February 22, 2013

What to Write?

Paris' Tuileries Garden Facepalming Statue (Source)
Some of you may have noticed a useless link to a post I wrote the other day. It was all about a shiny new idea that I was oh so excited about. Yeah...so. Turns out that shiny new idea was neither shiny nor new. Well, it was shiny for a time, but then it hit me like a ton of bricks that this idea had already been done and done well (to my knowledge). I haven't read the books that beat me to it, but they are actually sitting on my bookshelf. My idea wasn't identical, but it was far too similar at its very core to even bothering tweaking it.

Have you ever had this happen to you?

Bright side? At least I only went as far as the planning stages. Can you imagine if I'd actually sat down and poured my heart and soul into a story that was an unwitting copy of another? Yikes.

So what now? I'm querying one story, about 2/3 done another, and have started a weird tango of planning/pantsing a third WIP. But none of these are grabbing my attention these days. Is it writer's block or just that I haven't found the right project?

Here are my current options:

Option 1: 2/3 Done WIP
I love this story a lot, but it has somehow managed to get tangled up into a nasty mess that I'm struggling to sort out. I realized the other day that it's super heavy on narrative and light on dialogue. Whoops! How the heck did that happen? It also feels like it's meandering and seriously needs to be reined in. At this point I really have no idea what to do with it. If I choose this option, I'll have to sit down and take a closer look at my notes and come up with a game plan for getting it back on track.

Option 2: Planning + Pantsing Hybrid WIP
This story requires research, which I've started but have plenty more to do. At some point I decided that I felt like starting to write it and that I'd continue researching as I went. I like the idea and I know it will be fun to write, but the research aspect feels a bit daunting at the moment. Also, it's a historical with a twist, so there is definitely the nagging concern that it will be a hard sell. I know I should write it because I want to tell the story, but that niggling "Is it worth it?" is there nonetheless.

Option 3: Some Entirely New WIP
I've had to scratch a couple of new ideas in recent weeks because they've already been done. The one that really kind of burns is my idea for a YA sci-fi based off of Baroness Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel. Thank you, Diana Peterfreund, for beating me to that one (Across a Star-Swept Sea). C'est la vie, I guess. The upside to all of this is that I never seem to have a shortage of ideas, so this just helps me trim down the list a bit. On to the next idea, right?

I'm not sure which option I'll choose, but I'm hoping that by the end of today or at the very latest the end of the weekend, I'll have narrowed down my options to one. It's been too long since I've sat down and seriously written, so I think it's high time I get on that. My biggest fear right now is that I'm making excuses and avoiding doing the work. Perhaps I need to revisit the reasons I fell in love with 2/3 Done WIP, or immerse myself in research for Planning + Pantsing Hybrid WIP once and for all. Whatever the case, the time for procrastination and distraction is over. I can't call myself a writer if I don't write, right?

Right.

26 comments:

  1. Well, if I was you, I'd tackle the 2/3 finished WiP. Seems like it's the closest to "done" even though it apparently needs some attention (I am the Queen of the meandering plot, by the way!). I'd feel better having another project that's done (or very close to) so that no matter what happens with querying, I'm still in a good place.

    That said, you should definitely dive into whatever project you find most inspiring!

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    1. I took your advice, and I've been reading through the 2/3 draft again...and falling in ♥ with it all over again. There are definitely crappy bits, but there's a lot that I really like. I think I'll be spending some time with this one. :)

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  2. I've been there before, that in-between time where you have a few things to work on, but you're kinda ho-hum about all of them. Maybe spend a few days on each and see which project you find yourself looking forward to the most?

    And I'm also with you on the meandering plot - when I revise first drafts, I always have to chop or rearrange so many scenes that are just sorta *there*.

    Good luck :)

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    1. Turns out all I needed to do was sit down and read parts of the 2/3 WIP that I know I like. Now I find myself excited about it all over again. :) Not to say that it isn't meandering or anything (it is), but now I feel motivated to fix it.

