I'm at the Breckenridge Starbucks today, editing (i.e, checking Facebook, blogging, Pinteresting Halloween desserts), and I am literally laughing outloud at this terrible chapter that I'm on in Queen of Hearts.
This isn't new. I've been noticing as I'm editing QOH that I'm seeing a reoccurring how shall we say, CRAP pattern in certain parts of the book.
It goes like this: I will have normal chapter, normal chapter, TOTAL CRAP crappy crap chapter, EPIC, GREAT, FANTASTIC chapter and then another total crap chapter, followed by more normal chapters. A food equivalent would be: Reasonable sandwich, reasonable sandwich, EXPIRED MCDONALDS, The Melting Pot, GARBAGE HEAP DEL TACO, reasonable sandwich.
It's curious to me. How come all my best chapters are buffered on both sides by chapters that have MAJOR, MAJOR editing needed?? Spelling and punctuation errors aside, there's some crazy stuff in there! Tons of contuinuity errors. Plot problems. Descriptions to make E.L James cringe. Forgotten characters, forgotten deals.
What is the deal?
After some head scratching, I think I've solved this 12 minute mystery. (Take that Benedict Cumberbatch!)
No Ariadne, there isn't.
That perfect chapter and moment is my focus. It's all I can see, and I want to get there NOW. Then, by proxy, I just neglect everything around it in a rush to get to that one moment of cathartic, glorious output.
This is familiar. It's sort of how my life goes with party planning. I love planning parties. It's such a fun lead-up for me. When that event finally comes around, it's just like my chapters.
The party = awesome. My life when I have a party and after a party = in complete shambles.
I'm not sure how to fix this. Perhaps it's something I can only fix afterwards. Today I breezed through a VERY important, game-changing, totally awesome and emotional chapter in my book and then spent two more hours editing ONE stupid filler chapter that followed that amazing chapter.
I had Dinah standing up, sitting, standing back up again, kneeling and then pacing. This all should have been one consceutive action. She was on stone, then pebbles, then cool granite. There were huge jumps in emotion without reason. It was a MESS.
Then Starbucks served me what I'm pretty sure was a poison berry muffin and I think I'm about done with the whole thing today.
As writers, I think it's important for us to know our weaknesses. Too often, this seems to be an industry (one which I am admittingly new to) that makes a business of constantly telling us that we aren't good enough. It gives writers a complex. It makes us afraid of admitting to the faults in our writing, in our plots, in our characters. Writers tend to believe that if they admit fault, than that makes them terrible writers. I hope this isn't true. We all have our weak spots, the game that we're not good at (for the record, those sports for me are: volleyball, basketball, baseball, football, soccer, figure skating, rugby, diving, hockey, walking, running, minature golf...) and my writing weaknesses are many.
Perfect punctuation doesn't come naturally to me. I can write a perfect sentence (not that I always do, obviously), but I could not tell you WHY it's perfect. It's something that I'm working on, which is why for now I rely on people much more talented than I (Karen, Erin..) to fix it I mean, you read my blog. You know. Not that I care so much about my blog being PERFECT. If I worried about that, I wouldn't have time to write anything else other than my blog.
In my novels, I know that I have a habit of short-changing conversations when they should be longer. IN my mind, I want my characters to converse as fast as I'm thinking, and that's a problem. I have very little patience for political conversations, which are very important in a book that has to do with political conspiracy. I tend to make my characters emotions a little bit more dramatic than they need to be.
But this is why we edit. This is why we take the time to sit down and read again. And again. This is why it's good to notice the crap buffer chapters. Because without editing, everyone is just hitting the keys.
I feel like there is a life metaphor here, but right not I can't connect those dots. I have a lot of editing to do.
Would you like to read an excerpt of what I was editing today? Don't worry, no spoilers since you'll have no idea what's going on. :)
"Dinah flung a large piece of burning piece of wood over the edge of the cliff, where it landed with a fiery burst in the massive nest. The air instantly thrummed with the sound of a thousand wings, and Dinah watched without fear as the sky filled with the enormous pale cranes . They rushed at her with beating wings and sharp beaks, but she stood firm – naked and cold, with only a crown on her head. They circled around her, their loud cries coming ever closer, their beaks brushing the tips of her tingling skin. “Go!” she screamed. “GO!” All around her was a violent sea of white feathers, and Dinah dared not close her eyes. There was a moment where the seething flock hovered just above her, an angry hissing and squawking swarm, considering an attack on this tiny creature wearing a warm crown and blazing with righteous fate. Dinah’s glittering black eyes stared at the birds, unflinching, daring them to touch her. The birds seemed to pause, violence on their minds, thinking, calculating the odds of taking on this latest sacrifice. Then, at the last moment they rose into the air in an ever-widening spiral, blocking out the stars, the rock, everything. She had faced down the gods and won. Her voice dropped to a whisper in the cold night air. "I am the Queen of Hearts, and I will back take what is mine."
Oh, and PS - Elly in Bloom is FREE on the Kindle today! Tell your friends!