Ripples in the Pond

This is me.  Not literally, but certainly figuratively.  And I’m thinking it’s a good thing I have *a lot* of hair.  Otherwise I would be bald.

Let me just say, overall, I don’t mind editing.  I’m a putzer and a tweeker, and editing allows me to do that under the auspices of something grander.  I can rearrange sentence structure, hunt for new words, play with pacing, and all manner of other fun stuff that doesn’t happen <cough> while in the throws of the first draft.

However — and you knew there was going to be a ‘however’ — during the course of this editing, and at the insistent pushing of the Sage of the South, I rewrote a scene.  The fact the scene needed the revamping is indisputable.  It hovered on being ‘just okay’ when it could have been so much more than that.  It lacked the real tension and gritty realism the events called for.  So I hammered, slaved, tried, failed, tried again, consumed wine and food in a glorious girl’s night, tried again the next morning, and aced it.  Awesome!  <happy dance, happy dance>

There are many sayings about one change, no matter how small, affecting many other things — ripples spreading outwards from the pebble thrown into the pond.  That’s why, to me, time travel is such a conundrum of a thing.  Think about it.  You go back 1000 years and accidentally step on a butterfly and, through some warped chain of events, ten other things fail to occur.  That affects twenty more, and so on until the whole fabric of reality is frayed, and it turns out the time machine was never invented in the first place, but then how did you get back in time to step on the damned butterfly?!!?

<clears throat>  Sorry, all this hair pulling has severely stressed the grey matter.  As I was saying…this change I made really is for the better, except for the damn ripple effect.  Not only did it push my MC further than intended, it forced me to bring out the kindler, gentler side of her co-MC.  He wasn’t supposed to show that side of himself, except for bits and pieces, until closer to the end of the book and then only barely.  He’s not comfortable being kind and gentle.  As the Sage put it, the co-MC wears an Ass Hat.  He can’t help it.  It’s who he is.  As readers, you’ll either understand that and accept him, or totally hate him.

Anyhow, that means I now need to rewrite several — did I say several? — scenes immediately following the fateful change.  Which, by direct correlation, has me mimicking the photo above.  Why?  Because the aforementioned character has to, absolutely, positively, no arguments allowed, HAS TO, put his Ass Hat back on.  But the MC also needs to deal with the new events in a believable and consistent manner.  And the trickle down will work its way through the entire plot, right up to the end of the book and into the next.

<huge sigh>  The trickle down, I can deal with.  The scene immediately following THE SCENE, can I just say, “AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

And that, folks, is my mid-week ROW80 Check-In.  Join the ROW80 Blog Hop here.

And have a nice day.  <head, desk, head, desk, head, desk>



  1. It’s so true that even the tiniest tweaks end up rippling through your manuscript. Loving the phrase ‘wears an Ass Hat, and can’t help it.’ 🙂

    You speak of ripples from a years-old chain of events, and do I know of that phenomena. Last year I wrote a prequel to my unpubbed trilogy, mostly just as a means of exploration (very self-indulgent). The things I gleaned sent ripples that became tidal waves through my last rewrite. It was a months long effort, and, like you, I was pulling out my hair (unlike you, I can’t afford it). But was it ever worth it. Good luck, and easy on that hair!

    • I’m just thankful I didn’t get too far along in Book 2 prior to this. It may have been easier at that point to shave my scalp. LOL

  2. And here I thought *I* was the only one who ever felt that way. Sadly, I take little comfort in the epiphany. I remember plotting the Druids books–in mind-numbing detail–and reaching a point in each when I became convinced the entire project was doomed. Years of work, literally, were swirling ’round the porcelain bowl. This funk prevailed for days, and once lasted for two dreadful weeks. During this time, pleasant and I did not occupy the same turf. Dogs who *didn’t* know me kept their distance. But solutions always seemed to evolve. I don’t know what part–or how much–of the process required self-loathing and doubt to fuel an answer, but I’m convinced it’s in there somewhere. At some point the tumblers will click subtly into place, and the missing element will appear. Until then, you’ll just have to be patient.

    • Hmmm — patience and I? Not always on the same wave length. At least I know I’m not alone. There was some major wavering going on yesterday, though. That doubt you mentioned…oh yeah, plenty of that. Grrrrrrrrr Today I’m trying not to touch it. Then I need to stop thinking edit and think WRITE, and just accept that it’s going to be better.
      Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to curl back into the fetal position in the corner. I do need to switch thumbs, however, the right one is starting to pucker.

  3. If it helps, remember that in real life we sometimes get unexpected glimpses of a person we thought we knew. They didn’t mean for it to happen, and we weren’t supposed to see it. And the next day they’ll act like it never happened. And it can be awkward for a little while. But we find our way back to equilibrium in the relationship.

    So if this scene revision caused a similar situation, would it be okay to have the characters deal with it briefly, each in their own way and then move forward again? Maybe you wouldn’t have to rewrite as much of the following material that way. Just a thought!

    • That’s an excellent point. And this character is definitely the type who could easily forget he had a soft moment. I’ll have to keep that in mind as I move through this.

  4. As you stated, the scene needed a rewrite. If that scene becomes stronger, it makes the story stronger. The fact that the other scenes now need rewrites or at least madification would infer that as you complete each rewrite the whole story will be stronger in the end. Isn’t that what we are after anyway. Let’s face it, revision is a pain.

    Stay strong and have faith that it will be better in the end.

  5. I feel you! I am having exactly the same trouble. I’m going to have to completely rewrite one of my favourite scenes, if I can even leave it in at all, thanks to one small change I made to my story’s timeline.

    I love your Stress Reduction graphic. Is it okay if I print it to stick up at my desk at work?

  6. One tweak for me inevitably becomes a domino effect. The way I write, so many things are interlaced with each other that I have to be much more careful than I usually am in how I set up my story.

    I learned this the hard way after having my novel scrutinized by a very helpful reader who knew what she was doing.

    But I will happily slave over revisions if I know that is what is needed to improve the scene, character, action what have you.

    Love the stress reduction graphic. It is a must have.

    • Perhaps if I wasn’t such a pantser I wouldn’t run into this problem. 🙂 It will definitely improve things, and my mood will definitely improve once I just get past this first major hurtle!

  7. I totally understand the ripple effect. I changed the parental upbringing of my protagonist and found that this changed the entire novel, since my main character’s actions were, in part, based on her own history – which I had just changed. Writing for Dr. Who must be so much more fun, since you can just get in a Tardis and explain everything away. Oh yes, wine helps. Good call on your part.

  8. I’m in the midst of a major revision. And every change seems to domino into eternity. I know once I get through this round,a second round is immediately necessity for continuity and flow. Even when I think I’ve caught every ripple, I find a dozen more tweaks are needed.

    • That’s what I’m afraid of…all the ripples I haven’t found yet. And actaully, I *know* this is going to majorly impact the climax of the book as well. Eek. Good thing I’m so stubborn, or you might find me curled in a corner. 😉

      • I’m going to have a couple beta readers go over my finished revised version in case I missed something. They have a knack for noticing those things that I thought I caught. 🙂

        • I’m definitely going to have eyes look at it again. My luck I’ll leave something important out. Nothing like shooting yourself in the foot.

  9. Pingback: Shitty First Drafts | miapippinsblog

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