I’ve been cruising through my latest novel and have surpassed the 40000 word mark, which is the magical half way point. But if I’m honest with myself, I’ve cheated a bit, and that cheating is coming back to haunt me.
You see, three years ago, I started on a book, got twenty pages into it, and stopped. It was one of those cases where I had a good scene in mind, but no plot to go with it. It was my first real attempt at writing in half a dozen years, and while that story didn’t go anywhere, the act of writing directly led to me buying a laptop and starting to write on the train, which led to ‘The Forgotten Road’ and my enormous success since then to come.
But that scene and that character stuck in my brain, and last winter, when I was brain dumping plots out into my ‘What If’ file (a file I keep of one sentence ‘What If’ scenarios that might drive a plot), I what if’d a great little idea that could use that scene I had in those 20 pages. So all along, from the time I started the outline until today, I planned to have that scene in the book.
Well now those 20 pages are in the story. And they’re bad. Spilling yogurt on the crotch of your pants at work first thing in the morning bad. You can get away with it, pretend no one can see it, and cover it up with your jacket all day and say you’re cold, or you can go to the store down the street and buy yourself a new pair of pants and be done with it. You know you’re going to need a new pair of pants eventually, because blueberry doesn’t come out of light tan Dockers. And you can pretend all day that no one sees that white crusty smear on your pants, but everyone does, and they are all wondering… what IS that smell?
So this scene, and the premise of this scene is spilled into my story, and the blueberry is sinking in, and the yogurt is curdling, and I’ve been sitting there, knowing I need to rip it out, and take the five to eight thousand word hit, and do it right, because not only is the scene out of place, the writing itself is bad. My writing is so much better now than it was three years ago, it’s not even funny. And not only is the writing itself bad, the scene forces the characters to do things and act in a way that they just wouldn’t do based on the rest of the story. It’s gummed up the whole mess, destroyed the flow, and made a mockery of my outline.
And yet, I can’t figure out exactly what to do different… yet.
So even though I’m at the halfway point of the book, I need to take a step back, and read and edit from the beginning, and see if the momentum picks back up, and see how that scene can be removed. I need to by new pants.
Of course I’ll make a backup copy first… and I’ve still got that original scene, just in case I can find another place to put it. I never throw anything (except adverbs) away.