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Anahid21
01-04-2010, 01:20 PM
Those of you who've read my previous post (the one about the giant novel) know that I have written a novel that is...well, gigantic, for all the wrong reasons. And after discussing the issue here about a month or so ago I decided to rewrite the whole thing, the right way this time.

However I think I've lost my confidence. In my writing and in my story. I find myself thinking the story over and changing the plot in my head, and the result of it all is that I feel I don't like my story anymore. I think the many years writing it coupled with the subsequent multiple rejections and the final decision to rewrite has caused me to lose my confidence.

On the other hand there's been a new story cooking in my head that I keep adding ideas to and would make a nice little novel. I was wondering whether I should leave the other longer, more complicated story alone for a while and write this new novel. It's true that I haven't researched it as extensively as I've done the first and that the story is much simpler and not half as unique as my giant master disaster, but at least this way I may have some motivation to work on it and not hate myself or the story because I feel incapable of writing it the way it should be written.

Please let me know what you think. Is it: no you got this far with the old one, it's best to finish it? Or: taking a break and your mind off of it might be a good idea and the new story would provide a nice diversion as well as a means for practice? I'm all ears for suggestions.

kaitie
01-04-2010, 01:25 PM
I'd go work on the new one. You've learned a lot from the old one, and I'm personally not someone who would say keep working on it for years and put other projects aside to do it. It might turn out that the project was a step in the learning process, and it might be one that you just need to distance yourself from for awhile, but I vote for writing something new. Plus, you'll be learning new things working on new works, and those are things you'll be able to take advantage of if/when you decide to tackle the old one again. Keep in mind nothing is really forever in writing. Even if you set it aside and write something new now, there's nothing to stop you from going back in a year, or five, or ten, and revamping it. Just my own two cents.

XxDethmetalxX
01-04-2010, 02:24 PM
I'm with Kaitie. Perhaps after spending a year or two away from the novel you will come to love it again, and if not you had a great learning experience (and fun writing it, I assume).

Cliff Face
01-04-2010, 02:32 PM
Third vote for new one, but only because I think you could open up more possibilities for yourself by starting something new. I mean, I'm all for finishing what you start, but you've already finished this huge one before, and it got rejections, so finishing it again is less immediately necessary.

But then there's the idea that you should start writing the next project as soon as the first one is completed (meaning first draft) - so I'd say go for the new project. When (and it is when, not if) you come back to that huge one, you'll be less anxious about it, because you'll have realised you can make other things work.

Just be wary of counting success as publishing credits. The first stage of success is finishing a first draft.

kaitie
01-04-2010, 02:38 PM
Just be wary of counting success as publishing credits. The first stage of success is finishing a first draft.

I just thought this was brilliant. :)

Maxinquaye
01-04-2010, 02:57 PM
Fourth vote for a pause. Look, you've finished it. It didn't turn out the way you want it. But you finished it, and learned a whole lot.

Writing novels isn't easy. It's the black-belt level of fiction writing. I doubt there's many that sails through to that level. But you've learned a lot, haven't you, since you finished it. Right?

I have three novels in my trunk. Two of them are irredeemably hopeless. One I might do something about, later. But I'm glad I did them, because they enabled me to write my current ones. Yes, plural. Because I know better what to do.

So, don't feel bad, and start the new one. In a year's time, go back and look at it.

folkchick
01-04-2010, 06:23 PM
I believe in finishing something to the end, in the fear that it might be pushed aside forever. Get out some paper and make a list of things you want to change, add, or edit out, and then follow through. Take it section by section, chapter by chapter. If this method does not work, then go ahead and move on.

This is just my advice, you should do what you feel is right. And, of course, listen to the other fine people on this board, they know of what they speak. Best of luck with the project!

Kweei
01-04-2010, 06:48 PM
I agree with the majority. Put that one aside and start on the new one. See where the new project takes you. That old novel might just need time to age or it might just be part of the learning process. Don't throw it out, but I think it's time to move on.

