Color Me Monday

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.

Burnt Sienna was my favorite...

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?

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6 thoughts on “Color Me Monday

  1. Are we on the same cycle of confusion or what? Thanks for linking to my post. I don’t know what the protocol is, but I don’t know if I agree with the finish one project before you move on. Sometimes, you need to take a break from one thing to figure out what is missing. It sounds like it may be time to take a little break from this project. Set it aside for a short time, but give yourself a deadline of when you will go back to it (the danger of setting something aside is never returning). It also sounds like you could use someone else’s eye and opinion. I know it is scary, but maybe asking someone you trust to be brutally and constructively honest can help you take the steps forward that you need. I know that sharing my book with a friend was terrifying, but she helped me make it better. (Of course, this is the same book that just go rejected again, but you know what I mean).

    Good luck with this and all projects!
    Lisa

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    • Thank you for your comments. I like your suggestion to set it aside (with a deadline to return). I want to finish breaking it out into chapters, then I’ll take that little break. I’m a new member of the local chapter of RWA, so I’m sure I can find a critique partner there. Setting it up in chapters, then taking a break for a few weeks, should give me enough time to find someone I can trust to be honest and constructive. A few friends have expressed interest in reading it, but I expect their comments to fall more under the category of “kind”. 🙂

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  2. When you think it is “done” you might send it to your cousin Steve (a published author) and ask him what he thinks.

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  3. I finally left my first novel alone when the thought of reading it again filled me with dread (I had re-read it five times.) There’s a chance I’ll come back to it in the future (I still think it’s a good story), but my mind is ready for a new challenge.

    You may just need a scheduled break so that when you read your story again, you’ll remember why you love it. Good luck!

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    • I agree with the scheduled break. I’m going to finish this set of revisions, then set it aside for a few weeks to let it rest. I’ll take the down time from this one to start research on my next manuscript. Thanks for the good luck wishes!

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