to do that - in a novel or a blog post. Keep up the good work.
It sounds as if you're heading a direction that makes you happy. I've found that i ignore my characters at my peril. I outline every time, but something always happens while I slog through the first draft that makes me think "Wow. That is such a better way to do it."

Keep going!

Carol Kilgore said…
Jackie - Thanks for your kind words. They keep me going.

Elspeth - I think I misspelled your name the last time I wrote it. Sorry about that. You're right - this direction does make me happy. In addition, an event that happened to one of my "too many characters" is now going to happen to my protagonist. I hope I find ways to eliminate other "too many characters" too.
We have the same sort of writing style, Carol. I love those moments when a character takes charge to get me through a troublesome spot. It's been a while since I've been in that wonderful zone and I miss it. Good luck with the rest of the manuscript.
Carol Kilgore said…
Thanks, Jane. This manuscript is my first new writing in a while. It feels good to get back to it.
Laura Eno said…
We have the same writing style. It's wonderful what your characters will come up with when given free reign.
Carol Kilgore said…
I think it's wonderful, too, Laura. Thanks for stopping by.