Letting Go of An Idea... Or Several Actually
Today I'm following up on a topic I brought up in a previous entry where I talked about having started all over on "The Door". Originally this story was meant to be the 3rd novel in our Para-Earth Series, only I kept hitting one wall after another with "The Door" and not getting much farther with the story. It got so bad I realized way too much time was passing without a new book being released, so Helen and I went to work on "The Vampyre Blogs" books because we had a clearer vision of those stories.
But even during that interim, I'd go back to "The Door" and new progress would be made, but then another wall or distraction would come along. That is until recently when I've gone back to it with a vengeance and have been making some serious progress. The story is moving along nicely but there have been a few bumps in the road. Most of those difficulties I've been encountering lately have come from new shapes and directions the story is heading in. But there were a number of scenes I had already written or planned that I couldn't seem to let go of. I thought the story couldn't work without them and kept trying to make them fit. Only to wind up finding myself hitting another of those damn walls.
So what was the problem?
I was trying to stuff those 'precious' scenes into the story, even though they weren't needed anymore. It's not that the scenes weren't any good. Some of them were quite tense, exciting, and even funny. But there were problems with a number of them. For instance, one of my bugaboos when it comes to writing is that events or actions by the characters have to make sense. If one of them starts acting really stupid without a good reason, it drives me crazy. And as things were going, I was having a number of them behave in ways that made no sense. Oh I did try to rework the scene again and again to try and make it fit, but in the end the idea/scene really didn't belong anymore. And in the end, all I'd wound up doing was wasting a lot of time and energy without making any really progress with the story. So it was time to do the unthinkable...
I cut them out. As soon as I did, real progress started happening once more. Admittedly some those scenes that got cut had some good drama to them, but I already had a slew of good scenes that not only come together well but flow so perfectly. Furthermore, those scenes I removed will not really be missed. Especially, since I'm planning on building short stories around them instead.
Remember my golden rule, just because you remove it doesn't mean you trash it. Always save those scenes, you never know when they might be perfect for another project..
However I will tell you right now, it's not always easy to let an idea go. As I said earlier, I've been working on this book for over 4 years. I know the characters and I know where I want things to lead to, but in between there is so much that needs to happen. Unfortunately, I was trying to throw in too much.
So I've been taking several steps back with "The Door". I've been really thinking about behaviors, actions and making sure everything makes sense. For instance, Alex has been out of action in the hospital for a month after the battle in "The Bridge" (the first book in our series). But what has been happening with Veronica and her fellow police officers in that time period?
Originally I had an idea involving PTSD and Alex coming to everyone's the rescue after he got released from the hospital. But upon giving it some serious thought I asked myself "Does this really make sense? A whole month passing and no one tried to help the police? Why didn't Veronica do something about it, these are her coworkers and she's smart? Plus she recently met people in the first book who'd helped Alex with his PTSD as a result of a horrifying paranormal experience. She's smart. Wouldn't she reach out to those folks to help her friends/coworkers" The answer of course was HELL YES! So that's exactly what I'm doing.
And guess what? It's working.
Plus, there's still plenty of action and mysteries that Alex is still badly needed to help with. For one thing the police need to be sure that the creature and its protector, Cyrus Graham, didn't leave any other nasty surprises behind. And Alex is the only one the spirits of past victims are willing to reach out to.
But delving into those mysteries will lead to questions regarding to Cassandra's family history and another threat that has stalked her throughout the second book "The Ship". There are also revelations that will be uncovered that will link all these people to our vampyre Nathan (from "The Vampyre Blogs" portion of our series) creating new questions slowly bringing all the characters together for future tales.
However, most of this could not have happened had I not been willing to let go of scenes/ideas I didn't think the story could live without. Sometimes you have to make those tough choices for the good of not only the story you're working on but future ones as well.
It's a tough balancing act deciding what to keep and what to let go, but if you find yourself hitting wall after wall it may be time to make those tough calls.
Have any of you had similar experiences? How did you deal with it? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.
Until next time, take care and keep writing!