Taking a Break to Refresh My Brain

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Wow, hello again. I haven’t written here for a long time.

I honestly don’t know why I’m writing now. Boredom? I don’t know if I’ll keep this up. I’m just having a lot of thoughts about my writing and need to get them down.

In November, I finished my first novel. Woohoo, yay, good for me. It is a monster book; absolutely, ridiculously huge. Too big for publication. So I worked on editing and sent it to beta readers for help cutting it down.

The verdict? “Good characters, great dialogue, nice setting, but what’s the plot? I’m on page 340 and I still don’t know what’s going on.”

So… oh. Bad news, because that’s not what I was going for.

One of my readers soldiered through the entire thing and gave me notes, and she’s awesome for that. Thanks, Raine. The other couldn’t do it, and I can’t blame her. It’s… so… LONG. I described the plot for her, and she loved the ideas, but said I need to actually get them down earlier in the book. You know, so people know what the heck is going on.

Obviously, an element of mystery and suspense is good in a creepy fantasy/mystery/horror story, but for a reader to get halfway through and still not even realize that the book has supernatural elements is a pretty big flaw. One I somehow failed to see through all of my obsessive editing.

I got completely overwhelmed, thinking about how I was going to fix this. My first thought was, reorganize the different parts to bring the overall plot in sooner. But that doesn’t fix the issue of length. I considered other options, but came to the conclusion that I need to start from scratch and rewrite the entire thing. Which is pretty overwhelming.

My smart and supportive and understanding husband suggested I put together a storyboard of sorts – a binder full of notecards with plot points, sub plots, characters, notes, needed additions – and see if I could organize my thoughts.

So far, it has helped. I’m zeroing in on where the story needs to go. I’m figuring out what sub plots and characters I can cut without damaging the story. But I still don’t have an outline, and I don’t want to start writing again without one, because the thing will just get away from me again. I have one behemoth book that I can’t do anything with. I don’t need another.

The good news is that the comments on my plot were all positive. I’ve been told the story is creative and interesting and that my readers are really excited to read the new version. So that makes me want to keep going, even though the thought of starting this process over – a process that originally took four years – is so exhausting. I love my book and the characters, and I want to take it to a better place. It can’t die as this messy, long-winded giant. It deserves better.

I’m slowly chugging away with my notes, but in the meantime I’ve started a new story. I started writing with a character only. No plot, no secondary characters, no ideas. The thing has exploded and I now have a plot and I’m having fun with it. I’ve gotten 45,000 words down since May, and it’s keeping me occupied while I muddle through the swampy, foggy mess that is my poor, unorganized novel. Every now and then I go into my notebook and write up a few more cards and think about an outline, but it’s slow-going.

Despite my worries over this book, I have to say that it feels great to work on something new. I hadn’t done that in over four years, and it might be the brain refresher that I need right now. I’m excited to see where either of these books take me.

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