A few days ago I was watching an old episode of America's Next Top Model. It is not something I watch often but sometimes I find it entertaining. The episode on at the time was one that held a challenge for the girls to grab clothes off the racks to put together an outfit that showed their personal style. Once each of the girls had dressed the professional stylists went to each one to show them things they believed the girl had done wrong. Every girl had at least a few mistakes causing them to have to trade items with the other girls. The results were undeniably better. By having them try on their own they had a starting point for ways to help them improve.
Writing is exactly the same way. We create that first draft for ourselves; something Stephen King refers to as writing with the door shut. Once that first version is done we begin editing, rewriting, and revising before opening the door for everyone to see. I have entered the about to open the door stage but the editing and revising are taking significantly longer than I had expected. I have been talking about Breathe for quite some time as I began the current bout of fighting with this constantly frustrating book.
Today as I rode on the back of my boyfriend's motorcycle I was distracting myself from my fear by focusing on my book. I am terrified of motorcycles and so when I ride along I let my mind wander. I hide in the fictional worlds I create more often than not and today it was Breathe. I have been working for years off and on to solve the problems in that book but I realized today what has been wrong all along. The clothing fit but the ensembles were all wrong. The characters got through the story but somehow the parts never quite went together the way they should.
As I rode along through the mountains and beautiful desert landscape I opened up to the characters to find out what they truly wanted to do, how they actually fit together and where the story was meant to go. I was surprised by what I learned. I had originally printed out the most recent version of Breathe and began editing with my powerful red pen of judgement. I got through the first hundred pages of the binder but when I started using that as a guide when back to the computer I just felt things still weren't right. I now know I have to keep the very basic information because the settings and characters will remain but the rest is going to be a scrap job. I will be starting from scratch to create the story the characters have now told me they belong in. I wrote the first several version so I could see what not to do. Now I can move forward along the right path.