A new high and the dangers of merging ideas

I wrote just over 2500 words today. And that’s as of this writing, so there’s a chance (albeit slim) that I’ll be adding more, depending on how the rest of the afternoon and evening play out with the family.

But hey, a new high. I’ll take that any day of the week.

For the last few days I’ve been focused on rewriting an earlier chunk of the novel WIP to make it better, as I mentioned I was leaning toward doing in a recent post. That I’ve been setting new personal bests for daily word counts perhaps speaks to how cool an idea it is, or at least how much I like it.

During today’s lunch break, I was taking a look at how that new chunk may replace the old chunk, and it sadly isn’t going to be as seamless as I was hoping it would be. I’m a lot more aware of such issues in recent years, after writing a feature-length movie script ages ago and handing it off to beta reader friends who then informed me that there’s a suspect in this serial killer thriller who is killed at one point and then is interrogated by police later on.

There aren’t many times in my life I can say I was truly mortified.

That was one of them.

What happened there was that I’d written it far enough in one storyline where the guy dies and I’d carried on with the story. Then later on I’d come up with how that guy could instead be a key to revealing the real killer, and how I could use his interrogation to do a ratcheting up of the tension as I intercut between that scene and the lead-up to the big reveal near the climax, so I’d written in all that new part as well.

Yeah… not instead, but as well.

So there’s a few free writing lessons, everyone:

1) If you’re going to change something in a script, make really sure that the lead-up to it makes chronological sense and you don’t have dead people getting interrogated later on. (Unless the story is about necromancy, I suppose, in which case, carry on.)

2) Put your finished product aside for a while and work on other things and then come back to it later on to read it with fresh eyes that will better catch things like the issue presented in #1 before you hand it off to beta readers. I was so jazzed about the newer ending that I handed it off to beta readers ASAP.

3) Have good beta readers who will catch and forgive (though likely never forget) that you make such glaring errors.

It all worked out in the end, mind you. Once I fixed up that error and others, that script went on to be in the top 25% of reader’s choice at the L.A. Screenwriting Expo’s screenplay contest.

Point being, I don’t want to make the same mistake here. I mean, no one’s dead yet or in danger of being interrogated after being so–it wouldn’t be the exact same mistake–but you get the gist. The better the new idea merges with the old, the fewer logistical problems there will be.

And this time I’ll be sure to read over those three points of advice and heed them.