I won NaNoWriMo yesterday! I'm dedicating this win to Written? Kitten! and to #Ch1ConRUN and @NaNoWordSprints on Twitter. It's been a tough challenge for me, probably the hardest since the first time I did NaNoWriMo. This novel is strange and different and difficult to get through, but once I get it all together, I think it'll be a good one.
Today, I wanted to talk about the process of abandoning book ideas. When you're an artist, you have to pick and choose which ideas to run with, which to wait longer to use, and which to throw away completely. Some ideas are abandoned before you ever make an attempt at them, some get abandoned partway through, some become full novel length before being trunked, and some even make it partway through the publication process before they're thrown out. Often, ideas grab you and refuse to let go for a long time, but the decision to trunk them has to be a logical one that considers factors like personal ability, style, and purpose, the quality of the idea, and the current publishing market.
My purpose in writing is a) to better understand the issues I'm facing in my own life and b) to make a positive difference in others' lives. The things I believe in, religiously, morally, and socially, thus form the core of my novels. Other personal factors also have their place: for example, I am a terrible romantic, which shows in all my books. My personal boundaries about language, drugs, and sex have an impact--I have no interest in censoring others, but I do draw some lines in my own writing. (I have to be smart about it, though, because of realism and appropriate character development. There are more cuss words in #OCDStory than I have ever used in my life, thanks to the POV!)
All of this affects my decisions when it comes to abandoning book ideas and even trunking full-length novels. So I figured today, I'd share the logic behind why I abandoned a bunch of different ideas in the past. These ideas do not include those that I never wrote at all, since I didn't keep record of them. (Note that I might change my mind about abandoning these ideas at some point--I do tend to do that.)
From My "Not For Use" Archives
#CatWarStory: Abandoned after a couple of chapters because my coauthor and I had a fight.
#CelebrityConspiracyStory: Abandoned after a couple of chapters because it didn't fit my personal ability, style, or purpose
#DesertIslandStory: Abandoned just before hitting the climax because it was written out of wish fulfillment with the help of my friends and had no real purpose otherwise. It also didn't fit my style.
#DreamlandStory: Abandoned just before hitting the climax because it was clumsily written and too similar to real life. Some ideas from this novel attempt were revamped into a new #DreamlandStory, as seen below.
#GhostStory: Abandoned after a couple of chapters because the plot was too complicated for my ability and didn't fit my personal purpose or style.
#PerfectionStory: Abandoned after eight chapters because of concerns about how my personal background would add connotation that I didn't intend. A few ideas from this were revamped into #AfterworldStory.
#SuperheroStory: Abandoned after a couple of chapters because my coauthor lost interest. Some ideas from this were revamped into #ChosenFourStory..
#TimeTravelStory: Abandoned after multiple restarts and eleven chapters because the plot and the worldbuilding were too convoluted. Some ideas from this will likely be revamped into future novels.
#DreamlandStory: Abandoned soon after completion because it was aimless in plot and had too dark of a feeling to it. Some ideas from this novel will be revamped into a new book, tentatively for NaNoWriMo 2015.
#FairytaleStory: Abandoned a few years after completion because it relied too much on wish fulfillment, had an unwanted darker vibe, and included unfeminist pieces. Many of the ideas from this book have been revamped into different novels, and more are set to be revamped into future works.
#FourElementsStory: Abandoned a couple of years after completion because it was too similar to real life and more suited to episodic TV than to a novel. This book included many ideas and themes echoed throughout my other works.
#MiddleGradeStory: Abandoned immediately after completion because it was disastrously close to real life and lacked true purpose.
#ProphecyStory: Recently abandoned because it was written as an exercise in the standard hero's journey using religious typography, and in the end, naturally, it was too cliche. Some ideas from this story will be revamped into future books.
#PsychicStory: Recently abandoned because I do not know how to write war, y'all. I may rewrite this novel someday.
#SplitStory: Abandoned a few years after completion because it was too short, too basic, and too ill-formed. Some ideas from this story were revamped into #AfterworldStory.
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