So I took my list of things I decided needed to be in chapter 1 of T.J.’s Story and e-mailed it (along with a write up of why my chapter STILL wasn’t working) to several of my writing friends. This was probably the smartest thing I did all last week. Not only did writing out my thoughts like that help clarify things in my own head, everyone e-mailed me back! (My New Year’s Resolution this year was to spend less time e-mailing/LJing/instant messaging and more time writing…but sometimes e-mailing/LJing/instant messaging actually HELPS the writing!)
One of my friends told me I was being “too rigid” about what the inciting incident could be. (Who me? Rigid???) She tossed out several thoughts…including what if T.J. dyed her hair black and it turned out blue! BRILLIANT!!!! Why didn’t I think of that??? (I liked that idea so much that it was a full 24 hours later before I realized I never finished reading the REST of that e-mail!)
I liked this idea because not only was it much more interesting of a beginning than I had originally, but it would also be a fun scene to write…AND I could use the concept of black and white (because T.J. has hair that is “so blond it’s almost white”) as a symbol!
So I sat down and wrote the scene. It WAS a lot of fun to write…T.J.’s voice really came alive for me and…it’s a GOOD scene!
The only problem is I can’t use it. I realized after I wrote it that there was that little two page scene/chapter at the end of Do You Know the Monkey Man where T.J. arrives at her mom/sister’s. T.J.’s Story actually starts BEFORE that scene (that probably sounds weird, but trust me, it makes sense) so MOM/SIS WOULD’VE NOTICED AND COMMENTED IF T.J. HAD BLUE HAIR THEN!!!!! (That’s the problem with writing a sequel…you are limited by what you’ve already written!)
But it’s okay! I’m still glad I wrote that scene because 1) I started having fun with this book again, 2) I found T.J.’s voice again, and 3) The opening sentence/paragraph/half page of the dye scene was a WAY better beginning than my previous beginning AND…I realized that even if I lost the rest of that scene, I could still keep that first half page! I tried tacking that half page onto the beginning of my old beginning. I had to cut a little bit of the old beginning out and then transition into the part of the old beginning that was actually a little bit interesting and…IT WORKED!!!!
I am once again making forward progress.
I was a little afraid to say so at first because I’ve thought I’d figured out solutions to problems in this book before only to discover that said solutions didn’t look as good three days later. But I think it’s safe to say it’s working this time. I’m through chapter one, almost through chapter two and will be well into chapter three before the end of the day. (Even though it’s a snow day and Junior High Kid is home.)