It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post on the first Wednesday of every month. Every month, the organizers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!!! Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG, and the hashtag is #IWSG.

March 2 question – Have you ever been conflicted about writing a story or adding a scene to a story? How did you decide to write it or not?
Yes, the example that stands out in my mind concerns the first book in my Chronicles of Aden Weaver series. In the first book, The Or’in of Tane, Aden Weaver lives with his grandparents, Nana Jeen and Papa Joe. One night, two assassins attack Aden in the vegetable garden of his grandparents’ house. A big fight ensues between Aden and the two assassins. Nana Jeen and Papa Joe arrive, and the fighting is ferocious. In the first draft of my story, both grandparents are killed in the fight.
My then critique partner, the wonderful author and YouTube queen, Maria Cisneros-Toth, took exception to this version of the book. She cited good reasons: it was too much for child readers to lose both beloved characters so early in the story, it was unnecessary, gratuitous to kill both of them, etc. But what it boiled down to, Maria admitted, was that she did not like the idea of losing both the grandparent characters. Maria pleaded with me to keep them alive and change the storyline.

In the world of writers, there are plotters and there are pantsers. Plotters map out a story in detail first. Think of JK Rowling’s grid pattern story plans which detailed every significant development and turn in the seven-book series. Whereas Pantsers write stories as they come, flying by the seat of their pants. Then they edit for years afterward. I’m a Pantser, and I write all my copy as stream-of-consciousness material coming straight from the muse onto the page. I had set down the content for The Or’in of Tane as faithfully as it came to me. In other words, I felt wedded to the content. That’s one of the things I find most valuable about joining critique groups when I’m working on new material. They offer the dispassionate third-person perspective. They can reflect things the author can’t see. When it comes to editing I can delete an adverb and correct punctuation. But, I find it difficult to question the big things. And this was one of those times. Maria was able to reflect that it was too much to kill the grandparents so early in the series. And, I could hear the truth.

When I thought about it, I felt excited at the thought of them surviving the fight. I couldn’t wait to get started on the changes. And that told me I was going in the right direction. I went back to rewrite. In the new version, Nana Jeen and Papa Joe get badly injured in the fight. It changed many things about the way the rest of the story played out. It was the right thing to do. Furthermore, having the grandparents there in the final scenes of the trilogy, to witness their grandson on his triumphant return, gave an emotional resonance to those end scenes. I never once regretted saving the grandparents and rewriting that scene. I was just glad there was a seasoned eye on hand to guide me on the story development at the right time. Thank you Maria for the advice.

I had written the grandparent characters into the narrative for a reason. As the daughter of immigrants to New Zealand, our little nuclear family grew up without the benefit of extended family. My only experience of grandparents was through letters and those grandparents I saw in the movies or read about in books. My grandmother moved out to New Zealand when she was 79. We had some sweet years getting to know each other before she passed away ten years later.

My siblings and I grew up without grandparents, and for that reason, I revere the elderly and always have to add a grandparent or two into my fiction. I didn’t want to kill off Nana Jeen and Papa Joe. But, I struggle with questioning the muse. Maria more or less gave me permission to throw out something I didn’t feel worked and to replace it with something lighter. The story immediately improved.
Some edits are too scary to make on your own.

Sometimes you need a friend to hold your hand and say, it is okay. You can do this.

Sometimes you need friends.
What about you. Have you joined a critique group? Have you ever been conflicted about writing a story or adding a scene to a story?

Keep Writing!
Yvette Carol
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“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt


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Comments
  1. emaginette says:

    I write a campfire story as my outline. It gives me a path to follow that takes care of plot holes, painted-into-a-corner moments, etc. That said, my story writing has evolved to this, and before I got this far the learning curve was quite an arch. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Olga Godim says:

    I don’t consider myself a pantser or a plotter. I’m in-between. I do need a rough outline before I start writing a story, but I don’t usually have it in details. Just a vague list of important points to bring the hero from the beginning to the end. A detailed plan for a seven-book series? Forget it!
    What you describe is unique. Such a thing never happened to me. To resurrect the characters who died in the first chapter after the book is done feels like a huge task. Scary. But then, I try not to kill my characters in the first place. I like them too much. :))

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This illustrates perfectly the importance of our beta-readers. I sympathize because I am a pantser also. But one thing I’ve learned to do is to watch the entire scene (attempting different versions) unfold inside my head. I can then “see” which version adds more credence to my story. Course, I’ve finetuned this process until it works well for me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • yvettecarol says:

      Good to know I’m not alone, Joylene.
      I find it fascinating to hear your way of bending the flow of inspiration sometimes. What you are describing is something I only just started experimenting with this year. There were two or three chapters where I didn’t like the first idea that came to me and I tried imagining alternatives. I see them as mini-movies, too. But the whole thing has been tentative at best. It’s great to hear that you’re employing and fine-tuning the process. You’ve given me the courage to continue.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Critique groups can be helpful. It sounds as if you found an excellent person in Maria, to point out the advantage of leaving the grandparent’s be. Edits are difficult sometimes, but, as you found, necessary.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. J.S. Pailly says:

    I’m more of a pantser than a plotter, but I’ve learned over the years to NOT listen to my initial gut instinct while writing. Usually, the first idea to pop into my head is the easy and obvious choice. If I wait just a bit, the second idea that pops into my head tends to be more interesting and nuanced. I almost always prefer that second choice idea over the first.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. ahtdoucette says:

    I love the way you put it. Wedded to the story. This is so true and such a useful observation. It’s true. There is absolutely no substitute for that outside perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Thanks. Whenever I near the finish line with a new story, I always start to put out feelers for a critique group. Every piece of work needs that outside perspective.

      Like

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