Beware the AYRTD Bird and Invoking Rule 2a

This has been a reading week. I finished JULIET1. I'm almost half-way through CRYOBURN. I've finished the first disc of ARABIAN NIGHTS. I keep taking my Eee PC to work because I feel the need to write, but when I think of what to write next, it's not clicking. I know what I need to do, but because I've been enjoying reading, I haven't been stressing forcing myself back into things (60k and JH is complete, a mark I can hit in November if I want to posture for the NaNo writers2. What I need to do is invoke rule 2a.

I've done this once before and it proved incredibly effective. Going back to the beginning and revising the current WIP after stopping to revise a completed draft both improves the ms and gets you a feel for the voice and rhythm of the work you're continuing. It's the one time I let myself go back and revise before the entire thing is finished. I updated my first 250 words on Nathan Bransford's forum to JH given how old BM&BBQ is. It seemed a wasted opportunity to post content from that work since I am no longer actively querying it. Those new 250 words needed some serious revision. I overwrote JH's first chapter and couldn't even make it off the first page without scolding myself. (The new 250 words are derived from the original 500 words and are much better.)

So this will let me rebuild a rhythm, improve the existing work, and maybe think of some new ideas for what's still to come. This is only daunting because I don't usually have this much already complete on a novel when I invoke 2a. I have 40k words in JH. Normally I might only have 10. I don't want to get stuck at the beginning and never get to the end. That's the whole reason rule 2 exists!

1 Not as bad as the AYFKM moment, the AYRTD is when you look at the main character and shout, "Are you really that dumb?" I really enjoyed the first 350 pages of JULIET, but pages 351-400 are just one AYRTD moment after another. The entire climax is impossible if the main character didn't have the mental capacity of a bag full of hammers. She would have realized that everyone had something to gain from manipulating her and no one had been honest, and thus no decision could be made. Thankfully, she chose to mistrust people in a specific order, allowing each of them to shepherd her closer to the finale, leaving the humble reader to ask why he should care about someone unfit to produce offspring less the gene pool continue to be watered down.

Much like the entire plot dependent on the main characters miscommunicating, a plot driven by the protagonist not realizing clues that slap him/her across the face is enough to make me pull my hair out. It's one thing for clues to be cryptic, or riddles or double entendres or genuine intrigue. But when character A gives you a clue and then character B gives you a clue and they both wave the big Clue Flag and you still don't get it? I'm sorry, you're too stupid to have your own book. Go be a supporting character.

2 Really, I'm so hard on NaNo because my first experiences with it were from communities not dedicated to writing. I wasn't part of a group of writers that liked to participate. I was among the majority of NaNo participants, people who wanted to write but never found the time. The excuses were the same every year. They'd sign up to do it and then never start or only write for five days or use anything they write (like this blog post) as their word count. Whatever they could do not to do the one thing they said they really wanted to do. Sorry, but if you want to do something, do it.