Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wait a Minute ... What???

Ahh, the twists and ahh, the turns. They're what make fiction great. They're what make writing fiction great - I love it when a character surprises me.

But I thought I was past all that with the first draft. Because that's where the major plot twists emerge, isn't it? Editing's all about shaping and finessing and fine-tuning, but there aren't any big surprises.

I mean, I know how the story ends.

And yet there I was, tapping away at the keyboard, nonchalantly going at revisions when a new twist on an old line just sort of happened. And it changed everything.

And I do mean everything. It changed relationships, it changed intentions, it changed motivations and emotions and reactions. Most importantly, though, it solved a problem I was having with my main character. The way the scene was written before, she sort of fell away, in that moment, from who she was. With that one little tweak - one little errant thought that gets in the way of the action going on - she becomes herself again, and her struggles become more real. It means more work for me as the writer, but that's what revisions are for.

I keep saying this, and it's because it's true: Revising a novel is soooo much harder than writing a novel.

In a way, the whole process parallels life. My characters keep learning and growing and struggling the same way I keep learning and growing and struggling. The big difference is that in the fictional world, I can go in after the fact and dabble with the past. It's pretty cool to have power over a character's emotions plus the ability to go back in time and see what happens when Just That One Moment takes place a little differently.

And that kind of makes you think about life, right? If you'd said that one thing that one time that you instead held back, it might have redirected the entire course of your future..

That's heady stuff.

And again, it's what makes writing fiction great.


  1. I know exactly what you mean Stacey. This has happened to me a couple times with the novel I'm currently writing. I love it. It's a real testament to how our brains keep receiving when we're really submerged in a story! Good luck with your writing :)


  2. ugh, yes. Revision is hard but, like you said, it's purpose is to help the novel grow and evolve into something better. congrats on finding the missing link and having the determination to see it through!

  3. I love the introductory paragraph to this post. And the writing process does indeed take many twists and turns; but it seems you're definitely on the "write" path. :-)