Recasting the Middle

recasting a novelI’m in the middle of rewriting a novel and have come to the hardest part–I’m recasting the middle.

Traditionally, novels have to work extra hard in their center sections. The beginning sets the story line, gets the hero into trouble and starts the hero on the road to fulfillment, or at least an ending.

The ending of the novel, of course, brings all the pieces together into a coherent and satisfying finish. It’s fun to write the ending.

But you’ve got to get from the beginning to the end with an interesting middle and that’s where I am right now.

In my book.

And in my life.

I know where I’ve been and I know where I want to go. The trick is getting there and that means shaking things up. Click to Tweet.

For the manuscript, that means spreading each chapter across the kitchen island and reorganizing it. As I reconsider each scene in light of my hero’s stated goal, I rewrite or change it.

(See my last post here about killing my darlings.  I’m not saying if I’m keeping that scene or not, just yet!)

I’m saving the writing of a new chapter–about camels–for a day when I can’t rework anymore without going crazy. I know it’s going to be, not exactly fun, but easy to do.

For my life–well that started a little while ago.

Recasting the middle–of my body–began when I started getting up at 5:20 to attend a 6 am exercise class. It was time to make some drastic changes if I wanted to remain healthy to the end of my life.

It meant my husband and I sold our big house and bought a smaller one–shedding books, furniture, clothes, and worn out possessions.

We went through almost everything, examining its role in the past (shedding some tears), and trying to see if it would fit into the future (am I ever going to go bowling again?)

Some of those darlings I didn’t get rid of–I’ve still got the camping gear, the sewing machine, the piano–and I anticipate using them with the adorable grandchildren.

But I’ve thought about their place in my life and it’s not so central anymore.

Everything in my manuscript and in my life, has to prove its value. Click to Tweet

If a scene, a possession, a verb, isn’t doing the work it needs to advance the story line–whether of my life or my novel–it needs to be pruned back, altered or removed.

I’ve removed some of my favorite scenes from the middle of my manuscript–putting them into a file called “Outtakes,” where I can find them if I decide they’re important.

Recasting, of course, means something old can be put into a different role.

A scene that once demonstrated the love interest’s arrogance, has been rewritten to show his soft heart.

Furniture once used as a dresser now stands in the hallway and houses the library books and tablecloths.

Friends once celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary by signing up for  a year’s worth of marriage counseling. As they explained, “we’re not having problems, we just want to make sure we’ll be able to go the distance with our marriage.”

Checking for needed course corrections, as it were.

Examining the middle to see what needs to be recast is a good marker for both my life and my manuscript. Click to Tweet

Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living.

We have to be deliberate about what we write and how we live.

And be prepared to recast if necessary.

Have you ever seen such a need in your life?

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  1. I find myself doing this the longer I stay in PNG. I realized that nothing in my storage shed was worth the cost over 10 or more year. So I gave much of it away. I have almost no furniture left, but won’t need it for another 5 years. Pruning back

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