Tuesday, April 19, 2016

When the story won't speak, pick up another tale

Stand on stone words
Just a few weeks ago, I decided I needed to shift to another writing project. My contemporary novel, Joanie and Friends, had hit a wall. I was writing, but it was failing to feel original and authentic, like I was just dragging the words out of my characters.

So I remembered an outlined set of rules for a story about magic. It had been bubbling up in my mind frequently, and I would run through my ideas but not put a word down and remind myself I already had Joanie's story to tell.

But I remembered that I often write on several pieces in different stages: rough draft, cleanup draft, final draft, and final edit, bouncing back and forth feeling very invigorated by the multi-action writing.

My box set of time travel books 1 -3 of the Students of Jump was published along with the fourth in the series late last year. I had run through all my work and had thought delightedly that Joanie would more than fill my time and would benefit with being the only work on my mind. With three narrative voices, it seemed very practical. But I hit that wall at 18K words. I cringed every time I sat down to write. Who would I pick on this time to continue the story?

But back to multi-writing. I reread my notes on that fantasy short story and felt compelled to write. Some 40K words and 5 weeks later, and I have the first half of a novel drafted (not a short story anymore) and a good sense of conflicts and characters figured out. I haven't felt any impetus to return to my previous WIP and can only suppose that it just wasn't ready. Standing Stone, the working title of my current roll, seems to have a steady stream of words each night. My average weekly rate is 7K.

When Joanie or Mathilda or Colleen speak up, I'll stop and listen and write if they have something strong to say, but for now this bit of writing magic is flowing nicely. Maybe knowing there is something else I can turn to is part of what is making this roll so well; the demand that there be words to type isn't strangling me. Rather each morning more of the story comes to mind, and by the time I am home from work, the next scene is ready for drafting.

So my choice to shift from my contemporary novel and answer the call of a seemingly simple short story about magic was a good one. I'm looking forward to writing every night.

So have you had to pull back from what you thought was a ready-to-go novel and found yourself immersed in an unexpected backup? 

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