Sunday, April 24, 2011

Starting What You Finish

I've always heard that you should finish one WIP before starting another. From lots of people. I seem to have a problem with this. A while back, if you remember, I started my contemporary WIP, Slice. It was going great and I got a few chapters in and then the plot turned into something drastically different than what I originally had in mind. You see, it was originally supposed to be paranormal. Yeah, now it's not.

Then a week or so ago, I just had to start my dystopian WIP, Outlawed. That's going even better and it has garnered interest from some very influential people. Which is awesome. I've only written the first chapter, but it is already going great and I am in love with the story.

Just a few minutes ago, I was struck with a line. And I realized it is the perfect line for a book I've been wanting to write, The Curse. And I started thinking about the line, adding more in my head. And that story is already taking a turn and changing into something different than what I thought it was going to be. I'm going to start it tonight.

So, I now have three WIPs. And I don't know if this is good or bad. I know people say that you should finish one before starting another, but my overactive imagination just has all these ideas and I can't seem to turn them off.

So what are your thoughts on this? Do you write more than one book at a time? Should I just finish one of these and then go back and do the others, one at a time?


  1. True that! I've worked on more than one before. It's hard to keep the voices separate.

  2. I've only ever finished one novel, so maybe I'm not the best person to give this advice. But I'm in a similar situation right now. I'm working on three of my own WIP, plus work for my writing class, and it's a little wacky. Here's my plan: right now, the three WIPs are around or under 5k. I have a clear-ish front-runner, which I'm going to try to finish while the other ones soak. It's like debt - you tackle the one closest to being done first, because accomplishment keeps you going.

  3. Hi, Alex! I'm a recent Twitter follower and just thought I'd stop by. Your question is a hard one. Personally, I'm a writer that tends to focus on one book at a time. If I get an idea for a separate project, I'll open up a Word document, write the scene/idea down, and then move on. However, there are lots of successful writers who enjoy juggling projects because it keeps them from getting bored with a single piece. If you know that you're interested in all three of the projects equally, you're still motivated to work on all of them, and you're progressing with all of them, then I don't see anything wrong with having three WIP's. But if you find yourself losing interest in your old projects in favor of new ideas, then it might be time to force yourself to stick with one until it's finished. After all, every new idea will eventually become old hat, so if it's the pure novelty that's attracting you, then perhaps it's a problem. Otherwise, juggle away.

  4. I struggle with this, because putting my creative energy into one WIP usually inspires a lot of random offshoots. Regardless, I've learned that I MUST focus my energy on one project at a time. Otherwise, I end up diluting all those voices and end up with 5 watered downs WIPs instead of one great MS. I've learned to jot down notes with my new ideas with the promise that I will start them as soon as I finish whatever it is that I'm working on :)

  5. I only allow myself one WIP at a time. In the past I have started different stories but none of them got written past the first couple of chapters. Now i'm more focuses. The other ideas are still there, but I don't start writing them. At most, I only allow myself to jot down plot ideas in my moleskin notebook. When my current WIP is done, then I can start my next. It's the only way I finish things.

  6. It makes it harder to get a WIP finished. I've noticed a lot of people can't focus on two WIPs at once, but hey, you might be able to.

    The problem is you get an idea and start writing it. It's going well, maybe getting a little hard and you're struggling. Then you get a shiny new idea (SNI) and decide to write that one instead.

    See? You abandoned one idea--meaning you probably won't finish it--for an idea that sounds cool, but if it gets hard, or you get another SNI, you'll abandon that WIP.

    It's happened to me. I finished my first YA (I have two adult novels trunked) last November for NaNo and played around with a few ideas; I probably had two or three of them before not knowing what to do and giving up. There is one idea that I love, but it was originally a short story and when my evil English professor graded it and didn't really like it, I lost interest in it. I couldn't think about the WIP without thinking that one person didn't like it.

    I still want to go back to that WIP, which may be one exception to this. I'm working on one WIP right now that I love love love, but every once in awhile I get a shiny new idea. I *could* abandon this WIP (it's getting really hard) and work on one of those ideas, but what's the point? I would have another unfinished WIP when I could finish it, then work on one of those ideas.

    What I would do is when you get a new idea, write it down in a word document and set it aside. When you finish one WIP, you can search through those documents and if one jumps at you, work on it. Sometimes you get ideas that are stupid. Setting it aside will show you how dumb it is. It's an easy way to weed out the dumb ideas from the fun ideas, etc. etc.

    Good luck with the writing!

    p.s. the yous don't mean YOU exactly, if you know what I mean. It's just a general "you."

  7. I write multiple books at the same time, but I always have that super duper important one, my favourite that is my priority.
    I write which book when I want to write it, because when im in the mood to write I don't want to be forcing myself into writing what i dont want to write

  8. I don't think I've ever only worked on one at at time. I may spend more of my time on one versus the other, but I'm always juggling two. I like it because if I hit a wall on one I can switch over to the other and break through that wall. Good luck to you!

  9. I have a few different story ideas bouncing around my head at once. The sad thing is I hate my writing so I haven't really started on any of them. Ehh.

