One of the worst habits I have as a writer?
Trying to convince myself that my current project is going okay and just needs a bit of TLC and revision…when in reality it needs to be completely tossed and restarted.
I’ve been trying to convince myself — and you, the blog readers, when I mention my progress here — that the Apartment Complex story is just suffering from growing pains. It was far from my best work, but I said that all my beginnings are crap, and I’ll eventually nail it a few chapters in. I said that maybe I was just looking at it from the wrong angle, that maybe I was writing in one format when I should be writing another. I said that I’ll fix it in rewrite.
Yeah, that’s all bullshit, and it’s about time I owned up to it.
I don’t hate this story, far from it. I believe in it, and I’ve got some great things to say with it. So I’m going to start over — AGAIN.
Which of course begs the question: am I trying to convince myself this is a story worth saving when it actually isn’t? Well, no. Most all of the outtakes I’ve written for this project using 750Words are of infinitely better quality, so I’ve already proved to myself that this story is worth writing.
I know exactly what’s wrong with it, and it’s what I call my ‘let’s go out for some hamburgers’ mistake. [It’s named after an embarrassing story attempt I wrote in fifth grade.] It’s a problem of static characters: I have great characters that I know I’ll have fun writing, but all they’re doing is standing around talking. What little action there is, is forced and pointless. I’m trying to steer this story in a direction it does not and should not go, and that’s a big problem indeed.
That’s not how fiction works, and it’s really not a fun way to write it, either. When it happens, I’m hit with a feeling of disappointment almost immediately, that I’m just wasting my time and words. It feels like there’s a big freaking gap in the plot between the opening and the second half. I’m not doing my story justice, and to continue in this manner is folly.
Time to start over. Again.
Either that, or put this aside for a little longer and start writing a different project, like In My Blue World.
I’ll keep you posted.
Credit where credit’s due: Victoria Schwab’s recent tweet that she’d completely rewritten her latest project, Vengeful, was the impetus for this decision. She’d originally written it last fall, only to come to the same conclusion I have about mine: this is not how I want the story to go. She tossed that version and restarted it on January 10, and finished it 116k words later just the other day. Kudos to her!
I’m not looking to hit that same insane goal in that short of a time, mind you. I’m just looking to write this story the right way!
[Also: Yes, this is one of the reasons I took last week off from blogging. I wanted to have a good long think about it first before I made my decision.]