Monday, September 5, 2011

Franken-novel

So here’s the dealz…I started writing this story, and about two-thirds of the way through, I decided I hated it. It's direction bored me. It was way too PG for my tastes. I didn’t like the choices my main characters were making…it just felt WRONG. So I trashed it and started all over. I replotted, started writing again, and I fell back in love with my story, my characters…EVERYTHING.

Good move, right?

Then, I got stuck. And I reread the old version (bad, bad, BAD!). And there were parts of the old version I re-fell in love with and just couldn’t let hit the cutting room floor. I had to keep that part about this guy and that girl and this thing and if I did X, Y, and Z in my new version, I might be able to salvage those scenes that made my heart sing and swoon. So, I stuck them in.

Then, I skipped around. I wrote the climax before I even arrived at the midpoint. I found myself piecing together scenes, trying to make my story go in directions it didn’t really want to go, all because I couldn’t bear to part with this scene or that character or this subplot. And when I sliced and diced and reattached scenes, I found myself sewing my manuscript together with football-sized seams. My novel looks like something out of a horror movie. A beast. A monster.

Franken-novel.*





I don’t write stories like this! Even my fly by the seat of my pants methodology for my other three projects didn’t explode into this debacle. I actually plotted this one! But that’s the nature of this beast. It has too many characters and too many plot lines and too many things I just don’t want to cut and well, frankly…it’s one hot mess.

And as I tried to keep practically everything fantastic from both versions, the thing that suffered the most?

Flow.

Something I usually DON’T have a problem with.

Flow is the ability of a writer to create a seamless document. The story undulates from one page to the next. Words connect, sentences make sense, the transitions are strong. Everything just well, flows.

In a recent issue of Writer’s Digest, author David Morell (First Blood) said The flow of words from our mind to the page is impeded in two main ways—if we try to make the story do something that it doesn’t want to do, or if something in us isn’t ready to face the full implications of the work’s theme and emotions.

My relationship with my WIP—definitely the former. I had a gazillion awesome ideas and I wanted to incorporate ALL of them.

To maintain flow, Morell suggests literally asking your WIP questions, “What do you want to do? Where do you want me to go with you? Why are you stalling?” This almost always creates an imagined response along the lines of, “This scene is boring. “ Or, “This section is full of gimmicks. Why aren’t you being true to the subject?”

And that was it. I wrote boring scenes. I got all gimmick-y and cute and blah.

An author needs flow so that the writing reads and sounds perfect.

And my story needs flow so that it will seem, er…seamless.

Part of me wants to give up on Franken-novel, leave this monstrous horrid beast in solitude so that no one will ever have to look at him. Bu-ut I LOVE my characters and I want the world to know them too. Some scenes do flow so naturally, I read them again and again just to ensure myself that this novel is worth saving, that it’s not just a piece of put-to-gether junk. But I also know I have a lot of work to do. And the story? It’s so beautiful and full of feelings and I know it’s in there somewhere. I just have to de-beastify my ms and find it.

And I will. I’ll find the beauty in the beast. And to help me replot and find my flow, I invested in this




First Draft in 30 Days provides you with a sure-fire system to reduce time-intensive rewrites and avoid writing detours. Award-winning author Karen S. Wiesner's 30-day method shows you how to create an outline so detailed and complete that it actually doubles as your first draft. Flexible and customizable, this revolutionary system can be modified to fit any writer's approach and style. Plus, comprehensive and interactive worksheets make the process seem less like work and more like a game.


I was going to use it for the shiny new ms dancing around in my head, but I’ll try it out on Frankie first. I know I’ve already got my first draft, but maybe it will help me solidify things on round two. Make it seamless and properly fastened and bolted together.

And maybe one day my Franken-novel will morph into a real (seamless) story.


*The real Frankenstein is actually the scientist, not the created monster. But for the purpose of this blog post, please assume the misconception: Franken-novel is the monster.


What's YOUR WIP issue? Have YOU ever created a monster? Have YOU seen any good horror or sci-fi flicks lately?

21 comments:

  1. My issue right now seems to be blathering on for too long and not really getting anywhere in my story. That and too many characters needing air time and not enough space to do it in. Bah! Like the Franken-novel thing--my WIP just might be starting to head in that direction too...

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  2. I LOVE First Draft in 30 Days :) And, you know, sometimes at least KNOWING that you're WIP is frankensteined is half the battle. You'll get there :) (PS Reading aloud works WONDERS for stuff like this...) (PPS if you ever need someone to bounce ideas off of, lemme know!) xo

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  3. Oi. I feel your pain on the frankendraft. I own the shirt. The WIP I was working on last month has frankendraft potential as well since nothing is in order despite the fact I plotted. I'm setting it aside for now until my brain decides to cooperate. Sometimes though novels dictate how you should write them. This I've learned. :)

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  4. I think we should read for each other at some point. I have a big heart for monstrosities (my last novel was full of zombies, and it definitely turned into Franken-novel more than once, so I know how you feel!) and I feel like if after all that, you still refuse to give up, this novel MUST be good! :)

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  5. I'd love to hear your opinion of First Draft in 30 days when you've tried it. :)

    And I had a book that was completely seamful. It took years of sitting before I could face the truth of what it was, so good for you!

