When Your Story Gives You Lemons

You know the phrase when life hands you lemons, make lemonade, right? Well, I have yet to make lemonade. I am more in the process of somehow squirting the juice in my eyes!!

How you ask? If you have been following my writing journey with my YA Vikings book, you would know I'm currently on a 3rd round of edits. (1st round was on my own after drafting, and the other right before Pitch Wars from beta suggestions.)

Right when I was 3/4 done with this round of edits and seeing the end coming near, my CP and I talked about the changes and a suggestion was made to change to only 1POV from 3POV. I really had to sit on that and let it permeate. The next day I tried it for 2 chapters. It was fast, straight talking, gutless writing. The heroine was way fiercer than my heroine now. Romance was already in the story and not coming later in the story. I liked it, she loved it. I started re-plotting on paper and then...another CP read it and said it just wasn't as good as the original. That it was ok in comparison.

Oye vey...

When the chips fall and you can't figure out which ones to pick up and save, what do you do? Who do you listen to? Everyone says yourself, but sometimes you can't even think straight or have faith in your decision that what you choose is saleable.

Oye double vey...

I was told to let the Vikings story sit with my 2nd CP so she can read it through and see what will help, and get it back to me in a couple weeks. But something kept me from doing that. I couldn't stop trying to fix it! In my head. In my brainstorming. Just not on paper anymore. And if you know me, I have no patience whatsoever.

That weekend, I stepped back because I felt literally sick from all the emotions (loads of shameless crying) I had gone through thinking about what to do. I did lots of prayer, tons of service, and I received my answer: THIS story has value. The original held that value and human virtues I wanted teens and tweens to remember and hold true and on to. The "newer, faster" version was just a mock of something I was trying because it proved successful for another - make the heroine balls to the walls. Which is great, but wasn't my initial idea or intentions.

So was I being fake rewriting it that way? Maybe. I don't know.

I decided to write out all my scenes, and began to notice what could be taken away, or what I was noticing didn't quite work, or just fleeting ideas. I mentioned them to my 2nd CP to be aware of while reading it over. Then, I really did let it go.

I stopped squirting my eyes with lemon juices!!

I took her advice, one I couldn't do at the time with my head such a mushy mess, and began thinking about my other MS - ORPHANS OF DARK. (Always try to work on new stuff when others are away at weightloss camp.) ORPHANS OF DARK is a dark fantasy genderswap retelling of Cinderella meets Six of Crows/Suicide Squad. I had actually began storyboarding and 1st chapter drafting this premise during Pitch Wars last September. I was reading through Mentors wants and I kept seeing a common theme. And then it sparked an idea, and I've loved it ever since.

When I get my Vikings novel back, I hope we can make lemonade. Lots and lots of lemonade. And I hope to pass tons of it around to all my friends! 

1. Have you ever written a novel only to fixate TOO much on what could be wrong when you should really just step away and let another figure it out?

Reading: SOULMATED by Shaila Patel, CITY OF BONES by Cassandra Clare
Read: (I haven't read so much because of all that lemon squirting) A FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS by Julie C. Dao, the evil queen's story in an Asian retelling, THIS SAVAGE SONG by Victoria Schwab, a human and monster take down the bad guy
Movie: SUPERMAN:HOMECOMING, I started it half-way because I was so busy, but I loved what I saw!

Love your guts,



Better to step away than pour a ton of time into something that might not work out. If the changes lose your vision then they might not be a good thing.
I'm still trying to figure out what's not completely right about what I'm working on now.
Natalie Aguirre said…
Sounds like you are taking the right step to look at something else and give this a rest while you wait for comments. And remember, everyone will have different ideas on what you should do. There is no right or wrong. Pick what feels best to you and go for it. You can't please everyone.
JoJo said…
I don't write, but I often have to step away from crafts when they get the better of me. Gives me a chance to work out what I want to do to salvage or finish it.
I loved that phrase "weightloss camp." I hope everything turns out well!
Christine Rains said…
Stepping away for a while is good. It always give me a fresh perspective when I'm obsessing too. And oooh, I do like your idea for Orphans of Dark!
Crystal Collier said…
It's so hard to know what to do when you get opposing opinions. I'm glad you took a step back. We often have a difficult time doing that, but there's so much value. I have a critique group, and typically when putting something in front of that many eyes at once, there's a STRONG consensus of what needs to be done. Thank goodness for help, eh?
The Silver Fox said…
Wow, you've really gotten involved in this one! You probably do need to step back and take a couple of deep breaths. But, that's your decision, of course.

Love the new profile photo on your sidebar.
Pat Hatt said…
Yeah, sometimes it just makes it a mess, head and draft, to go and redo what doesn't need to be done. When your original vision works, stick with that.
When I hit a wall, I always let the manuscript get cold. That's the only way I can be objective and make those sort of judgment calls. I have manuscripts that are years and years old and they just sit there until I know what I want to do with them. That's why I abandon, but never delete.

Good luck with the stories. You know where to find me if you need me.
S.P. Bowers said…
Yes, you can fixate too much. I've seen people work stories so much all the voice and uniqueness is gone. I'm glad you've found a direction to go. Good luck with the lemonade.
Melissa said…
I think that's the hardest part of being a writer - knowing when to take advice and when to disregard it. One gets a better feel for it over time, but it never gets effortless. There's often that nagging worry we're getting to arrogant or too... whatever. Good for you for figuring it out without compromising your original goal.

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