I can hear some of the plotters out there shaking their heads and telling me, “See, Ruth. This is why we plot. If you would stop writing by the seat of your pants, you wouldn’t be facing a rewrite today.” 😀
To be fair, yes, plotting would have saved me today’s rewrite, but I can’t plot. I’m serious. Plotting is like asking me to draw a picture of a human face so that it doesn’t look like something a kindergartener did. I can’t draw anything but a stick figure to save my life. And it’s the same with plotting. Even if I had plotted this book out ahead of time, it still would have changed?
Why? Because my characters never reveal anything to me ahead of time. I need to write the scene to know what’s going to happen next, and often, I am doing this on a day by day basis.
For example, I’ll finish the day’s writing in the middle of a scene because most of the time, I have no idea what the next scene will be. It isn’t until I finish the scene that I know how the next scene begins. When I say “begin”, I mean, I know the first sentence. Maybe the first paragraph. But I don’t know anything beyond that.
Fortunately, I don’t often have to go back and do rewrites. Out of fifty romances, I’ve only had to do this a few times (Boaz’s Wager, Wagon Trail Bride, and a couple others that elude me at the moment). The Convenient Mail Order Bride happens to be the current one.
These characters don’t know what they want, except for the hero. Abe hasn’t changed, nor does he need to. But one scene the heroine seems like she’s ready to run off, and in the next, she’s determined to stick around.
For a couple chapters, it was like she couldn’t make up her mind. Now, I know in real life, there are people like this. I have my moments, too, but this is something that can drive a reader batty. I’d be yelling at the heroine to figure out what she wants already, so I don’t care for this kind of setup. This is why I have to go back and smooth her moodswings out.
Then there’s the villain in the story. I thought he was truly a bad guy, but then while writing a scene, it occurred to me he is only the bad guy in the hero’s point of view. Point of view is truly a wonderful thing. Abe has every right to perceive the villain (Carl) the way he does. Carl’s father took some of the land rightfully Abe’s and gave it to Carl because Carl was the legitimate son. Carl’s father is also Abe’s father, but Abe was conceived in the act of adultery. More than that, Carl’s father favored Abe because he loved Abe’s mother, whereas he didn’t love Carl’s mother–and he didn’t love Carl either.
So if you flip things around to Carl’s point of view, Abe’s mother (and to a lesser extent) Abe robbed him of a father’s love. Connect up Carl’s mother dying and leaving him without a parent who cared about him, and it only complicates things. On top of that, his father paid Abe’s mother for the stream and land, so technically it really does belong to him. But the answer isn’t even that simple when the two can’t stand each other and want the stream and land. So the matter isn’t as black and white as it seems. (Which fascinates me, to be honest. I like these kind of revelations because it makes the story more meaningful.)
Carl, by the way, will be getting his own book because of the new developments. I am still working on the plot, and I figure it’ll take his book to resolve the matter with the stream and land.
So anyway, today’s mission is to rewrite, delete, and edit. (This is not nearly as fun as creating the first draft, and it drains me to do this. I get energized in writing the first draft. I lose energy doing the other stuff. But the other stuff is just as important as the first draft.)