Monday, February 11, 2008

The Hundred-Page Hiccup

I’ve been at this writing business long enough that I’ve begun to notice a pattern. Not in every book, but in enough of them that I’ve learned not to panic (too much), somewhere around about page 75 to 100 I find I frequently start getting uncomfortable with the way a manuscript is progressing. If I were a pantser I guess I’d just charge ahead and finish the book, figuring I’ll go back and fix it on my second pass. But because I have this thing about control, I can’t do that. I also have this fear that what’s wrong may be so fundamental that I need to fix it now before I get irretrievably headed off down the wrong path.

So I go back and reread. And fret. And reread. And struggle to figure out why things just don’t “feel” right. Eventually, I have a eureka moment and I realize out what’s wrong.

Sometimes it’s a plot problem. Sometimes it’s a problem with character development. In the book I’m working on right now—my second thriller, THE DEADLIGHT CONNECTION—I knew that for a three to four chapter stretch, the book was going flat. Why? It wasn’t a plot problem—those scenes were pivotal. So why did that section feel off? I finally realized that in that section I was forgetting to make my scene questions clear. I was also failing to add the necessary depth to my character’s experience.

Now that I know what the problem is, I’ll go back and rework. Only then will I be able to move forward again. Until I hit the next hiccup.

9 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

So far I've found periodic hiccups that have to do with my pantsing approach. i'll write a while and then have to stop and think and plot.

Steve Malley said...

This happens to me too: at least once a book. I call em Sudoku moments, because they remind me of that moment when you really the numbers don't add up and something is very, very wrong...

Some stuff, you just can't forge ahead from. You gotta sit down and figure out what happened, and how to get back to that gleaming golden spine!

Sustenance Scout said...

Very helpful insights, Candy! Thanks! K.

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