Fixing My Messy Middle

This is not a diet and exercise blog. It’s about the WIP I foolishly thought I was two days away from finishing. My first goal with this revision was to add 9,000 words. I did that all in the first act. That’s what I’ve been working on these past few weeks.

So, after I typed in the corrections to act 1 yesterday, I broke the second act down into scenes. The first act, which has received a lot of TLC from me for two weeks, was a very clean 150 pages. The second act is 200 pages of messy middle. Ah well. I sort of kind of knew it on Thursday during the read-through when I kept thinking “What’s the goal in this scene?”

Act 2 contains a bunch of snappy patter, and it sort of lurches the plot forward, but at least half the scenes don’t have a clear purpose, which I found out when I broke them down. I did this with pen and a sheet of notebook paper, 25 paper clips, and the hard copy of the ms. in front of me. Across top of the sheet of notebook paper I wrote “Scene. Goal. Conflict. Resolution.” Then I numbered every scene and tried to answer the three questions for each one.

If the scene didn’t have a goal, I assigned one. If there was no obvious conflict, I figured out how to bring the hidden conflict to light. And if there was no resolution, well, not every scene has a positive resolution, so that was okay. I paperclipped and moved on.  

I didn’t note page numbers because frankly I could tell just by skimming the scenes that so much needed work that any pagination would be radically changed. And that’s when I realized I probably am not going to finish this thing tomorrow. I have too much new stuff to write. About half the scenes in act 2 need to be substantially rewritten. I’m not sure I can write new material into 100 pages today.

And then since I’m going to have so much new material, I have to read the ms. again before I send it to Mary Louise. I am okay with this. A littel disappointed, but determined, too, to make it better.

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