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Back in Action Pt. 2 – Damn the details!

But wait…there’s more!

The medical horrors described in the previous post are just the whipped cream on top of the caramel vanilla mocha-yakka-yakka of my recent existence. The initial roadblock to getting Blood for Blood out the door was far more mundane and…writerly…

When I first choked on Blood for Blood, I had many a valid reason, from pressing business elsewhere to the onset of the problems caused by radiation after the prostate cancer. And I make no excuses for backing off on the writing when I’m not feeling tip-top –  the grimness of Bandit’s Moon was certainly, in part, due to the pain I was in from the prostate cancer.

So after all of that, I was back in the saddle and moving along with the Blood for Blood rewrite, and all was good. Until I got to almost exactly the same place in the story as when I’d last stopped.

Coincidence? I don’t think so.

As I go along in a story, I will occasionally come up with plot points that I know a fair amount about, either from personal knowledge or from research. That can be a good thing. It can also be a bad thing.

In this case, I’ve come to accept that it is not a good thing in the context of moving Blood for Blood along.

I don’t use a three-act structure to my stuff, though you can find glimmers of that in all the books. For me, the first third of the book is set-up, introducing the players, laying down the basic parameters of the plot. The second third of the book is where I starting mixing it up, bring in some other stuff, maybe pull a little switch-a-roo on what’s really going on, as opposed to what seems to be going on. And the last third is where I wrangle it all together and hurtle toward the end.

Honestly, it’s not really planned that way –  it’s just the way it generally seems to go.

The choke point with Blood for Blood is right there at the end of the first third, roughly 35,000 words in. I talked about the first part of it right here, a chapter about the intricacies of tracking down a tapped phone. It would have been interesting to almost nobody. If you want to read that kind of thing, go find yourself a techno-thriller. It was just a big block of nothing. Words. Lots of words. No real payoff. They come. They find the source of the tap. There. Two sentences. Not 3500 words of accurate but uninteresting details.

Since it couldn’t be edited into something short and sweet, I just dumped the chapter and rewrote it, Problem solved, right? Not so fast, sport.

It was right after that when my attention strayed, which is never good. If I don’t have a desire to find out what happens next, it’s doubtful that a reader will. And something was holding me back.

At the time, I had every reason to do other things, and so I did. Then illness and blah blah. Bringing me up to the current rewrite. Which coincidently came to a screeching halt at around the same place in the story.

This ultimately made me look at and think a little more critically about what was happening in the story. And I realized that the chapter I tossed was actually the second consecutive chapter where I’d gone into excruciating detail about something that didn’t require that level of attention. Rereading it in the context of the flow of the story, it was like I was suddenly trying to run through knee-high mud. Glop glop glop.

I don’t believe I’m going to have to toss the chapter, though I will rewrite it. Cut it down, get rid of all the fabulous details, streamline it and get the story moving again. Dry up the mud.

There’s plenty of interesting stuff (really interesting stuff) to come in Blood for Blood, and I’m quite anxious to get to them.