On July 3rd I laid out a series of pictures of my first draft. It’s a neat trick of allowing the mind to look over the landscape of notes, thus creating a mini-movie inside our minds.
At the time I took those pictures I was in the final stages of the first draft of my second novel. The chapter outlines that I created were strong. I had a pretty solid beginning, middle and end.
Well…maybe not the end….but I had something. All I had to do was decide what direction to take.
Easy as pie, right?
Last week I sat down and got to work. First drafts are usually quick. I’m pretty sure all of you can agree a lot of it has to do with tossing everything against the wall. It’s a free and fun time to write.
Let’s be honest: It’s the only time we have where others aren’t involved.
My goal was to complete it in six weeks. Four if I was lucky. But after completing chapter one I knew I was in trouble.
The characters in book two have been floating around in my head for years. The only reason I held back was the plot. It was boring and I couldn’t find a way out.
It has to be fun
Dempsey’s Grill was fun. The plot was fun. The characters were fun and the way I see it, if the writer is having a good time so will the reader.
Not only was Dempsey fun but it keyed to my strength. Not once did I worry I was out of my league. I stayed within my comfort zone, never overstepping my boundaries. The characters knew what I was trying to do and they were willing to help.
Let’s face it, we all excel at what we do best which is why many of us do well when we write. But I ignored the red flags in book two. I decided to push though, positive that in the end everything would settle and find its way.
Book two came in two parts. While part one was a breeze it was part two where the bottom fell out and after a morning of writing I knew it was beyond repair.
Later that day my 14 and 16 year old daughters were having a snack before they went off to their gym class. Distraught over my dilemma I joined them and explained my troubles.
In typical teenage fashion they shrugged their shoulders and asked a very good question: Why are you making it boring?
Sadly, I didn’t have an answer. This was followed by a second question: Why do anything if it isn’t fun?
In that moment reality hit: I would have to scrap the entire outline. If I’m bored the reader will be bored. Why bother reading it?
So why did I invent a boring plot? Well, at the time I saw it as a challenge I didn’t see it as boring. It took me in a different direction, forced me to create something out of nothing but most of all….at least I thought….it took me out of my comfort zone. Which seemed like a good idea at the time.
Why do anything if it isn’t fun?
Creating a novel should be fun. Yes, it’s hard work, but if it’s fun we don’t mind the sweat.
So this morning I took to the shredder and said goodbye to my outline. Yes, it was lots of hard work down the drain but this is the world we choose and sometimes it has to be done.
Tough love, they say.
Earlier today I sat down and asked myself a question: What would make me laugh? Then I turned it around and asked another question: What would make you laugh?
In the end it’s all about you, the reader, and that was my problem. I made book two all about me.
Now I’m starting over but I don’t mind. I’m already laughing and having fun. I can see the adventure, I know these characters well and I can feel the energy that was lacking before.
Boring is….well….boring and who wants that? Now, on to book two.