Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Extended Break

I took a break from blogging.  For a while now, I felt that my blog posts were short, forced, and lacking useful content.  I not only want to be a published author, I want to make myself a resource for the writing world.  For this reason, it is important that I focus on making my blogs meaningful and thought provoking.

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.

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