The Problem Child, or That Story You Just Can’t Get Right

It’s been over a year since I started the novel Screechers. It was something I wrote in a burst of inspiration…

AFTER writing 50,000 words of pure crap and throwing it all away.

(It sucked. It needed to be thrown away. You can read about that little detour into crapdom here.)

Then, after writing close to 60,000 words of absolute WONDER and PERFECTION in the new Screechers, I lost 40,000 of those words. LOST. Not that I didn’t back up my saved files…the program I was using wasn’t even MAKING files.

It’s my own fault.

  1. I didn’t check to see that the program I was using actually was saving when I hit “ctrl+S”.
  2. I wasn’t backing up files (if I were, I’d have realized pretty fast that there was nothing saved). So, after a week of words pouring from my fingertips, I discovered 150 pages were missing.

I cried. Then I rewrote them, but by the time I got to the end of those 40K, I was totally sick of the story.

So I set it aside, 75% written.

Then I picked it up again in January. I thought, “Wow, this is pretty good, but SOMETHING is off.” After pondering it a while, I decided it was the tense. I’d written it in first person past tense, and–on a whim–I went through and made  all first person present tense.

Admittedly, this DID make the story read more naturally. It fit the high action of the story, the immediacy of the main character’s needs and emotions…

But STILL, something wasn’t sitting right.

Zoom to March. Two weeks ago. After discussing a book with a friend–a book we both agreed had so much potential but suffered from first person POV, that needed more viewpoints to really dig into the world–I realized that THIS was what was wrong with Screechers. Not that first person is bad (um, SS&D is first person! I changed it from third to first!), but it does limit what you can do. And as a result…

Screechers wasn’t meant to be first person, and it definitely wasn’t meant to be present tense. The story is sweeeeeeping, so shouldn’t my storytelling be sweeping as well?

The highlight of this book for me–what inspired me to write it and what still inspires me–is the world. It’s the mythology and the history and the clashing of cultures in this land called Shaava. The world shaped my heroine…but it also shaped the secondary characters. In first person, I was only showing the world from my MC’s POV.

But if I added multiple POVs, I could show more of Shaava. And–even better–I could really develop some of the subplots I’d only glossed over in first person, single POV. Basically, with multiple points of view building on the same story, I could add more dimensions to all aspects of the story. I could share the same world, but really bring it to life

Next week, on Pub(lishing) Crawl, I’ll really dig into POV more deeply, but the general idea of this long-winded post is that I finally had an epiphany for Screechers. And–fingers crossed–now that I’ve changed the POV and started writing in new characters’ viewpoints, this book will STOP being my problem child.

You tell me: do you have a book that has just KILLED you to write? That, no matter how many times you hunker down, just won’t work?