If Mondays were a color, they’d be gray, with a little canary thrown in for good measure (because according to Wikipedia, Crayola doesn’t make a crayon called “blonde”). Or maybe those are just my Mondays.
I arose this morning, daunted at the realization that I needed to draft a blog post for today. Why am I blogging, I wondered? What will I write about today? Lisa at Woman Wielding Words nailed it with her post this morning (read it here). If her post and the numerous comments that followed are any indication, I’m not the only one with these same questions. Whew!!
Somewhere between the alarm going off at 5:00 AM this morning and roughly 2:00 PM when I started drafting this post, I came up with an idea. More of a question, really. One I’m really hoping someone, anyone can answer.
When do you know it’s time to set the current work in progress (novel) aside and start writing the next one?
My current (first) novel is the result of my NaNoWriMo experience last November. I finished at just over 50,000 words, printed it out, set it aside for a few weeks, then went back to read it to see if it was any good.
It sort of is. Just as it sort of isn’t. But what else would one expect from a novel cranked out in 30 days with no prior planning?
Then I started reading books on the craft of writing, trying to incorporate what I’m learning into the edits for this novel. Those books have been great as they’ve pointed me in the right direction for editing…character, dialogue, structure, conflict, etc. Those same books have also been a little intimidating.
I continue to edit, breaking it down into manageable sections, cleaning up dialogue, removing adverbs and ridiculous dialogue tags (apparently, no one ever “smiled” a sentence. Who knew?). Once that’s complete, I’ll print it and read it again.
What I’m finding as I work my way through is that there really isn’t any conflict. There are character arcs, but that’s not enough. My problem is that I just can’t see any conflict between my hero and heroine.
They both have issues. Doesn’t everyone? But there’s no external force working against them.
I have to wonder…is this a result of my own aversion to conflict?
When I do that second full read, I want to insert external conflict and flesh out the story. I need to tighten up the scenes. It’s necessary.
But my heart isn’t it.
Much of what I’ve read (both in books and blog posts from published authors) stresses the importance of finishing a work in progress before moving on to the next. This is why I’m determined to keep pushing forward. I’m not a quitter. I refuse to be intimidated. I want to be able to set this work aside with a clear conscience, confident I gave it my all.
I just don’t know how to tell when it’s safe to say, “Yup, this one’s a goner. Time to let it rest in peace.”
When do you feel you’ve done all you can with your current work in progress?