When I wrote my first novel, The Ace of Spades, it was easy. Well, okay, it wasn’t easy, but I remember it being so much easier than what I’m going through right now. If I was honest with myself, I would remember the dozens of sleepless nights, the months of rearranging and editing, and the agony of deleting thousands of words. None of it seemed to be working out.
However, for some reason, I can even seem to get the first draft of my new book down. The plot, which I thought I had some idea of, has completely abandoned me, and I’m left doing nothing but writing thousands of words of dialogue with very little action. I think I would be surprised it half of what I’ve written so far makes it to the final cut. And, despite the fact that I am on schedule, I’m not confident I’ll make the final cut this year, because I have truly run out of things to write.
In my desperate attempt to figure out what to do, I came upon a revelation.
Every book is different.
Okay, so maybe it wasn’t really that earth-shattering, but all this month I’ve been hoping to write my book the same way I wrote my first one- a tortuous structure of bone and wire that I could later reshape and fill out during the following months of revising. But my book refuses to come together in any way.
So, I’m breaking from the pattern completely. Because I am tired of writing things I’m probably going to delete in December, I’ve decided to write only the things I know will make the final cut. I’m disregarding the plot, because I no longer know what it is. Instead, I’m going to break my own rules and write pieces of the story wherever I can, and just try to give myself as much material to work with as possible by the end of November.
This prospect scares me, because I’m afraid that I won’t feel motivated to pull it all together again when December hits, or that I’ll just have such a mess I’ll want to start over. But I’m going to finish this damn novel no matter what.
Even though Menagerie of Sins has not come together the way I wanted it to, I still have my original vision for it, and just because it hasn’t grown up the same way my last book did, doesn’t mean I should discard it. It’s a different book, so of course the process of creating it will be different.
I just want to encourage anyone who is feeling frustrated at having practically nothing to show two and a half-weeks into this. Screw the plot, the formula, hell, even the characters if you have to. Don’t get locked into the idea of writing forward and only forward until you’re carving a plot out of your own flesh. Remember what your book was originally supposed to be about and write that.