I'm covered in flour - it would take too long to explain...

Monday, 30 September 2013

Foundation lessons

I am writing. I am currently working on the WIP, which is set in Weimar Germany and which has been rather sticky from time to time. Of course, life throws tar patches in your way when you can't help but drop the word count, but mostly I do solemnly subscribe to the belief that the only way to write a book is to, well, write the book - that finessing and all the rest comes after, and may take longer, but always   after there is a draft to finesse. It may be the first of fifty, but there still must be a first.

Only, but rules are made to be broken.

I was heading down the word count freeway towards the half way point - around fifty five thousand words - when I suddenly hit a tar pit not of the real world but in the world of the book.

A far more serious road block to creativity.

The basic issue is that when I reached a crucial scene that needs my main character's mother to allow her to take a rather unconventional job, it suddenly didn't seem possible that her mother would ever give her permission. I was either going to have a huge, protected scene where my MC leaves home after an uncharacteristic show of temper which I didn't really want, or......

Or I was going to have to look again at the first part of the book.

I needed to push the motivations and circumstances backwards, so that her mother's crisis point comes at the moment the daughter is offered the job, not before as I had it at first. That way, the mother is too distracted and brow beaten to notice the lie she's being spun, and then the deceit becomes one they all 'need' to believe, and the rest of the story unfolds.

I needed to strengthen my foundations before proceeding.

This does mean going back to the plan, it means re-working and moving scenes, it means working over existing ground before heading onto pastures new - and breaking the rule. Just a little.

Because something fundamental like that must be dealt with before you go back to writing, every day, even if it's only 500 words, or 250, or a line, or notes in your plot line - but something, every day.

Today, 1600 words, since you ask.


  1. Could you not just make a note in the text (or elsewhere) to the effect that you must move that bit, and then carry on, relentlessly forwards, as though you'd already moved it? Be a pity to lose the forward momentum; and for all you know, there may be other bits that need shifting around when you've finished, so you may have to do it a third time. Good luck, whatever you do.

  2. Of course, if that worked for you, but for me when I got to the scene that showed up the flaw, I couldn't go on because the character wasn't in the right head space for it to work. It made such a difference to the first part of the book that many scenes had to go or had to be re-written, people arrived at different times and so for me, I had to do it. I tend to write major scenes first then start chronologically, so I know where I'm going. It hasn't slowed me up at all, because there are new scenes to write in the first part - and neither do I discount the distinct possibility of changing it all again once it's all filled in, goodness no!

  3. Ah, I've experienced this one before too and had to go back and change before moving forward. It does seem like a backwards step at the time but in the long run it breaks down weeks and weeks of writer's block that can be created by the niggling worry that it's not right yet.