Monday, 8 April 2013

Where's the fire?

It's a phrase can be used to mean What's the hurry? of course, but today I'm going to take it literally.

Yesterday my WIP flew from my fingers onto the screen, running free and wild, as I watched my story taking shape... Until the moment one character noted that the fire had taken hold of part of the building and the firemen were retreating and regrouping.

Oops!

What was the problem? I had not even hinted at a fire in the previous 2165 words, not a plume of smoke, not a smell, not one person pointing out the rescue of two trapped people might be hampered by the extensive heat.

How had I missed something so vital? Erm, I don't know. I was working from handwritten and typewritten versions, trying to merge them into something slightly different, and this fact kind of got missed off. In another part of the story that I've already written, a character mentions that even two days later the smell is still lingering, so you'd have thought I'd have remembered that at least! Except, I wrote that part of the story last week, so maybe not.

My choices are to delete what I've got and start again, or slide the fire into the scenes I've already written. I'm going to go with the second option, mostly because this is a first-and-a-half draft, and I know it will bear no resemblance to the final section anyway. I am in awe of people who edit as they go and have publishable work at the point they move on the next chapter. Me? No...

When I was at school, I loved technical drawing. If anyone has ever done it, you'll know you start of with a lot of pencil marks and the page looks like a complete mess of unintelligible lines. Then you flourish your 0.5 black liner and slowly, out of the jumble of pencil, comes a shape that makes sense - a 3D box or, more advanced, the floor plans of a house. That's what my writing is like, a jumbled mess until ta da!!

So, yes, today I will be squeezing a fire into my chapter, and shattering the zen-like calmness my characters had chosen to adopt!

What mistakes have you made when you've been writing?
Have you ever made glaring omissions?


66 comments:

  1. You go girl, it's smart of you to notice this glitch before you finished your WIP.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I'm relieved to. It would have all come tumbling down later!

      Delete
  2. It's great that you spotted it... that's a great pick. Better now than later:)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Me too! But in my case it's usually when I've written the whole caboodle *headdesk*. I also paint (not very well, but, hey) and the process is the same for me - I stick on layer after layer until finally it comes right, all of a sudden

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think I'd be able to write without adding those extra layers, and it definitely helps when I make silly mistakes :-) Writing and painting, that's great - I wish I had something else creative that I was good at, I'm sure it would help with my blocks.

      Delete
  4. I'd slide the fire in.
    I'm surprised I don't have more omissions. I create my own issues by waiting until I've finished the story to give most of the secondary characters names. I usually just leave a blank - do you know how confusing that is to assign the correct name to all of those blanks?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've read another comment when you said the same thing, and I wondered then how you could possibly remember which character was which. I assumed you were highly organised and had a fantastic memory :-)

      Delete
  5. Yes, yes I have made glaring omissions like that in my own work. Fortunately, I have a pair of betas who point them out to me. I have a "facepalm" moment, and then I slide in a correction.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never give my work out to read until at least the 4th draft, so early silly mistakes are mine alone to fix. The late ones are a nightmare. Your betas sound fantastic :-)

      Delete
  6. I'd slip it in, too. Although, often times when I'm in the middle of writing and notice omissions or mistakes that I've made like that, I simply make a notation on certain chapters of what needs to be added or done. It makes it a little easier for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I've got notes now, mostly... "Mavis needs to scream more on account of the large fire !" :-)

      Delete
  7. See, I don't see what you did as a mistake. It's what happens in a first draft. Then you go back and fix all that stuff. I'm like you - I don't fix as I go along.
    Karen

    ReplyDelete
  8. You haven't got room on your blog for me to list all the errors in chronology and plot I have made. Suffice it to say I have to read through the end result extremely carefully!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol, I've found problems are the sixth draft before that I didn't notice in the previous five.

      Delete
  9. Hahaha yeah. Sounds like me writing Doorways. Wrote about 5000 words before I realized that I had NO idea about how people accessed the fantasy world. I knew it involved doors, but not how or why.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hehe... kind of an important point in a novel called Doorways. These things do stop you in your tracks for a moment though, don't they?

      Delete
  10. Ha - that's brilliant! I'm sure it will slot in fine and by the third draft you won't even see the join!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure you're right Linda... I 'hope' you are :-)

      Delete
  11. At least you caught it, so it shouldn't be too hard to pencil in :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it would have been much harder later on. As it is two characters will be having a seriously different conversation to the one they're having at the moment!

      Delete
  12. I'm impressed you caught it. I bet for most writers a lot of things get lost in the initial drafts.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I think we all have those oops moments, or at least I do. I know you will do a great job with your story no matter how you decide to go about it. I once wrote a story so fast and hurried, that once it was time to read it again and edit, there was a character in there that I did not remember writing about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's quite impressive - definitely a case of the character doing what it wanted :-)

      Delete
  14. Oh yeah, I've had my characters completely oblivious to the fact that a dark creature of the underworld was literally in the room with them... oops.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I was a complete pantser for my first work. I was writing one day, realised the girl I was talking about couldn't be where I said she was, so I stopped typing, scrolled down a bit and started again from where I thought I should be. I then sorted it out in the first revision. I find getting the first draft down the hardest so I just keep going. Once it's there, you can re-jig it to your hearts content.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, carrying on from a point that's solid makes the gap not so scary.

      Delete
  16. With my five book series, I ended up making a timeline so I knew where each main character was at all times. Otherwise, I would've really messed up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been making a timeline for this story because there are points that all the characters need to be present for, but then they wander off and have their own story too. Except, timelines seem like such hard work!

