I should not be writing this blog post, you guys.
What I should be doing is working on fixing the mess of a manuscript that is causing me endless amounts of anxiety, frustration, and guilt.
But…you know. Denial, and all that.
Have I mentioned Weightless much? Having a habit of not talking about projects much while I’m working on them, probably not. I guess I like to keep them private until they’re “ready” to be out in the world. Until they’re published, or going to be.
However, I have to “talk” this one out. I am driving myself mad with it.
Weightless is a fairytale retelling. It’s based on The Light Princess, by George MacDonald. It takes place in Scotland, and is about a princess (Ailsa) who is cursed to live without her gravity. Not only is she light physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. The curse takes away most of her wit, intelligence, and compassion. She becomes a shallow, ditzy, laughing thing, unable to cry or feel things deeply. Not to mention, unable to move without being tied down! There’s fairies, and magic, and evil, and true love. It’s funny, and heartbreaking, and really FUN in ways.
I adore this story. I really do. But never has a story given me so much problems. And it’s not the poor story’s fault, really. You see, I finished the manuscript a while ago. It was right around 40,000 words, and I queried it as an Upper-Middle-Grade (which is roughly for ages 8-12) story to several literary agents. I even had a couple requests for the full manuscript (a big deal!), however, they all passed in the end.
Then, I had my super cool editor Dani do a manuscript analysis. She remarked, among other things, on the voice, and POV (point-of-view). As well as that she had a difficult time connecting with the characters. Of course there were good things too! But I had to fix the issues. Agents had mentioned the connection thing as well.
I decided to tackle a major revision, turning the story from limited omniscient third person, where the POV is from numerous characters, and unfortunately included a bit of head-hopping, which can be jarring and confusing, to third-person from the POV of only four characters- the heroine Ailsa, the fairy godmother Sorcha, the villain Griselda, and the hero Graeme. For the first time ever, I opened a new doc in Scrivener and got to work. I should mention that it took me a good two weeks to finally decide on that POV set-up, and I went back and forth a few times.
However, I had settled on the 4 main characters’ perspectives, and got to writing.
What was good: The level of immediacy and urgency improved once I narrowed the focus on to those four characters. I felt much more connected, and so did my readers.
What was not so good: It still felt scattered in places, and it just didn’t feel right. I can’t explain that entirely, only to say that while I loved the story, I didn’t like the way I was telling it. I knew I could do better. Also, I was not sure it really was a MG story. I was thinking it could be an adult fantasy. Or maybe YA. God, I was confused.
Revision, take 2.
Thank goodness I hadn’t made it that far in that Scrivener doc. Only about three chapters worth, and I scrapped it. I made lists. Actual lists of pros and cons to doing different POV. Should I do first person present from Ailsa’s perspective? What about alternating only two characters? What to do? What to do?!
I’m not exaggerating when I say I was freaking out. Why so much? IDK. Because I believe in this freaking story and I want to get it published in this lifetime, probably.
I have now opened a new Scrivener doc, actually two. Because I started writing one in first person, past tense from Ailsa’s point-of-view and LOVED it, that is where I’m leaning, and hoping to tell the entire novel like that. However, because there are many important scenes that she’s just not included in, I feel it is necessary to also try another option, so I have yet another doc open where I’m trying out three POV- the three leading ladies (Ailsa, Sorcha, Griselda), and doing all three in 1st person, past tense. Also, I have concluded the story is YA. I think.
SIGH. SIGH. SIGH.
What I’m hoping, is that I can get three solid chapters done in both versions. Then I’d like to get my editor and readers’ opinions on which flows best, which is more urgent and interesting, and which version they connect with more. Because I feel like I can’t be objective anymore. I don’t trust myself. I love it, yet I’m incredibly frustrated. What’s that saying about forests and trees? I’m lost, and I think I desperately need someone NOT ME to say, This version rocks, or This version sucks.
I no longer know the best way to tell this story because I have overthought it.
I guess this happens?
An interesting consequence of all this mess, and multiple docs open, and the mass of confusion around me, is that I, a verified pantser, have begun plotting! I have a whole outline, going into each scene in each chapter. Oh wow. I am even surprising myself here!
Side note: You know what I love about blogging? It’s like free therapy. Sorry, guys. I’m a little neurotic, I guess. Still, it helps to vent.
So, sometime this century I hope to be done with this ms. Actually, I’m going to have to give myself a hard deadline, because otherwise I’ll just ignore it, hoping it’ll magically fix itself, and we all know that ain’t happening.
Weigh in, make me feel better. Have you ever been so frustrated with a project, and been able to work it out with enough time and dedication?