Where My WIP Went Wrong

I’m working on a new WIP right now, another children’s fantasy.

But some of you may have been wondering what happened with my NaNoWriMo novel, WAVERLEY.

I’d been wondering myself. To recap, I wrote 50,000 plus words of it during November, 2009.

Then I stopped writing. Something just wasn’t working.

In desperation, I even went as far as to cut 33,000 words from it.

I thought for sure this would do the trick.

But it didn’t.

So I just let it sit there, and for a little while, I had quite a bad case of “I can’t write for beans”.

Slowly, though, I got my confidence back. Which was when I stood back and took a hard, close look at what exactly went wrong with WAVERLEY.

And finally, I figured it out.

I tried to shoehorn the story into something it wasn’t.

WAVERLEY is not a swashbuckling kind of fantasy. It’s really meant to be more subdued, with most of the fun coming from an exploration of the concept. But what I tried to do with it was make it into an epic fantasy. Which it most assuredly isn’t.

What I’d written wasn’t bad, actually. The problem was, it belonged to a totally different story. So I’m glad that when I cut those 33,000 words out, I saved them to a separate file. One day, an idea just might bubble up for me that makes full use of all those words. After all, I’ve got down all the bones for quite a fun, fantastical world already all set out – the bulk of the world building is done, and it’s actually quite a good world.

For the right idea, it could really be something.

And I did manage to fly through NaNoWriMo. I did end up sitting down and writing daily.

In the meantime, though, I’m not ready to write WAVERLEY. There’s a sweetness to it that has to grow a bit in my mind first, I think. But one day, I’ll be ready. And then the story will write itself.

(I hope!)

I’ve learned a couple of things from this. First, don’t try to force a story into being something it’s not. And second, writing is never wasted. No matter what. I always do get something out of it, even if I never use those words anywhere.

Have you ever done this? Started with an idea or concept or characters, and then tried to make it/them do things they were never meant to do? And as a reader, have you read any books that made you think the author forced the story into something it really wasn’t meant to be?

11 thoughts on “Where My WIP Went Wrong

  1. It’s wonderful that you figured out what was stopping you, and that you had enough savvy to put it away for the day when you know you are ready to write it.

    You’re so correct. Writing is never wasted. Never. And kudos to you for sitting and finishing your manuscript during that writing month!
    .-= Marisa Birns´s last blog ..The Barkeep =-.

  2. Such great words of wisdom for a neophyte like myself!

    I wonder if that is the problem that I am having with my story idea. I like the idea and I want to write about it. But I think I am trying to make it an adventure story when really it is something else entirely. Now just to figure out what that might be :)

    Love reading your writing posts, Belle!
    .-= Molly´s last blog ..TSS: A Week of Introspection =-.

  3. Actually, I think I have written half a novel twice but decided that it was just not good enough. I also think I have learnt a lot by beginning projects I could not finish, e.g. that *I* have to plan a crime novel carefully to keep up the suspense and get to that important, final chapter.

    So writing thousands of words and throwing them away is definitely better than writing nothing!
    .-= Dorte H´s last blog ..Sudoku Weekend =-.

  4. I just listened to a book by Herman Wouk that was supposed to be about science and religion but was actually sort of reminiscences about his writing process and he talks a great deal about writing The Winds of War, and War and Remembrance. He said he had such a hard time because there were several themes he wanted to use and he couldn’t figure out how to do it in ONE book – people kept encouraging him to write separate books but he just wanted to do it altogether! Anyway, eventually he figured out a way sort of by serendipity, from this and that conversation about it with this and that person. (no blogging back then!) :–) So maybe talking about it and getting feedback will help you in a similar way, even though you have kind of the opposite goal in mind!

  5. I have an ms marinating right now. I’m going to look it over in the summer (probably), but I think I’ll shelve it for a bit. It’s not edgy enough for today’s market, and I don’t want to destroy the story, so I think I’ll wait for a bit and see what happens. :)
    .-= Jemi Fraser´s last blog ..Find the Fun! =-.

  6. I’ve started a million things and not finished them. Ugh. I should really save all of my stuff though. I always delete it forever, believing it’s garbage.

    There are two books that really jarred me while I read them and stick out in my mind as having endings that felt like they were forced rather than coming organically from the story, and those are Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner and Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult. Those are two of my all-time favorite authors, and I loved those books right up until the ends- the final thirds I guess you could say. With Certain Girls I literally spent about 20 pages convinced the narrator was suddenly going to wake up and what was happening would just be a bad dream because it felt so “wrong.”
    .-= Megan´s last blog ..The Kitchen Sink, Vol. One =-.

  7. I’ve done this twice. First it was a book about Francis Wright, a 19th century reformer. Just as I was approaching the end of my research and had written quite a bit of the book, another book came out about her. I had been told the other writer would never get published. :) Anyway, that took all the wind out of my sails and I put the ms away.

    The second one also sits in a box in the closet – a book about steamboats for children. That one is also partially written and I had envisioned pages of punch-out pieces that would let the child build his own steamboat. Everyone in the industry said it was too expensive and wouldn’t fly. Oh well . . .

    I keep them though. You never know. Now I’m stuck in the quicksand on my mystery novel that I’ve been writing forever. Shall I stick with it or add another box to that closet shelf. It remains to be seen.
    .-= Barbara´s last blog ..Review: Split Image by Robert B. Parker =-.

  8. I actually see it a lot when people write using their experiences as a basis for their fiction. They try to stuff too much in and it doesn’t work.

    “But,” they say, “that really happened.”

    Yes, but life doth not good fiction make. A small snippet, morphed into a magical story, yes. Not an entire life history with the names of people and places changed.

    Great post.
    .-= Cat Woods´s last blog ..Strap on Your Writing Helmet =-.

  9. I hope you feel ready to write WAVERLEY sooner rather than later. I want to read it!

    I’ve had so much trouble with trying to coerce my books into becoming something that’s commercially viable (read: has a plot) but still stays true to the story I want to tell. It’s tough and frustrating, and I think it’s one of the reasons I’m such a slow writer. I hate coming up with A-B-C-D plots; I’d much rather focus on the characters. But publishers like something that’s easy to summarize, so I spend forever trying to figure out what the characters could do that’d keep a plot-loving reader interested. I often fail miserably, and I’m back to square one.

  10. That was very resourceful of you to save those 33,000 words in a separate file. Good planning! Never let anything good go to waste.

    I am currently working on a children’s book. It’s not fantastic, but it still has room to grow. I sent it to you to review. I’ve been to nervous to check my e-mails about it! lol
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog ..BBAW is Baaaaackkkk! =-.

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