Monday, January 18, 2016
Pick A Project. Now Focus.
Instead of trying to take on a lot of small projects this year, I've decided to focus on one novel length project. By doing it this way, I'm hoping to get to the root cause of why my last three projects have all turned out so horribly broken. Why can't I seem to fix them? Better yet, how do I fix them? Whatever the problem is, I'm seeking to solve it, even if it means taking a solid year to repeatedly workshop one single book.
My last three novels - yes, three full-length completed novels (or rather, three complete messes) - are so broken that I can't seem to dig my way through the revisions. One of the novels, a contemporary cowboy romance, has been rewritten four times. It still sucks. There's no other word for it. It reads like a first draft, even after four drafts, and I can't seem to fix it. In fact, until recently, I wasn't even able to figure out what the heck is wrong with it. How can I hope to cure the problem if I can't properly diagnose the terminal issue killing my novel in the first place?
I took a workshop recently, and in the middle of one of the lectures, I had an epiphany about the cowboy romance and why it wasn't working. It all goes back to the planning stages of the book, properly setting up the conflicts, and building the characters. I looked at the notes I'd taken during the workshop, and instantly knew I would have to go back to the beginning and start over again. I said to myself: Really? Really, Cora? [self loathing intensifies] Sigh. Yes, really.
I'm not diving back into the cowboy story again just yet. It frustrates me just to look at it, so I'm setting it aside to work on something fresh. I've made some notes on ways the cowboy story can possibly be fixed...things I picked up from that workshop. In the meantime, I'm brainstorming a new project and taking the advice of the writing teacher. I'm taking my time, digging deeper into who the characters are, and focusing on building the conflicts before I start writing. Should I hit a snag somewhere, I'll be heading off to the nearest workshop to try to figure out where my project derailed and why. Then, back to working on it. Rinse and repeat. We'll see how that works out. ♥