3 S.R. Johannes: A web of terror - I'm going in!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

A web of terror - I'm going in!

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A web of terror - I'm going in!

This week - I sent off a partial of my new WIP a couple of agents that requested it. My plan? Distract agents with my new WIP so I can be sure I am not forgotten while I am diving into book suggestions. (PS This will be about as painful as diving into an empty pool - twice!)

My first thought when I sat down today?

How in the F#$@ am I going to edit this book?

Part of me is excited, part of me is scared, part of me is pissed, part of me is overwhelmed.

For those of you who write YA (especially suspense/thriller/mysteries) will empathize with me on how hard this process is going to be. I basically have to come up with an alternate ending for the last 4th of the book. I think I have the WHAT, WHERE and WHO? After all it's something I've been chewing on for several weeks - even before I got any feedback.

It's the HOW that puzzles me

But to find all those little clues woven intricately through the pages and chapters (the subtle hints) and change them? ugh! Because you see the original plot will have to change in a way where every little hidden clue that I carefully hid along the way will have to be yanked out and either replanted or reinvented.

My books (like many of yours) are like a spider's web. Each little thread is carefully chosen and woven in a way that creates a pretty picture in the end. Where everything neatly comes together yet a few loose strands - that you may not notice - sway in the light breeeze, leaving me options for another book if I want to down the road.

So why the web analogy?

This morning - as I drank my delish coffee listening to Elmo singing in the background - I happen to glance out the window. I noticed a spider was weaving a web in the morning light. As I watched him slide across the thin strings, I appreciated how much time and effort was put into each link, each thread.

He (or she - how would I know? wait don't tell me. was probably full of glee, loving his work and hoping for a catch.

This made me think about my book.

When I started writing this book, I loved weaving the intricate web on the pages. And I too was hoping for a catch.

Well I did get a small one recently. And even though the catch didn't quick stick around, I think if I reweave my web and make it better, prettier, and a little different. Maybe, I will get lucky and attract that either that same great fly or possibly even a different one.

Maybe this time, I'll catch something for good.

So, now I am diving into this intricate web I have and hoping I that can somehow recreate another one. But what if I mess it up? What if it is not as good and I spend hours doing it? What if the fly doesn't like it? I'm kinda feelin' like Charlotte. Thinking about and hoping for the right way to help Wilbur make it.

I went to the bookstore for storytime and browsed through the aisles, getting psyched for revision process to begin. The rows of neatly placed books stretched along side the wall calling to me, begging me to join their club. I came home inspired, ready to work. My hubby took the dog to the vet (don't ask why he spent 400$!) and I put the kids down for a nap/quiet time (AKA my sanity time). After miraculously doing another load of laundry, the dishes, cleaning up toys, finally getting a chance to pee, and shoving down lunch - I sat down to write. (of course after I blog - it stretches out my brain - like yoga for the brain.)

I decide to dive in.

Grace - here I come again to shake up your world. hang on - it's going to be a wild ride! Who knows where we will end up! But at least, we'll get there together.

Then, I looked out the window and noticed the beutiful, delicate web had been destroyed by a fly or leaf or something. The silky pieces floated in the wind and the spider was off to one size as if accessing the damage and making a plan.

Poor spider.

I know how it feels.


Casey Something said...

You can do it, Shelli!! Love the analogy. I usually view my WIPs as giant puzzles.

Kimbra Kasch said...

My manuscript, which is currently out on submissions, is a YA thriller.

Maybe we have more in common.???

Unknown said...

What a great analogy...I loved this!

Mim said...

This is a great analogy. I can take suggestions on what needs to be changed, I can see that it needs to be changed, but then I sit and can't seem to change the parts of my novel. It is because it is a web, and if I make this one slightly minor change, I'll have to change this, and change that--take out this part and put in an entirely different section.

I worry about the pacing (which is good in my first draft) getting all messed up as I try to strengthen my story. It's a YA fantasy/suspense.

Thanks for motivating me not to be so afraid.

Anonymous said...

My first book was a YA mystery and my current book on sub has a strong mystery subplot. Clues (that aren't ridiculously obvious) are so difficult for me!

Anonymous said...

My first book was a YA mystery and my current book on sub has a strong mystery subplot. Clues (that aren't ridiculously obvious) are so difficult for me!

Unknown said...

I am feeling for you and your spider friend. After reading this I just want to say, should you go with your original story and try another agent (sorry Agent 001)? I love Grace. I love all of it.

I am here ready to read the revisions though..


Anonymous said...

Wow, what a great post about the process. I love the analogy of the spider's web. And yeah, the next web is going to catch something bigger and better. Cuz that's what spiders do--they have to. And so do you. Keep spinnin'!

Robyn Campbell said...

I feel for you. I don't know how I'll react to someone saying, "You must change this, and that, and knowing this is something that I've sweated over for all of this time.