If you end up having moments where new ideas and excitement from the old project come back to you, start to write them down and decide then if you would like to revisit it :)

kellion92
01-04-2010, 06:53 PM
Write the new novel. It will be better from all the things you've learned.

Maybe when you're finished that one, you'll be excited to take on the first one again to pare it down. Or maybe you'll be ready for the third brilliant idea.

Cathy C
01-04-2010, 06:59 PM
Most every published author I know has a "trunk novel" that was their first one or didn't work out as planned. Agatha Christie had several that were pubbed post-humously. So did Frank Herbert, and David Foster Wallace. And there are TWO planned for Michael Crichton in the next year or two.

Move on to the new idea. It might be that it's the one that is the perfect fit. Just think---once you become a mega-success, that hidden or forgotten novel will fuel your retirement. :D

analias
01-04-2010, 07:04 PM
I'm going with the majority on this one. Set it aside. You've proven that you're not some idea-hopper. You finished a first draft, polished it, sent it out. That's a huge accomplishment! But your post reminded me of this blog post from Max Barry: http://maxbarry.com/2009/12/07/news.html though he's talking about first drafts, I think the sentiment still fits.

Sometimes the idea just isn't enough. You learned tons, you learned perseverance, now learn when to ditch things and move on to what excites you.

Phaeal
01-04-2010, 07:20 PM
I've just come back to a novel I put "on sabbatical" a few years ago. I have two finished novels worth of experience since then, a whole new approach to the old novel, and a much deeper appreciation of what it's trying to say.

So don't be afraid to set your first novel aside for a while, with love and appreciation for what it's taught you. Attitude is critical for its subconscious evolution -- it's not a failure, it's "on sabbatical."

lucidzfl
01-04-2010, 07:23 PM
I'm with the other people. Your confidence shouldn't be shaken (it should be stirred! (Ok sorry ) )

It should be strengthened. You FINISHED something. That, as someone less verbose than me said, is success.

And since its done, there is nothing wrong with writing something new. Stay excited, stay passionate. Write the next thing and come back to it later.

maryland
01-04-2010, 07:42 PM
Yes, Anahid, think of semi-discarded novels as the cushions on the sofa. They can always be plumped up if visitors arrive.
When the new novel is finished, there will be that comforting feeling that you already have one spare, to be improved, to experiment with. Success all round.

Use Her Name
01-04-2010, 09:54 PM
I was given a lot of very humiliating and unwarrented critiques on a WIP recently, and sat around stewing for a while, and then decided to really re-outline the plot, get what I had, see if there was anything needed, and finish the darned thing-- the way I WANT. So far, my history has been to give up and move on to something else, leaving half finished novels. Whether it is published or not, I would regret not finishing and editing it to a "perfect" and publishable form. Who knows, in 10 years, my kind of fiction might be in vogue, or after I finally publish, I might get some interest in my other writing-- but it needs to be finished, cured, edited, polished, and totally ready to publish.

I also feel that any writer can go back and tweak a novel, or work on another angle of it. The only time it is "dead" is when it is finally published.

lucidzfl
01-04-2010, 10:02 PM
I was given a lot of very humiliating and unwarrented critiques on a WIP recently, and sat around stewing for a while, and then decided to really re-outline the plot, get what I had, see if there was anything needed, and finish the darned thing-- the way I WANT. So far, my history has been to give up and move on to something else, leaving half finished novels. Whether it is published or not, I would regret not finishing and editing it to a "perfect" and publishable form. Who knows, in 10 years, my kind of fiction might be in vogue, or after I finally publish, I might get some interest in my other writing-- but it needs to be finished, cured, edited, polished, and totally ready to publish.

I also feel that any writer can go back and tweak a novel, or work on another angle of it. The only time it is "dead" is when it is finally published.

How on earth did you get an unwarranted critique?

