Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Goodbye to the Counterfeit Queen

Thanks to Dollen 

With great reluctance, I'm abandoning my children's fantasy, The Counterfeit Queen. It would have been the third story in a loosely-connected series. I love what I've written so far, and feel very loathe to abandon it, but I don't want to spend what's left of my life on a story I can't get to function properly. 

I'm abandoning what is now the third draft and the longest - so far. In this draft the story isn't even half over yet, and already it's longer than my three previous kids' books. This draft differs substantially from the two previous drafts, which both differed considerably from each other. That's not to say they weren't all telling the same basic story, but the hero became a heroine, three main characters (or was it four?) got whittled down to two, and innumerable scenes came and went. The villain lost her substantial magic power - which might have been a mistake - but to compensate she increased in cunning. The plot, by the time the third draft was in process, was increasingly complex, as was the world-building. The complexities required more complexity as I went along, until my poor little brain couldn't keep up anymore with the politics, a possible rebellion, hints of racism and dozens of other things. 

Worst of all, I'd never been able to persuade my usual co-writer to like the original idea of the story. This is my co-writer in the sense not that she writes any words but that she acts as sounding board, discussion maker, checker of plot-holes, suggester of wackier ideas than I often have, and a person with a sharp eye for inconsistencies. Without her assistance I've had to work even harder to overcome difficulties, and I think that in itself has been wearying. 

Not that the previous books we did together didn't have their complications. The third book we worked on, which wasn't part of the 'series,' was also written and rewritten, but at least it moved forward. This one has been like pushing one wall in a room outwards, one strenuous step at a time, which required the two adjoining walls to stretch further and further without breaking. 

That's not to say the writing didn't flow, and didn't continually bring up interesting details as it went along. The writing was enjoyable; the plotting and all the rest of it not so much. 

Incidentally, in a rough count of how many words were written in either drafts or notes for this book, it comes to around 260,000. Quite a few for a book that should have been around 30,000 to 40,000 words. 

So it's off to something new, something different altogether. In spite of reading what seems like endless books on the how to plot and how to construct and how to do this or that when it comes to writing, I think I'll stick to my mostly tried and true method of just starting to write and see where that takes me. I know this is the method used by plenty of good writers; some of them get the story functioning from early on; others, like me, usually have to write draft after draft along with copious notes before the finished product arrives. 

So it goes, to quote Kurt Vonnegut - who was also a writer of many drafts and a tendency to discover the story as he went along. 


Lydia said...

It’s always hard to abandon a WIP! Good for you for knowing your limits, though.

Mike Crowl said...

Thanks, Lydia!

Aussie said...

Well, when we get older our priorities change - if you were getting no joy out of continuing to write this book then you have made the right decision - start doing the things you enjoy. That's what I have decided to do as I reach 70.

Mike Crowl said...

Well, I did enjoy what I wrote of the book...! It just became more complex as time went on and felt as though it was going to go way beyond its original brief.

captainofthegate said...

Perhaps it’s for the best. I just started reading Susan Cooper’s, the Dark is Rising. First book was interesting. The third was not. The fourth will sit in my unread-library forever. That being said, Tolkien worked on the Silmarillion for 60+ years, and never finished it.

Mike Crowl said...

60 years! Gulp!
I don't have sixty years left, so that's another reason to try something different. Just what that something different is, is proving elusive! LOL