Author of Middle Grade novels about friendship, family, and figuring out where you fit in.

Monday, November 9, 2015

What To Do With THAT Project

I have a question for my fellow writers and creative people: If I asked you about THAT project of yours, which one comes to mind?

For me, THAT project is a tricky one, because it's one that I don't know what to do with. It's one that I care about, and one that I enjoyed drafting, but now that it's complete, it doesn't belong anywhere.

All of my other completed manuscripts (16 total) have fallen into one of the following categories:

1) Hey, this might turn into something pretty great after exchanging with five or six critique partners and completing ten rounds of revisions. I'll plan to publish it.

2) Heck no, this is terrible! Put it away on the shelves for good -- never let it see the light of day!

3) Eh, I like the concept, but the execution could be stronger, so I'll keep the idea and do a complete, blank slate rewrite of it that might end up publishable.

When it comes to THAT story, I can't seem to fit it into one of those categories. It's not awful like my terrible stories in the #2 category, but it doesn't strike me as "my next published book" material, like the ones in #1. I mean, it could be, but I just don't get that immediate feeling that I've had for other manuscripts in that category.

It's possible that it's a #3. But I've had three manuscripts fall in the #3 category, and all of them were in desperate need of a full makeover (or else they'd be considered #2 quality), and this one is in better shape. But I'm not loving it as much as my WIPs I have in the #1 category, and I'd rather send my CPs those #1 projects instead of THAT story.

So, since I'm stuck, I'll temporarily shelf this one. I don't like rushing into decisions, and I always believe that if something is holding you back, listen to that something. Later down the road, I'll either revise the stuffing out of THAT story until it shines and earns itself a spot in the #1 category, or I'll shelf it for good.

Any other writers ever have experience with a manuscript that doesn't belong anywhere? Otherwise, what do you think of when I say THAT project?

10 comments:

Tiana Smith said...

I have one of those. In my case, I think it's that the story could be genuinely good (even if it's not there yet) but it's not my typical style. So I don't know whether to invest the time in it, because it's not my usual voice or flow. I think it sits funny because of that. It's good, but not connected to me somehow. It's like someone else wrote it, and if I were reading it, I'd still like it, but it doesn't resonate with me in the same way.

Jemi Fraser said...

Right now, that feels like a lot of my projects. I've learned a lot over the last few years, but not enough to make them shine yet. I've got at least a half dozen waiting for those rewrites/overhauls and a few that are closer along the line - but there's SOMETHING off about all of them. Still working on what that is for a few :) Good luck with yours!

Dawn Simon said...

I learn something with each manuscript, but I consider my second manuscript a learning novel, like it may never be anything more. The premise is strong, but I haven't yet felt compelled to return to it--not since I put it aside years ago. When I first worked on it, I wrote it in third person and then first, and that alone taught me a ton. Since then, other mss call to me. For now, it just sits. That said, I'm proud of it and can't say I've given up on it forever. It's tricky.

Good luck! :)

Laurel Garver said...

When in spots like this, it's usually a sign that you know you've taken a wrong turn somewhere, but you can't identify it. It *might* become clear to you later what the issue is if you set it aside and come back to it. But then again, it might not.

Most of the time when I've been super stuck or in ambivalent land, beta readers helped me at least find the wrong turn--usually where the emotion or a reaction should be handled differently. With that information, I almost always am able to see the story's potential again.

Shelley Sly said...

Tiana - I understand that. I've written outside of my usual style, too, and ultimately, the manuscript was... different.

Jemi - Thanks! Good luck with yours as well! Hope we can find that *something* that's not sitting right.

Dawn - Thanks! :) I definitely have a few learning novels myself. It was worth it to write them for the experience.

Laurel - You're spot on. I think I'll eventually have to ask my beta readers to read it and see if they can figure out what feels off about it.

Heather R. Holden said...

Shelving it for now definitely seems like the best option. I had to distance myself like that from one of my projects for years before finally getting an epiphany about it. Hope time away from this manuscript helps give you the clarity you need!

Shelley Sly said...

Heather - Thanks, I do think that having time away from it is the best move. Hope I have an epiphany, too!

Medeia Sharif said...

I have a book like that. I want to continue with it, but sometimes want to abandon it. It has a tricky story line and still needs a lot of work. I'm probably not going to quit on it.

Shelley Sly said...

Medeia - I hope to not give up on this story of mine, either. It might just need a lot of work, like you said. Good luck with yours!

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