Recalcitrant Muses and Sometimes Writing Misbehaves


Dog standing in front of a fan
I wish it were this warm in DC. We’re still bouncing around in very un-springlike weather.  The cherry blossoms are blooming and it’s 30 degrees in the morning. Yeesh!

This week I finished the redraft of Cursed Planet (previously 49er Planet).  A redraft is pretending like the first version doesn’t exist and starting new…in this case from what I learned in the Novel Structure, Teams in Fiction, and Secondary Plots workshops respectively.

Did I mention after all that learning, I thought my head would explode?

I hit a certain point in the story and my muse declared that it wanted to cycle through the whole book.  For me, cycling is usually going back through a chapter or two and shaking out the wrinkles in the story.  It’s not revision–everything’s done in creation.  I might add more description, take out a stub (an idea that came in that didn’t go anywhere), and continue shaping the story as it evolves.  When I do a full cycle of the entire story, I’m about to finish it.

For this, I also did a reverse outline.  It’s different than a normal outline because it’s done after the scene or most of the story is done.  It also doesn’t focus on plot.  I wanted to do it because I had some gaps and I wasn’t sure where I was going to fill them in.   I also wanted to learn more about my secondary plots, since that was a new thing for me.

Muse jammed on the brakes.  Whoa! Outline!

And it wanted nothing to do with one. You’d think I was taking muse to the vet.   So something that really should have taken me a day or so took over a week.

Worse, I had to change the chapter numbers at least three times.  I started out splitting one in half (one of the gaps), and I’d go through and label the next one as Chapter 12A.  Then once I cycled to that one, it became Chapter 13 and the next one 13A.  Then I found two previously unaccounted for chapters that I somehow managed to skip over in my numbering.

And then there was the chapter would not die.

As I was writing towards the ending, muse put in this chapter.  But I didn’t quite know what to do with it, so I just noted the two character names and went to the next one.  It nagged at me to be finished, and then when I went back to do it, muse was like “What do you want me to do with it?”

So I took it out.

Muse prods me.

Muse whispers:  The chapter needs to be in there.

I put it back in.  Muse looked at me and said, “What do you want me to do with it?”

This time, I thought about it for a while, turning it over and over.  I don’t do the final validation scene until the whole book is pulled together.  This chapter that wouldn’t die was the only thing holding the validation back.  So whack.  I chucked it, renumbered the last few chapters and did the validation.

So far, muse has wandered off to go sniff something else (it’s thinking it would like another workshop), so hopefully that chapter really is dead.

Muses be fickle.

2 thoughts on “Recalcitrant Muses and Sometimes Writing Misbehaves

  1. Great article, you had me laughing at the muse. They can be such pains at times. Mine often needs to be chased from under the sofa with a broom. :p

    I like the idea of a reverse outline. I think one of my WIPs needs that

    Like

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