writing the right book

Sorry this post is late, but the reason for the lateness is the purpose for the post, so in a way, it all works out.

I’m in the middle of writing my second book, a sequel to The Spirit Thief, which is both a continuation and a whole new plot in a different part of the world. I started it back in November and, had everything gone right, would have finished it last Saturday. Seeing as I’m not posting a “Yay! First Draft is done!” post, you can guess where this is going.

Two weeks ago, I had a revelation. I was 75,000 teeth-pulling words into Novel 2 when it suddenly struck me. The reason I was having so many problems, why I seemed incapable of meeting writing deadlines I’d always been able to make before, the kernel of all my unhappiness with the book was that I was, in fact, writing the wrong book. I was writing book 3 in the series, and not book 2.

This is a hard realization to have when you’re half way to your deadline, and the fact that I didn’t even have a plot for this new book 2 I’d just realized I’d have to write was one of those deep, dark times you have sometimes as a writer, when all hope seems lost and you don’t know why you’re even pretending to be a competent professional. Suffice it to say, I was upset.

However, never one to just keel over, I opened up my EliWiki (home of all my worldbuilding), got my husband to sit down with me, and hashed out a new plot. An awesome plot. A plot that blows my old plot a mile out of the water. This new plot preserved about a third of the book I’d already written, then took things in an entirely new direction of absolute awesome, which I am now pursuing with vigor and a few late nights.

By doing this, I made a lot more work for myself. The book I had was perfectly serviceable. It had good scenes, and bits that would doubtlessly improve with editing, but it was OK. It was an OK book. However, I’m a new author, just starting my career, I can’t afford an OK book. Heck, even if I was a well established veteran with 20+ titles under my belt, I couldn’t afford an OK book. Ok just isn’t good enough — not for me, my characters, my dream, or (especially) my readers. It has to be a great book. More importantly, it has to be the RIGHT book.

The book I’m writing now is the right book, and even though it took a good 50,000 wrong words to find it, I’m so happy I had enough confidence to stop and switch. I just keep telling myself that words are never wasted, and even though it was the wrong plot, I learned vital things about my world and my characters that will make the right book deeper. So, even though I’ve just bought myself a month of writing morning and night on a book that’s supposed to be going through revisions right now, I’m feeling better than I have in a long while. I’m feeling like I’ve finally got my hands on the story, the right story, the one I’ve always been trying to tell. Even though the words are rough and the plot needs work and I’m sure I’m going to have to delete the 1500 words I wrote this morning, I’m feeling good.

…which is a damn good thing, because I’ve got a LOT of work ahead of me.


3 Responses to “writing the right book”

  1. 1 mlronald
    March 7, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    This is kind of a tangent, but how do you go about using a wiki for your worldbuilding? I’ve seen wikis used as collaborative storytelling methods, but never just for one person.

  2. 2 Auntie Lou
    March 7, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    I think it must be kind of heartbreaking to write a blog like this and not have anyone comment about its content.

    Even for (as yet) unpublished writers like myself, there’s a point — or hundreds of points — in any manuscript where it just seems easier to do something else. But it’s also true that every once in awhile — in life as well as writing — we undergo a kind of seismic shift and everything that had seemed jumbled falls into place.

    Which of these things just happened to you? Nobody can answer that question except you.

    I say go with your gut. If you are escaping, you’ll figure it out soon enough. And if you’re not, what a story you’ll have to tell!

  3. 3 rachelaaron
    March 8, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Thanks Auntie Lou! It’s been a hard time, mostly because I have this horrible, childish fear of disappointing everyone, but I think that’s a natural reaction. In any case, the writing is much easier this time around, so hopefully, that’s a good sign!

    And Margret, I think I’ll totally do my next entry on Wikis, and how much I loooove my 10,000,000 of them.

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