The Remove

I have recently finished my WIP and emerged rumpled and sweaty with a book I call, LUCKY.

Usually when I write I have the ending at least all figured out. This time the opposite was true. I knew exactly where I wanted to begin the action and I knew where it was leading for the first fourteen of seventeen chapters. I had the last chapter- more of an epilogue- worked out and I thought I had a pretty good idea of the climactic scene but when I came to write it, it was coming out clunky. Everything had been fluid until then. Things moving forward, at times almost effortlessly. Sometimes pure action, sometimes dialogue–just enough, and not too much of either. I had an end-point visualized. I knew what needed to be revealed but it was stodgy. The prose didnt move. I tried to fix it. I revised and revised, cutting down on some of the stilted dialogue. I worried at it. And I made it worse.
Its really depressing when you can see enough to know it isnt working but not enough to know how to fix it. I had my beta readers, and they were encouraging but not ruthless enough.
Heres where a fellow writer, someone who knows the craft, is invaluable. Unfortunately both of my writer friends are currently knee-deep in their own WIPs and could not spare the time.
Fortunately I recently signed with an agent and even better he is a ‘hands on agent, meaning he in involved in the revision process to some extent. He was encouraging but honest. He told me what I already knew, that the action felt static, the dialogue melodramatic. It was too ‘talky. I could feel it in my gut, weighing me down, weighing the book down. I wasnt getting that floaty feeling I experience when the words are coming together in the most pleasing way. But I still didnt know what to do about it.
And then he said, why dont you move the characters out of the room where they are standing in a face-off yelling at each other. Get them out of there and see where it leads you.
It was such a simple thing. My book was stuck, the characters were trapped in a large room, large chunks of dialogue slowed the action. Nothing moved.
I forced action upon them. I sent them running through through dark corridors, pursuers hot at their heels, confusion, panic, fear. I moved them around, creating uncertainty and havoc, and it made everything fresh and exciting. And rather than bogging it all down with too much dialogue for one scene I split it up. Fractured dialogue, in quick gasps, makes for a more thrilling read. Hopefully the reader will feel as if they are right there in the thick of it.
So that would be my tip. If things feel slow and static, take your characters out of the scene and remove them to somewhere else and see what happens.

3 thoughts on “The Remove

  1. Oops! Did I not announce that? Yes, in August. A lovely lovely agent based in Los Angeles giving me both representation and an excuse to visit.
    I have another big announcement but I won't be able to make that for another week or two. The wait is excruciating.

Comments are closed.