Wednesday, April 25, 2012
The Extended Break
I hadn't forgotten about this blog. I'm only two behind my King of the Hill movie challenge. After catching Hunger Games, I basically stopped watching movies. A friend was able to convince me to finally sit down and watch Titanic and I'll be doing an in depth discussion of that movie later. I also recently watched A Little Princess. But, beyond this, I needed time off. It also doesn't help that my grandmother passed away and I got a promotion at work.
Breaks are important, even in writing. One of the best times to take a break is after completing a novel. My good friend, fellow SWAG member, and author of Uncross Your Heart, Taryn Elliott, had to remind me of this rule. I finished writing the first draft of Extrication last week. During the writing process, something happened with Scrivener and I lost an entire chapter. While I promised not to go back immediately into the story, I felt like I hadn't completed the novel without that lost chapter. I attempted to redo the chapter and got a harsh reminder why you need to step away.
Stories are a journey. You have a character who starts at Point A and travels down the path of the story until they reach the end of the story at Point Z. With writing, you get into the head of a character and put him through this journey. If you are doing things right, the problem should be obvious. After finishing a novel, you are in the head of a character at Point Z. A Point Z character is not going to be the same person as the one a Point A or even a Point W. Character growth leads you with a completely different person.
This was what happened when I tried to fill that missing chapter. Peter Smith, in my head, is a Point Z character. For me to go back and write this scene, I need to wait, let the character have some time off and go back to the story after that break. When I return, I'll have to start from Point A and work my way through to the missing chapter. Then, with the proper character in my mind, I can write the scene.
Just so that we are clear, I'm not talking about plot. I know exactly what happens in the chapter that I lost. After all, I wrote it once before. The issue is that I need to be in the character's state of mind. That's not that easy of a shift to make. So, for now, I'm focusing on other things while I wait for another week to pass when I'll try this again. After all, Tara Elliot said that the minimum time limit is two weeks. I'll trust her judgement; she writes good shit.
Go buy her book.