Nateskate
01-04-2010, 10:07 PM
Is the first story a great story? That's a separate question from "Is it well-written?"

A great story is always worth the fight. I've been there. If it's a so-so story then maybe you should start with a blank canvas. But I fought the fight with so many re-writes that it felt like marching to Mount Doom.

No doubt your skills will grow with each re-write. But it does seem almost like starting from scratch, and sometimes harder.

M.Austin
01-04-2010, 10:15 PM
No one ever said it would be easy, only that it would be worth it.

Writing isn't easy. The question is: is it worth it for you?

Put everything away for a week. Go to pull up your story. You'll either have your fingers racing across your keyboard, or you'll sigh. Depending on your reaction is what you should do. You have an opinion. If you sigh -- take a break. Mess around with ideas of different books. If you're excited, then it's obvious that you want to stick with it.

This isn't something others can advise. You either have the passion to continue or you need a break. It really is that simple.

Best of luck!

Libbie
01-04-2010, 10:17 PM
Definitely start the new novel. You can always come back to the old one at a later date!

When your enthusiasm has taken a blow, you don't want to make yourself work on something for which you already have little enthusiasm.

AryaT92
01-04-2010, 10:49 PM
I would trunk it for the time being, start a new novel and come back to it.

Anahid21
01-05-2010, 12:14 AM
Thanks a lot for all the wonderful advice. Wow, it seems overwhelmingly in favor of the new novel.

To answer those who asked if the first one is a great story, I'd say it is a good story, not necessarily a great story. It has the potential to be a superb story, I know that because half the agents I queried with the idea showed interest even though I was a first timer with zero background. It was only when they saw the manuscript that they wilted, and I don't blame them. Everybody here is right, I learned a lot.

That's where the second story comes in. It's a product of the new me. The me that knows her strengths and weaknesses. I've no longer stuffed the story with 100 years of backstory and a huge, unfamiliar environment and characters whose names you can't pronounce. In short there aren't too many balls to juggle in this one, unlike the other one. The first story has great potential to become something truly amazing in the hands of a master writer. I just don't see myself as one, not yet.

Still, I want to absolutely be sure this time. Is there a place on this board where you can post your ideas or synopsis of a novel and get feedback? Before I dive into writing it might be a good idea I run the new storyline by some people so that if the majority thinks it's too cliche or lame I don't waste my time on it.

P.S. "Trunk it." Learned a new phrase. I'm moving up the ladder in the community. :)

Proach
01-05-2010, 12:42 AM
Hi Anahid21. Sometimes getting that first excellent, best-selling idea can be a challenge. I really think that if you feel really positive about your new story that is evolving in your head, I would go for it. Before you actually start writing it, do a detailed outline for yourself. That way, it would give you time to get to know your characters and help with the plot development. Put your old, big book away for now, but you never know in the future, a whole new story just might evolve out of the old one. Just write your new story, don't give up hope and never give up. Many of the most famous authors experienced tons of rejections before the right person took a chance on them.

_____________________
Check out my website, Deanna's Online Writing (http://www.deannasonlinewriting.com)

AryaT92
01-05-2010, 12:44 AM
Still, I want to absolutely be sure this time. Is there a place on this board where you can post your ideas or synopsis of a novel and get feedback? Before I dive into writing it might be a good idea I run the new storyline by some people so that if the majority thinks it's too cliche or lame I don't waste my time on it.

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=26

The password is "vista".

Good luck!

Anahid21
01-05-2010, 01:01 AM
http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=26

The password is "vista".

Good luck!

Thanks for the info. I've actually been to SYW. I just don't know where to post a synopsis there. Is there a specific thread? Or should I go ahead and post based on genre? Seems like most posts are actual passages from the story as opposed to full synopsis.

bclement412
01-05-2010, 01:12 AM
I'd put the gigantic one aside for a bit, giving you time to clear your head of that plot and starting a new one. If the new idea doesn't work, you've already something to fall back on. If the old story means a lot to you and you have faith that one day it will succeed, make yourself miss writing it. But for the time being, start something new and detach yourself from the huge novel. It will pay off :)

Good luck! :D

AryaT92
01-05-2010, 01:23 AM
I would either post it in the appropriate genre or in Query Letter Hell (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=174) as a synopsis is often asked for when querying for agents.

