Have you noticed? I haven’t talked much about my WIP, WAVERLEY, after having to cut 33,000 plus words from it early last month.
That’s because I felt kind of numb.
I didn’t really know how to begin again.
So I did what I now do when I’m not sure what to do. I let it go. I decided to stop worrying about it (and were there ever a lot of worries – the main one being a deep fear that perhaps I would never be able to translate the story in my mind onto paper).
Thankfully, after letting it go, the answer came. Not anything full scale, no brilliant moves forward in the plot or anything like that. But enough to get my feet back on the right track.
Bad Guys and Villains, Alive, Alive, Oh!
We don’t “do” television at our place. No cable, no satellite. But one of our favorite things to do as a family is to find a series we’ll all enjoy, and then purchase each season on DVD as it comes out for family night fun.
One such series is Numb3rs. We recently finished watching Season 5 on DVD, and I noticed something interesting. About a third of the way through the season, the episodes really began to pick up. Things got a lot more exciting.
That was the first nudge from the Universe.
Then recently I had my own very lovely personal mini-readathon weekend, during which I managed to get through three books and partway through a fourth.
That was the second nudge.
I added the two nudges together, and realized what was wrong with WAVERLEY, why I was dreading going back to it.
Numb3rs really picked up because suddenly the bad guys in each episode became really bad guys, and as a result, there was so much more at stake.
And in every single one of the books I read during my mini-readathon weekend, there was (1) a make-no-mistake-about-it villain who (2) showed up early enough to let me, the reader, know that (3) there was a hell of a lot at stake.
That was my answer.
WAVERLEY is an urban fantasy that’s wrapped around a very lovely situation (if I do say so myself) – it’s one that is just brimming with possibilities and the world-building has been so much fun. And my main characters had shaped themselves up nicely in the words I’d initially written (well, all except for the late-comer). My plot seemed to be moving along okay, too. Not chugging along, but still, every time I sat down, something new and interesting flowed from my fingers.
But when I read through those 50,000 plus words of WAVERLEY last month, I wasn’t excited. I didn’t find myself tearing through the manuscript, like I had done when I picked up and read the first 30,000 words of NANTUCKET, written during NaNoWriMo 2008, and found myself wishing, when I came to the last word, that I’d written more (which was how it became my practice novel).
You see, with WAVERLEY, I don’t know who the villain is. I have some vague idea of a group of bad guys with an equally vague evil intent (to destroy the world as my protagonists knew it, of course) but other than that, the villainy and badness is as clear as mud. It’s all terribly generic, and not particularly exciting.
The thing with NANTUCKET, my practice novel, is that from the beginning, I knew who the bad guy was. Not only that, I knew why and how, too. Even though I didn’t have a clue how I was going to get from A to Z, I knew as much about my villain as I knew about my protagonists. I knew what was at stake. I knew the motivation driving my main characters to do what needed to be done.
Plus, being a murder mystery, the bad stuff is introduced right at the beginning, which is a huge help, too.
Because I had all the necessary elements I needed, getting from A to Z without a map was a fun ride which resulted in a fairly interesting manuscript.
Now I’m back on track with WAVERLEY. I still don’t know who the villain of the piece is, but my imagination’s going to work on that, and when I do know, I’ll be able to sit down and begin working on the manuscript again.
And now I know something more about the way I write. Which is very helpful indeed.