Wednesday, January 8, 2014

IWSG: Path or Cliff?


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When I finished National Novel Writing Month in November 2013, my plan was to let the story sit in December then pick it back up in January. I was going to finish it, revise it, edit it, etc then self publish it as a novella either in the summer or fall. It was a reasonable, doable goal, and I was happy with it….

Until a previous manuscript reared its ugly - and I mean, ugly - head and let loose its antagonist. The disdain in that woman's voice for the characters in my NaNo story was so cold and chilling it made me want to crawl in the drawer where those NaNo notes live.

But here's the thing: I don't trust her. I don't trust the manuscript, which I've worked with on and off for years now, or the plot, which is so full of holes I keep disappearing into them. I don't trust that I can tell this story the way it should be told. I'm not sure I have the guts, the nerve, the creativity, the discipline, or whatever else it is that's keeping this novel from being written.

I want to follow my original plan. I want to work on something shorter, more manageable. I want to work toward a clear goal.

But I also want to work on the story that's got me gripped in its talons. I want to spend time with characters who are flawed but make me root for them anyway. I want to feel those heebie-jeebies as the antagonist whispers in my ear, her words like a nasty fingernail trailing up my spine.

So, do I stay on the path and write my NaNo novella? Which, by the way, I do really like. Or do I hurl myself off that same novel cliff I've flung myself off many times already, only to emerge battered and broken and still manuscript-less?

But what if, this time, I actually manage to fly?

50 comments:

  1. I say hurl yourself off that cliff. If those voices are speaking that strongly to you, don't ignore them. So maybe you publish your novella in November instead of the summer. That's just fine. But those voices might not be as strong if you wait. Maybe they will, but if they're talking so much now, I wouldn't try stop them.

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    1. I worry abut the voices fading, too, since it's happened before…right in the middle of the writing. Sigh.

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  2. I would personally stick to your original plan. Once it's published you can then work on the other one, especially if the second one will take a lot longer.

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    1. Good point, Annalisa. The second ms will definitely take longer…unless I impose a REALLY strict deadline on myself…hmm….

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  3. Whichever one calls hardest, that is the one you need to write.

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    1. But what if the one calling the hardest, the loudest is the scariest one - in all aspects?!

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  4. I would stick to my original plan, for the same reason Annalisa gave. Good luck! I know how annoying those voices can be.

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    1. Okay, so far I've got 2 votes = Path, 2 votes = Cliff. (I'm counting Alex's comment as "Cliff" since that ms is the one calling the loudest.)

      You all are not helping! :)

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  5. you totally sound like a ya novel where the girl is in a love triangle trying to decide between the hot, tempting bad boy and the safe, sweet good boy! Luckily you can do both! The hot guy sounds super intense and fun! I would work on that whenever the mood strikes, but also make time to work on the good boy MS. If you work on both, it gives you a break from both. Could be inspiring when you return to each of their "beds!" ha ha ha! but you may be a one MS at a time type of gal. I work on future stories in stolen moments - guess I'm a tramp writer! ha ha ha. that was fun!

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    1. Ha ha ha! I like to work on one novel/novella and a few short stories at the same time. I'm not sure I want to know what type of girl that makes me. :)

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  6. I am inclined to agree with some of the above commenters regarding sticking with the original plan. But what do I know? I'm a Virgo.

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    1. The thing is, I can see the pros and cons for both projects. Argh!

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  7. Yes! There. That's my vote. =) I'm bouncing between two manuscripts right now, so I don't have any great advice for you, but maybe what you really need for ugly project #1 is an outside critique. Sometimes that impossible plot is a much easier riddle for an outsider to solve. =) Best of luck!

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    1. The problem is…I don't have a full fledged plot for anyone to crit. A handful of people have already seen the beginning of the ugly ms more than a few times and they're probably sick of it!

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  8. I vote for the cliff. Even if it's scary, you should go with your gut. Just work on one little bit at a time. If you know what needs to be fixed, then that's half the battle, really. And if you need a break, the other story is always there waiting.

    Sarah
    (January IWSG Co-host)

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    1. I like the idea of working on the ugly ms a little bit at a time. That might make it seem less overwhelming.