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  3. Honestly? I could have written a nearly-identical blog post today. I dove into my complete-and-total reworking of my NaNo project at the beginning of the week, but it's like swimming through Jello trying to get any words down. I have a Google Doc that I started a few weeks ago labeled "Shiny New Whooziwhatsit"; when I opened it today I discovered that I kind of like the voice (yay!) but had accidentally made it WAY too autobiographical and therefore loaded it down with a ton of unnecessary details that didn't add anything to it as a story (boo). And I still have most of a draft of the NaNo project, so if I decide the new version isn't working, I might go back and try to finish that after all, then do a different version of the story I was hoping to tell in the new version of it.

    But really? I've mostly been sitting around, reading and playing computer games, wondering if I'm ever going to make this work. Have you ever considered short stories? I'm kind of thinking I might try my hand at those, even if they never see the light of day, just to practice finishing a draft and revising.

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    1. I'm pretty sure that we're in good company. It's probably at least in part due to neverending winter and a feeling of restlessness. I mostly just want to be curled up under a blanket with a good book and some tea.

      That's awesome that Whooziwhatsit has good voice! That can be so hard to nail down. It sounds like you've got some good stuff going on, and once you sort out what you don't love/what isn't working, you'll have something awesome to work with.

      I went back and started reading parts of Only Annie that I know I like, and I kind of love the whole thing again (minus the not-so-good parts). I need to cut some of it or tweak it to make it better, but overall I think I can work with it. :)

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    2. That sounds good! You know I'm excited to get my hands on it, so I'm all for that :)

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  4. I´d say ONLY ANNIE <3 because I want to read the end of the story :D :D :D
    And if you need any help whatsoever figuring out things or bouncing ideas around, you know I´m here for you! Would love to take a look if you want!

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    1. I started reading some of ANNIE again and decided that there are some parts that I really like, so I'm going to keep working on it. That being said, I really kind of dislike a bunch of stuff at the beginning, so I'm going to have to figure out how to fix that. I discovered that there was very little dialogue and a whole lot of inside Annie's head. Not good. Man, I kind of suck at story beginnings. :/ I'll just have to keep thinking about how I want to fix it. As soon as it's in some kind of order (it's a bunch of detached pieces), I'll send it to you to have a look. :)

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  5. I would suggest going with the WIP. But honestly...I'd also go with what strucks your fancy. I wrote 1,000 words of a new WIP the other day and thought it was my next project. I put it aside for 3 weeks. Then this week I opened up Word and ended up writing 1,000 words of something COMPLETELY different. LOL!!! So you just never know!

    I'm querying too. *feels your pain*

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    1. In the end I decided to work on that 2/3 WIP. I went back and read a bunch of what I'd written and actually really liked it. :)

      Good luck with querying!

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  6. Well, you know I like your 2/3 done WIP and I'm rooting for you to finish that one. You've mentioned some other cool ideas in the past that I think are worth exploring too. We'll have to discuss this next time we gab on the phone. I'm sure whatever project you decide to throw yourself into will turn out great. :)

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    1. As you know (we're Skyping right now :P), I'm going to continue working on ANNIE. I kind of fell in love with it again today. Though, I do like your idea of exploring some of the other ideas I've had in the past. Will have to think about that this weekend too.

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  7. I also vote for finishing the 2/3 done WiP. Why? Finishing that draft will give you a great sense of accomplishment (rightfully so), and that feeling of finishing something, even if it's not a final product, can do wonders to ground you in confidence and motivation, I find.

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    1. Everyone seems to be voting or 2/3 done WIP, including me. :) I read some of the parts that I know I like and in the process fell in love with my story again. So I'm going to focus my time and attention on that one. Thanks for weighing in! :)

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  8. After reading your replies to comments, it sounds like you've decided to stick with your WIP? I think it makes sense, since you're almost done and it'll feel really good to finishing something. But if at a certain point, you don't like it anymore, then move onto something else!

