Blah blah blah... and now I like him. (Or, getting the moods in the right order)

So last week I was trying to tell myself I was done with editing Flora. In fact, I tried to convince myself A LOT. I drank some coffee. I wrote a query. I drank more coffee. I messed around with Flora a bit. I messed around with Flora some more. I held my eyelids open with toothpicks and whined that the kids shouldn't always be on my computer because the caffeine was kicking in and I needed to get on there now. I did some laundry. Then I went back to the computer...

And, and...

Still. Something just wasn't right. =(

I was so angry with myself. See, I hadn't been getting much sleep. My eyes were burning for a few days straight, my head was mush. Lovemuffin even laughed at me as I tried to tell him the FIRST TWO sentences in my query. They made no sense. (They did on the computer, but my tongue and brain refused to work together, and I couldn't say them.) I couldn't make sense of anything after a while, and every time I went over two specific parts, I changed them up. And then I hated them even more. (This is when the I SUCK AND WHAT THE *insert whatever expletive word here* AM I THINKING I'M AN IDIOT I CAN'T DO ANYTHING thoughts started to pour in.)

And then... It dawned on me while I was doing dishes. It was the mood. It was the feeling, the way Dahlia, my MC was being. Basically, she wasn't being anything. She was blah, people. Completely blase (<--- I have no idea how to insert the little mark above the e). The reason for that, my dear readers? I am a very unorganized writer. As in, I never write in order, ever. Whatever comes to me comes to me and that's how it is. Only after all that do I tie everything together. So. I had written these emotional scenes, and then I had to go back and set it all up. No wonder I didn't have any emotion! I was thinking backwards!

Example: And then he slapped her in the face and she hated him for it, counted all the ways she could put him out of his misery right then and there, and he grinned, and it made her sick, and next thing she knew a hole puncher was flying through the air at his head.

Course, that is just something I typed out (without editing, to see how long of a sentence I could make... no, not really that last part) to show how things come to me. BIG HUGE DRAMA. So after feeling all that, and writing about the poor girl wanting to strangle Mr. Figment-of-my-writing-example, it's not always easy to go back and write the calm, getting to know-the-guy interest before she wanted to hole punch his eyes out. "And as she passed him in the hall, he nodded, and she gave him a quick nod back, pretending not to care, but the second they passed each other she allowed herself to grin. After months of being in the same office, he'd finally looked her in the eye."

So what is my point? My point is twofold.

1) Mood changes everything. It can make a story sound one way or the other, make the reader feel for the characters or not give a care. This is important stuff. Obviously we need to get it right.

2) If it weren't for Maggie Stiefvater's (hello Shiver and Linger!) post, More Wind, Less Snow: Revising for Mood a few days ago, in which she wrote about doing JUST THAT, I may not have figured out the problem at all. (I do believe I owe her a major thank you.)

Once I knew what the problem was, I went back and fixed the problem with ease. It was great. I felt great. And I had to share my little lesson with all of you. Hopefully at some point this may give someone else an a-ha moment, too.


Linda G. said...

Aren't a-ha moments glorious? That's what I love about the writing process--the learning never ends. Keeps life fresh and exciting. :)

Travener said...

Yes, the "Ah, ha!" moment. As Linda G. said, glorious. You ever going to share your query with us? We'll tell you whether the first couple of sentences make sense or not.

Jessica L. Brooks (coffeelvnmom) said...

They *are* glorious, Linda! And you're right, it does keep life fresh and exciting!

Travener, I'm posting my query on YALITCHAT today (so it can get torn to shreds - er, I mean, so I can get some opinions), and after that, maybe I will. For some reason I feel as though posting stuff like that will just bore people!

Lila Swann said...

Jessica, this was helpful!

I definitely understand the sentiment. I wrote out of order and then promptly promised myself that I'd never do it again. I knew the right order, so choosing to do a few chapters out of order was simply because I was being lazy, and it ended up wrecking a few scenes due to getting mood confused. I think it's just easier for us writers to feel the emotions as the characters would feel them - naturally, in the order that they feel them. It makes sense - each emotion is subtle shades different than other similar emotions due to the emotions before it. So if I'm happy right now, but I was nervous five minutes ago, that's going to be a different happy than if I was confused five minutes ago. I hope that makes sense. It does in my head.