“I like it, I love it, I want some more of it. I tried so hard, I can’t rise above it.” –Tim McGraw, Country singer
You’re welcome. An ear worm to start this wonderful Monday. But also so very relevant to the subject that’s been nagging at me about my writing lately.
I’ve mentioned before that I have a WIP of about 15 years now I call Silver Sun. It started out as one book, then turned into two, and finally stuck as a trilogy. I knew the stories by heart. I recited them to my children as they fell asleep in my arms in the rocking chair. I told my co-workers. I even tried to entice my mother into hearing about it but at like, re-telling 54 she called it quits I think. I was so in love with this story. It was personal and had shocking twists. I thought everyone would love it!
I realized on this journey to becoming a professional writer that my beloved trilogy was nothing but wish-fulfillment. Yep. I know a lot of you are sitting there reading this and sighing inwardly, thinking, Oh my sweet summer child.
Well I know that Winter had to come into my warm sun shiny world at some point. It’s what this whole painful Blog experience is about after all. I learned that as much as I wanted the story to be written as I’ve always seen it, it’s just not possible. I learned that I was simply too nice to my characters 97% of the time. (I wrote a blog about it actually). Nice doesn’t sell readers on your book and won’t make them take it to the cash register.
So what’s my point? Take a good hard look at your WIP. Stop being the protective parent of an ugly baby story and start being real with yourself and it. Look at the flaws of it that you tried to excuse away as “enhancing the character’s personality” or “setting the scene”. Having a hot steamy kiss every chapter isn’t “setting the scene”. Having your doe-eyed young MC have a nice conversation with her crush and then walking away with a perfectly content smile isn’t enhancing personality. It means that you’re STUCK ON THE SCENE and need to revise it or toss it. You like it, love it too much.
RISE ABOVE IT.
I’m in the process of digging myself out of the 15 year rut I sunk into with my Silver Sun trilogy.
How? HA! Not the easiest way. In fact, it’s probably the most round about way to write a story ever but when have I ever claimed to be rational? Rational Schmational!
I’m taking the core of the story, the really import thing I don’t want to lose (the hero journey of a girl with daddy issues) and I’m making myself change the story completely as a creative exercise. I break out of the shell by putting things out of order or giving Merry, the MC a different reason to have daddy issues. I have a casting call for different male leads to play opposite her or to play the villain. I plunk her in the middle of a challenging situation at the beginning of the book and make her get out of it.
It has opened up so much freedom for me doing this! Granted, it was hard. VERY hard for me to let go of such a “perfectly formed” 15 year plot. (Notice the air quotes?) Kinda like watching a beloved pet die in my arms and then having to find someone else. You try out different breeds and colors and sizes and tones because you can and want to make the right decision. Because of this new way of thinking though, I’m considering turning my trilogy into a mini series of ten or fifteen books. That makes me stretch the plot much farther than I anticipated but gives more time for minor characters to shine. And more shenanigans period. I do love shenanigans. I’m also considering turning this into an e-book, something I’m terrified to even contemplate seriously atm.
Now I’m not saying that when you’re stuck, change EVERYTHING. I had to take drastic measures with my book since I’m finally going to write a draft of it for NaNo (Yes, I finally chose, lol). But if you ARE stuck you can use the same basic concept and make your characters face a different obstacle. Gender bend them. Turn your bad ass male hunter MC into a clumsy chick with the same attitude. Make your wizard lose his magic. Make your eccentric Aunt Violet sneeze and take herself back 500 years in time. Murder your MC and make the side kick take his place. How would that change the outline? What little nuggets of inspiration would you dig out of the exercise?
There is absolutely NO HARM in deviating from the plot of your story to jog your imagination. In fact, I encourage it in order to really get to know your novel (and yourself) a little better. Don’t let yourself be blinded by wish-fulfillment. There is such a thing as loving an idea too much.
If you love it too much, let it go and see where freedom takes you.And then grab it all back and get your ass back to work!!