Save or Bury?

Yesterday was a marathon writing day. As was the day before. Today it'll be broken up a bit by a four hour work day at the library. I need that break. I'm so deep into revisions, so focused on key elements and specific scenes, that, as of 11:30 last night, I lost my sense of pacing for the overall story. I'm second-guessing myself anyway.

The thing about revisions--it's a domino effect. Every change you make touches previously written passages. Sometimes it grazes them, no harm done. Sometimes it knocks them off kilter, surgery required. Sometimes it topples them and you're staring at ruins, wondering how can I save this? Or should I bury this and let something new arise from dust?

That's where I left off last night. Reviewing a scene that now, because of heavy revisions to previous chapters, struck me as a pile of ruins. Because I kicked up the action in two aspects earlier on, this scene now reads like dead weight. I'm in the homestretch, I can't afford to bog pacing. On the other hand, there was some key info in that scene. Maybe it wasn't dead weight, so much as I was dead weight--meaning BURNT.

To make matters worse, the scene after that involved a character that I was asked to cut. There's only been mention of him twice earlier in the story. So twice I'd simply deleted a line or two--no big deal. But in this scene, the character was present and very much involved. Cutting him out completely in this instance was going to require a lot of work. Thus I stared at the entire chapter wondering, do I perform surgery and save it? Or do I bury it?

I stepped away from the computer, decided to sleep on it. As of this morning I'm still not sure. Axing that character is merely a pain-in-the-butt. I just have to do it. PACING is my bigger concern. A major concern. Unfortunately, this may require my backtracking and reading the story in its revised form from the beginning.

Ever read an interview where the author said that by the time he/she turned in revisions, they were numb to the story? This is how that happens.

Maybe some more coffee would help. *g*

Comments

Charlene Teglia said…
I recommend more coffee! I'm right there with you, Beth. I have edits I'm taking my time with because I don't want to break other things in the process of fixing one thing.
Tori Lennox said…
Caffeine is always good. I hope it helps! :)
Beth Ciotta said…
I hear ya, Charlene. Takes an sharp eye and mind to attend the required edits without mucking up anything more than need be. Good luck with those!

As for the coffee gals, I'm all over that!
Roni said…
Hang in there, Beth. you're a wonderful storyteller...you'll find the way. Maybe thinking about it for a day is a good idea. Or take a few hours off, go for a walk, read a book in a different genre. Sometimes stepping away from the project gives you perspective.
Constance said…
Poor Beth. And here we are, taunting you with visions of Starbucks. Maybe the pacing is better than you think, and all you need is outside eyes to tell you that. So put your trusty beta reader/agent/editor to work. *g*

Have you read it out loud/into a tape recorder? I'm always horrified by the sound of my 12 year old's voice, but I catch things I wouldn't normally catch that way.

No, not cooties. *Off to have coffee AND chocolate. It was a long day*
Beth Ciotta said…
Hi Roni. Thank you for your kind words, as always. :) I know you're right about distance, and I'll get that while at work at the library. It's all the distance I can afford just now. Revisions due in a few days. Ack!
Beth Ciotta said…
Coffee AND choclate? Oh, my Constance. Hope it helped. As to your advice, actually I have been reading sections aloud. I agree it helps. Especially to double check that dialogue rings and flows true. Regarding pacing--saving scene one, burying scene two. Creating scene from the dust. *sigh* It had to be done. I'm sure you know the feeling.
Constance said…
Doesn't make it any less painful. But yeah, I guess sometimes you have to be cruel. This last book I started over 3 times before it worked. At one point I was eight chapters into it *winces* But it is much better, and the character screaming from the cut scenes folder has stopped. Mostly. :)
Bethany said…
Coffee always helps! :-)

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