Wordcount Wednesday

Well, that was fast…

Astute visitors to my website may have noticed a small change in the upper right corner. No, I’m not talking about the new MyBookProgress widget … well, actually I am talking about it, but the widget itself has been there for a few weeks now. No, I’m talking about the fact that one of the entries changed from “Return of the Mourning Dove” to “‘Mourning Dove.'” What does this change signal?

Well, it means that it’s back to the drawing board for me.

Here’s what’s going on: I’ve been flailing around for my next writing project a little lately. And, after a lot of navel gazing and pondering, I decided to pull an old project out of its drawer, dust it off, and basically rewrite the whole darn thing from the beginning. I talked a little about this project in my last Wordcount Wednesday post. I was fully bound and determined to resurrect this old idea.

Small problem, though: as I did my prewriting and outlining, I was struggling with the idea. Quite a bit, actually. I mean, I knew the story already. I wasn’t going to really start from scratch. And I knew the characters too.  But for some reason, everything was feeling kind of “blah” as I was working on it.

Then I had an epiphany, one I shared on Facebook:

Suddenly new life had been breathed into this project. And I mean things started rolling. I had to come up with new character names:

And eventually, I started putting words on the page again:

But even as I got started writing, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. Something was fundamentally flawed with this story idea.

Without going into too much detail, about a quarter of the way through the story, it would take a very sharp turn in a new direction. I was concerned that said sharp turn would upset my readers. So I did what any insecure writer would do: I presented my problem to my long-suffering agent. I explained what the story was going to be about. And then I waited for her to say, “Hey, it’s okay, John! You’ll be fine.”

That’s not what she said.

Instead, she pointed out a number of additional problems in the story that I wasn’t aware of, problems that would make this story fundamentally unworkable. She gently suggested that I go back to the drawing board. Keep certain parts of the story (like the young woman protagonist and the fact that she’s part of an acting troupe), but that the rest of the story would have to be rethought.

It kind of knocked me for a loop.

Hence why the progress bar has changed. I still want to write about Piper and her extended acting family. I still want to keep that opening paragraph if I can. But I’m calling this project “Mourning Dove” as just a placeholder until I can come up with a better title.

That happens sometimes. Writers regularly have to kill their darlings, and sometimes that death comes at the beginning of the journey rather than at the end.

The good news is this: earlier today, inspiration struck and I came up with what might be a workable new story to tell with Piper. And I even sent it off to my agent to see what she thinks. If she’s on board with it, I’ll start the prewriting process in earnest this week and maybe, in a few weeks, I’ll be able to start putting words to the paper again.

Time will tell, I guess.

EDITED: I heard from my agent. No red flags. FULL STEAM AHEAD!

Sometimes an author has to kill his darlings before they've had much of a life. Click To Tweet

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