I've lost count of the times I've tweaked and revised the first sixty pages of NO PLACE LIKE NOWHERE. These revisions have taken place over the course of several months. Yeah, months. I've had to stop and start this project time and again for various reasons. The stilted momentum entailed me having to go back to the beginning, to reread and reconnect (multiple times). I can't move forward with a story unless everything I've written thus far 'clicks' in my mind. It's a feeling. A part of my natural process that I've never been able to circumvent. Interesting because that's exactly what I'll have to do once I take this project to NANO on November 1. (Read yesterday's post if you're unfamiliar with NANO.)
Part of the problem stems from this being the fourth story in a series. A series with recurring characters, connected subplots, and an overall series arc. Weaving in back story without bogging down pacing is a challenge. Since I generally write heavily connected trilogies/series, I've been here before, but (dang it!) this aspect never gets easier. Let's just say I'm looking forward to writing a stand-alone story in the very near future! That said, this complication was not the whole of the problem.
I'm happy to say that from the get-go, for the most part, I liked everything I had on the page. So every time I made tweaks and revisions they were relatively small. Still... Something was off. Something that wouldn't allow me to write ahead. For the longest time, I blamed the plot. I did not write an extensive outline, but I have several scenes and turning points firmly in mind. I can envision how the ending plays out as well. But I couldn't get past where I was to get TO any of those envisioned scenes.
As of yesterday, while I was tweaking in those first 60 pages yet again, I realized that all the revising I'd been doing had to do with the two main characters--Emma and Zeke. The tweaking involved digging deeper which led to going darker. The problem wasn't connected to the plot (although this epiphany may extend to a renewed vision), it was rooted in characterization and tone. In a nutshell, I was trying to force a lighter story when NO PLACE LIKE NOWHERE is in fact a very emotional story. I don't know why it took me so long to figure that out. But the tweaks I'm making now are generating one after another 'click'. Instead of thinking it to death, I'm going to go with my gut and by the time I get to page 60...just in time for NANO...I'll be ready to FLY into the mist.