As I zeroed in on the ending of the second major revision of my WIP, I came to a terrible realization. My ending sucked.
First reaction: Overwhelmed. How can I fix it? It's too much work. Maybe I should trash it and start something new. Maybe I should go find some chocolate.
Second reaction: Find the chocolate and think things through.
Third reaction: Okay, I think I've got a new ending, but holy shit! It's too much work. New ending requires new stuff sprinkled throughout. Maybe I should trash it and start something new. Maybe I should open up a bottle of wine.
Fourth reaction: Open up a bottle of wine and get to work.
Here's what I did.
- Bought the biggest sheet of foam core I could find.
- Printed out my chapter summaries from Scrivener's Corkboard (if you don't use Scrivener, the program has a virtual corkboard that lets you see your chapters at a glance.)
- Found a ten-year-old glue stick in a drawer and glued my chapter summaries to index cards.
- Tacked my index cards to the foam core with color coded tacks for each plot line.
- Added post-it notes for each new chapter that needed to be written and each chapter that needed changes.
As much as I love Scrivener, I needed a bigger visual than its corkboard provides. Now I have a gigunda board in my office, and seeing those post-its makes the work feel manageable. The color coded tacks showed me where I dropped plot lines for too long and needed to sprinkle in some reminders. Right now, I think I need nine new chapters and changes -- some big, some small -- to 18 chapters. But I get to check off the post-it notes as I go along. That makes me feel like I'm in control of the work, rather than the work completely out of control.
Sometimes, old school totally beats technology.