I’m deep into rewrites for The Steaks Are High. I got lucky and my pages are pretty free of red ink from my critique partners, but I’m taking a little more time than usual going through the manuscript. There are a few issues that I want to finesse. Mary Lou really enjoyed some of the scenes between Karnie and Matt’s kids. My daughter Holly said they slowed down her reading a bit. Opposite reactions, which happens sometimes. But I want to find a happy medium with them if I can. And Holly wanted more scenes with Detective Carmichael, so I need to find the right places to bring him into the story. Holly also thought two of my characters were too similar, so I need to make them distinct from one another.

None of these changes are big. A tweak here and there. But I want to put them in the perfect spots and do it right.

I’m one of those people who do rewrites while I work on a manuscript. I know myself. I take more time if I write on one day and then do rewrites on those pages the next. I smooth out sentences and add more description as I go along. It’s less intimidating for me than slapping words on the page until I finish the entire manuscript and then have to go back to polish EVERYTHING. Rewriting the next day makes me noodle each scene and come up with more ideas before adding new pages to the story. But there’s always something I miss, that slipped past me. That’s why I value my critique partners so much.

As usual, M.L. wrote “Go to search and see how many times you used the words ‘shrug’ and ‘frown.’ And add more smells to your story.” I repeat the same sins over and over again, even when I’m trying not to. I read the Story Empire post about using tags for dialogue, and I make an effort to do that. But, when my brain’s mush and I’m tired, I use the same, old tags over and over again. Shame on me. So, I look for them in rewrites.

I have a character who changes a lot in this book, and I want to pay attention to that, too. Did I make Porter change too much, too fast? Did I give enough of a reason to make the change real? So, I’m checking his scenes more than some others.

Anyway, I’m hoping to have the rewrites finished by the end of this week. If I’m lucky. And then I can publish the book. And no, life got busy, and I still don’t know exactly what I’m going to do to market it. I’m behind. Again. But things are starting to slow down a bit and be more normal. So, for the NEXT book, I’ll have more time to get my ducks in a row. But for now, I just need to finish this manuscript and get something new out for readers to see if they still remember me.

The Domino Effect

I’m almost up to page 200 on my  mystery, so this is a horrible time to think of a change that will make my character more involved in solving a clue that’s on page 36 of the manuscript.  Yes, it will sharpen the tension.  Yes, it will make the book better.  BUT…it will mean tweaking every scene that comes after it.  ~Sigh~

The way I first wrote it was pretty good.  I liked it.  The problem is, the new idea is even better.  The sad truth is that I’m a lazy person.  Ben Franklin claimed the same.  He explained that he invented things so that they’d make life easier for him.  The computer makes it easy to move scenes, rewrite, do all kinds of things.  BUT, it still takes time to follow through on scenes that have a cause and effect structure.  Change page 36 and you have to change every scene with that element for the rest of the manuscript until you get caught up somewhere.

I went ahead and did it.  I made the change.  I really like it, but I wasn’t fond of all the work that came AFTER.  I’m glad  I did it, but it was a pain.  That’s one of the reasons I write so many plot points.  Then I know if A happens, B follows, and that creates C, and C moves me into D, etc.  Cause and effect, over and over again.  The whole pattern lies before me.  Unless I change C.  And then who knows what happens?  Okay, I’m exaggerating.  I ALWAYS know what happens, but doggone it, the dynamics change.

I’m not as enamored of numerous rewrites as some authors.  I rewrite as I go, because it tests my patience to sit down and polish and polish a manuscript.  Somewhere along the line, I hate the whole thing.  Did I mention I’m lazy?  I like moving from point A to point Z and having it in pretty good shape when I get there.   This time, for whatever reason–and every manuscript is different, even after writig lots of them–I’ve done more rewrites along the way than usual.  And this time, for whatever reason, they haven’t driven me crazy.  I get excited every time I make the story better.  It must be because it’s spring, and I’m planting flowers and filling flower boxes.  Or maybe I’ve breathed too much fresh air. But I still LIKE this manuscript, even when it’s pestered me more than it should.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m a grumpy writer.  I mutter at manuscripts that cause me undue bother.  I threaten to trash them.  The sad truth is, they’re not intimidated by me one whit.  My Muse turns a blind eye while they rebel.  And I still love the damn things.

No matter what kind of writer you are–and let’s hope you’re more noble than I am and nurture each little struggling word–happy writing!  May your ideas flow smoother than mine have right now:)