It has been said our gut is our second brain, and for more reasons beyond writing, I believe it’s true. I’ll save you all the ghastly details and stick to my writing gut issues.
When a story line hits me, it pulls me in deep. I get tunnel vision. I can see the plot playing out as if I’m watching a movie. With every key stroke I take my characters through the events that will forever change their lives. Sometimes I’m as surprised as they are when something happens or someone unexpected shows up in a scene. The bones that provide the structure for my pieces come from my gut.
Then I continue on to another part of the story. Those earlier scenes are left to settle. When the dust clears, I look over my shoulder and start to doubt what I wrote. Is this character convincing? Does that relationship work? The next thing I know, I’m deleting sections and replacing them with what I think the reader might enjoy more. The whole time, there is a tight feeling in my belly telling me to stop. My gut informing me that the structure was there. If I keep dissecting it, I’m going to bring the whole thing crashing to the ground.
I had a little lesson this week. I made the mistake of digging back into the opening scenes of my main manuscript. Despite glowing reviews from my beta readers, I wondered if I could make it better. I started deleting. Hundreds of words wiped from the file. I didn’t want to get my documents confused, so I did a new backup and deleted the first version. Then I resubmitted to my betas. Guess what? The first pass was the best. Did it require edits? Of course! Should the story’s structure have been changed? No! Do I have the original to work with? No, because I’m a dumb ass. Thankfully the first version’s PDF was floating around on my hard drive. I can’t copy and paste as I lose my formatting, but I do have the opportunity to retype those scenes. I am viewing that task like writing “I will label my backups by date. I will not delete them.” on the chalkboard one hundred times.
My stories are like children. Each one unique with different needs and personalities. As a parent to a real little girl, I have learned that if my gut tells me something, I better go with it. Ignoring is a mistake every time. It’s time to save my sanity and my tummy and go with my gut every time with my writing. May this post save you the word casualties I have suffered.