Monday, September 26, 2011

What was your first idea?

Every story starts with an idea. When I first started writing, I'd had this idea in my head for a couple of years. I'd think about this character in the shower, while I drove, as I fell asleep at night. It was a classic fantasy. Swords, magic. No elves or dwarfs or anything like that, but a princess who saw her family murdered and she was the only one who escaped.

Ava was tough. She joined the army of the man who killed her family. Got close to him and plotted his demise. There was a prince, family secrets, betrayal and death.

I loved it.

But it didn't work. I had no idea what I was doing. While my story was cool, (in my mind) I didn't know the mechanics of writing. I didn't know what a critique group was, or what deep editing and revising was. I did edit, but not like I do now.

I did query my book, but only got one bite. It was sad to put it aside, but necessary. I know it wasn't good enough. Neither was my dreaded second novel. But that's why we write. To learn from our first few attempts. It only makes us better. :)

I wish I knew then, what I know now about writing. I can see I've improved. A lot. I actually call myself a writer now. Probably because I realized how much writing means to me. How it makes me feel when I finish a chapter or a scene. I can't even describe what finishing a book is like. All I can say is that it's awesome. Every. Single. Time. And even though I put my first book away, it's one that will always be with me because it was the first book I wrote. And someday, I really want to revisit that world. I've been thinking about it for a long time, actually. I will rewrite it. Probably from scratch and in a whole new way, but I would like to do it.

I have to finish a few others first though. ;)

Are you working on your first book? Did you put your first book aside? What was it like? Do you still love it?


E.R. King said...

My first idea was a Middle Grade fiction. It was a real blast to write, but it never went anywhere. Regardless, I'll always hold it near and dear to my heart.

S.P. Bowers said...

The first book I remember writing was in kindergarten. It was about a prince and a princess who got married and was fully illustrated! I took it to show and tell. I was much braver back then.

In third grade I stared my first chapter book. After ten pages I decided I didn't have the skills necessary and decided to write it when I grew up. It was a middle grade novel.

When I was an adult and wanted to get serious about writing I started with some children's books before turning to novels. I didn't know anything about the industry and they didn't go anywhere but I often think about pulling them out and trying again.

Renee Collins said...

My first idea went through two years of notes and plotting, and then four different opening few chapters before I realized it simply wasn't working.

I never finished it, but I'll always have fond memories. Kind of . . . ;)

Meredith said...

I've put my first book aside, but I'm about to get back to it and revise the heck out of it. You're right--I've learned so much since then! Good luck with Ava!

Angie Cothran said...

I've heard a lot of people say to scrap your first idea. But I think that isn't always good advice. I'm getting ready to query my first book, but it took me four years to write and one year to edit and yes, I still love it.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

@E.R. King I still want to write a Middle Grade someday. :)
@S.P. Bowers You should go back to them! You may find that you were better than you think! ;)
@Meredith Thanks! And good luck with your revisions! I heart revisions. :)
@Renee Collins LOL! You are hilarious. Maybe one day you'll realize you totally love it! ;)
@Angie Cothran I don't think that's great advice either. You can grow a ton from learning how to write your first book. When I finished mine, I thought it was awesome! So, yes. If you believe in your story and have edited the heck out of it, you shouldn't just set it aside. Good luck with querying!! :D :D

Katy said...

My first serious stab at YA novel writing was a contemporary romance/rape-recovery story told from the boyfriend's POV. Apparently there's NO market for such story, though I did attempt to query it. I've long since retired the idea, but I do still sort of love it.

Abby said...

That sounds like an awesome idea. Yes - I have put plenty of books aside. Some of them I still like and will probably go back to. I HOPE. It's hard, but important to improve and move on.

Cynthia Lee said...

Oh yeah, I've put plenty of stuff aside. I still remember them fondly though.

Patti said...

My first idea was a love triangle that I wrote when I was 14. I got half way through the book and changed it to a mystery, but it has never seen the light of day.

Faith E. Hough said...

I'm revising my fourth COMPLETE ms. I had lots of other ideas that only lasted about 17 pages, too. :)

Jessie Oliveros said...

Bermuda Scott and the Anywhere Box. It was MG, and mostly chapters and scenes. Not a complete book, so maybe it doesn't count:) Anyway, maybe one day I'll revisit it. Or maybe not.

Shallee said...

My first book was awesome. And horrible. And took me like five years to write. I will always love it for being the first, but it wasn't even close to ready for querying.

Mel Fowler said...

I am working on my first book, but it has been 4 years of working on it. I love it and I will never put it down because it's a piece of my past. I am determinded....

oh wait, now that I think about it, there was this book that I wrote in high school. The computer crashed, losing everything.

I love it then, but it was a dreaded story that I will never ever let anyone read again!

Sarah Pearson said...

I finished my first story last year, a future fiction about a woman who discovers a government conspiracy to control population numbers. I loved it, but at 40k it's just way too short. I might come back to it, one day.

Candice said...

I'm trying to rewrite my first book. I loved the idea so much, but the writing... yeah. Now I have enough distance from the manuscript I am free writing the story again in a first person perspective. We'll see how it turns out.

Angie said...

I think you always love your first book. I set mine aside for ten years before pulling it out and revising it. Now it's getting published!

Jennifer Hillier said...

My first book is trunked. I made every mistake a newbie could make and the writing is terrible. However, I do pick at it from time to time because I still love the story and the characters. One day, maybe I'll be able to fix it. I'll always have a soft spot for it.

