On Writing, Random Thoughts

Q&A With A Wordsmith: On Manuscript Failures

Heya Lovelies,

As a writer taking a rather unique path, I often receive a wide range of questions. So far, I’ve covered some broad topics which you can find here and I’ll continue to shed some light on further questions. With luck, you’ll gain some understanding and insight along the way.

If you have a question you’d like me to answer, feel free to comment or drop me an email.


Question:

How many unpublished drafts and unfinished manuscripts do you have? Did the process of writing these differ from your published books?

Answer:

Imagine this scenario — a brilliant I’m a genius idea comes to mind and you begin writing. But halfway through (sometimes less, sometimes more) you lose all your steam and grasp at empty space on where the plot will go next. Or there’s just this nagging feeling that something isn’t right, yet you can’t put your finger on it. That genius feeling quickly sours into one of those Debbie Downer waw-wah sounds. 

That was me for most of my life. Without so much as brainstorming the evolution of the plot, developing characters, or anything really. I just started writing, pantsing my way through the whole thing. I truly thought, with every new attempt, that the characters would reveal themselves and that the story would carry them through to The End. But that was never the case. 

In 2014, when my health — both physical and mental — took its toll and forced me out of work, I decided to do it right. Giving myself plenty of space to rest through those wicked migraines or relax after a panic attack, I studied the craft. I read advice written by authors I knew and admired for their stories. I took diligent notes. Read up on the Snowflake Method, and much more. 

Once I felt like I had the tools necessary to actually write a manuscript from beginning to end, I began the plotting phase. The genesis of the idea was there for a few years after a dream and I knew at least where I wanted to start. 

In order to keep a digital record of the plotting process, I created a comprehensive OneNote template that allowed me to assess each aspect of the story I needed to understand and cover — which I will share in more detail in a separate series if you’d like to learn about it. 

I remembered reading this tidbit from a now defunct blog from Maggie Stiefvater. In it, she said Divine Coincidence should be rare and that a story’s characters need to go from A (the beginning) to Z (The End) through their own motivations. 

So that’s what I did. 

The brainstorming took the bulk of the plotting time. As I moved from characters to settings and back to the plot, I filled in what I could in my fresh template, and even used a fresh notebook to jot down notes, writing in any big events I already saw in my head. Then I tried to find scenes that would bring my characters from one event to the next.

I created the stepping stones my heroine needed, while still providing her arc. Once I felt the story was more or less ready, since I already knew what needed to happen with each scene, I began writing. 

That process hasn’t failed me since. 


Coming up, I’ll explain the time it takes to go from plotting to The End … for now, the editing to published as well, and give you some insights on how that has changed since Just Breathe.

Until next time,
Sarah

P. S. If you want to see for yourself what books I have to offer, find your FREE copies at your favorite retailer

P. P. S. If you are interested in learning more about me, my books, and other various, important topics on a monthly basis, along with access to a free, ever-growing resource library of downloadable content, sign up for my newsletter.

2 thoughts on “Q&A With A Wordsmith: On Manuscript Failures”

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