Glitter Heist: Missing Worlds
Sometimes you have to delete everything. Start over. This has never been hard for me (for a reason) but seems to be something other writers struggle with.
When I was 18 years old, our house was broken into. They smashed down the front door and went through everything. My dresser drawers were emptied, my clothes all over the floor. They even went through the sheets on my bed. They grabbed my computer bag, which had my laptop and a book of checks in it. I lost everything I had written in the last 7 years. It tore me apart. Not only because I didn't want to sleep in the bed that strange men had rifled through, but I had three completed novels and several short stories and (very bad) poetry on the computer. Literally everything I had ever written was gone.
I had to start over. This was the biggest hit. I have lost things now and then with dead computers, corrupted hard drives, and (believe it or not) my laptop was stolen again out of my car while I took a night final a semester later. Starting over engrained itself in me after that point. I was never afraid to alt-A, delete.
Glitter Heist is a good example of that. I started the story in some made-up European country in 1939. I wanted to work with World War II elements, I renamed the Axis The Core and had a mix of German and British characters working together for this heist. The first paragraph was a brief history of arcanologists and forbidden magics. It would have been cool but I was blocked up. I am NEVER blocked up so it freaked me out. Luckily, I realized (somehow) that the World War II setting was the thing messing me up. I am no historian. I cant tell you why it blocked me up, but it did. It somehow made the characters not nice, unfun.
My go-to for non-epic fantasy is steampunk any way, so the fact that Clockwork Dragons is fantasy punk should have been right up my ally. But I had never written fantasy punk before and it turned out harder than I thought. I make up magic systems ALL the time. But I had been running dry by this point in the Fall because I had been writing so much. So I had to rely on my old fall back: it's a world that doesn't exist and I got to make up everything about it, unencumbered by real life and history. With those walls gone, a new story flowed and I wrote it in two days.
I got more than 2,000 words into the forced WWII story and just deleted it all. After I was done, I sent it off to ZPP and waited to hear back. At the time, I had been invited to give a workshop at my local library. I decided part of what I would lecture on was letting go of words and starting over if something wasn't working. I am a huge fan of not forcing a story or words. It went over well and my audience understood. They asked if the story had been accepted and at the time, it hadn't yet. But now it has! And I love the new story I wrote. It's very simple, not epic, and the characters are just mediocre people. Not superheroes or expert, fire-flinging wizards. They literally suck at their jobs! But I like them for that. So the point is, don't be afraid to cut, start over, or scrap a whole thing. Yes, even an entire novel. Aside from the huge completed novels I have lost, I have purposely deleted 20,000 words once. Hated the sequel I was writing, it was cringy, driven by a horny 21-year old, and had to go. I haven't re-written yet and it's been ten years. Soon though. Don't hold on to scenes or stories that are not working. Or characters. But that's a blog for another time. Get Clockwork Dragons now!