If you’ve read my updates, you’ll know I’m working on a horror novel. Specifically, a horror novel set in the worlds of H.P. Lovecraft. In fact, I’m about 50,000 words into the story. Though I’m sure it’s not one hundred percent accurate, I use the rule of thumb of 1,000 words equals four paperback pages. That means I’m about 200 pages into the book.
It’s a shame I have to throw it out.
Well, not throw it out, but certainly re-conceive the whole enterprise.
You see I read those 200 pages and I was bored. Not only was I bored, I questioned how many of the dots were connected. In other words, the story didn’t make the kind of sense I hoped it would.
You know what, though? All of this is more than fine. In fact, it’s expected.
If you want to know why writing a book is a) hard and b) takes a while, it’s situations like this one that answer most of your question. At the risk stating the obvious, fiction writing isn’t a science, it’s an art. You can plan with the best of intentions, but until you have words on paper, you can’t really know where you’re at in the process. Often, when you think you’re nearing completion, you’re really only at a new crossroads.
Here’s my first bit of advice regarding the phenomenon: Don’t fight it. Storymaking isn’t clinical. Storymaking is messy. Get down there in the muck and surrender to the flow.
Here’s my second piece of advice—and this one’s way more important than the first: Don’t be precious. Just because you wrote a lot doesn’t mean any of it’s worth keeping. If it’s not working, throw it away.
Really. Be ruthless.
In my case, I’ll be changing the point of view (from third- to first-person), a lot of the particulars of the plot, as well as the tone (from serious to not-quite-so-serious). Why? Because I have to. Because it’s part of the gig.