Monthly Archives: January 2015

Writing

The Plot Hole of Doom!

I have one MS that is mostly finished. It’s been through 3 drafts (if you can call them that — my WIPs sort of evolve and expand as they go along) and it’s kind of in the final polishing stage.

Then a couple of weeks ago I found a plot hole. Not just any plot hole, but a black hole that sucked my entire MS into its gaping maw. It was one of those things that made me think “Why doesn’t character A just XYZ right at the beginning?” And there was no good answer except that when I wrote it, it didn’t occur to me.

dont_despair

photo credit: chris.peplin 
via photopin cc / Text added

I didn’t spot that plot hole through all the revisions. No one else who read it (bless their little, generous, critique-giving cottons socks) spotted it either. But once I’d seen it, I couldn’t unsee it.

After a mini major freak out, I emailed my fabulous crit partner, Kelley. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. She agreed with my assessment. It was indeed the Plot Hole of Doom. But she also helped me work through the ramifications and figure out how to save it.

This was tricky, because everything I changed had a ripple effect on the rest of the plot. Change event A, and event B no longer makes sense. The overarching plot would still work, but the path the characters took to get there would require some major tweaking.

I grieved. There were scenes that would have to be cut completely. Awesome lines that would be yanked and may never see the light of day. Paragraphs I’d slaved over that would now be cast aside like week-old leftovers. Witty banter and character-defining moment would cease to be.

But I wasn’t ready to give up on it.

One night, after a few days of stewing on it, when the kids were in bed and my husband was out, I sat down at the computer.

Then I went away and watched TV. Then I came back. Then I watched more TV. Just before midnight, I decided I’d have one more look before I went to bed. (This decision may have been aided by the consumption of copious amounts of energy drink at an inappropriate time of day.)

In Scrivener, I moved all the chapters into a new folder called “Black Hole Manuscript” (so I can always go back to them if I want to). Then one chapter at a time, I started the new manuscript. I would copy the chapter back into the Manuscript folder, then open both the original and the copy in the side-by-side view. That way I could chop and change the new one, but still refer to the original to see how it used to be.

I went hard, fixing and changing things based on the new plan I’d worked out.

At 4am I started to see double, so I went to bed.

The kids woke me up at 7.

I plonked them in front of the TV, grabbed myself a cup of tea, and got back into it.

At some point my husband came home. I may have grunted at him as he walked past.

At 2pm I finished the final chapter. I had just completed a 14 hour (minus 3 for sleep) writing marathon. When I’m on a roll, I’m on a roll.

There was still work to be done. Some chapters had been decimated and needed to be expanded again. Other ones needed to be checked for flow.

But overall I was very, very happy with it. In fact, one of the underlying threads works better in the new version than it did in the old version.

Writing is hard, but I love it anyway.

Writing

The Dreaded Synopsis

Recently, I had the pleasurable experience of writing a short synopsis for one of my WIPs. Right, disengage sarcasm mode.

Writing synopses isn’t exactly fun. Trying to condense all the character development and interwoven plots of your carefully crafted, 60,000-odd word novel into (in my case) one page at 1.5 spacing. But it is doable.

photo credit: Joybot 
via photopin cc / Text added

I’m someone who learns from example, so it’s no good telling me how to write a synopsis. I need to be shown. So, here’s a great post describing how to write a 1 page synopsis using Star Wars as an example.

I’m also incredibly lucky that I have a great circle of writer friends to help me. It’s useful to have both people who have read the story and some who haven’t check out the synopsis.

People who have read the story are great because they can help you pick what to include, what to gloss over, and what to leave out.

People who haven’t can tell you whether the synopsis makes sense, because they can’t fill in the blanks with any prior knowledge.

And people who read your revisions over and over again, telling you which bits you’ve done well and which bits need work, and encouring you to continue polishing that baby until it shines…well, they’re fricken amazing.

Eventually you get to the point where you have to submit that bad boy somewhere. A deadline looms. So you decide, that’s it: it’s as good as it’s gonna get. And if you look at it one more time you’re going to end up editing around in circles and make it worse again. You either have to click send (or print) or take up a less stressful hobby like knitting.

And time will tell if you did a good job.