Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What to do when your WIP isn't playing ball OR In praise of wonderful critique partners

Available Ellora's Cave

By Beverley Oakley

What do you do when you're convinced your WIP is rubbish?

The question really should read, "What am *I* going to do?"

Yes, trying to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse is my problem right now, and one of my ways around it is to do absolutely anything except work on it.

I've written 62,000 words to complete my first draft. It has a beginning, middle and end. But there's so much that's not working.

Book 1 in the series just came out on Friday and I'm really pleased with Her Gilded Prison. It's a poignant, passionate erotic Historical.

Now I'm taking up the story of my heroine's daughter, a very lovely, worthy heroine in her own right who lands up in some unusual and unexpected trouble.

But is it working?

I would say not. I would say I have an awful lot of work to do on it, but can I force myself to the page?
Right now I'm torn between:

The Passive Approach: Burying my head under the covers and declaring I'll never write another word;

The dramatic Approach: Tossing my printed manuscript from a high balcony and damning those failed pages as they are removed forever from my life by the wind;

The Indulgent Approach: Eating and drinking a lot of things that are really bad for me;


The Sensible Approach: Sending it to my critique partners.

So, now that I've slept off the Indulgent Approach by employing the Passive Approach, I have mounted the stairs to the balcony off my tower room, and with a stiff breeze blowing, am about to take the Dramatic Approach.

Wait, just a moment! It's my mobile.

What? Jess, Bernie, Frances on a conference call?

Goodness, they've tracked me using satellite and they know what I'm about to do.

They say they've all been there before. That every writer has.

(I must say, I'm getting a little emotional here because of all the other nice, sensible things they're saying, too.)

Really? Oh, those are wise words, indeed.

They're saying that if I managed to knock Her Gilded Prison into shape I can do the same with Hetty's Story (known more formally as Two Dangerous Gentlemen). They're saying that I must take the Sensible Approach and send it to them to sort out. They'll tell me exactly where I'm going wrong.

The wind is threatening to tug the pages out of my hand but I'm gripping the manuscript more tightly now. The reams of notes in the margin represent weeks of work. I realise can't afford to waste that much effort by casting it to the wind.

Not when I have such great critique partners who can sense when I need a pick-me-up and who take action. Not when I have such skilled critique partners who can hone in on the trouble spots and tell me where and what I need to fix.

Jess, Bernie and Frances - my wonderful critique partners - what would I do without you?


  1. Aww... clearly good CPs are worth their weight in gold, Bev! Congrats on having ones who truly are precious!

  2. The indulgent approach sounds inviting...
    I think you just have to trust that your story will come together...eventually! But if you get to the point of wanting to throw it all away, call in your critique partners for support and guidance.