Rewriting: The Middle Way

Table_269134_lThis is a short-ish post, seeing as how it is two days before Thanksgiving, when I host a dozen family members here for dinner, and the lovely Olivia (19 months) is spending the day with me, and the house needs a lot tad bit of cleaning and, oh right, I do have to figure out a few recipes.

I'm deep into rewriting my next novel, and all I can think about writing-wise is related to rewriting, which is kind of an individual thing.  So I've had a hard time coming up with ideas for writing posts lately, which you know is unusual seeing as how we're coming up on eight years of blogging and over 1,000 posts.  Craziness.

But, upon further reflection, I did realize I had something of minor brilliance to say.  It may even be major brilliance–it all depends on if it resonates with you or not.  Here's the story:

The other morning, 5:30 ish* and I'm working on my rewrite.  I come to a part I'd dreaded, because it involved the way one of my main characters, Jack,  reacted to a situation.  Readers commented they didn't believe his reaction, given his actions earlier. 

What's the obvious fix here?  Why, give him the opposite reaction, of course.  Which is what I had figured I'd do in all my rewrite planning.  But as I started making the fix, it didn't work for me.  Didn't feel right.  Didn't seem like something Jack would do. 

So I got up from the computer (actually I sat there frustrated for a few minutes) and took a shower. And the answer came: Jack doesn't have to have a different reaction, he just has to have his current reaction challenged by the other characters and thus explain his reaction.

In other words, what I needed to do was make it work on the page.  

This, my friends, was following the middle way.  It's the sometimes circuitous path between two black and white option, and it comes to us not just in writing but in life.  You look and look and look at an obstacle and can only see it as something barring your journey.  But then, suddenly you realize you can just go around the damn thing–and get back on your road.

And so that is what I did.  Jack is happy.  And so am I.

I had a counselor once who called this grace.  And that's what it feels like, doesn't it?

Have you had moments of grace in your writing or life recently?

*I've used "ish" twice in this post.  Last week, I was having lunch with a childhood friend (we grew up around the corner from each other) and we agreed that both of us had the same laidback attitude toward life, which she attributed to being the baby of the family.  She said–and I love this–that her favorite word is "ish."  As in,  soon-ish.  Or later-ish.  You get the picture.  Thus, the preponderance of the word "ish" in this post.

Photo by monmart.

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4 Comments on "Rewriting: The Middle Way"

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J.D.
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J.D.

Great picture of the dining room. On the subject of writing, I love the way you resolved Jack’s dilemma. I think I read somewhere ( or maybe it came to me in the night): If all the characters behave as everyone expects, you probably don’t have a very good story. Characters–like people–sometimes do weird things. Your solution makes an excellent point. They have reasons for their actions, even when they are wrong.
Let me wish a happy Thanksgiving to you and all your readers here. I really enjoy my visits to your blog. Gobble, gobble.

Charlotte Dixon
Guest

Thanks, J.D.!  I enjoy your visits to the blog, too–so much.  I love what you said about characters, because its true–we humans are weird sometimes, why not our characters?  Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!

Dyoung
Guest

Life with out grace is hard. Doing anything minus grace is hard. Not impossible. But hard. Grace-less people are hard. Or harsh. People who deny accepting or giving grace are some of the most difficult people to be around. When we experience graceless situations- we learn to appreciate it. We learn to make room for it. But be careful. Once you start expecting it- you will be let down. My rule of thumb? Always extend it. The rest will take care of itself. So yes, there’s lots of ‘ish stuff in my life!

Charlotte Dixon
Guest

Another "ish" person!  Yay!  And I agree, grace-less people are harsh.  But that doesn't describe either of us–or anyone reading this blog!  

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