:D

Maxinquaye
01-05-2010, 01:28 AM
Thanks for the info. I've actually been to SYW. I just don't know where to post a synopsis there. Is there a specific thread? Or should I go ahead and post based on genre? Seems like most posts are actual passages from the story as opposed to full synopsis.

Hmmm. Synopses belong in "query hell", though I suppose the synopses there are for sending to agents. But synopsis as synopsis. :)

EDIT: Though, Query Hell is a very erm special board. You might have more "relaxed critique" of the synopsis in the genre boards in SYW.

Anahid21
01-05-2010, 10:29 PM
Alright I posted a synopsis here: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=167410

Those of you interested please take a read and let me know what you think. Is this plotline worth putting the other one aside or is it a waste of a writer's time. I need honest opinion. Feel free to ask anything.

Libbie
01-05-2010, 10:40 PM
It sounds wonderful to me! Kind of fairy-taleish. Sounds like a fun book to read and to write.

The only question I had was why the grey witch can't go find Markus herself -- obviously something you'll want to address in the actual story.

FOTSGreg
01-06-2010, 01:27 AM
Think of your first novel like you do your first love. You'll never forget it and you'll forever keep wanting to go back to it.

Everyone's got a first love. Every writer has a first novel. We all keep going back to it.

One of these days something may just click and you'll have exactly what you need to finish the novel and make it work. Until then, work on something else. you can always go back, but only after you've learned by going forward.

Chris P
01-06-2010, 01:35 AM
I agree; write the new one. I'm trying to shorten my overly long novel, and finding it very discouraging (I loved it at 200K words but I can either love the book or see it published). I'm 40K words into my new novel, and it's keeping me going; I don't feel like a failed writer, just a busy one. :)

Anahid21
01-06-2010, 02:10 AM
It sounds wonderful to me! Kind of fairy-taleish. Sounds like a fun book to read and to write.

The only question I had was why the grey witch can't go find Markus herself -- obviously something you'll want to address in the actual story.

Thank you so much for the encouragement. Yes, it is meant to be a take on the Sleeping Beauty fairy-tale when one of the three fairies granted her the gift of being loved by everyone. I always thought it was absurd to be given such a troublesome gift and this story sort of grew out of that idea.

The grey witch is rather old and frail, that's why she can't do it herself. She needs someone strong, armed with some backup, because bringing back a man who's hated by every single man, woman and child in the realm is not an easy task. She's hoping Lenore's cursed charm would help counteract the people's fervor for lynching poor Markus before he gets home. :)

you can always go back, but only after you've learned by going forward.

Love this quote, and all your other analogies.

I agree; write the new one. I'm trying to shorten my overly long novel, and finding it very discouraging (I loved it at 200K words but I can either love the book or see it published). I'm 40K words into my new novel, and it's keeping me going; I don't feel like a failed writer, just a busy one.

Glad to see I'm not the only one. Shortening novels is not as fun as pouring your story onto pages. It's like cutting your favorite kittens toes and tale while it is fully aware. And in my case, with 300k, there needed to be major plot changes that I feel, when applied, caused the story to lose part of its appeal. This new story is shorter to begin with so it would be easy to tuck it into the accepted length the first time around.

FOTSGreg
01-06-2010, 04:14 AM
Anaid21 wrote, Love this quote, and all your other analogies.

I bow in your general direction.

:)

What other analogies?

:)

Anahid21
01-06-2010, 04:54 AM
What other analogies?

:)

Comparing first novel to first love. Well my first love is married with children now so it doesn't work in my case. I do intend to eventually go back to my first novel you know. :)