So you’re writing along in your manuscript and something just isn’t quite right. There’s a plot twist missing, or someone is just giving too much information too quickly, but sadly, it takes you a few hundred words and several days of trying to choose the correct words, to realize it.
This is where I am right now. (well, where I was.) Ugh. It’s the most obnoxious thing to be crawling along with a manuscript for three days only to realize that the reason you’re mired is way back at the beginning of the chapter. Someone said something (or didn’t say something) or did something (in this case, didn’t do something) they should have done and darn it, you didn’t catch that.
It’s cool, fellow writer. Here are a few steps to taking a deep breath and restarting yourself.
#1 Pinpoint the moment of breakitude.
When did the manuscript stop? Where did it go off trail and start wandering, exactly? Find the precise moment, either by reading through what you have Yes, I know your manuscript might be 100,000 words. For all you know, it went half cocked at word 5623. In Sword’s Blessings I went back and realized that I have just straight skipped an important beginning scene; my story was off track as of word -400 or so. Later, I realized I’d gone off again at word 3000 or so.
#2 Figure out the solution.
There are three options: Delete. Add. Change. Sometimes it might actually be a combination, but generally that’s about the gist of it. Actually, a lot of the time my trouble ends up being skipping a scene which makes everything make a heck of a lot more sense, not writing scenes that aren’t worthy (though that’s happened too.) Determine your solution.
Delete is generally something which you are doing now.
Add is usually something you have to go back and do.
Change is often the most obnoxious of the three. Especially if changing something involving gender pronouns. But you gotta do what you gotta do.
#3 Start a new document.
This might just be me, but if I have to go back and do some major mucking with a manuscript, I usually take a whole new document, or save as a whole new version of the manuscript, name it descriptively (Such as: Yet Another book 3 beginning) and go at it there. That way, in my head, I haven’t actually gotten rid of any words. I have not failed. I’m just going to a new place, a new direction. It also soothes my worry that perhaps the new version I write won’t be as good as the original version (almost never true) and I’ll lose the original forever if I delete it! (oh noes!)