All Roads Lead Somewhere: What My WIPs Taught Me


“It is not that I'm so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.”  -Albert Einstein

I was saying to a friend, Paul Krueger (go say hi to him on Twitter. He's pretty fantastic and his debut out from Quirk next year is going to be AMAZING), that I felt like my writing got better with every book and that I learned something from every book. Which is good, because it's much better to be learning and improving than sliding in the opposite direction. And that made me think about what each of my completed books has taught me, even the ones that will never see the light of day.PS remember how I've said I'm terrible with titles? This is a little embarrassing to be honest.Caesura -- of all my books, this is what I'd call 'the book of my heart' like the ever-awe-inspiring Nova Ren Suma is blogging about right now. Caesura taught me that you can keep stripping a story down to its bones and rebuilding it from there, and sometimes swapping out a few bones, a little hip replacement here and there. Caesura's taught me that some stories are home. Whenever I'm stuck, I go back to Caesura, play around in that world, and feel like I can go tackle something new and less known.Twelve -- Caesura's sequel. First time jumping heads! That's what I learned from this book. Distinct voices, four points of view, and managing a character losing her grip on sanity.Heir -- Third book in the Caesura trilogy. First time dealing with a character I didn't trust, or like, and who did things I absolutely under no circumstances would have done myself. It was so uncomfortable at points, but it's interesting to spend time being uncomfortable as a creator.Like Gold -- Will never see the light of day and is absolutely trash but in the "predictable and been done before" plot way. This is the first time I really dug into characters and played with them. I rather like the characters here and their motivations and their faults.Sky -- LG's sequel (set up as a duology). This is where I figured out how much I liked ambiguous endings. It was an experiment in pacing too (a failed experiment.)We All Fall Down: I MIGHT come back to this one eventually but doubtful. This one was my first experiment in moving plot pieces. Where characters' assumptions were rarely correct, where the situation driving the plot was fluid and so events were moving at a different pace than the book itself.We Are The Tide: sequel to WAFD. First time playing with timelines and alternative story structure! It went poorly but I liked the idea of it.Magicballoonbook: This is the book where I learned to slog through even when everything doesn't feel like it's working, when the plot feels like it droops in the middle, when the book wanders and meanders and makes no sense. I slogged through. And the first draft was unbelievably bad, but I had finished and that mattered so much because you can't fix what isn't written.Everything Between Us aka Serenade aka Balletbook: I learned a LOT about pacing in this book, and how to write a romance (you should see my emails back and forth with my romance-writing CP. "But WHAT ARC?!" I also learned you can have TOO MANY things going on (I famously sent an email titled "Stalker Free Draft" about this book). I also played with some structure in this book, like Aly's meetings with her therapist are dialogue only. That took a little bit of bravery to be honest.The Killing Mists Books 1 and 2 which are Now Just One Book: This one will totally see the light of day eventually. This is the book I wrote a very detailed outline for and then wrote the first book in 6 days and went "Oh. OH. OUTLINING IS AMAZING." It's also the book where when I wrote the sequel I learned a lot about my characters and their journey and thus, I cut 3/5s of the first book out and made it one larger book.BalletbookThing: I just finished this today and it felt like bleeding onto the page. This one sucked a lot out of me for a lot of reasons but mostly because I'm trying to bring my writing to the next level, and because it's not a story I expected to write, so I had to do a lot of starting and restarting to figure out where I wanted it to go. Once I knew, though, steady progress won that race.All books teach you something, even if they aren't going anywhere. Even if you build a bridge to nowhere, didn't you learn something about building a bridge?