I had an interesting experience with the second book of The Cinereal Series.
You see, book 2 did not write itself nearly as easily as book 1. Book 1 was a breeze. It tripped off the tongue. It just laid itself down and all I had to do was put it in a straight line.
But book 2 was hard. You see, I wrote Book 1 thinking it was a stand alone novella, so I didn’t really plan, and I didn’t do all my visionary stuff of “Oh, and that’ll come back to bite them in the end!!” I just wrote, and wound up with a handful of characters and a plot that was done but not finished. There was still something going on, beneath the surface.
What the heck was wrong? As I read through again, I realized that I’d set myself up for a sequel before page ten. Way to go, me.
However, trusting my own subconscious I started to write on the second book. And at first it tripped off the fingers just like book one.
And then promptly ground to a halt. What in the world was I doing!? How did these characters know each other? Where was this character going to come in use? What was this character’s motivation and this one’s issue, and where was I GOING with all of this? ACK! It was maddening.
I went back to book one, labored on because despite all the confusion I knew I had a good story brewing somewhere, but it came in fits and starts and I kept having to go back and check my information, my skeleton, and my inspirations, as well as research some of the character’s backgrounds before finally, creepingly, writing.
It came, and it came slowly. Like molasses In a freezer. In the arctic. At least, that’s how it felt: in reality whenever I sat down to write I made a respectable 1000 words. But it felt SO HARD, and every time I thought about it or looked at it all I could see was the jumble in my head and thus, all I could think was “this is such a mess.”
Now, let me pause here to assure you that I’m not whining here. I’m trying to get you into my head, or back into your head so that you’re in this feeling with me.
Finally I handed the manuscript to Michael and just said “oh it’s awful but you’ll tell me how to fix it.”
He read it.
“So, did you read it?”
“Yeah. It’s fine.”
“What? How? No it’s not.”
“No, it’s fine. Maybe a few sentence mishaps with wording, but it’s good.”
And that’s how that conversation went. I didn’t believe him, so I went back, intent on ‘fixing’ it. Only, I couldn’t find anything to fix. The plot flowed one thing to the next, everyone had their motivation, everyone had their arc. But my gut still said “SOMETHING IS WRONG KEEP LOOKING.”
Thankfully, my finely tuned Nanowrimo editor security measures, plus Michael’s continued assurance that “it all makes sense, duh.” Stayed my hand long enough to enlist the help of my mother, who reads more than anyone I’ve ever met (burning through all five Game of Thrones books in 2 weeks) to tell me what was what.
I was shocked. She liked book one, but told me, plain and simple, “Book 2 is better. Like, way better.”
Say what? Even now, my gut is going “GAH NO YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.”
The point of this post is two fold:
#1 If you are NOT a beginning writer, and you have written something you hate, before you do anything drastic, get a first reader. A sentence here, a paragraph there, no biggie. But switching plot points and slash/burning pages might get you confused, or worse, losing really good material. Ok, first readers are ALWAYS helpful, and maybe you’re too embarrassed to show your ‘this is terrible’ work to anyone. Fine, at least take someone to coffee and run it by them before completely trashing it. Give the idea a chance.
#2 Sometimes your gut is wrong. After THREE people have given me a raving review of this second book, I’ve finally figured out that in reality, I’m getting a false reading. As I said, there is NOTHING wrong with the piece. I know it’s strong plot wise, I know it’s got the happening, I know it’s pretty awesome on the big reveal and darn it, I love the main character. But if I’d followed my gut instinct, I would have trashed, or horribly twisted, the story and I don’t really think I could have done better. So be suspicious. Not dismissive. Just suspicious.
Now, I’m bringing you this post because I have gotten the final confirmation that my gut was wrong: that being a shiny new contract with Lyrical Press to Publish Book 2 of The Cinereal Series, ‘Sword’s Blessings’. Hooray!
Has your gut ever been ‘Just that wrong’?