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Writing back and forth

Lucca, Italy. I got lost here, once for a bad hour or so. They built these winding streets to confuse an invading army. And tourists!

My “work in progress” is turning out to be a work of “back and forth.” I make some forward progress but I am revising the old stuff in ways that are a bit disconcerting.

The story is planned, even down to 65 scenes that describe the plot progression. But a novel isn’t all plot. Now at about page 100, I find myself coming into key insights about the characters that alter how they have behaved up to this point.

And, in this book, I find myself going back and changing things.

This is a bit odd for me, because normally I would make a note of changes and just plunge on, knowing that a revision later will catch the insights. But nope, I can’t–or won’t–leave the draft that rough. It’s rather maddening to find myself altering the text (and so often!) Really, is this just an excuse not to write the hard stuff, the new pages?

I think all writers have to fight the urge to smooth and deepen the first draft chapters. And a bit of that is probably inevitable. But with this WIP, oh boy.

It’s as though I need a clean launch of the people and the plot, or I don’t feel the direction of the book will be quite right. This is particularly the case with my major character. She has unique powers — what is her attitude toward them, and how will she use them? That was something I thought long and hard about in planning, but now I’m learning so much more about her. And it’s more interesting than what I had planned.

All well and good so far, but it doesn’t end there. I’m also researching my historical period like crazy and finding new threads that I just Have to start weaving in . . . and off I go, revising chapter two again.

I don’t know if this is a big problem, but it’s surely slowing me down. And, as I’ve said before on this blog, too much revising as one writes is an invitation to revision blindness, where you’ve gone over the pages so many times you can no longer get an objective view.

So I’m going back and forth, trying to curb the excessive revision, but capturing the big ones. One of the awkward results is that I’ve now reprinted the opening about a dozen times. On the plus side, this story rocks!

I don’t know where this tendency will end, but it’s got me a tad nervous.


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