Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Misdirections - and Signs

For The Writers’ Post topic this week, Michelle Lieuw has challenged us to write about ‘Being Misdirected’.
I could write about the times in my life I’ve been ‘misdirected’, either by myself or by someone else, when I’ve been faced with a choice. Instead I’m going to write about one of my ‘works in progress’, namely a novel I started back in November 2011.
It seemed to be going well – until I got to Chapter 13 about 3 months later. By that time, I knew various things weren’t working.
First sign: the relationship between the hero and heroine was developing over too short a time, since they both had reasons not to want to be involved in a new relationship.
Second sign: there was too much introspective thinking by both hero and heroine.
Third sign: I’d decided the heroine was going to break her ankle so that she’d have to stay at the hero’s house – but this was creating more problems than it solved.
It was time for a rethink! I put the story on one side for a couple of months, and then started a rewrite, using some of the original, but extending the time frame.
By last November, I had got to Chapter 15 – but… the big but… now it was going too slowly. To my mind it was dragging! Not enough was happening. It was boring (etc etc etc). Totally frustrated, I vented on Facebook: Do you ever get to the point where you feel like deleting the whole of your 'work in progress' and forgetting you ever thought of this story in the first place? That's where I am right now!”
I had masses of replies, some commiserating but most telling me not to delete but to put it on one side, start something else, come back to it later etc.
One writer friend offered to read it and give me her honest opinion. Her response: “Don't you dare dump this story. It's fantastic. I think it's wonderful and very, very polished. I love it and can't wait to read more. The characters are well developed and even the minor ones are well done. This is really, really good.”
So – was that a sign? Were my inner feelings about the story simply a misdirection? I’m still not sure, but in the end I put the story on one side and started another one, which (so far) is going okay. When I’ve finished it, I’ll go back to the old one. Maybe, after leaving it alone for several months, there’ll be some ‘sign’ to tell me whether it’s worth battling through to complete it!


  1. I agree - sometimes you do need to give a story time to simmer. It doesn't mean it won't work, it just means it isn't working now. I have a couple of projects like this, but I, perhaps naively, still think they have potential.

    I've not read your WIP, but I agree with "don't you dare dump this story." There was obviously something to the story that wanted to be told. Those characters will want their day in the limelight. And, someday you may find out how to allow them to have it. :)

    Oh - and I love the topic of "Being Misdirected" - so many ways to answer that. :)

  2. Fascinating post, Paula. Seems like the best thing you did was getting someone else to read it - we're too close to our work sometimes!

  3. Lorraine - I do think this story has potential, and I'm hoping I can sort it all out when I eventually go back to it!

    Rosemary - you're right that we get too close to our work, also after 'struggling' with it, it was time to leave it one side for a while.

  4. It's an interesting question you pose here. You've worked far too long on this manuscript to just 'dump' it! You may find that after a few weeks away from it,maybe working on a different project, that your story isn't nearly soooooooo bad as you think it is now!
    Good luck.

  5. Thanks, Loy - I'm hoping that distancing myself from it will give me a better feeling about it when I go back to it!