Monday, April 14, 2008


I know, what a tantalizing title! But I bet what I'm going to say might be the opposite to what some of you are thinking

I know I've veered off the subject for the week, but that's because I've only been to 2 conferences and I'm still a newbie at it. And because I've been through some major problems with my current work-in-progress.

Which brings me back to my title - how long do you go for?

To put it simply, I had 48,000 words written and a deadline of June. But things just weren't working. I couldn't put my finger on it. For the first time ever, I didn't want to write. I didn't want to do this book. I didn't want to go near it. I couldn't figure it out. What was wrong with me? I've fought with characters before, but never lost my desire to write about them.

But I continued to battle on, and with every page my dissatisfaction grew more and more. The word count was there, the increasing pages, things were happening...but it was all so bland. So forced. The characters were colourless. I'd started them off all right, but something had changed. Something had happened. The story was bland, the plot wasn't going anywhere, I was jumping whole days to fit things in.

Then I twigged. After days of agonizing over it (yes, literally agonizing), I finally woke up to the problem. It hit me like the proverbial brick.

My problem was that I was trying to, for the first time ever, incorporate two separate couples in the story, have two romances going at once. This was the problem. I was living through four different characters instead of two. I was jumping through four different POVs and characteristics instead of two. This isn't even counting the villains. But the main characters are what I live through the most.

And the major problem? I couldn't build up the relationship between the two couples. I've always set stories around one couple only, with a mention or bringing in of other characters for support, but my concentration has always been on one main couple. I have time and space to establish and nurture their relationship, to build them up. But when I was trying to do it with two couples at once, it was interfering with the story.

And to be honest, I found it really hard going, trying to establish the relationship with one couple, then establish the other couple's relationship, and still weave the story in between.

I admit that it blocked me. I'd set myself a situation which I find difficult to work in. It was blocking my creativity, blocking the flow of thoughts, blocking the 'living' of my characters.

Once I realized it, I went back and made another copy of my WIP, then reworked the copy, ruthlessly deleting main parts of the second couple. That couple will have their own book later. For now, this WIP was dealing with the first couple only. I mean, the second couple are supporting characters, they're not gone for good in this story! They are needed. But the main story is focused around one couple only.

It was the best decision I've ever made. The words are flowing again, ideas are coming, the characters are taking on a life of their own. Their relationship is building, things are happening. I am back on track!

Some people might say I took a step back, that I should perhaps continue and beat into submission the two couples in the story. I don't feel I've stepped back. I believe I've learned a valuable lesson. I know how I write, and no matter how much I have daydreamed this story, dreams aren't always the same on paper (or computer LOL), and there are times as a writer when you have to be ruthless and know how you work. I work with one couple at a time. I introduce potential new couples, but each has their own story later.

So does this mean I will never attempt two couples in one book again? Not necessarily. If an idea comes, I'll go with it, but I won't be afraid to stop if it's not working.

So my title - how long do you go for? Well, with 48,000 words already written, and my books usually between 80,000 and 145,000 words, and a deadline, I was really reluctant to delete so much work. But then again, there was no way I was going to turn in a manuscript that I knew wasn't up to scratch and that I wasn't satisfied with. I believe my readers deserve the best I can give them, and that's why I knew when I'd gone far enough. It was time to revise and regroup!

So, all, there is my thoughts for the week. Thanks for listening!


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Lynda K. Scott said...

Angela, kudos for realizing what the problem was and for having the guts to fix it!

Angela Verdenius said...

Thanks Lynda LOL. It was something that had to be done - like yanking a bandaid off. painful but necessary!