Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The “Right” path



I’m still in revision land. I thought I was almost ready for prime time, and then it’s back to rewriting chapter one. The most amazing thing about this book is that every time I get a new idea for it, I get more excited. I remember my other books as being more of a “Oh no, now I have to rework the whole thing, and then proof the whole thing all over again,” feeling. With this book it’s more of a “OMG! Why didn’t I think about that? Curse you driving which doesn’t let me also write at the same time! Why can’t I be typing RIGHT NOW!!!!”

This is an unusual response to my brain monkeys and their ideas (no, they aren’t quite up to flinging poo yet, but they are monkeys, we know where it’s going).

And then right on cue, that little voice spoke.

“What if you already had it right? What if you’re destroying your novel by tinkering too much? What if you had it right the first time, and all of this is just messing it up, destroying your baby?”

Umm yeah. That voice.

First: Shut up stupid voice. I don’t need you and your downtrodden ways.

Second: There is no one right path.

I know, blasphemy, right? Nope, I’m gonna say it again: There is no right path in a novel. There are some stories that are stronger than others, but just imagine if Doc Brown had used a VW Thing instead of a DeLorean for his time machine? I know things wouldn’t have been the same, but I bet the story still would have been good (not to mention the resurgence of the Thing, my personal dream car, in case you’re wondering). Go here if you want tosee a bunch of Things.

(I know they don’t look like much, but they even have a spot to mount an outboard motor on the back… sigh.)

What I’m saying is there is no right path to drive to the grocery store, so why should there be a right path to get to the climax of your novel? Sure the scenery might be better on one road, and another path might be more efficient, but only you know which is most important for your story. Of course, ideally, you want a path with both efficiency an scenery, but that's not always going to happen. So yeah, I’m rewriting the first chapter, then it’s back through for the ripple effects throughout the rest of the story (why is this so much fun? Shouldn’t I be annoyed that I’ve made more work for myself? And seriously, I’m rapidly approaching having rewritten every word in my novel. Silly inefficient process.)

Oh, and little voice in my head? Consider yourself gestured at in a rude fashion by yours truly.

12 comments:

  1. I need to re-write my first chapter too, right now, I'm not even sure how I'm going to do it! So I feel your pain about the little voice. Mine keeps saying, "it's not good enough" and I just have to ignore it and figure something else out.

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    1. Yeah, I've decided that if I have to rein in my delusions of grandeur then I also need to rein in that stupid little voice.

      And yeah, first chapters are really rough.

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  2. Haha - take that, little voice! We all have them, and it's darned hard to block them out! Best of luck with the editing/re-writing. I've only just written my first chapter but I know I will have to re-write it when I get to the end!

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    1. Yes, that little voice is driving me insane. I wish there were a real way to shut it up for good. And don't worry, at this point, I've rewritten the first chapter of Every. Single. Book.

      All of them get rewritten, sometimes it's just a matter of time.

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  3. Quiet that little voice! don't lsiten to him :-)

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    1. I know, the little voice was created to suck the joy out of everything. (maybe it's from the NegaVerse... sorry, I couldn't help the Sailor Moon reference)

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  4. Very interesting post, Rena. You are so brilliant. :) I'm going to go check out that link now. :)

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    1. Thanks Rachel, I admit, the Thing isn't much to look at, but it's a wonderful car. My grandfather had one, and I wish that Volks Wagon would go back to making them...

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  5. You're so smart! And feel strengthened in this fact: monkeys throwing poo attracts a large audience at the zoo, sooo...

    Funny thing about those beginnings...my first book published I sweated and bled over the opening. When it went to edits, my editor hated it and wanted something new. I dug out the original opening and he was like- perfect! Go figure.

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    1. You know, good point about the poo flinging.

      And YES! the first first chapter sometimes is the best, but it can be hard to figure out which will work for everyone. Right now I'm in the "How do I hook readers, get the story going, AND give enough characterization to get the story going?"

      I think I lack patience.

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  6. I'm re-writing my first chapter right now, too! And I'm dealing with the exact same concerns you mention directly above - hook, action, AND character set up.

    It's maddening.

    Hmm, I wonder what my original first chapter even is. It's been so long I can't remember...

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    1. I wonder about the hook, action and character set up thing. Sometimes I wonder if maybe we're trying to do too much. Or maybe we aren't doing enough. I don't know, I go back and forth about the first chapter.

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