What's Really Important

I recently came across an old notebook, the one I was using when I wrote the first draft of my current WIP (the WIP fondly known as "The Story That's Trying to Kill Me") (more on that another day). Along with some utterly embarrassing story snippets that I thought back then were pure gold, I found a list I wrote called "The Important Points of the First Ten Chapters."

The reason I made this list was because I had just realized my story started at the wrong place. I'd read a blog post that suggested making a list to see what really needed to be included and going from there. So, with that brilliant idea, and my equally brilliant and creative list title, I did that.


It's been over a year since I made that list, and my beginning is finally (hopefully) where it should be, but on a list of over twenty important points, guess how many are still in the story?

Four. Yes, four little things that have survived the hacking and slashing and ugly weeping of six more drafts. It was amazing to me to see how much my story had changed. And it's not just changing, it's improving. Very encouraging.

It made me think of this post by Natalie Whipple about the malleability of stories. Things might feel so important and key to our plot, but if they're not working out, you know, it's okay. It's okay, guys.

Now. I'm going to chant that to myself as I go back to kneeling in front of my laptop, begging this WIP to cooperate. Malleability. I got this.


James Duckett said...

Just means four great ideas stayed around and six ideas were replaced with something better, right? I bet your book is going to be awesome!!

Peggy Eddleman said...

It's amazing how much things can change in a book, and how much better it can feel after all that. Congrats on all the hacking and slashing. That's so hard! You should get some kind of reward for making it through something like that. You know, like chocolate. Or a book deal.

Christine Tyler said...

Love this post! The one by Natalie Whipple is spot on, too. I'm so proud of all your hacking and slashing.

Kimberly Krey said...

I relate to this. I finished Evie's Knight back in 2009 and had a dozen beta readers go over printed versions of the entire, I'm-too-embarrassed-to-admit-how-long manuscript. After cuts and revisions, only the root of the story remains. Along with the first kiss, of course. ;) Glad to hear about your progress; feels good to see a bit of a pay off after all that time!

meradeth said...

Hey, I'm impressed that 4 still made it in! Some of my drafts have killed virtually everything but the MC :) (talk about WIP that tried to kill me...). Glad to hear things are going well--that's awesome!

David P. King said...

I love reading posts like this. Good to know I'm not the only one going through the same thing. Glad to hear things are improving. Keep it up! :)

Pk Hrezo said...

That is a perfect thing to do. I do that once I"m finished with a story--write out all the major plot points and if there's something in between slowing it down, it gets the ax.

Caryn Caldwell said...

That is so cool! It's amazing how much a story can change yet still be your core story, isn't it? And how it can improve even when it's so different from the original. It's what I love so much about revision - watching that story change and improve. Oh, and I've looked at some of my old notes and thought the same things you did when you saw yours.

Good luck with revisions!

P.S. Now I'm trying to think of a random, funny story to tell, but I've got nothing. Next time, maybe! :-)

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