Thursday, December 06, 2012

Undue Influence

1200 words into my new WIP, I realize I'm doing it again. I'm letting the words of someone else cloud my original focus and doubt my own vision. This person shall remain anonymous, but he is very enthusiastic about my work, which is a good trait. He is sometimes also very enthusiastic about dispensing advice when what I really need is a wall to bounce ideas off of.

That said, I came to that moment when a writer wonders if she is spending too much time on character and neglecting the plot. I voiced that question and got an immediate response from my anonymous donor. While I tried to explain what I intended to create, said donor had disappeared into his brilliant cave of ideas and fished out some advice. It wasn't bad advice. It was just the wrong species.

After beating my head with this new angle for a few weeks, I've come to the conclusion that it is just too much. It's not the right fit. I'm trying to squeeze a 20-inch big-mouth bass into the skin of a 6-inch perch. (My apologies for the lame fish analogy)

So now I find myself in the midst of an existential crisis. Do I slug through what I thought I was going to write or do I heed my donor's suggestion and try to liven things up with a more genre-oriented structure?

This whole adventure is a bit of a departure from my previous novels, so it is truly uncharted territory for me. The issue of the main character also hits very close to home and holds some sacred truths that I'm not ready to divulge yet, but she is the crux of the story. I find that my donor's advice has me worrying far to much about mechanisms and extraneous characters and I've lost my connection to her and the heart of the story. I will still worry whether this is enough "happening" but I think I need to forge ahead. In the meantime, I am drawing out the basic plot structure on a chart to keep myself sane and on track.

When I'm done, my WIP might be missing structure or lacking some definite sense of genre, but maybe that's not a bad thing. At least with any luck it will be a fixable flaw. I love my anonymous donor to death, but his passion sometimes overwhelms me. It's time to check off his influence and set it aside as a reasonable but ill-fitting experiment for this particular WIP.

Now, if I can only remember what the hell I was doing...


  1. I love starting with character. It often means loads of rewrites but if I don't have character, who do I have?

  2. Okay good. You figured that out. Now have at it!

  3. Write the story you want to write. Fix it later. . .

  4. I agree with Angelina. Write what you want to write, and ask your "donor" questions once the first draft is done. Save the worry for revisions. :)

    When I need to bounce ideas off someone, I often ask a non-writer. They won't give me writing advice, just look at the situation objectively.

    Also, I hope all is well with your son and family. Your WIPmadness post has me a bit concerned--prayers with you.


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