Resisting Temptation…Writing Through to “The End”

So I’ve got this synopsis. It’s not perfect, by any means, and it has a lot of work to go before I’d let myself send it off as an actual submission piece. (Of course, so does the story!). It’s written, though, and it’s got a lot of information in it that I hadn’t realized/known before, and it’s woken me up to some goals and needs of my hero.

Overall, a good thing. An exciting thing, because I’ve now got more of the story in front of me, and inside my head, than I did when I started.

Temptation.

How great would it be, this week, to do a restart, head back to the beginning of the story, and start putting together all the things I know now. Pretty great. And pretty silly.

Because, realistically, I don’t know the new, improved story all that well. I know it as a series of facts, of phrases and sentences shuffled together into some semblance of logic and pattern. I know more of what happens in the middle than I used to, and I do have some exciting fun ideas about the opening. And I definitely followed the summary out to the end, through the crisis and climax.

Here’s the problem, though. I haven’t written that crisis or climax. And I”m learning, from experience, that you really don’t know your story–even the pieces you’re pretty darned sure of–until you’ve written it all. And even then, often, what you really have is a more complete set of questions you need to answer, more glittery luminescence to make the holes in your plot and characters a lot more obvious. And you also get ideas. Sometimes they look like a mix of a pretzel, an old slinky, and a big pile of cat hair. Sometimes, when you’re lucky, they look like the best kind of fairy dust. Either way, you’ve got a lot to work with.

So I’m resisting temptation. I’m going to keep writing forward, until I can type “The End” on a first draft, not just a synopsis. And, obviously, I’ll be hoping for fairy dust.

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12 thoughts on “Resisting Temptation…Writing Through to “The End”

  1. Hoping for much fairy dust to land on your computer keys! I feel as if I’m a similiar boat as you are…pushing through on a first draft. Joyce keeps reminding me that it’s the thing to do at this point. But, boy is it hard!

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  2. claudine says:

    I *desperately* needed to hear this today, as I’m getting ready to begin at the beginning again, so I can re-do it right and then finish.
    What you said really resonates though. I shall finish it and THEN go back.
    Thank you!

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    • beckylevine says:

      Finish! It is so hard, cause we “know” (not really) what’s wrong with the beginning & can see things that would make it “better” (maybe), and it’s not knowing about the rest that makes starting over sound so good. But it’s worth finishing, really. 🙂

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  3. Lua says:

    You’re doing a good thing by resisting that temptation Becky- what you’ve said is true, “you really don’t know your story–even the pieces you’re pretty darned sure of–until you’ve written it all.” I also learned that this is true through experience. Temptation is hard to resist and is one of the worst enemies of a writer…

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  4. I love this post (this one and the other on the synopsis).

    I made the mistake with a novel I attempted a while back (the one I had to put down for a while). I kept going back to the beginning before I really made it to the end. Frustrated and tired, I put it away. The novel I’m working on now is at least a completed draft…maybe that’s why I’m more willing to face it!

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    • beckylevine says:

      Thanks, Christie. The first book I worked on (for years and years) I never did get to the end. I revised & revised and went back & back. I think you may have hit on something–things can look much more overwhelming, too, until you’ve hit the end for that first draft–like maybe you won’t really get there. Having done it once makes me believe a lot more firmly I can do it in another draft (and another and…)

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  5. What happens if my wad of cat hair gets tangled in my slinky and my dog ate the pretzel?

    I have a VERY rough summary. I’m trying to make it into a rough synopsis. From that I’d like to write a rough draft. (No illusions of calling it even a “first” draft.)

    With my last novel (that I set aside) I never wrote a synopsis, rough or tumble, instead I wrote into the void and went off in so many directions that 3 years later I needed Mapquest, Garmin, and the National Park Service to find me. It was easier to pack it all away and start again fresh.

    Going back to the beginning of this story and fixing things isn’t an option either, as my story is so new that I’m not sure I even HAVE a beginning yet. Case in point, I keep tacking chapters onto the FRONT of my novel. Ack!

    Wish me luck! (Oh, and can I borrow that GPS device? Thanks!)

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    • beckylevine says:

      LUCK! My guess is that, by the time you’ve worked your way through a couple of drafts of this one, you’ll have all new “maps” (or map skills!) in the GPS and could take a look at that earlier novel, too. SO much learning to do, isn’t there? 🙂

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  6. Oh, good for you for resisting! I have sometimes given way to temptation, and I know some writers for whom that works well. But for me it’s generally best just to keep going, because there are always things that come up at the end that change the beginning anyway.

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