Thursday, August 27, 2009

On Being Stubborn


That's me.

I blame my German heritage, but I am certainly Little Miss Stubborn.

I get it stuck in my head that I'm right, and that's that, and ain't no one gonna change me.

And :P to all you haters who disagree.

Of course, that's not the right attitude to have. Especially when it comes to writing.

See, I'll often hang on to beginnings. I always think I have the *best* beginning, and I am very resistant to changing that beginning...even changing it from the rough draft form. I can mutilate middle chapters like nobody's business, but I despise changing the beginning ones.

Lemme back up and explain myself. First: the Massive Revision Plan is going quite well. I've sent to Alpha, Beta, and Gamma readers, have cut out 10k words, have completely mushed together the middle into a more cohesive unit, have made the characters consistent and the clues stronger. I certainly didn't do *everything* they each suggested, I'm just saying big things were changed.

But, somehow, I missed a series of suggestions.

  • Alpha Reader: You know, that opening's not as strong as it could be...
  • Beta Reader 1: Oh, I really like all this stuff after Chapter 4!
  • Beta Reader 2: Ugh, hated this character until well after that first scene.
  • Gamma Reader 1: Doesn't your character sound weak in the opening?
  • Gamma Reader 2: Are you starting in the right spot? Maybe you should make Chapter 4 be Chapter 1...?

Ugh. These ladies are all much more polite than me, but what they all--each and every one of them--were essentially saying was simple: YOUR OPENING SUCKS WITH AN ALMIGHTY SUCK FOR THE LOVE OF TNR CUT THE FIRST CHAPTERS!!!

But I wasn't hearing that. Sure, I tweaked things. I added a paragraph explaining the character, I changed a part of the scene, I added some more information.

But it was like putting a Band-Aid on the side of the Titanic.

I'm stubborn. Especially with opening chapters. And I'd gotten it into my head that the opening of my WIP wasn't the best way to open the book--it was the *only* way. I had truly, 100% convinced myself that I *could not* start the book in any manner other than with the original opening.

And part of me being stubborn is believing that it was "good enough." Those two, innocuous words are the bane of all writers everywhere. Good enough. If you look at a scene and think to yourself, "Hey, that's good enough," then you are WRONG. It isn't. Cut that scene and start over. NOW.

So I did.

I cut the first three chapters, moved Chapter 4 to Chapter 1, and changed the primary scene with the male main character.

Part of it was because of the day I did my read-through of the novel. I noticed that with those first three chapters, I was still partially thinking like a writer, marking a few typos, staring off into the distance with a sullen look on my face. But when I hit Chapter 4, *I* became absorbed enough to forget the red pen and forget the castle in front of me.

Clearly that's the better opener.

So it might take 5 critiques, wallowing in my own self-doubt, a massive red pen, and a castle to make me realize that I need to change something, but at least it's good to know that Little Miss Stubborn *CAN* actually change!

So, how about you? What are you stubborn about in your writing?
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