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Monday, February 1, 2010

Writing the book YOU want to

I hear this advice all the time on AW, and although I believe in it, I never thought that I would actually take the advice to heart. Well, this weekend I did. See with my current WIP, NIKKI's WISH, I had been making edits to change things quite drastically. I thought the book needed it. One theme in the book is how Nikki copes with her sister's death, and I thought that if I had too much romance in it, that that stuff would get lost, and worse, that readers would accuse my character of being shallow - as if all it takes is a boy to make her forget her sister. So I revised, and then revised some more, and then revised some more. Pretty soon all that was left was a strong friendship between the two main characters. Then I thought, well, I should try to incorporate some themes of how Nikki grows up in the book, and so I did a few more revisions. Then I thought, hey maybe I ought to make Sam a bit more three dimensional and add a few hints that he might be pulling the wool over Nikki's eyes. So I did even more revisions. All the while during these re-writes, I kept getting less and less enthused about my story. It's been three months since I started the second draft and it's been going so very, very slowly.

Then this weekend, ureka! I realized what I was doing wrong. I was trying to write the story that I think people want to hear instead of the story that I want to write. So I went back and cut out a lot of stuff that I had added over the past month, I put the romance back in and I even made Sam into a nice guy again (although I might reveal just a small bit of a character flaw at the end). There are some things I'm going to keep, like the idea of Nikki having to grow up and accept some things as they are, but by going back to what I had in the beginning, I've recaptured my enthusiasm. Is it the book that everyone will love? Probably not. Is it the book that I will love? Definitely. And that's what matters.

As writers, if we do what everyone else thinks we should do and not what we want to do, then where's the joy? Stephen King has been criticized time and again for writing in the horror genre, but that's what he loves, and he does it well. Could he write a romance novel? Maybe, but I don't think he'd enjoy it as much and somewhere in there he'd probably find a few monsters trying to ruin things for him or his characters. And I think that's just the point. Trying to force yourself to write things the way others want it or to write what others would enjoy limits your empowerment as a writer and stifles your creativity. Often, as in my case, it just doesn't work because those things that we want to do with the book keep sneaking in. I can now see an ending in sight for NIKKI's WISH. I'm going to work really hard to get the second draft done this month, and I think that with my new enthusiasm for it, I just might get there. I'll be looking for betas soon, and I'll be posting my query on SYW in the upcoming month. If anyone is interested in doing a beta read, feel free to PM me at AW or The first chapter is still posted in the Tuesday Teaser section to the right (first three posts).


bclement412 said...

"Write what you want to write" is the one and only rule rule I have with writing. Honestly, I can't see Stephen King writing a romance or a fluffy teenage novel. And because that's not what he wants to write, I'm pretty sure it would suck. And he is a great writer, but still I'd think he'd fail/come close to failing if he tried writing something he hated.

You make some really great points in this post ;)

LM Preston said...

Sometimes though you can definately over revise a work and edit your voice right out of it. As I have grown as a writer I realized that writing what I love, keeps me writing and gives me the greatest joy. Otherwise - why write?

Alissa said...

You know, it sounds like your first draft and the ideas that you reverted to this week actually have more depth than that second draft. I mean, someone falling in love even though she is grieving for a lost sister is far more real and three dimensional than someone who is too consumed by her sister's death to live her own life. Anyway, I agree you must write the story you want to write. Otherwise, this would be too much like work!

Angie said...

Alissa, I'm glad to hear you say that. I had posted a query on a board and someone had said that my MC sounded shallow for falling in love while grieving for her sister's death, but then I also had her suicidal in the first version which I have since taken out. I think that I took the comment too much to heart. Anyway, it is much better now I think.

Anonymous said...

Hi! You left some critiques on some writing I'd done on AW and it was great so I decided to check out your blog. Anyway, I really liked this post and have had a similar experience. I've had betas, critiques, etc. and everyone definitely has their own ideas. Some of those are very, very valid and make the story stronger. Some of them want to chanmge your story entirely, saying it's been done, or whatever. But I really believe you can't write well what you don't love. I love fantasy, but not hard core. And I love romance. Therefore, my book is a fantasy romance. Anyway, good luck with this and if you want a beta or want to trade for beta, I'd love that too.



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