I’ve chronicled here the ups and downs of my work-in-progress, Fly Girl. As you may recall, it started as my Nanowrimo project and after that I spent about five more months revising the story. After two recent readers (kindly) confirmed that the fixes I made to address the first two readers’ comments still weren’t successful in increasing the drama, I decided to shelve the project.
But all is not lost. Am I bummed (to put it mildly) that six months of writerly blood, sweat and tears may never see the light of day? Absolutely. But…an analogy: When I spend a month knitting a sweater that turns out to be unflattering, I’ve always declared that the knitting time was not wasted. After all, I still enjoyed the relaxation (and other) benefits of knitting and probably learned some new skills along the way. Though that sweater may wind up in a Goodwill pile, the next knitted sweater is sure to be better for that experience. The same, I keep reminding myself, is true of the last six months spent on Fly Girl.
And that’s already proved true. After getting the most recent feedback from readers, I checked out from the library everything I could find on plotting, conflict, tension and creativity. I started doing morning pages after re-reading The Artist’s Way. And in immersing myself in some of these novel-writing bibles (the most helpful of which was this, by the way), a new idea came to me. An idea with tension built right into the premise, much the same way as Cheer is. So I’m invigorated. This time, before writing a single word, I plan to methodically plot every single freakin’ scene to ensure that tension and conflict are built into every critical point. I have high hopes for this project.
And it turns out I’m not the only published novelist who has shelved entire drafts of books. YA author Sarah Dessen once wrote that one minor character who made a brief appearance in one of her books was actually the protagonist of an entire novel that she wound up ditching. So it happens to the best of us.
Somewhere, someone is wearing my knitted sweaters gone wrong. And someday, I’ll look back fondly on the six months spent on Fly Girl work and recall how it led me to a much better story that might never have otherwise been uncovered.
* photo from www.phd2published.com