GAH! It happened again.
Just when I get right into the thick of my work in progress, somewhere in the second half, I walk smack into a wall. It is plastered with copious notes on characters and story lines, dozens of loose plot threads, and all of my great intentions. The wall is not so high that I can’t see over it, but it is long and wide and daunting.
This is the point in my writing process when all the doubt crowds in. I am faced with everything I had set out to accomplish in my WIP. Staring back at me, stretched along the unsightly wall, is all the evidence of what I have not yet managed to pull off. I stop and look over my shoulder at what is already written. There are some great images, a good introduction to the hero/heroine relationship, but also some obvious holes, leaps in plot, and missing scenes. Then I stretch up on my toes and look over the wall at everything that still must be put down on paper. All the elements that will need to come together to allow for the groundwork to grow into something complete and satisfying.
Anxiety wants to take over. I seriously doubt I can do it.
There is still so much to do… not only in finishing the first draft, but is going back over the entire WIP to check for the disastrous potholes.
- do my H/h have clear GOALS, MOTIVATION and CONFLICT?
- is the conflict logical? does it follow with what we know about the characters and life in general?
- is the plot logical? does it make sense that these people are doing what they are doing when they are doing it?
- is the plot filled with cliches and eye-rolling coincidences?
- are the characters relate-able? do you know enough about them? or too much? do they belong together?
- is my research complete? do I have my historical facts right?
- am I getting all the subtleties in there? the tiny bits of information that are clear to me, but don’t need to be front and center for the reader?
- is the romance sexy, interesting, emotional enough?
- and how the hell do I tie down all these loose threads?
There comes a point in every WIP when these questions, or others very similar, stump me. They make me want to sit down right where I stand and complain about not being good enough and the work being too hard. But I know, because I have to know, that I can get past this. So I throw my leg over that wall and hoist myself up until I drop down on the other side. And I keep writing.
I may carry pictures of that wall with me as I go on, to remind me of what work needs to be done and what questions still exist in the story. I make notes of things I can change: a scene or bit of dialogue I can add, a slightly different timeline I can try to see if it fits all the elements better, another way to show the hero’s motivation or internal conflict. And when I finally get to the end of that first draft, I go back to the beginning and work on all of the glaring inconsistencies and problems that were up on that wall. And I hope, hope, hope that by the end of that second draft, most of those problem are fixed. If they are not, there is always that third draft, or the fourth, or fifth…
Because that wall doesn’t come down on its own. I have to take it down.
Time to roll up my sleeves and put my hard hat on.