Monday, October 25, 2010

Getting Lost in Your Own Manuscript

Natalie Bahm has a great post about the chain reaction caused by revising. Her post got me thinking about my own revising and writing, and I realized I have a problem: I get lost in my own writing. As the manuscript accumulates more words, it becomes difficult for me to differentiate between the story in my head and the one that is actually typed out. Even though I didn't formally acknowledging this problem to myself until a few days ago, I've been utilizing techniques to circumvent my little problem:
  • When I sit down for a writing session I always start by reading the previous chapter or two (and of course I can't read without editing). 
  • I refer to my detailed outline frequently. Back in the day, I was the writer who cringed at the word outline. Go with the flow was my motto. Now, my outline is my life line and I find myself updating it on a daily basis. Just small changes here or there, nothing drastic (usually).
  • I know they say that a serious writer writes everyday, but writing everyday just isn't happening for me right now because I still work full time and am rehabbing my ACL (which is a full time job in and of itself). But, I can honestly say I write every other day. On my off writing days, I think about my book, the characters, their problems, the plots. Just thinking about things keeps the story fresh in my mind and reduces my fictional amnesia. Sometimes I will even jot down random thoughts on my off days and then refer back to them the next day. Small details like make sure Grandpa Miles puts on his reading glasses when he reads OR rework Maya's reaction to X, a teenager would react to X like this.
You may not get lost in your story, maybe it's just me. Maybe you do get lost. Either way, you have to figure out a way to get around it- outsmart yourself. I think the best solution to this problem is to of course write everyday. Any other suggestions?


  1. I totally get lost in my stories, so much so I turn into bit of a space cadet where the rest of my life is concerned. I'm really working on this :) But yes, I echo your advice about writing every day (or whatever schedule you can manage). I feel my drafts are better when I'm consistent. Great post!

  2. I have that same problem. So much so that this horrible mass of backstory (which is all wrapped up in my brain) is NOT coming across on the page. I have to space it out evenly, without infodumping, AND I have to make those conduits of knowledge believable. And fit into the framework of the story.

    And whine whine whine.

    *sigh* It's tough. I think I'm going to approach it very clinically--lay out all the parts I need to cover. Break them up systematically. Insert where need be. Strategically. Like a battle.

    *grabs sword and helmet*

  3. Hey Jennifer and Shayda!
    Thanks for dropping by.
    Shayda, I love *grabs sword and helmet*
    As they say, LOL.

  4. The same thing happens to me. You know what I find helps? Changing the font. It seems different somehow. I still get lost, but I can find my way out more easily : )

    I found your blog from Theresa's Halloween haunting, but I'll be sure to come again soon.