During a recent two-week break between workshops, I read through my entire first draft – all 45,000 words there is of it. This is the third manuscript I’ve written. The first two went on paper much faster than this one. I started working on this one a couple years ago but a bad experience (story for another day) caused me to stop writing. I got back into it when I enrolled in McDaniel College’s Romance Writing Program. Through the first year, I didn’t get a lot of new words on the page because I was so immersed in learning craft. Now it is time to finish this manuscript, but I had lost the story, hence the full start to finish read of what I had on the page.
For this read, I didn’t want to take the time to stop and fix anything right then. I just wanted to get a handle on a story that has been years in the making. I found some interesting things. I loved some of the scenes, like the one when Genny wakes up the morning after a big scene and is flustered and disoriented and fumbles around on the page before she gets herself together. When I read it, I thought, “Yes. That is exactly what Genny would do in that situation.”
For every good scene or spot-on bit, I had a head scratcher. There is a scene where Genny is disoriented and muzzy-headed and Luke lets her drive herself home. What? Luke would never do that. And there is a scene when Luke calls Sarah and she tells him she’ll meet him at the hospital and she never shows up. For these, I need to really look at what is happening and figure out what should be happening. Should Luke call a cab for Genny or take her home himself? Should Genny even have her car or did she take public transport? Is Sarah the right person for Luke to call in that situation? The glaring holes need some think time to clean them up.
Other problems made me laugh when I read them, but are easy to fix. The dress changes from a red sheath to a blue skirted chiffon number, the hair starts off up then is down then is up again, Genny has to clean up dog barf after the cat barfed, a coworker’s name changes mid-scene, and many, many other funnies like that.
I made some margin notes, wrote 14 pages of notes, and revised the outline. We are working on character right now in class so I plan to use my character arc analysis, which includes looking at turning points and how they affect the character, to fix some of the plot holes and to help inform what Luke or Genny or Sarah really would do in the situations they find themselves in.
What are you fixing right now and what is your plan of attack?