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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | Stop for the Potholes? Or Drive Over Them?

Stop for the Potholes? Or Drive Over Them?

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I know where the weak areas are in my WIP.  I saw them in the first draft, and I struggled with them again when I wrote an outline for Draft 2.
Since I started revisions last weekend, I’ve already deviated from the Draft 2 outline, because I knew my fix wasn’t going to work.  Now I’ve hit that troublesome part of the story, and I have to decide:  Do I come to a screeching halt until I fix this pothole for good?  Or do I drive over the gravel currently filling it, ignore the bumpiness, and deal with it later?
Part of me doesn’t want to go on until I’ve figured it out.  But the other part wants to push forward, regardless of the hole I’m running over.  I have a feeling that I might need to finish the second draft (maybe even a third or fourth draft) before I figure out how to repave this road entirely – or discover an alternate route.
It bugs me. I don’t like to leave a pit behind me, nagging and vexing me while I move forward. But looking back at other manuscripts, it sometimes took distance and time before I discovered the right fix for plot holes and faulty character motivations. Sometimes it took a beta reader to point me in the right direction. Or perhaps it’s not even possible to see the fix it until I make some other, unforeseen change that reveals the correct solution.
What do you do when you know there’s a problem with your story?  Do you stop until you’ve got it entirely worked out? Or do you fill it in gradually, draft by draft, until it’s no longer a problem?

P.S.- As of last night, I had the pothole filled with some fairly good stuff, although I still feel the bumpiness driving over it. I’m ready to move on, though — at least for this draft.  And, a third of the way through the story, I’ve already cut 6400 words. Yay! Wouldn’t it be lovely if I could do the same for the next two thirds? I’d knock the whole thing back to below 80k!  We’ll see …

12 Responses to Stop for the Potholes? Or Drive Over Them?

  1. Southpaw says:

    Oooo, that a tough question. I usually figure out how to smooth things over when I’m far away from my writing. So, I guess that means I skip it until it just falls into place.

  2. I usually ponder over the holes before I continue writing. I also consult some writing partners to see if they can help me work it out. It works well when you use several people brainstorming over the same problem.

  3. I normally make a note to come back to that section later and go on. If I stop it is hard for me to get started again. I have to get all my ideas out at when I need to or the story just sits there for too long.

  4. Linda G. says:

    Tough call. Usually, as long as the gravel-filled pothole isn’t a real wheel-buster, I’ll go on for a while, hoping the right solution will come to me.

  5. Julie Dao says:

    That’s why I’m participating in the August NaNoWrImo… sometimes I feel that potholes can’t be filled and that the journey has to go on. You can always go back and smooth them over later. If I linger too long, it slows the whole novel down – but that’s just me!

  6. Jemi Fraser says:

    Those potholes are so darn tricky! I’ve had to leave a few because I didn’t know what to do with them. Thankfully, the answer usually comes. It sometimes helps me to stop and reread the entire ms to that point.

  7. It’d be nice if you could simply complain, and then somebody else would swoop in with the proper tools to fix all the potholes for you. Since that isn’t about to happen, why not do the same thing you do when you encounter holes in your neighborhood streets? Go around ’em until someone (i.e. YOU) is ready to fix them properly.

  8. Dianne, I’m doing something weird with my WIP that I’ve NEVER done before. I’m writing it in scenes that aren’t chronological. It could wind up a hot mess or just be amazing. Not sure but so far I’m liking it a lot!!

  9. mshatch says:

    My plan is to fix those potholes as I come across them but I don’t always follow the plan 🙂

  10. DL Hammons says:

    My potholes have to be filled by the time I’m through with the second draft. It eats away at me if I let them go past that point! 🙂

    Have a great weekend!

  11. I say listen to your gut. I follow mine, which usually means I handle each manuscript differently. Some I’ll plow through. Others I stop and fix.

    Good luck!

  12. Tonja says:

    That’s great you got it worked out. I have a need to stop and fill pot-holes, especially if I’ve seen them twice.