Can this Train Wreck be Salvaged?

Happy Friday! Casey here.Back in January 2010, high from the successful completion of Ascension, I penned the next book in the series.  It’s tentatively titled, Aethera Lost.

And that is exactly what the book is: lost. I wrote up to the final chapters then stopped, cold turkey. The Doubt Monster savaged the plot. I second guessed every idea, every plot twist – everything.

I slashed. I re-wrote. I re-plotted. Then it dawned on me – I needed to stop. So I put the story away. Later, as I grew more business savvy, I heard the conventional wisdom – “no sequels, unless you have a book contract in hand.”

That’s all I needed to hear. I continued to ignore the book.  But like Hamlet, guilt ate away at me. Even worse, the main character – Galen Archer – refused to leave me alone. He was angry that I’d moved on to another story. How dare I?

I have made a few attempts to move the story back on track. I created a synopsis, wrote several new beginnings, and tried to make up my mind!!

Sad to say, the story is still in limbo land. Maybe I’m not ready to tell this tale yet. Or maybe I should just finish it and deal. We’ll see. Because I hate having unfinished business and one way or another Galen’s story will be completed.

Take that Doubt Monster!

Let’s hear from you? What have you left unfinished? And what are your plans to resolve the situation?

31 thoughts on “Can this Train Wreck be Salvaged?”

  1. Casey- I know just how you feel. In high school, I had a captive audience that would hound me daily, always craving fresh ink. It was great, because they kept me writing no matter how bad the story was. I have gone to many workshops and groups, but they lacked the zeal my younger friends had. And I have scribbles and paragraphs and pages in limbo like pale phantoms, haunting me. I have become somewhat bitter, knowing I really enjoy the craft and its journeys and my life has taken me far from it. I suppose a resolution is in order. So I plan to organize as much of these inpolished gems as I can, throw out or file all but my most favorite, and keep the best in plain sight…. Let it nag me overtly! Let the tale capture me again, while I also acknowledge that I have grown as the person that is the writer.

  2. I’m writing a series too! I know how you feel, I’ve written the second book and I’m about to start working on the third, but I have cravings to start something new…I’m trying to squash them. I’ll probably also get something going in between volumes of my series, just to mix things up a little.

    1. Since I’m not indie publishing (at the moment), I’ve left all sequels on the back burner in favor of original work. If I do go the indie route, then I’ll be forced to complete the book.

  3. It says you’re schizophrenic, Toni…
    As for me, let the record reflect that if the words “kidney transplant” appear anywhere in my outline or drafts, someone should leap in to stop me. The train wrecks always seem related to kidney transplant plots. Lordy. You’d think I’d know by now, but no!

  4. Don’t beat yourself up Casey. It’s like Field of Dreams …. when you need to finish that novel, the story will come. I am working on an outline for a series and have a synopsis for several stories written, but have not been motivated to write the book. When I write it seems as if the story bubbles up in me and pushes to be told, sort of like Galen not leaving you alone. That then is the story I write. I have things on the back burner, but I think that’s a good thing because it gives you something you can always fall back on. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks for commenting and the words of support. Now, Galen will be whispering in my ear, “If you build it, they will come. Get your a** in gear and finish my story.”

    1. Awww. Galen says – “Why thank you. I resemble that remark.”

      Part of my issue could be Galen is my favorite character so I feel extra pressure to “get the story right.”

  5. I’m gaining on Toni — three unfinished manuscripts right now. I’m feverishly working on finishing one, which is a sequel to my completed manuscript. I justify sequeling even though I haven’t sold the first yet because there’s a bigger story arc that will take three books to complete (editors/publishers out there, I can make it last longer if I have the incentive!). Plus I consider it honing my craft. The second MS is more than half done, but requires an overhaul (not just an editing) to be marketable. The third is just a few chapters and a basic outline; that’s a project for 2012. Oh, wait. I have a fourth partial MS I forgot about. But my plan was to morph these last two together. So it’s really just three!

    1. Whew! I think I need a flow chart to follow that! Just kidding! You know I can’t wait to read your next installment – whip cracking services can be provided upon request. I know that sounds hypocritical after today’s post!

  6. As writers, we probably all feel your pain, Casey. I have several projects that need extensive revision. I too hate unfinished business. Unfortunately, I’ve found the only remedy is to buckle down and plow through. If you’re feeling like you have a runaway train, perhaps a brainstorming/plotting session might help. I hear you have some great critique partners (ehem). It sounds like Galen isn’t going to let you get off that easy. I don’t know about you, but when a hunky alpha babe is whispering in my ear, I just can’t ignore him.

    1. Sad to say, we brainstormed this book last summer (with my excellent critique partners!). I won’t ignore Galen for much longer, cause I can’t stand it anymore!!

  7. I know what you mean about him being your favorite and wanting to get it right. I have a character like that too, and I am putting off starting his story because it has to be right. I don’t want to mess him up…well, more than he already is.

    But I am a person that has to finish everything I start. It’s part of my control freak issue. 🙂 But because of that I don’t have anything unfinished…but I sure do have a heap of stuff that needs to be revised. And that’s my downfall.

  8. I’m in the middle of revisions on my first novel. Yes, it’s taken me ten months to get here, but this is a huge accomplishment for me. I know how you feel not to want to give something up. Even if I tried I couldn’t stop writing my novel. My characters are too ingrained in my head.

    1. I hear ya, Joy. Congratulations – you have finished a book – and you’re right – that is a great achievement! The first completed book is always painful. But like all things – practice (and continuing to write) does make you better!

  9. Okay there’s probably a surprise that Galen is holding back on Casey. And Galen it really is too bad that there isn’t a “Do Not Call” list for annoying characters of yet unfinished novels because you’d be on that list you hunk of flesh. But Casey your just “writer interrupted”…you’ll get there. Take the break, read a book, then go back to writing again. He didn’t tell you but Galen really needed the break…a brief hiatus; he’ll be with you again momentarily. Good luck with this best seller.
    Debralee Mede

    1. Okay, I feel silly – Susan = Deb, Deb = Susan! Thanks for the encouraging words. Galen is a surprising kind of guy, so it wouldn’t be a shock that he’s holding out on me. Lucky for me, I’ve just finished my WIP (which has nothing to do with Galen) so maybe I can give him a looksee again sometime soon.

      1. Yes Galen sounds like a surprising kind of guy. Glad you completed your WIP and Galen will be coming into his own soon. And I don’t know why it appeared as SHC on the top BUT I am Debralee Mede, I assure you. Even my son knows who I am. :0 I think it’s because we post on NoP and it’s her blog. Sorry for the confusion.


  10. I have three manuscripts that are big hot stinky messes. I know that I should go back and really finish them but by the time I type the end I am sick of the story the characters and trying to make a masterpiece out of a mess. So I guess in a way all my stories are in limbo.

    1. Oh, I have those too. In fact, the next book in the chute, is my very first story. Only I’ve tossed out pretty much everything except a key plot point and the heroine. I’m kind of excited it’s like a whole new book.

  11. i have revised my three chapters of my first novel, ummm, possibly ten times. Yes,. That’s a good alliteration. So for the sake of rhetoric, i will keep the number at ten. Maybe it should say obliteration. Now i seem to have placed more importance on my blog. I’ll get over it soon i hope, and move on. Thanks Casey, this post is actually a wakeup call.

    1. Hi Gail! Thanks for stopping by. I hope you reach your writing goals. Have you considered NanoWrimo? Several of the Scribes usually participate each November, you’re welcome to join us.

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