Breaking Dams

So, I had this strategy when I decided I wanted to become a writer. I would write manuscripts, lots of manuscripts, lots of different manuscripts. Different genres, different settings, with different characters, and I’d continually pitch them to agents, to publishers, to whomever I had too until one finally sold. The goal was (and still kinda is, but I’ll get to that) that once a book sold, odds were a publisher would ask me to write more, turn it into a series. (Comes with the territory of writing speculative fiction. Not always, but more often than not.)

As many of you know I have finished and started pitching my first manuscript which is currently making it’s rounds (and being rejected) while I am in the middle of gathering the necessaries for my second and most recent finished manuscript “The Stars Were Right” so I can send it out the door and into the land of rejection.

So as according to plan, I should be starting my third book. New world. New characters. New series. I should have started it in earnest a few weeks ago. Though I have come to find out plans in writing — at least with me — are anything but solid.

I have been doing research off an on for a while now, a few different concepts. Some of which might eventually be manuscripts of their own. Yet, when I’d sit down to write any of them…. nothing. Nothing was coming out. My fingers were DOA. I got distracted. I became complacent. I found myself trying to find anything else to do rather than just sit down and start my new manuscript.

There was something getting in the way.

This all takes me back to a discussion that happened over the Thanksgiving holiday in regarding writing, characters development, and the craft itself. I made a comment that my “characters sometimes write themselves” and received nothing but blank looks from a few people. What followed were statements regarding the fact that as the writer, I was in charge, I could just tear a character out of the page if I wanted too, I could force a character to do what I wanted them too. After all it was my story. I should be able to control it.

The fact is sometimes with fiction, you can’t.

Character’s themselves may have traits that become so powerful it changes the direction of a story. The same goes for a story itself, sometimes an idea is so strong it overpowers everything else. It becomes a dam, blocking anything else from happening unless it’s been written down. My dam was Old Broken Road. Old Broken Road happens to be a sequel to The Stars Were Right. That’s the problem! It’s book two! TWO! I am starting book two in a series that isn’t sold! This is the opposite of my plan! (and might be an awful idea/waste of time.)

It’s too powerful though. I can’t get past it. Old Broken Road is overwhelming anything else I ever had a mind to write. It’s a story that is begging to be told, and I guess I’m the guy who has to tell it. When I came to this realization, and put aside all my other manuscripts, everything changed. The writers block I was experiencing seemed to fade away. Ideas, plots, characters, locations and conversations started flowing. The dam is beginning to crack.

So, yeah… so much for strategies. I’m now waist deep in Book 2 of the Bell Caravan Series: Old Broken Road.


  1. Hey, K.M. Thanks for the post! Sounds like the friends you were having a conversation with are not writers, otherwise they would have understood. Those of us who do have had that experience with a character that is not being cooperative with the plot. I had an instance of this the other day when my love interest refused to make up with my protagonist. I was like, dammit, you two have to get back together before this story can finish and you are running out of time!

    I like the strategy of sending out different types of manuscripts and seeing which one sticks. Wish I had that versatility. Sounds like you are following your heart now instead. Not a bad thing in my opinion. I wish you the best of luck!


  2. You gotta write what must be written.

    I’m two-thirds of the way through the second book of an unsold fantasy series–the first book is out “there” being considered–and have wondered many times if I’m writing something no one wants to read. (No one in the publishing realm, that is. My beta readers love it.) On the other hand, I have to finish the story. I, the author, have to know how the story ends.

    It’s taken some wild turns since its inception as the dream sequence in a short story over fifteen years ago, and I’ve written numerous other stories since then, but this one must be told. Who knows why?

    And I totally get what you mean about characters writing themselves. Happens all the time. They say things witty enough to make me laugh out loud, or they do unexpected things that surprise me. Truth is, all the things our characters do are from somewhere inside us–a memory, a dream, a composite of folks we know or have observed, our life experiences, our fears, our causes, whatever makes us angry or hopeful, and so on.

    It’s just crazy to read this stuff on the page and realize it all came from us. Who knew we were so brilliant! Or so troubled? :)


  3. @danbracewell – Oh man. I have been in those positions before.Take today, just had an entire chapter rendered obsolete because of one conversation! It used to frustrate me but now I look at it as part of the adventure, for me it’s what makes writing fun.

    Thanks for the well wishes and good luck to you as well!

    @Elizabeth – I hear you. It’s weird to see some of this stuff and think: “that came from my head!?” We can just keep it between each other how troubled we really are. :D heh.

    Good luck with your series! Let me know if it sells!


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