      Delete
  17. I kind of edit as I go. I don't move onto the next chapter until I'm happy with the one I'm working on. It takes me longer to get the first draft done, but I have a lot less work on the back end these days. And it suits me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would be so overwhelmed by the work involved in that method, I'd stop writing I think... which wouldn't be good.

      Delete
  18. I leave really stupid, obvious things out all of the time. You're not alone in this. At least this is something that will be easy to put into the story (relatively). I am an edit as I go sort of person, which has cut out a lot of the missing things, but I still make mistakes. ;)

    Alexandra~

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure I wouldn't tell the same story if I edited as I went along, because I develop and deviate as I redraft. But all of the comments today have made me feel a lot better :-)

      Delete
  19. I read in Writer's Digest that people can go back and outline their drafts; that is, even if you're a pantser, you can still go back and write out an outline or a chart after you finish a draft, because then you can organize your ideas and figure out how to fit everything in. Maybe you could try that with your draft after you finish writing it, because then you can figure out where to put in the first mention of the fire.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a cut and paste method - I physically cut up the draft and then paste in handwritten extra bits. If anyone saw the chaos when I'm at work they'd wonder how I ever got anything finished!

      Delete
  20. Hi Annalisa,

    I know you've been anxiously awaiting a comment from me :) Mistakes when writing? Glaring omissions? I can't recall doing anything that might be called a glaring omission. A mistake when writing might be that sometimes I go surreal that even I don't know what I mean.

    Gary :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Surreal is cool! But you have to at least pretend you know what's going on :-)

      Delete
  21. Wow, a sudden fire? That's exciting :) I know you can make it work awesomely!

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah With Joy)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If it was sudden, it wouldn't have been a problem... but the novel (or short story collection) starts with an explosion at a hotel. Explosions don't usually come without fire!

      Delete
  22. I'm getting good at going back and slipping things in. I have to. I'm always leaving stuff out. Lately, I did all kinds of building up my antagonist, who was clearly going to do something terrible to my MC. When I got to the end and read through the draft, she had never actually done anything terrible. Ooops. Had to dive back in and amp up the antagonist for real.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol, it's never easy when you've got a bad guy who doesn't want to be! My characters have the opposite problem and never want to be nice :-)

      Delete
  23. Can't tell you how many slip ups I've had. But I guess that's bound to happen when you revise something to death, like I tend to do. LOL

    Keep going! Best of luck-

    ReplyDelete
  24. No wonder I love you! We think alike. My roughs are simply that...rough. I've had to insert all sorts of things in the beginning to make the middle and end work. And editing as I go is the best way to ensure writer's block. Forward to the end, then go back and work out the details.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My drafts are rough until about number 3, then they start to make sense - and what a breakthrough moment it is!

      Delete
  25. I often lose the plot and forget where my stories are headed, which is probably why I rarely finish them.
    Hope you're back on track now. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. I've written a note to myself to change that scene and moved on - no point slowing myself down at this point!

      Delete
  26. things like that happen to me to, plotwise. :) one of the crazy things about being a writer. I had technical drawing classes when i was in HS and I loved it!
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Technical drawing was awesome - I can still spot a poster that's hanging a millimetre too high :-)

      Delete
  27. I love it when things suddenly pop up in stories. Sometimes something will come up and I'm like "She did what when?! I missed that." Slipping in a few details before it isn't that difficult. It's the major rewrites that drive me mad!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that moment when something unplanned happens and then you still have the flexibility to go back and write in the trail to that point.

      Delete
  28. The mistakes in my WIP stand out a lot more after I've taken a break from the project for a short while. Sometimes I'd be annoyed with myself for making these mistakes, but I'd be glad that I caught them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. After one break I realised a character who didn't believe in heaven described her version of it two chapters later... Oops.

      Delete
  29. Are you kidding? Every writer I know has made even worse mistakes, everything from misspelling and changing character names all the way through, to key items disappearing from chapters only to suddenly reappear when needed. That's what CPs and revisions are for. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Character name changes are bad - so are those moments when you realise your dark-haired, dark-eyed Romeo turned blond somewhere along the line :-)

      Delete
  30. I agree. If you're even remotely satisfied with what you've written, slide the fire into the existing scenes. If you write scenes out of sequence, this type of continuity oversight creeps up all the time. But that's what subsequent drafts and edits are for. :) Happy writing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I find it really hard to write in sequence, but this is the silliest mistake due to the fact I write about the explosion in the first paragraph - this definitely falls into the d'oh category :-)

      Delete
  31. I tried editing as I went along with my first story, but it was a complete disaster because I couldn't seem to even make it past the first chapter. So I just wrote the whole thing without worrying about editing, and it was kind of funny when I went back and noticed the omissions, similar to your fire here. It's funny what we can miss when we're busy writing. Happy writing to you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I gave up on editing as I went along very early on. I think it's definitely something to do with our brains working faster than our fingers!

      Delete
  32. A mistake I make frequently is interrupting my writing flow. Once I do that it's hard to get my mojo back :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've read a couple of 'how I write' articles by a couple of famous writers who swear by stopping for the day mid-flow (or even mid-sentence) so they know exactly where to start the next day. If I did that, my story would go in a completely different tangent. I definitely need to write to complete exhaustion of the idea. That mojo is hard to hang onto at the best of times :-)

      Delete
  33. Everything goes in a first draft.

    Anything can go in revisions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll try to remember to at least put all the facts in the first draft next time :-)

      Delete

Please comment - I love a good chat!