The Long and Winding Road

I’m on the fourth draft of this WIP. What makes the situation unique, for me, is that I haven’t finished the first draft yet.

Usually, when I write a novel, I go all the way to the end before making any significant changes. There have been exceptions. Sometimes I’ll get the feeling the book isn’t working. Not in a small, niggling way, but a big, ‘two plus two does not equal five’ way. The motivation isn’t quite right or the ultimate conflict—the plot climax or the ultimate relationship test—feels forced. At that point, I’ll load what I have onto my tablet, read it, try to pinpoint the moment the book goes off the rails and make some notes to redirect it. This happened with both To See the Sun and Purple Haze. It wasn’t a big deal. In the case of To See the Sun, I had to go back and add a villain, which meant fleshing out an existing character and giving him a larger role in the overall plot. Simply done. Purple Haze was a little more difficult, but once I solved Dillon’s GMC (what did he really want?), I figured out what he needed to, er, sacrifice to get it done.

He and Lang got their happy ever after, okay? That’s all you need to know.

This book… Take a deep breath with me and let it out again. Yeah. This book has been a journey. Continue reading “The Long and Winding Road”

When It’s Not Working

The post I had planned for today was a summary of my works in progress. I don’t often share much about what I’m writing. I’m weirdly superstitious about it—or maybe it’s just that I prefer not to tease with a new project that might never eventuate. It’d be like hearing Ben & Jerry were finally going to marry bananas and coconut, but decided it wasn’t working before the product ever got to market.

Instead of telling you about what I’m writing right now—I can do that next week, maybe—I’m going to tell you about what I’m not writing. Or what Jenn and I have just given up writing, after working on it for six weeks.

We’ve just tossed a work in progress at 55,000 words in.

You might ask how we got that far without realising it wasn’t working. Two reasons:

1) The part that wasn’t working was a progressive disease. We treated it along the way, but we missed some symptoms. Before we knew what was happening, it had spread beyond our ability to halt it.

My metaphor is a little gruesome, but adequate to describe what happened. In more real terms, we realised that we didn’t have enough conflict between our characters. Not enough tension. They liked each other too much and kept resolving their differences as they occurred. In order to shake them up, we kept introducing more difficulties. They shook them off. These guys were good together. Very sweet. The sex was outstanding. They’ll probably live happily ever after in their own universe. But on paper, their romance was just too easy and therefore neither compelling nor memorable.

2) We designed a paranormal world—and told a normal world story.

We intended to do this, sort of. We wanted to write something different. We’d hoped to put a more lighthearted story into a paranormal setting. This one didn’t work, but that doesn’t mean others won’t.

So, we’re going to replot.

The 55,000 words already written aren’t a complete waste. Both characters are ones we like and they will work in different stories, with different partners. Sorry boys, the happy ever after isn’t going to happen in this world.

In writing them this far, though, we got to know them, and we got to know the setting. We’ll be able to take advantage of that as we plot out a new story. And, once we pulled these two love birds apart and talked about what we should do with them, we discovered they were characters from two very different stories. So our exercise has not been futile. We now have potential outlines for two books where previously we had one. Best of all, though, we’re excited about both these new books in a way we weren’t about the first one. We’ve been able to take a step back to an older idea we had for this project and actually incorporate it.

Finally, even though I loved writing a guy who was NOT Felix, I will admit the character I need to create for to pair with Jenn’s for the replot has me a little excited because, well, he’ll be gruffer and more cynical than the guy who I was writing.

Maybe I just can’t write nice people.

No… that can’t possibly be it…

Anyway, you’d think I’d be more upset about tossing 55,000 words. I’m not. I don’t regret the time and I don’t see it as a waste. I enjoyed writing those words, I enjoyed writing with Jenn. We have a long history of role playing together, so in essence, every time we write together, we go back to that. So, this is just one of the stories we told ourselves instead of sharing with the world.

Now we’ll plot out and write a new one. (Or two.)