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  6. FIRST DRAFT IN THIRTY DAYS looks like a book I might need to invest in... I read PLOT AND STRUCTURE over the weekend and it was excellent. It really helped me to streamline my thinking on the rewrite I'm about to tackle. Might be worth checking out if you haven't already. Good luck with Franken-Novel. :)

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  7. I wish I could get to the stage of things where I had a Frankendraft! Now I simply have a Halfadraft.

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  8. Oh boy, do I feel your pain. I'm dealing with the biggest frankenovel myself, too. Why do we do this to ourselves?

    That book sounds great!

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  9. I had a franken-novel once. I tore it apart a sewed and tore and sewed until finally I had my story. I just submitted it, but it took me well over a year to straighten it out. (But I'm a procrastinator at times, so don't pay attention to my time table :)

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  10. My biggest problem with my writing projects is boredom. At first I'm writing along, happy with the characters, the setting, etc.. Then, the flow stalls. I realized it's because the story hits a lull. I need to start pulling out some conflict to resuscitate the project. Good luck!

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  11. I go through the same thing when I cut scenes. I can look at two versions (I often have multiple versions of my openings and endings) and love them both, not knowing which one to go with. And I don't like sharing first drafts with critique partners. I usually wait until I have a cohesive novel that FLOWS. So, yeah, I know the feeling of being Dr. Frankenstein.

    I like the idea of asking the manuscript questions. I often do that with an individual scene, if I don't feel like I'm getting to it's core purpose.

    Good luck with the beast. :)

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  12. For a long time I Felt like my WIP was a Frankenish novel because I LOVED the characters but there was A LOT going on. So i took deep, cleansing breaths and went back to where I last felt I had it together (I had to do this more than once) and it got better. Now I'm 4 chapters from the end (which I never thought was coming)and the WIP feels more manageable now. I'm no longer terrified of revisions. Good luck with everything :)

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  13. Ooo, let me know how that book helps you with your WIP. I truly believe -any- story can be salvaged. It may be drastically different, but something of it can still be changed.
    My issues right now stem around working on two WIPs. I don't think I'm made for that, but I don't want to stop my first novel just because of my novel for school, yanno?
    Also, I gave you an award! Hop over to my blog for the deets.

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  14. Hehe, I love that you acknowledged that he's the scientist. It bugs me when people confuse it. Good luck with your Franken-novel :D

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  15. My WIP issue is that I have no WIP! I have about 50 ideas for a novel in various stages of completeness (from a character with no story or world to a few 15 beat outlines), and none of them feels big enough. This issue probably stems from the issues of my previous MSS aka not enough story, but so many words.

    My first novel is a bit of a monster, because I have characters I love, but not enough GMC. Maybe one day I'll tear it apart and start again with the few scenes that had life in them.

    Good luck with Franken-novel, and let us know how you find the book!

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  16. I'm totally reading that book before I do NaNoWriMo. Nice call. Thanks for the suggestion.

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  17. Franken-novel - such a perfect name! My WIPs end up like that, too. Right now I'm revising and I'm happy with the very end, but the few chapters leading up to it are all over the place. It's like doing a math problem and getting the right answer, but you have no idea how you did it.

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  18. Oh, how you're soooooo not alone in any of this! But instead of good ole Frankie, mine goes something like this:

    Erin's MS sat on a wall,
    Erin's MS had a great fall.
    All the king's horses and all the king's men
    Couldn't put Erin's MS together again.

    In the end, I had to decide if all the the scenes I absolutely loved and didn't want to lose, were a good fit for the MS in question. If they weren't, I kept them for later use - and happily, many have found homes in other MS's I've written / am writing, (and in fact, have grown into something even better!).

    Keep at your MS and all the tendrils it's grown - there's something there if you keep going back to it, so don't let it hide under that bed and collect dust. :)

    And thanks for the tip on First Draft in 30 Days - on my way to check that out now!

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  19. Franken-novel. Love it.

    I've never read First Draft in 30 Days, but I'm an outliner so I usually don't have any problem getting the story down.

    I ask two questions to my protagonist and antagonist.

    1. What does he want?
    2. And why can't he get it?

    If I have the answers then I have my story.

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  20. Oh, poor you. That sounds grim. At least you're recognising your problem. I'm a newbie novelist, and it all seems overwhelming.

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  21. And thanks for the tip on 'First Draft in 30 Days.' That sounds like something I ought to check out.

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