    It's awesome that you come up with ideas so easily. I feel like it takes me a long time to develop ideas so I need to try different brainstorming exercises more often. :)

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    1. I've decided to stick with my WIP. :) All it took was rereading parts that I really liked and that was enough to give me the push I needed. The whole front end of it is a mess, but that can be fixed at some point. In the meantime, I'm just going to keep moving forward with it. :)

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  9. I'm in the 2/3 camp. This is a good problem AND a bad problem to have, isn't it? I'm sorry about your shiny, new idea, but I'm confident you will come up with new shiny, new ideas. Have a great weekend!

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    1. Everyone seems to be in the 2/3 camp including me. All it took was some time with the parts that I like to make me love it all over again. What a relief! You have a great weekend too, and I'll "see" you Monday! :)

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  10. I'm also in the 2/3 camp, but I think you shouldn't totally give up on your SNI! I kind of believe that there are no truly new ideas, and what is always unique is your voice and your perspective on the world. Maybe you could use that idea to play with in between other projects? it could be your palate cleanser/something you write for you. :)
    I'm so happy you're falling back in love with your WIP--that is such a great feeling!

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  11. Oh, I've been there with the disappointing SNI. :( I suddenly had an idea to use the story of Alice in Wonderland with zombies after seeing Resident Evil. I even had the perfect title: Alice in Zombieland. Then I found out that not only has it been done but it was also called Alice in Zombieland. My heart sank. I had all the characters planned and everything.

    I'd say stick with the 2/3 wip. You're almost there and there's always revising and editing to polish what you don't like up. Sometimes there are parts that you have to completely rewrite but we're writers. :) We'll always find a better way around things.

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  12. Oh, that's a bummer about your idea! Sucks when that happens, especially when you're feeling inspired and now have no place to put it. Glad you've decided to stick with your 2/3 WIP--I think that just completing a draft is a HUGE accomplishment, so even if it's not perfect right now, when you finally write "the end" you'll have something to be super proud of :)

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  13. I'm with everyone on the 2/3 WIP--that way you can at least write. When I feel stuck, the last thing I want to do is plan. But writing? I can write crap for a few days and usually that will pull me out of a downward spell and good words will finally start to come out. Once you pick, let me know and we can be writing buddies since I'm finally writing my story again!

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  14. I'm 1/3 camp, not 2/3 lol
    My problem is that I began reading a book that has very similar aspects to what I'm writing. I talked to someone who read the book and she told me it's completely different than mine, still, it feels very similar so far and that makes me frustrated. I've been plotting this damned story for 4 years ...
    I'm feeling very bleh right now.
    "just that I haven't found the right project?" << that's what I'm feeling right now. I have 300,000 ideas and would love to work on them all, but something always happens that distracts me and I want to jump to the next idea without finishing the one I was just working on ... that isn't good.
    Lately, I've been feeling like I can finish anything I start ...
    Anyway, I'm glad you'll finish your WIP before going for the next story. Now I need to convince myself of doing the same lol

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  15. For what it's worth, I think you shouldn't put much stock into "what stories have been done before", particularly if you haven't read the story in question. My critique partners and I talk about this often, especially when we see sales announced that are concepts we've dismissed as having been "done." How many books are about he descendants of Greek Gods? (Both Rick Riordan and Tera Lynn Childs). How many books are about vampires or angels, or werewolves, or etc falling in love with humans? My book isn't even the only book coming out from Harper Children this year that purports to be a retelling of the Scarlet Pimpernel (Life After Theft, by Aprilynne Pike). Write the story you want to, and then let the market decide if there is a place.

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    1. Well, I won't completely scrap either idea. And I already plan on reading both stories in question--your Scarlet Pimpernel retelling and the one similar to the other idea I had. :-)(Loved FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS and I fully expect I'll love ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA.) I know what you mean about multiple stories about the same subject. No two people are going to write the exact same story. Thanks for the reminder. :)

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