Craft, Doubt, Editing, Fiction, My Books, Narrative, Novel, Revision, Tips, Writing

Spaghetti Gone Wild

Yesterday, in a Tweet to Kayla Olson, I described the state of my chapter-in-revision as spaghetti gone wild. Switching the order of the scenes had seemed a simple task. I had four scenes to deal with: one moves down, two move up, one stays in last place. No big deal. Next step: write/revise the narrative to link these scenes.

That’s when the mess began. I wrote words. I deleted them. I wrote different words. I deleted those too. Nothing felt right. Desperate, I thought maybe the fault lay within the scenes. Even though I’d loved them when I wrote them, I began to edit. I highlighted words, phrases, whole sentences I could improve, but I knew there was no sense working on those until I was sure they wouldn’t be cut. But then, the more I read the more I became dissatisfied. (If you’re a LOST fan, this is when I nicked the dural sac. :-))

Suddenly, none of it made sense to me. Everything was wrong. The writing was mediocre, the story silly, and I questioned why I wrote the chapter in the first place. When I realized I would rather play games than even open the file again, I knew I was in trouble. I now hated the chapter I once loved. Where had I gone wrong?

Without a clue, I gave up and played TextTwist, and as I did, I was reminded of way back when I first wrote about Jalal. I would write until I was out of words, and then I played Bejeweled. I don’t know why, but the background music brought Jalal’s voice to me, and I would play until I knew what to write next.

So, yesterday, as I sat there playing TextTwist, the fog lifted. This chapter was about Jalal, from his point of view, but I had ripped the heart out of it by trying to revise without him. I barged right in and started hacking away and shoving in more, without “getting into character” first. That’s how I totally screwed it up.

I must now step away (Or count to five? :-)) and listen until I hear Jalal’s voice. Then I’ll get this mess untangled.

Now, your turn: Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s done this.

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Photo credit: Susan at Timeless Gourmet

22 thoughts on “Spaghetti Gone Wild”

  1. i was reading the beginning, thinking, step away, come back later….and then you did 🙂

    moments like these are just pains in the you know what, but i think we need them. i love ‘spaghetti gone wild’.


  2. Interresting the way you work and feel about the editing process. I just wich to know if you use the revising tool of Word (included in Microsoft). For me, it’s was a great discovery. Give me a new vision of the novel. More easyer to change a word, a paragrap without mistake.

    Do you use this tools?

    Have a nice day.


  3. Sorry. I mean the review tool for editing. It’s free in the office Microsoft. You can find an example here:

    Once you set the box tool, it’s very easy to make change or not in your work (original, original with comments, final, final with comments). I love to put some comments about the fiction and work around the text. It’s also easier to make some editing with this tool.

    I hope you will find it and try it for your novel.


    1. Ah-ha! Yes, I do use the Review function … a lot. It’s invaluable to see my revisions in a bubble next to the original, so I can later decide which, if either, is the better version. But you know, I learned something from your second link. I didn’t realize you could turn off certain types of markup so you could easily review one type at a time. I’ll have to play around with this a bit more to see what else I might have missed. Thank you for pointing this out.


  4. Linda, let it be known that I spent THREE HOURS revising a single scene for my novel hours before it was due to my editor two nights ago. It was a perfectly workable scene but two hours into my whimsical revision, I was a mess! I had lost all perspective and followed dialog to dead ends like one of my daughter’s maze books.

    A few hours away and I found my way back to the source and the scene came together once again. But there is nothing so frustrating for a writer (other than writers block, I suppose) than the spiral of insecurity and doubt that comes from a seemingly simple revision gone wrong–be it of a scene or an entire manuscript.


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