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  9. I think I would stick with the original plan since you were happy with it, and then tackle the scary cliff once that is done. Think how great you will feel to get that NaNo novella out there. :)
    Either way you decide to go, best of luck! I'm sure you will wind up with a great project one way or the other.

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    1. Thanks, Julie. I do like both projects a lot. I suppose then that I really can't go wrong…. :)

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  10. What a dilemma. I'm not sure what I would to in your position. Maybe start down one path and see if it feels right.

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    1. That's what I'm thinking. I might have to just give one a shot and see how it goes….

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  11. I think a lot of writers get that itch to ditch their story-in-progress at one time or the other because once we embark on a new writing project, it's like being in a relationship where we do all the work. But if you have a story that you think it's worth telling, you can be your story's best advocate. I personally love stories with flawed characters that I can still root for. Good luck!

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    1. Love this - "it's like being in a relationship where we do all the work." :)

      Writing flawed characters who readers want to root for is not easy. I always worry that I can't pull it off. (Hmm, maybe that should be my next IWSG post?!)

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  12. I think you should go with your gut instinct... and remember that bouncing between stories doesn't allow for boredom or writer's block, because a change of focus keeps that creative pot bubbling away...

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    1. I like the idea of that creative pot bubbling and roiling and boiling over. :)

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  13. Why not work on the nano novel you like. Inspiration for the other novel might just come to you when you're taking a break from the other. That happens to me all the time.

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    1. I like them both! It's like trying to decide between two favorite desserts. :)

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  14. There have been times when I've worked on more than one thing at a time. Usually I like to focus on one, but sometimes it's nice to jump back and forth and work on what's inspiring you that day at that moment.
    Good luck with both of them!

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    1. Thanks! I usually work on a long piece, like a novel or novella, and also short stories. That definitely keeps the momentum going.

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  15. I think you should do the one that has you gripped in it's talons. If you don't, I doubt you'll be satisfied with the result.

    Besides, it's no fun if it's too easy.

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    1. Ah, good point about it not being fun if it's too easy. :)

      Thanks for Following us here at TSR!

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  16. What a dilemma. I vote for the NaNo novella. You haven't really sunk your teeth into it yet. It might be more intriguing than you think. Whatever you do, I wish you luck! :)

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    1. Thanks, Lexa. I really do like the novella. It's definitely more streamlined than the novel.

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  17. If it were me deciding, I'd go with my original plan and ignore that antagonist on your shoulder. She is an ANTAGONIST after all. It is her job to antagonize. Good luck in whatever you choose to do. Leanne ( http://readfaced.wordpress.com/ )

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    1. Ha! I never really thought of it that way, how she is a "bad guy" after all. :)

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  18. I think only you can answer that question. Sometimes a break from a difficult novel works wonders. Depends how tightly the thing has you in its grip.

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    1. I took a break from the novel all through NaNo, and then it was like it was waiting for me to finish that before it/she started speaking up again.

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  19. I think you should follow your instinct. It helps me to fill in the plot holes if I step away for a moment - sometimes this can take weeks, other times as quick as a walk. Good luck!

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    1. I am constantly tripping over and/or falling into those darn plot holes! :)

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  20. Perhaps you could work on both? I quite like having something else to turn to when I fall in a plot-hole or can't work out what to do next. I know, not really much of an answer to your dilemma!

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    1. I usually turn to shorter pieces when I get stuck - flash fiction or short stories - but I guess a novella IS shorter than a novel. Something to consider!

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  21. But how can you possibly concentrate on the new lovey when the old hag is constantly whispering in your ear? Write it and rid yourself of her, once and for all!

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  22. Cage match: work on them both, and to the victor go the spoils.

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  23. I tend to go with whatever story speaks louder to me at the moment . But why not do both ? Finish your novella then move on to the old one, but get that old one finished. The harder it is, the more you grow as a writer.

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    1. I like your point about the harder it is, the more we grow as writers. :)

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  24. I agree with Milo. I have three I'm working on and its killing me but I will get through it. And so will you!

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  25. Wow. This one is a toughie. Sometimes, when something's got you by the talons, you have no choice. I, personally, would have a hard time resisting the siren's song.

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    1. Those talons are awfully sharp and gripping…. :)

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