At what point in your WIP do you decide it’s all crap and you need to trash the whole thing? Do you have a specific place? We’ve all heard of the sagging middle, what prolific author Debbie Macomber calls the “muddle.” Did I say heard of it? Oh, good grief, we’ve all survived it.
As I struggled through a scene—yes, it was a love scene and no, I don’t like writing them—I tried to remember if it is always like this. Most of my books have at least one full love scene, some of them two. Have I really fought for every single word of every single one of them? This one, the one that started this paragraph, took me eight days. Eight days!
When I finished the scene (and the many, many glasses of Diet Cherry Coke that were required), I read back over it, knowing I’d have to re-write it again and again before anyone could bear to read it. Because, of course, it was all crap.
I have other times I think the book isn’t going to come together. Final chapters give me tear-my-hair-out fits, because, I think, there’s a bittersweetness to ending the story. I’m ready and I’m not. But I never doubt I’ll write that last chapter.
Occasionally I’ll read over a page and notice I’ve started three paragraphs with the word “she” and the other two with the heroine’s name. All too often, the word “was” is the second word in the paragraph. Throw in a few dozen words ending in “ly” and you have a whole page of…oh, I can’t use the word “crap” again…a whole page of detritus. That’s not exactly right, but I’ve used wronger.
I’m not a good describer, either. My people often end a book with different eye colors than they started with, a dimple in the wrong cheek, and slim hips on what was a curvy body in an early chapter.
But these are easy fixes, although sometimes embarrassing when someone else catches them. The love scene however, the eight-days-to-madness thing, is awful. I’ll never be able to finish this book. No one will ever like it.
And so I read it again, a few days later. And it’s…you know, it’s not too bad. I need to add a little, trim a little, remember she only has two arms and he’s not double-jointed, but I can do that. Sure I can.
Once again, I’ve survived my own particular “muddle.”
Where’s yours, and what do you do to work your way around it?