Four days and it’s editing time. Or at least I hope it is, that’s the general schedule my editor told me to expect this week.
(And yes, for any of you who have been traditionally published, as well as many of you who are published with other e-publishers, getting edits four days out is very tight, but that’s the way Noble Romance seems to work. I’ve been told there may even be some work being done as late as Sunday night.)
However that’s not what I was going to blog about. I wanted to touch on a problem I still have. Or at least I still have *to start*, it does go away.
Where to start.
No, that’s not a commentary on how to approach the problem. That is, in a nutshell, the problem.
Where to start.
I typically begin a story as a pantster, an idea, scenario, character comes to mind. I mull over the permutations, the story starts to spread out. Characters get filled in. Backstory gets created. I start writing fairly early on in this process, often before the whole story arc is set in my head.
I find getting it on paper helps me to learn and organize all those things listed above.
Doesn’t mean I’ve chosen the right place. Actually I’m almost positive I’ll have started at the wrong place. This is because it sometimes takes me a little bit to figure out what the pivot is.
There are lots of names for this plot device, but I think of it as the pivot, the action which typically happens off screen and before your story starts which then changes the lives of your characters. After this point your characters are forced by the circumstances created by this pivot to react and change and grow.
Here’s an example. In one of my favorite books, Faking It by Jennifer Crusie the pivot is the selling of a painting. This sale happens before the story begins. Ms. Crusie’s story starts by showing us the main character and her outlook on her life immediately before she finds out.
And that’s pretty much the other piece, isn’t it? Because often, not always, there’s a gradual discovery of the pivot, so figuring out at which point you need to start your story in terms of character growth and story flow is key.
Clearly then, because I start out with vague ideas and characters, I never quite start writing my story in the right place. Only after writing a bit (or a lot) and thinking a lot (never a bit) the story begins to gel, the pivot action becomes clear along with when my characters find out and how they will change due to the new situation.
Which, in a very round about way, leads me back to editing (which now looks like it’ll be pushed off until later today/tonight). With all the set up and exploration I may do, there is a lot of editing which needs to be done. Even once I cut out everything up to the point where I realize I should be starting, I have to cut out explanations and back story which were helpful to me to learn the characters and setting, but aren’t needed in terms of the flow of the story. Recently I cut a starting chapter roughly in half by removing backstory and over explanations of magical workings. When I put it up for comments in my critique group I was told I still had too much by a good 50%.
While I sit here and wait for the edits on Ginny’s Capture, even knowing this story was in much more polished state than that chapter had been, I can’t help but worry a bit over the changes I’ll need to make. Oh, I know I have poor grammatical habits, there will be those changes for sure. And it turns out I have a tendency to start inner dialog with “well, okay, yes or no”, which my editor already put me on notice for. Those aren’t biggies. It’s, you know, those other things, character arc and back stories which I attempted to meld into the flow of the story I’m most concerned about.
Nothing to do, however, but wait.