Monday, October 19, 2009

Dude, we broke the book...

Things were going just swimmingly with our WIP Unclaimed Baggage/London Calling/She's Leaving Home. Well, aside from the title ADD.

Pieces of the book were clicking into place like magic, and we were happy little aspiring authors. We loved our WIP. But then last week, the shit hit the proverbial fan. It was a little bit like moving in with the love of your life and finding out that he never picks up his dirty underwear, and insists on watching sports 24/7 totally preventing you from getting your daily dose of Bravo. Er, you know, theoretically.

Anyways, we heard back from our beta ninja that the section of the book we'd just written needed some serious work. Well, she didn't say that exactly, but she did make a few compelling observations that lead to us overhauling the last 20,000 odd words.

Nothing like an honest critique to make you feel like a complete hack.

The truth is, we're a little OCD when it comes to our writing. The second we get a good, solid critique from one of our trusted readers we see the book as broken. It's lame, I know, but we can't help it. When there's something off about our work the only thing we can think about is how to fix it. We literally can't rest until we've resolved whatever issues came to light. This probably explains how we managed to turn a 65,000 word manuscript into an 85,000 word manuscript with a dramatically different central mystery in two weeks.

We're crazy.

Now that we've fixed the part of the book that was broken, we have about 20,000 words left until we type "The End." And they're going to be tough words. We know how we want to wrap things up, but we have no idea if it's going to work or not. The ending has to be perfect. It has to be satisfying and realistic. It has to do the book justice. We're terrified of mucking it up.

So, how do you guys get over your fear of breaking your book? Do you just write it out and hope for the best? Or do you wait until you have the perfect vision to put pen to paper?

21 comments:

Little Ms J said...

I'm a thinker, so I don't touch my book for several days to a week after I get a critique. I stew on it and it is typically when I'm driving or about to fall asleep that "IT" hits me. Then I fix and am in love all over again. Words just fly from my finger tips, but not a moment before.

PS - It is really annoying that you guys can whip out a WIP in like... two weeks or whatever it is.

K. M. Walton said...

Instinct and re-reading like a flippin' million times. Till I can't re-read that book one more time.

Hardygirl said...

All of the above. Plus, save that old version somewhere. You probably will never go back to it, but you will rest easier knowing that it still exists . . . just in case.

sf

Christina Lee said...

I have to re-write immediately after getting a critique and then save the other copy (just makes me feel better)--but things also unfold for me in solo places, like on walks and during baths--and then I have to run to the computer. I can't believe that you have THAT MUCH written already-damn... I'm impressed!!!

Natalie said...

Rewriting. If I mess it up the first time (and I always mess it up the first time) I console myself with the fact that I can always go back and rewrite.

Mariah Irvin said...

A write a first draft, pray that it ends, and then rewrite to perfection.

Icy Roses said...

Rewrite immediately. Get the ideas out while they're fresh. I'm still amazed that you managed a two-week overhaul.

Katie said...

I have to write and write and write (and break and break and break) until it just clicks.

Jill Kemerer said...

I'm completely rewriting a book right now. It's hard. Really hard. The characters look the same but act nothing like they did before. I had to scrap almost every scene!

But you know, it's good. It's what I needed to do with this book. I keep finding sub-plots that don't fit though. Time to cut!

Good luck!

confused homemaker said...

Right now I'm going through this with the dissertation. All the edits & revisions make me feel like it totally needs to be taken apart & redone. But I have to turn it over in November & tonight I'll be back to work at it.

Sarah said...

OMG, how did you revise half the book in, like, a few days? That is talent.

Endings scare me too, but revising works wonders.

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

Haha I feel your pain! I freaked out a few weeks ago (MAJOR FREAK-SHOW) when I got a critique that convinced my me that not only was my book broken, but my hand was too, and possibly my brain. But then I moved on and I fixed things and now my WIP is better than ever and its not broken. I think I might be just as obsessive as you girls!

storyqueen said...

That's why you gals are superheroes. I canNOT show a WIP to a beta. Sometimes I can read snips of it to my writing group, but they aren't allowed to offer any commentary (because me=chicken). They can ask questions....but I am under no obligation to answer the questions at that time.

Now, after it's done, of course, the sharks can take a look, but only if they are nice sharks with no teeth.

Anissa said...

Best post title ever! :)

I'm in the process of rewriting a broken book. And rewriting, and rewriting, and well, you understand.

Good luck!

Shelli said...

as long as you know how it needs to end - i say just plug through it and see what comes out

Dominique said...

I don't know if I'd call it 'broken,' but I might feel as if I'd done something wrong. Every now and then, for me at least, I feel as though things are going along on nice little rails. I'm just worried I might run it all the way off the tracks.

jessjordan said...

Good critiques are super scary. Sure, we love them and would all be really lame without them, but man, they paralyze me!

When I get a critique, my first instinct is, "What? You bitches don't know what you're talking about. It's totally awesome as is!" My second is, "Wow ... Okay, so maybe that part does kind of suck. I need to change it right away! How did I ever think I could be a writer??" Neither extreme is very helpful or all that realistic. So I tend to sit on it for a little while. Mull it over. And then, hopefully, the perfect fix comes to me. If not, I put on my safety goggles and plastic gloves and steel-toed boots, b/c it's gonna be a long, messy cleanup.

(p.s. I know I sound like a moron right now, but I blame it on the Monday mojitos.)

christine said...

Yeah - I am SO where you guys are. In fact, super crit partner and I were discussing this today (last week too) - I struggle when the book is "broken" - until I mend it. Then I can move forward. And now that "the End" is so close for me...yeah - a little freaked!

Lauren said...

I've been looking around your blog a little bit and just wanted to say that I am loving the content. I will be back again for sure. I am currently dealing with the fear of mucking it up so have no advice to offer :) Great topic and I enjoyed reading everyone's suggestions :)

Solvang Sherrie said...

I just finished my revisions. YaY! But I have to say I dither a lot, and think a lot, and read a lot. And then I get a deadline and I write a lot. As in I slept four hours out of the last 48. But it's done, including comments from my readers. Yay! Now, on to NaNo.

ElanaJ said...

I totally just write it out and hope for the best. Lame, I know, but that's the way my brain works. If I had a whole book in there, I think I'd explode!