I love this saying. It seems to mean any time you feel yourself getting pulling into some mayhem not of your own making, remind yourself to step away.
But, I ask you, what happens when it IS your circus and the monkeys ARE yours?
You must step in.
The circus I’m referring to at the moment is my WIP and the monkeys are the POV and tense. Which sounds like tents. Which goes with circus and monkeys.
Oh, how I love a good theme wherever I
force find one.
It might sound like an easy fix to change about fifty pages from first person present to third person past. It isn’t. It’s not simply a matter of I/she and walk/walked. Changes like this impact the way the story is viewed by the reader and by the writer. I’m no longer looking at the story through my main character’s eyes, I’m looking at it over her shoulder. You might think this distances me from the story, when in fact, it brings me closer because I have a wider lens. I made this switch with The Glass Wives, which is told from Evie’s POV in deep third. I started out in first person past, but realized that I could get more inside the story if I wasn’t in Evie’s shoes, but beside them. It also helped me, as a debut novelist, to remember that the main character wasn’t me.
Writing book four is completely different than writing book one, but the issue is the same. How best to tell the story is my main concern, especially since this story has already had a handful of starts and stops and versions, and I only have fifty pages. For the fifth time. Which is 250 pages but I hate math and we’re not counting.
As I revise and rewrite and wrangle the tense and POV, I’ve also noticed that changing these elements changes the cadence of the sentences and paragraphs. And I am a stickler for what “sounds” right to my ear.
At first I imagined it would be a mechanical exercise, one that resembled a middle-school English assignment. Lots of red marks and crossed out words. What I had forgotten was that this changes the story in some fundamental ways, and are proving to be beneficial, if not time consuming.
The wider lens is allowing me, if not forcing me, to see things that were hidden from view before.
Which is why the pages aren’t finished yet.
I’m keeping these things in mind as I revise the POV and tense and write some new scenes.
What are some of your best tips for making big changes to a WIP? Share with your fellow writers (and me) in the comments.