Always Rearranging #IWSG

Have you ever been writing and been nagged by the quiet thought that things aren’t moving fast enough? The pace is too slow or the timing is off or the character just needs to be somewhere else.

I’ve been there a lot recently.

I end up yanking out large chunks, moving it to a different file, and then plowing on ahead. It works, but there’s information in those chunks that I then need to add in somewhere else. So I plug it in earlier. It seems to be a constant flow of moving details to earlier.

Am I running in circles? Always moving details up, thus pushing other details down? I suppose that’s my source of insecurity.

Do you ever feel like that? Do you ever feel the need to rearrange the order of information you give to the reader? How do you approach pacing issues?

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Loni Townsend

About Loni Townsend

Wife. Mother. Writer. Ninja. Squirrel.

42 thoughts on “Always Rearranging #IWSG

  1. yup, all the time! My problem in my WIP is since I lacked a lot of tension in my last MS, I’m trying to pack in too much tension too early now, so I keep moving it which affects the pacing..ugh it never ends! Lol

  2. I end up changing everything. Not just order of details, but order of sentences in a paragraph and words in a sentence. Order is so important. I don’t have any sage advice, but I keep tweaking and rereading until my eyeballs fall out.

  3. If I tried to rearrange my manuscript, it would be a mess. I would confuse myself. I admire those of you who can manage it.

  4. Emma Adams

    The book I’m publishing in November went through eleven drafts, mostly involving rearranging things. Some books are just stubborn like that! I sometimes have problems deciding when to share information, too (my first drafts are always info-heavy in the opening chapters), so I always have to do a lot of rearranging!

  5. TB Markinson

    Yup. I’m constantly moving things (and losing things). And then my editors get their hands on it and the same thing all over again. It’s almost like a scavenger hunt.

  6. yup, yup, yup

  7. I’m in the middle of exactly that right now. Because I wrote without an outline I’m finding lots of little things I missed or need to change, but every change causes ripple effects everywhere else, so things need to be moved, cut, re-written, etc. I’m sure a lot of the issues are in my head – and in yours, too. We like to tinker, it’s what we do.

    • Sorry, “like to” is not the right words. We “feel the need to,” whether it needs it or not.

  8. I definitely struggle with pacing in my longer works. I’m hoping that planning out the story a bit more will help with that.

  9. YES! I am always shuffling details until they all settle into the right places. I think it’s just part of the process.

  10. Yes! I’m still trying to figure out where to put certain bits of information, even in my first chapter! There always seems to be something that needs changing.

  11. Pacing is always a problem as are where to put in the backstory and inner thoughts so they don’t slow things down. The delete key is my friend. I just write everything and then try to remove anything that isn’t crucial. Good luck! 🙂

  12. Well I’m a panster by nature, so anything that I discover on my first few drafts I can always throw in its correct place on the next go-through. I seem to be in the minority here, but that’s how it works for me!

  13. I thought I liked editing until I started working the 3rd draft of my novel. Now I am at the point where it scares me to death. I know there is still a huge task ahead of me – especially as I have irrelevant characters taking up a few chapters. They have to go – bless ’em. But then I have to go deeper with my main characters. I thought it was ready, but I invested in a professional critique (which was well worth the money) and I was reminded that this is my first novel and it shows! Eeek. So my November plan is to face my fears head on and hammer it out. If I find I use a particular technique that works, I’ll let you know. I’m actually participating in an Editing Webinar today, so if any info is particularly different to what has already been suggested, I’ll let you know that too. Have a great day!!

  14. I’d only recently did the reorder of information part, but I tend not to notice pacing issues until the story is written. Then I generally get out the ol’ metaphorical crowbar.

  15. I’m like Alex and get totally screwed up if I try to rearrange much. But lately I do feel like the pacing is totally off on my story and that’s one reason I am ready to just give up on it. I keep thinking any page now the story is going to start to flow but then it doesn’t happen. Sometimes I wonder why we put ourselves thought all this LOL.

  16. I’m wondering if I’m like Alex – having a novel that can’t be easily re-arranged- or I’m just scared of what might happen. I suspect that the more plotting and outlining you do before you start, the less there are things to move around BUT only if you get that right. That’s not to say there isn’t lot to work on in my case… like choosing what to edit next.

  17. Its the first round of edits that bring me to reorganization of huge blocks of text. I don’t delete them. Instead, I shuffle based on logic and timing. I write mysteries, so how things are revealed is very important. Later I fill in the cracks and polish the rough spots.

    Instead of deleting, maybe moving them would occasionally meet your pacing requirements. Just a thought 🙂

    Anna from Elements of Writing

  18. cathrina constantine

    Absolutely!! Since I write YA, I feel it needs action to keep them interested. And when I get bored reading my writing, then I feel they’ll get bored. I will move things around too. It can get frustrating, but in the end I believe it’s a better read.