Love the spider analogy. Good stuff!

I can't wait to have the chance to have my partial at an agent though! It's coming, it's coming. Good luck:)

Robyn Campbell said...

I forgot to say that I know the spider will be okay. So will you. :)

Carrie Harris said...

Oh, how I feel your pain. I'm just finishing up my change-the-ending rewrite of a YA suspense/mystery kind of book. And I keep obsessively reading and rereading the earlier bits to make sure that all of my clues match up.

All I have to say is: thank god for critique groups!

I hope your rewrite is relatively painless!

Anonymous said...

Another thought about this spider. I bet this spider wasn't necessarily full of glee while he worked. I bet he was 'in the zone,' working with purpose but without judgement. Now that would be nice.

Anonymous said...

All those questions wondering about whether the fly will like it; whether you're doing it okay this time...those are soul-sucking questions to me. Though, of course, we ALL do it. Why is it so hard to stay in the process and in the moment?

Anonymous said...

As a marketer, you are a serious and successful business person. That part needs to be quick-thinking and judgemental (not as in judging people, but judging the potential of different options). But when you start writing, you have to let go of that part, right? It's like the art vs craft that Kathleen Duey talked about. May you find that balance!

Robin Constantine said...

Shelli - I *love* the web analogy. Perfect! I feel your pain. Whenever I bring some work to my critique group and someone says "I think you need to change that, but it'll only be a little change" I know that won't always be the case. Especially when lots of little threads are inovled. Change one thing and it can effect the whole manuscript, but sometimes that's when the magic happens. I think that's why revision is my favorite part of the writing process. You never know when one change may open up the story in a way you never originally imagined.

Write on!

Anonymous said...

I love the "I'm going in!" phrase. It sure feels like that sometimes--like we're going into some deep and dangerous cavern from which we may never emerge!

King of my Throne said...

I love Elmo! Wish I could swap places with Dorthy. (Elmo's gold fish)

King of my Throne said...

You are making me miss story time. Our local library is very small but the story time lady, Mrs. Gay (real name) makes up for it in her absolute joy of reading to children. Her patience with all the little ones is remarkable.

King of my Throne said...

I loved story time so much that everyone thought I was gonna to keep going after my kids started kindergarten. Thought about it. Afraid I would appear wierd or worse CREEPY. Weird is ok.

King of my Throne said...

I loved story time so much that everyone thought I was gonna to keep going after my kids started kindergarten. Thought about it. Afraid I would appear wierd or worse CREEPY. Weird is ok.

King of my Throne said...

Hey ... can this wierd lady borrow your kid for story time?

Tabitha said...

I think the web analogy is perfect, because there's nothing in writing that stands alone. It's all connected, and it's all about balance. A spider can't leave a gaping hole in his web because it leaves an escape for his prey. Writers can't leave gaping holes in their work because it'll never get picked up by publishers. :)

Tabitha said...

One of these days I'm going to do a post on the craziness of how everything in writing is connected. :)

Kimbra Kasch said...

Just stopped by to see what was new with you: Spiders, webs... reminds me of superheroes. :) and The Watchmen.

Casey Something said...

Didn't I already comment on this? Maybe you haven't approved the comments yet.

Anywho, I've definitely been slacking off on my commenting.

I hope the web of terror turns into a thing of beauty.

Vivian Mahoney said...

Hey, good luck with the revisions. You can do it!

Anonymous said...

totally relate to the how in the world am I going to #@$%^ change something in the story...sometimes i think it's easy to 'overthink' the process rather than 'allowing' the story to emerge. But what the heck do I know--I'm probably overthinking it anyway!

Tina Anderson said...

What a great analogy. I have not gotten as far as having to rewrite and pull all the threads of the web out to be replaced for a different ending. It sounds daunting, but at the same time it could be an exciting challenge, probably much more so once it is in hindsight.

Anonymous said...

Okay, wassup with spiders. Since I've read your post 3 have crossed my path (not black widow, thank goodness)..

Kelly Polark said...

Excellent comparison. And Spidey, like you, will go and keep a-weaving!

Anonymous said...

After I'm done with the first draft of a manuscript I'll read through it to find all the references to each subplot so I can see if there's a balance throughout the story. The easiest way to do this is with different colored highlighters. You could do the same thing for your threads. If you make a list of the page numbers and chapters where they're located, it makes it easier to find them later.

holly cupala said...

I feel your pain! I keep thinking the first draft is the most painful, but maybe revision is the real torture. The answer always seems to be somewhere in the text already, though.

On the spider analogy, someone (Jane Yolen, maybe? Katherine Paterson?) said that writing comes out one word at a time, as a spider draws her web out of her own body. Ouch. But true.

Anonymous said...

I think the web of terror for me right now is WAITING to hear how much of my book I gotta rewrite. Very. Scary.