Wednesday, November 30

I Wrote What?!?

My first completed book makes me feel a lot like Stephen Colbert in this picture. Because I really should have known better as it was going along. But I kept randomly wandering around the fictional world I'd created to tell my paranormal (because the hero and heroine jumped to a lot of correct conclusions; I've decided they were psychic) suspense (because there was a veddy bad man trying to kill them) comedy (because even my dramatic moments have odd-ball stuff in them) with some time-travel involved (because who wants *just* one time-period in a book?).

It was horrible. In oh-so-many ways. It head-hopped - and not just between the hero and heroine within a scene, but random strangers were hopping in to yak. There were plot-holes that could suck up your entire neighborhood and still have room for a few more residents. At one point the hero and heroine were about to get dead by the villain when, for some reason, they decided they'd have a picnic and talk about their options instead. And then they had sex. And then they time-traveled to just before the villain caught up to them. I could go on but then I'd really scare you. Suffice it to say, the characters were okay but other than that, there is a reason that book is on a file that may never be opened.

I started telling stories when I was a kid to entertain myself. I had, at one point, a notebook filled with my versions of classics like "The Three Musketeers" and "Moby Dick" - none of which went on for much more than a few paragraphs or maybe two complete pages. Once, in a creative writing class, I started a short story. And couldn't finish it. It was supposed to be 5 pages, I think, and I couldn't get past Page 3. What did all these started-and-stopped books have in common? I'd been writing them with my teachers or friends or whomever in mind. I hadn't just told the story for me. And with The Manuscript Which Will Not Be Shared I didn't do that. I had these two characters talking to me and I let them talk. To me. To each other. Over each other. I let them talk and I wrote down what they said and I loved every minute of it.

I've learned so much since then - proper use of POV, when to break The Rules, what stories I want to tell. But one thing I kept from that book - when the characters are talking, I let them. I try to corral them into cohesive thought as I go along, but mostly I let them go. I love that book because it taught me two very important things: 1) I could finish a manuscript. Even a terrible one. 2) I wanted to tell the stories in my head. What was your first manuscript like? Does it make you cringe to think of it? 


  1. Oh yeah. My first romance novel to read now is hysterical! The hero was a post that the heroine moved around and did her thing and he was just there. Barely any POV. The only scene he did much in was the love scene which finaled in a contest. LOL

    The first three romance novels need much much work before they would be ready to have someone read but when I finished they I thought they were terrific! Boy do I know better now!

  2. Thanks for sharing, Paty! I think only a complete overhaul - like keeping the characters names and basic information and changing every other little thing - would work to fix that mess. But it does make me smile to think of it.

  3. Oh, Kristi, I loved this! You've definitely come a long way, haven't you, though that first world sounds pretty fun to me.

  4. It was fun to write. Not so fun to remember! Thanks for coming by, Liz!

  5. My first manuscript was a hodgepodge of characters...and just a mess. I still have it (In an unopened binder on top of my bookcase - I don't think a digital version still exists) I still think about pulling pieces out and using them, but then I have a good laugh and get over myself.

    Practice makes perfect, and for most of us anyway, I think that first MS is just that.

    Great story, Kristi, thanks for sharing it with all of us.

  6. I think my hero and heroine were split personalities even and we heard from ALL of them!
    Great post!

  7. My first MS was accepted for publication -- AFTER I spent the two years between the first draft and the final version taking the ICL children's writers course, taking various other writing courses, joining a critique group, revising, revising, revising ...

    Well, you get the idea.

  8. LOL...loved your humor in today's post! I've read so many stories of authors that have their first ms hidden away...but we all say the same thing. We learned a ton from it.

    Thanks for sharing Kristi. Do you ever think you'll take out that ms and try and rework it, or was it best kept hidden and smiled upon as a learning curve?

  9. Christine, I consider pulling it out, because I do love the characters...but it would need a complete overhaul. Maybe that's something for my New Year's Resolutions....

    Connie, you're right practice does make perfect. Eventually!

    LOL, Liz, on the split personalities!

    Margaret, yay you for selling that first and Christine have me thinking - and that is *always* a bad thing.... :)

  10. Kristi, this cracked me up. Your first story sounds like it had something for everyone! Did it have a title?

  11. Too funny. I once read a manuscript in a critique group loooooooong ago where there was the pov of EVERYONE! Even the horse had a point of view. I kid you not.

    My first (and second) manuscripts are carefully tucked away--too embarrassing to bring out.

  12. I never titled it, Shawn...maybe I'll try to come up with something!

    Even the horse, Sharon? Now that is some imagination!!

  13. My first was... um.... IS an editing nightmare. I do believe I've edited it and MYSELF to death! But I can so relate to what you said about letting the characters just speak to you. That's what Michael and Sarah have done for me. Maybe someday I can bring them back from editorial purgatory!