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Friday, November 15, 2013

I Hate My Book: What Now?

Part of a special month-long event featuring writing tips and NaNoWriMo strategies from guest writers and fellow NaNo participants. Today I'm putting in my own two cents on the subject!

I Hate My Book: Now What?
J. Rose Allister

Do you have any skeletons in the closet? You know the type I mean--that book you started writing and never finished. You started out strong and loved everything about it. Then you didn't.

 Most of the time, hating my book is a temporary calamity that blows over with a nice cup of coffee and perhaps an unexpected plot twist or two. Other times, the only hope is to scrap the whole idea.  It's not the end of the world, but if something like this happens when you're on a deadline such as NaNoWriMo or a closing submissions call, this calamity can leave you scrambling. Here's a few suggestions for how to get back on the word count horse.

Punish What's Wrong
Punish that bad story for putting you through the wringer like this. What's the biggest thing you can't stand about the story? Whip it into submission by throwing a twist at it. Hate the setting? Burn it down in a fire. Is an annoying character taking over? Lock them in prison, send them on a trip, or employ a favorite writer's trick-kill them off. Is the plot boring you? Throw in a twist. A mysterious object arrives in the mail, 

 Scrap and Save
If you've decided to abandon the entire book, ask yourself what, if anything, can be salvaged from it. Perhaps a character or two, pieces of the plot, or the setting be plucked out of the ruins to evolve into another story.

Kickstart the Next Idea
Maybe despite all your best efforts, you feel your entire project is suited only for the scrap heap. So be it. If you're on short notice and have to get your word count jumping again, here's a fun trick I employ to give me an (almost) insta-plot:

Choose a date and place of birth at random (within the age range of the main characters you like to write). Plug it into a birth natal chart online. Presto! You've got a huge personality profile chock full of strength traits and, even better, juicy weaknesses. 

Now, select one or two of the weaknesses that intrigue you the most and ask yourself two questions. First, what made the character that way? Second, what would be the absolute worst thing(s) that could happen to a character with that trait? The second answer gives you your plot. The first, in combination with the birth chart, gives you the back story to write the character credibly. Repeat if need be for other MC's and/or your villain. Presto! A brand new story in ten minutes.

Add More Juice
To make sure the new idea doesn't fall in the dung heap with the first, keep things spiced up with a list of potential problems and plot twists. You should have at least one exciting thing happening per chapter to keep your interest while writing (and eventually, your readers' interest!)

If you're ready to pitch that manuscript out the window, see if the above can help you get back to soldiering on. Happy writing!

~~~

J. Rose Allister is the author of more than twenty-five books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night. Connect with her on Twitter or Facebook. She loves talking to people!





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