Tuesday, September 6, 2016

J Is For Junk

Jennifer talks about when writing doesn’t work...

Now that my personal life has settled down some (not a lot), I’m trying really hard to focus on my writing and write every day. I’m also editing other manuscripts and trying to get things into shape for submission.

What I’m finding is I’ve got a lot of junk in my manuscripts—things I’ve written that sound awful or are just sloppy writing. Plot bunnies that go off in a million different directions and never find their way home. Blurry motivation. Conflicts that don’t actually show conflict.

In other words, I need to do a lot of rewriting!

On the one hand, it’s good because it keeps me humble. J On the other hand, on bad days, it makes me doubt everything I’m doing and wonder if I shouldn’t just quit. But then I take a deep breath and start editing and outlining (which I do in the editing stage) and plotting and somehow start to pull everything together.

My critique partners—all four of them—are fabulous and help me solve plot issues, conflict issues and all the other issues I have that I didn’t know I had in the first place.

Some of it, I’m able to fix on my own, although I have to say, I may never, EVER let anyone see my very first draft of anything! Currently, my WIP is 40,000 words and I think I’ve switched major issues about three times within the story. Since I’m not going back to the beginning yet, I’m leaving notes or highlights throughout, reminding me what to fix or why something is changed—for example, my hero and heroine started out in a roller rink, but are ending up ice skating outdoors (doesn’t sound like a big problem, and it isn’t, but it will require me to go back and make sure the beginning of the scene and the end actually match up).

The point I’m trying to make is not that I’m a bad writer (at least I hope not!), but that the process of getting from the germ of an idea to a workable manuscript and ultimately to a publishable book is far from easy. There are pitfalls and rewrites and lots and lots of deleting.

Ultimately, I hope it will be something I’m proud of. In the meantime, I’m getting rid of a lot of junk.


  1. having only recently completed my first novel, I am still at the stage where I hope one day to be proud of it. Great friends and beta readers helped with getting rid of a lot of junk but there's always that nagging doubt that actually 100% of it was junk.

    1. It's never 100% junk, don't worry! You're going to do great!

  2. Your plight sounds like every writer's dilemma, Jen: finding the story.
    You can hone in on a plot before you write or develop the core plot during a first draft. Either way is fine.
    Crit partners are a writer's best friend. I'm glad you have such good ones!

  3. Plot bunnies! That is something I've never heard before, but can totally relate to!

    There's definitely always something you can rescue from the "junk".

    1. Oh, I can totally rescue, it's just frustrating.

  4. It's important to be able to recognise our own junk and to have CPs and beta readers to recognise junk we may have missed!