Thursday, January 10, 2008

Finally Giving Up

This morning I made the decision to scrap my novel-in-progress. It's not easy to junk 24,000 words, but I've done everything I know to get this thing moving, including:

--leaving it alone for a few weeks and then coming back to "see it fresh."

--going back to the last scene I liked and trying to re-plot from there.

--adding another "intriguing" point-of-view character.

--starting the story in a different place in its chronology.

--upping the stakes for the outcome of the conflict.

None of these methods worked. The thing is dead. R.I.P.

This leaves the question: What next? Haven't got a clue. I know writers who say they have hundreds of ideas, more than they could ever write, but I'm not one of those writers. So I don't know what next, and -- frankly -- it feels a little scary.

Stay tuned.


Unknown said...

It's probably a good thing to set this aside if it is giving you so much trouble. I did that with a short story I was writing a long time ago. I lost interest in it and then I came back to it about three months ago and realize "this could be a novel" and started writing and before I knew it I was 30,000 words in. So, that might be what happens for you.

Unknown said...

If your novel-in-progress is really dead, then you'll be doing your fans a favor by moving on -- whatever your next project turns out to be.

As for the dead novel-in-progress . . .

Have you considered collaboration?

Niven and Pournelle once reached an irrecoverable dead end with FALLEN ANGELS, and they couldn't think of another writer who might be able to do anything with it. So they asked Jim Baen to choose a collaborator for them. Jim Baen gave it to Mike Flynn. (I heard that story at a WorldCon panel from Pournelle. It might have been Niven. It wasn't Flynn.)

FALLEN ANGELS isn't the best work of Niven, Pournelle, or Flynn. But overall, the novel works. And the important point is that it got finished.

I think it would really be a shame to discard 24,000 Nancy-Kress-written words. Another writer, with a different perspective, might be able to take it in directions that would never occur to you -- but after seeing it, might make perfect sense to you.

Maybe something to think about?


Steven Francis Murphy said...

I'd love to see it, even if it doesn't lead to a collab.

Ideas. Here is one I won't be able to do for awhile.

What if the United States had built the Isthmian Canal in Nicaragua instead of Panama? Furthermore, what if it was built earlier and an early form of geothermal energy production took advantage of the natural volcanic activity in the region?

Another idea might be to examine the consequences of what might have happened if the Air Force and Air National Guard had shot down all four passenger jets on 09-11. I've always wanted to examine the life of one of the pilots who pulled the trigger in such a situation.

Just a couple of ideas, maybe not even good ones.

S. F. Murphy

Carmen Webster Buxton said...

I've read a few books where I said to myself, "Self, this reads the author had a contract but not a fully-fleshed out story idea." Putting a book aside is probably best because you may be sitting in traffic or relaxing in the bathtub and all at once the perfect answer will come to you.

On an unrelated note, congratulations on making the preliminary Nebula ballot for your novella!

Carmen Webster Buxton said...

My gosh! I should have finished reading the ballot before making the above comment! Congrats on getting on the prelim ballot TWICE! Once for the novella Fountain of Age - Kress, Nancy (Asimov's, Jul07) and again for the novellete
Safeguard - Kress, Nancy (Asimov's, Jan07)! Way to go, nancy!

bluesman miike Lindner said...

Nancy, SEX AND VIOLENCE gave me a hoot and a holler. Just so yez know.

bluesman miike Lindner said...

Re your abandoned novel--24,000 words is a =lot= of psychic energy. I'd bet high coin you have good characters, good scenes, good everything you might use in future work.

Ah-deers? How 'bout this--in the last century, madmen take power in great nations. Readers like action, so juice things along with a worldwide economic depression, the English-speaking peoples in confusion, and the dictators on the march for easy pickings. And this leads to a global war. Ancient cities bombed to rubble, atrocities to make Atilla stare in dumb-struck admiration, and the development of fission bombs.

Far-fetched? Sure! But I think the scenario is workable. Might be more Harry Turtledove's than yours, though.