Friday, April 16, 2010

Rearranging Trees in the Forest

There's an old Tanya Tucker song called 'Down to My Last Teardrop' in which she's bemoaning a relationship that she knows is about to fall apart.  She sings "I'm rearranging chairs on a ship that's going down."

That lyric has always stuck with me for some reason.  Lately, in my writing, I feel like I can't see the trees for the forest, and I know the thing is just hopelessly tangled, but I'm rearranging them over and over anyway, hoping the view will improve.

That is to say (ditching the metaphors) I'm rearranging whole scenes, and words within those scenes, hoping it will make the book better.  But so far I don't notice any improvement.  If anything, I think it's getting worse!

Do you ever feel that way? What do you do about it?

P.S.  How can you tell when you really need to change things, or if you're just compulsively editing?  Sometimes I wonder if I'm thinking too hard?


  1. Oh, yeah! Sometimes I feel I've been rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. I hope things turn around for you soon!

  2. Wow! Editing - so important. Streamlined synergy! Good luck with the rearranging.

  3. Wow, that is a great line. I have to think about the turning point of each scene and then build toward it. Sometimes that's really hard for me to find. :) Good luck.

  4. Aubrie,
    I'm impressed that you plan your scenes that precisely. Can you elaborate a little on what you mean by "the turning point of the scene?"

    Yes, the Titanic! In the video for that song, that's kind of what they made it look like. I know I'm showing my age. It was a very catchy tune, that must have come out in the early 90's.

  5. Love that song. I had to go listen to it again.

    And the analogy of rearranging chairs is spot on for me right now. I've been doing some rewriting on the first book - using some of that valuable beta reader feedback - and don't really feel I'm getting anywhere.

    But I know what I'm doing wrong, at least. Changing the words does no good without changing the concept - the point behind the scene. And, I'm sure now, is closer to why it isn't working.

    For you Christine, if you haven't gotten any specific feedback that something isn't working like you hoped, then you probably are just re-wording. That is just the compulsive perfectionist in you. But if, when you're done with all the editing and re-write, you have a complete new concept, and you like how it reads, then maybe it did need tweaking.

    Hope that helps.



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