To Tweak or not to Tweak?

WaterfallYippee! I’m about to reach a big milestone in the production of Thin Spots: completion of the first third; that is, the beginning. I’m mighty pleased to have made it this far. Now that I have, the question is, do I pause here to go back and rework what I’ve done, or do I keep on writing the draft as it is?

The conventional wisdom says I should just keep going as fast as I can until I reach the end. That way the story doesn’t stop flowing out of my head but rolls naturally along through the middle section, through the ending section and wham, into the exciting conclusion. It’s a pretty appealing scenario, I must admit.

On the other hand, there’s other wisdom (I’m thinking particularly of Lawrence Block) that says, “to thine own self be true,” meaning do whatever the hell you want—it’s your book, pal. So, I’m thinking about taking a pause for the cause and reworking the beginning third some.

Why would I engage in such masochism?

My professional background is in project management, using—Geek Alert!—the waterfall model. In the waterfall model, you finish one phase before another starts. The theory is that each phase should have a solid foundation to build on. I’ve also built a treehouse, single-handed, and let me tell you the supporting struts and frame had better be good to go before you put the floor in and the floor had better be solid because that’s where you’ll be standing for the rest of the job.

I’m thinking that if I tweak the first third, make it a solid foundation for the next part, I’ll be way better off while writing the remainder. I’m not talking about prettying up all the language or making everything just perfect. What I have in mind is tightening up the loose ends. For instance, in “Today is the First Day of the Rest of Eternity,” de Retz has a brass truncheon he uses to whoop up on Colin and Cerberus. The object never appears again. Do I work it in later, get rid of it, or leave it as is? And what about Tanya? In her first chapter she’s taking her soul and Doc’s soul out of their bodies and doing this crazy healing stuff—do I need back story somewhere, and if so, does it come in the beginning section or later? There are plenty of things like that to consider, including the possibility of axing some pieces, like the part where Colin gets swallowed by a fish in the Cocytus—it’s fun, but does it move the plot?

I’m pretty sure I’m going to take the tweaking route, but I’m going to ask my writing group for advice first. I’m also going to ask you, gentle reader, right now. Should I keep going or should I pause to tweak? I’d appreciate your input. Thanks. And stay tuned!

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