I was supposed to have a sub out on the market this week. I thought it was finished. It should have been finished. I went through an extra draft on this puppy. Y'see, I thought it was done, but after letting it sit for over a week I went back and read over it and decided it was missing something. Paragraphs were excised, large chunks got rewritten. Then it got one final pass when I typed it onto the laptop. More cuts, additions, substitutions, etc.
That's when I hit another problem. The publisher I picked as my first
Just as well, because shortly after I finished typing I realized I'd made a factual error, in the sex scene, of all places. What the one guy does is totally in character, but would result in severe physical trauma in real life. His partner's going to have to take over and make sure nobody gets hurt. That should add some extra verbiage, which will solve the word count problem. In fact, I may just give the entire last third of the story another go-over. I kind of rushed it toward the end because I was trying to stay within the short-story line's parameters. Now that I know I have room to play in, I can go back and do it right.
This entire story ran late from the start. Originally I intended it for an anthology. I was hoping a set-in-stone deadline would make me write faster. I also thought I knew where the plot was going. Except inspiration threw me a curve. There I was, outside pulling weeds and minding my own business, when suddenly the reckless character up there told me what had happened to him in the past and why he was living as he was. There went my character motivations right out the window. Replaced by better ones, I think, but still.
That course correction messed up my timetable. It came down to a) plow ahead and fight to make deadline, or b) say screw the anthology and take however long I needed to tell the story the way it wanted me to. After double-checking the publisher's website and assuring myself I'd still have a market, I elected to let the deadline pass and be true to the story instead. Good thing: the anthology's maximum word count was 10K words. I was still going strong at that point.
Like I said, I thought I had it done. Then the problems I mentioned cropped up. I want to get a sub on the market. The more I put out there, the better my chances of making a sale. At the same time, I want my subs to be in the best possible shape before I kick them out the door. I owe that to the readers. Even more, I owe it to the characters.
Writing's a pain in the ass sometimes. You think you've got the story locked in. Then your muse heaves herself up off the couch and decides to do her job. Suddenly alternate plot ideas come flying at you right and left. Or the characters you want to end up together decide they can't stand each other and want to be with other people. You try to shove them down the road to Oz. They don't want to go to Oz. They abandon the Yellow Brick Road and take off for Mordor because the bars are better, and you're left staring at a blank page or screen and wondering what the hell just happened.
Writers both dread and dream of this moment. We all want the story to surprise us because that's proof it's alive. If our own stories can surprise us, their creators, imagine the fun the readers are going to have. On the other hand, those same demanding, chatty characters can shut up just as suddenly as they started yammering. This is known as writer's block. Now what do you do?
Recommendations abound. Force your way through the block. Let the story rest a bit and go write something else. Try writing the scene from another character's POV. It all ends up at the same bottom line: that story ain't going nowhere until it decides it wants to, regardless of what you the writer want.
Serena, if you're reading this, this is why you haven't seen Preacher's story yet. I started it a couple times. I wrote scenes out of order. Nothing helped. Gavin and Reese have issues to work out before they're ready to talk to me. I suspect it has something to do with that bad guy who wasn't supposed to be part of the story but decided to stick his nose in. He isn't talking yet. When I get a better picture of who he is, I'll be able to move ahead. Until then we're at a standstill. Sorry 'bout that.
This current story really wants me to write it, but it wants me to write it correctly. So I'll do what it wants. If it wants me to fix up the ending, okay. If it wants to be longer than 14K words, then I'll make it as long as it asks for. Another publisher just opened up a shapeshifter anthology. Their maximum word count is 18K and the deadline's next February, so I've got a backup market. There's also self-publishing, although I'm a bit leery of that at the moment.
Meanwhile, another idea just kicked down the door and wants me to commit it to paper. I wrote four pages this morning. I have no idea how it ends yet. I'm hoping the characters tell me and don't just lead me on and then shut up. Damn teases.
I miss regular work sometimes. Oh wait. No I don't.