  19. I tend to edit as I go, so I usually get most in the right spot. A few things I have to go back and add or take away at times though.

  20. I’ve never had to do much in the way of rearranging scenes, but figuring out where to fit backstory in can be a challenge. I try to have a balance between action and quieter scenes to keep the story on an even keel. I don’t do it consciously, though. It just seems to flow out of my head that way. Sorry, I know that’s not very helpful.

  21. I don’t do that much with my fiction, but I’m always rearranging my non-fiction. It’s all about finding that perfect flow.

  22. Oh yes. And sometimes that re-ordering doesn’t occur to me until I’m done with the story. I’m so slow.

  23. I just had this feeling while on lunch! I was writing and thinking it might be better later on, when my two main characters are getting to know each other better. =)

  24. It can be really hard to figure out when to add certain details. I tend to let my critique partners help me with that. They’re always ready to let me know when something doesn’t make any sense and that’s when I know I need to add something earlier.

  25. My problem is similar, I’m in the beginning stages of some non-fiction I’m working on and I write ideas as they come to me in no particular order. Putting them into an order that flows and makes sense will be the real challenge! My fiction story is a little better with the beginning, but the progression is tough to work out.

  26. I at least I see action in what you’re doing. I’m not doing much of anything it seems like.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

  27. Yes!! It’s that domino effect, isn’t it? I am constantly taking stuff out and then I need to find a place for the other info which is, of course, so important to the story or to what happens later in the story. I had to do a lot of this for that R&R I just completed. It can be sooo frustrating!! But I guess it’s all part of the process. 🙂

  28. Pacing is my weak point.
    Rearranging things is almost like playing checkers!

  29. I’ve been feeling it. But my current WIP is complicated, spans several decades, and has two POVs. I need to do a close inspection of where some of the scenes should be placed via an outline. And I will, only right now I’m being lazy. Hope you get yours straightened out, Loni.

  30. My big problem is that I read through my WIP and realized it was too linear. I need to go in and throw some wrenches into the works. Discover a clue, move forward, discover a clue, move forward. Oy.

  31. When I write longer works, that sometimes happens. I’m a copy and paste queen in those moments! 🙂

  32. I cut stuff out or move them to another spot in the story. Or scale the information back because I realize I’m giving too much away, then stretch them throughout the entire story. A clue here, a clue there. And there are time I combine scenes and passages from different parts of the story, and transplant them someplace else. All because I feel that it’ll work better for the plot, characterization, pacing, etc. that way.

  33. I’m not sure where I learned it or if it’s just an inherent sense, but I’ve never had pacing issues. I’ve even been specifically asking my beta readers about that to make sure I’m not just fooling myself. >_< But some of the best advice I've heard about that is you need to learn when to have another "things are happening" scene and when to take a bit of a breather. And that pace isn't going to be consistent through the whole book.

  34. My critique partners and editors are always urging me to move things around. I do some of this myself, but other parts are pointed out to me. Things are going real slow for me right now because I’m editing three different things, and editing is the most tedious stage for me.

  35. I’ve been told that my early drafts start out too slow, so I get what you mean about the pacing. I’m doing better at catching readers up mid-way through, providing hints and details like a treasure hunt. I don’t know if it works better, but it’s more fun.

  36. Yes! My very first draft of my current project lost the first 2 years and now I’m trying to find ways to piece the information back in. I find it fun to some extent, dropping little tidbits here and there as my characters discover them.

  37. Yes, but that’s why I love Scrivener. I can add, yank out, or put back any scene I want. Makes life easy.

  38. Hi, Loni,

    Yes, I’ve done just as you, remove chunks at a time… It is all about putting the pieces of the puzzle together in just the right order….

    Pacing can be tricky as we all know, but depending on genre, pacing can be different. In MG, super fast, YA, fast but a breath is needed from time to time, and for adult, pacing can be steady, descriptive, and more lyrical if the story calls for it. Building up at steady pace is the way to go on most stories….

    ALL THE BEST with your work!

  39. I am constantly rearranging. So much so that (as you know) I don’t have any books published. I can NOT seem to get things in the right order or people in the right places at the right time. It’s positively maddening! I love this: “the character just needs to be somewhere else”. Haha! Yes. That.

  40. Oh absolutely! I kind of like it though, it’s a bit like solving a puzzle 🙂 Also doing that means I’ve finished the first draft, which is for me by far the worst part!

  41. I’ve absolutely done that. It’s not easy, though, fitting all the pertinent information elsewhere in the manuscript!

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