Hump Day Help: Re-read/Research/Reconsider/Revise

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Cartoon-tooth-be-injuredYesterday my dentist tried to fix a partial he did two weeks ago on a back molar because I’d been in pain since then (it was a “fun” 2 weeks). He put a crown on it and I went home loopy on a lot of lidocaine, pain injections, and a temporarily half-paralyzed face. Yes, my roommate had a good laugh.

Today though, I woke up with the same pain. So I headed in first thing this morning for a 3-hour root canal, was given 2000mg of antibiotics to slam my system with, ate some McDonalds (no judging! it was soft, warm, and easy to eat comfort food…), and passed out on some pain killers.

And WHY am I telling you my woes? Because I’m about to use analogies, of course! In this case, nerve pain is what my short story was giving me.

So I have honestly redone the story format for my Rogue Mage Anthology piece 3 times (lost count of the number of drafts, I’m not talking those, I’m talking full redo’s of the structure of plot). Don’t get me wrong, it worked each way, but it felt wrong, it bothered me…sort of like how my mouth didn’t hurt all the time these past two weeks, just when I tried to chew on that side. So I did tried small changes like we tried to do the least evasive way of fixing the pain in my mouth. You see, I was avoiding the real truth, which was it needed a root canal…just like my story needed the writing equivalent of the same thing.

Cartoon-ToothBut no one wants a root canal…just like no one wants to redo all their work. However, when I didn’t go all the way on the fix, it didn’t work. Nor did my tooth. It, like my story, still pained me. So I again was in the dentist chair to take bigger steps to fix things…and with my short? Well, with a week until I turned it over to beta readers, I gave that story a root canal (or as Hartness might say, an enema, but we’re using teeth analogies today…lol). I chucked my favorite scene, re-researched, brought part of an old scene I’d tossed back in, changed the format, and wrote all new stuff. That is painful for us writers, isn’t it? I wasn’t just killing my darlings…I was serial killing them, burying them, digging them up, burying them again, and replacing them with someone else I didn’t know as well.

To add more pain to the situation, the root canal’d version is 9970 words (the story needs to be 8K) so I’ve sent it to some beta readers now for assistance in cutting it down and to make sure the new format I’ve landed on works.

That all said…

My point is this: Don’t be afraid of destroying and rebuilding. Sure, it is WAY time consuming and it may not work. You may go back to the drawing board a few times, but that’s okay. Like problem teeth, you can’t let it lie there in pain. Even if you’re scared to take the big step. Why? Because you want to take the reader on an epic journey and that journey is not just a kick-ass character, great fight scenes, and a cool premise…it needs to flow right or all the rest won’t work. Even doing an outline won’t always secure that your plot for a short or a full book will flow once you put “pen to paper”, so to speak.

Snoopy It was a dark and story night

So if your story is going well but you feel like it pains you just a bit (you know, there’s this little nagging voice you ignore because you don’t want to go back), DO NOT BE AFRAID TO GO BACK and root out what isn’t working. You are just wasting time if you don’t, because the further you go down that road the more you’ll need fix in the end. So…go back, re-read, research, reconsider, and revise. Because that thing that pains you isn’t going to go away…it’s only going to get worse and though you want to keep writing and enjoy the story unfolding in your mind and on “paper”…you need to stop and go back.

That said…if you can’t find your way around it, don’t let it halt the process of the book/story. Go back to writing and see it if unfolds for you and/or ask someone you trust as a writer/reader of your genre who does great beta reading, to help you see what you can’t see. Asking for help is not the sign of a weak writer, but of a strong one.

And now this writer is going to take something to help her with pain and maybe go back to sleep…you know, after her talking Aussie gets taken outside because OMG he is wicked loud! LOL!

That’s it for me this time around…until next time, write hard, bathe in imagination, and don’t put a cap over the problem…root out the painful part and remove it, then take your medicine like a good writer and move on.

Much love and painkillers,

Tamsin 🙂 DSC_2928-EditBIO:

Originally from Michigan, Tamsin L. Silver is the creator/writer of two YA Urban Fantasy Series,Windfire and The Sabrina Grayson Novels, as well as the Web Series, Skye of the Damned. She graduated from Winthrop University with a BA in Theatre/Secondary Education and a minor in Creative Writing/Shakespeare. She has taught both middle school and high school theatre and run two successful theater companies, one of which in the place she currently lives: New York City. You can learn more about her and find links to all her things at www.tamsinsilver.com

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