  10. Also...
    Yes, I feel you, boi. I am currently juggling three projects, two of which are nearing completion. I'm on the last leg of DAWN, and I just need to kill off the antag--Jenova--and tighten the plot/ending. I also have to shear about 30,000 words from the middle of story, many of which my new proofreader pointed out to me were nothing but purple prose.
    After shearing off about 10,000, the story already has a flow silky flow and almost poetic lilt to it.
    I'm also still working on part three of IN LOVING COMPTON, my middle grade erotica. Part one--roughly about fifty pages--sets up the story and the characters. Part two gets into the meat of the story, with Ms. Clarice Leandra Washington stepping in as a fill-in teacher for a class of rampant third-graders. She discovers that the class is constructed atop an anciet burial ground, and that a pagan god of lust and sex--called Q--has been forcing himself into the students. The students, having lost their minds, end up embarking on sexual adventures in which they excite their bewildered teacher. It is really the more intense part, as it culminates in Ms. Washington caging in the class and reciting a prayer.
    Unfortunately for Ms. Washington, Q has gained so much strength that it leaves the students' bodies and flows straight toward her. The end of part two--which is a total of 150 pages--finds Q ruthlessly slaughtering Miss Washington and dragging her soul to hell, leaving the children to fall unconcious.
    Part three--the bulk of the story at just above 300 pages--takes place almost three months later, when Ms. Washington mysteriously returns to tha school, uscathed. But it doesn't take too long for the staff to see that something different has happened to her. She's trying to seduce the male staff memembers, and this is AFTER the principal and the school secretary are both found slauthered and laid out in erotic positions, and all signs are pointing to Ms. Washington, who is later on revealed to be possessed by the eponymous Q, who seeks to birth the "Omega Child" to bring about the Armageddon.
    There's a planned twist for the ending, in which is is revealed that during Ms. Washington's supernatural rape and consecutive possesssion and consumption of more human "seed", she did conceive a child.
    But the main twist is that the child is set to be born on December 21st...2012, thus fulfulling Q's prophecy.

  11. (Sorry for the long comments, but this post got me excited about my works againt!)
    I know most people would rather think my projects are fake. They are not. What I wrote above is an almost detailed synopsis, just to share my writing. I'm not sure if ILC is an MG erotica--like Hannah Mosk told me--or if it would be an adult erotica.
    Either way, IN LOVING COMPTON's story continues in the sequel, STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, which I am about 20 pages into. They're both part of THE COMPTON FAME saga, and are hardcore erotic novels designed to not only please the reader, but to help reach that certain "peak." They are also heavy in dark humor, which is reflected by the titles. The titles, it seems, are what lead people to think that my works are jokes.
    I am acutally fixing to post the prologue of IN LOVING COMPTON on my blog soon.
    STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON details Ms. Washington's struggles to end her pregnancy, as she does not wish for the apocalypse to be ejected from her womb. For some reason, her soul has been returned to her body, and so she leaves Compton and heads to Richmond.

    She later discovers that Q hasn't left her body, but has instead destroyed her child's soul and consumed it, using the body as a vessel, so that now the baby has shifted.

    Sensing Ms. Washington's hate, Q reaches out through the malforming fetus and taints Richmond, starting a morbid reanactment of the horrors that went on in Compton. The citizens of Richmond begin to refer to her as "The Witch Straight Outta Compton," hence tha title. Q drives them toward her, torments her through their ghetto bodies, bombards her with the knowledge that she can do nothing to kill the baby.

    She has only two months left until D-Day, and she finds solace in a young, hung psychic named Janica (pronounced juh-NEE-suh), who is a "Seer" and quickly looks int Ms. Washington's soul. That's where the twist comes in: Janica deduces that Ms. Washington is a reincarnted Q, a Phoenix, her only weaknesses being iron and fire.

    Later into the novel, the Great Blaze races through Richmond, decimating it's population as Ms. Washington and Janica race against the clock to destroy the Unholy Child, the Omega Child. A group of Fire Drinkers shatter Janica's soul, then consume her flesh along with her psychic capabilities, and shortly afterward they truly realize what Ms. Washington is--a Phoenix.

    Not a reeincartnation of Q, but his worst enemy, the Phoenix. The novel will end with Ms. Washington destroying the Fire Drinkers and delivering herself to the flames, thust destroying her unborn child. Q ignites in the womb as well, going up with an explosive force of a small nuclear bomb, obliterating Richmond and and Ms. Washingotn altogether.

    Again, this was all from the outline, so it is subject to change. Also, STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON is no longer an erotica, just an apocolyptic horror story.

    Let me know what you think, Mr. Alexander and His Readers!


  12. Here's what I believe & feel - go with your muse, Alex. You have to jot down whatever you are given & create the magic that burns inside of you. It may be one or several... creative beings go w/ the flow & most of the time, we white water raft many waters!

  13. Alex,

    When an idea comes, go with it. My experience is you have to write things down the moment they begin buzzing in your head, or they're gone! Personally, I always have several books going at the same time. I get a moleskin notebook (any kind will do) for each project and am always jotting notes in one note book or another, letting them progress as the muse (or my research) takes me.

    Of course, when I am up against a deadline on one book, other projects get put aside and it's time to buckle down and finish. But, generally, I think it's really helpful to have more than one book bubbling away at once. There is no right or wrong. Do finish things though. You need to, especially as a new writer. Starting a book and finishing a book are very different experiences and you should be familiar with both. But there's nothing wrong with moving back and forth between projects! The only rule is keep writing!
    Best of luck,
    Ari Berk


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