Maggie said...

I hope this is a process that always continues (looking back and knowing we've improved).
The only problem is, then we always think whatever we wrote before is awful.

Iain said...

I dreamt the whole plot one night, I went and bough a note pad the next day and started writing it.
What a great post!
I wrote the book. The plot was sounds, but my ability and knowledge at the time wasn't up to the challenge.
If I get the time, then I will re-visit it. I have very fond memories of the experience. When I finished the climax, I was shaking as it was so intense for me to keep re-visiting the scene to be able to get it all down on paper.

Susan Oloier said...

I still love my first book, which I began nine years ago. Now I am back at it, revising and rewriting it full force. I used to hate revisions and refused to do them. Now I know the error of my old ways.

Megan said...

My first novel I wrote in 7th grade about a girl who is killed and narrates the story as a ghost. I turned in the first half as a Language Arts assignment and the teacher was so impressed. Clearly she didn't read Christopher Pike as it was a CLEAR ripoff of one of his novels! As for my first real novel- I just can't move past it to focus on something else. I love it too much.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I did eventually get my first book published by a small, but very good publisher. I think I did rewrite it at least six times but I loved that story and couldn't put it aside. I did write three more books before I sold that one though.

Nicole said...

Great post! My first idea was about a young woman warrior tasked with guarding her little cousin, the heir to the throne. Her best friend (and love interest) was also in the guard.

I only got a few chapters in, but I still love it and plan to finish it someday. Within the first couple pages, I'd already crashed a chandelier in the main hall and had my MC slide down a wall banner! :)

Small Town Shelly Brown said...

I'm paraphrasing but Stephen King says something like "Everyone has a terrible book in them. Write it and then throw it away" That always makes me giggle. Especially since I'm still wrapping up that terrible book.
If I have to throw it away then I learned a lot from the journey.

Ms Saba (aka Teacher007.5) said...

My first is still my baby and while it is probably not worth much, it is priceless to me. I certainly have a long way to go but I can't say I will put it away. I will always work on it, try to improve it as my skills improve and hopefully one day, others will love it just the way I do. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm a firm believer that a person's first (and dearest to them) novel should be finished (because every good story deserves to be finished!) and stuck in a drawer for five to ten years while they write novels two, three, four and five. Then bring it out and have a look. You'll love it just as much, I'm sure, but it'll be sure to make you groan!

Chantele Sedgwick said...

@Katy You could always go back someday! I'm sure there would be a market for it in the future. ;)
@Abby It is way important to move on. But you can always go back. You know? :)
@Cynthia Lee Me too. I remember all of mine as well. :)
@Patti Oh, love triangles. Aren't they the best? :) I do love a good one, but I try not to write them because I can't to them justice.
@Faith E. Hough Oh, those 17 pages. I've had many of those! lol :)
@Jessie Oliveros That book sounds fun! You should revisit it! :D
@Shallee I know what you mean. I love my first book still. It's horrible though. But I will rewrite. It will take some time though. :)
@Mel Fowler I think it's awesome that you've been working on your book for so long. I'm crossing my fingers for you to snag an agent with it! :D
@Sarah Pearson Sounds intriguing! I'd go back to it because I want to read it! ;)
@Candice Is that the super hero one? Because if it is, I want to read it!! :D
@Angie Woot! Yay! So excited for you!! :D
@Jennifer Hillier lol. I hear ya. I made every mistake a newbie could make as well. Still, I really want to go back to it. Someday... :)
@Maggie I agree. We should think more positive and know that every book is a part of us and was the best we could write at the time. ;)
@Iain I loved the feeling of writing my first book. It was so new and real to me. I'll never forget how I felt with it. Someday I'll go back. I loved my world I created. :)
@Susan Oloier Yay for revising! I love revising and rewriting. Everything sounds so much better after. You know? :)
@Megan LOL! How funny! And good luck with your book! I'm crossing my fingers when you start querying! Or if you are right now. ;)
@Susan Gourley/Kelley That is awesome. I'd love to publish my first book someday. I have a LOT of work to do on it first though. Probably a complete rewrite.
@Nicole LOL! That is awesome! I love things crashing and epic slides down wall banners! Finish it!! :D
@Small Town Shelly Brown That is funny. I definitely did that with my second book. My first I still kind of love. Someday I'll rewrite it. When I have more time! ;)
@Ms Saba (aka Teacher007.5) Oh, don't give up on your first one. I know of a few people who have published their first books. Don't ever give up on it. :)
@Weston Elliott Oh, yes. I believe that too. I'm sure I'll groan and roll my eyes when I read it again! lol :) Thanks for stopping by!

Jolene Perry said...

My first book is shelved.

I now know what I need to do to "fix" it, but it's a whole re-write from scratch. Well, not scratch, but close. And like you, I have other projects I care more about.

Kaylee Baldwin said...

I shelved my first book when I was half-way through. It is a YA contemporary and I actually love it still and plan on going back to it eventually, but it is going to require more research and a major rewrite.

Stephanie McGee said...

The first idea I ever had to write never got written. Only because that was a screenplay idea that was really bad and would not have been a good idea.

The first book idea I ever had was sparked by the meaning of a name and I did write that one. It did get put in a drawer but I didn't finish it until after I'd written another book. I do still love this book and the characters and the story and the world. Someday it will get revised/rewritten but I need to write a few more books and get some more practice in. Then maybe I'll realize how to save my baby and she'll get to see the world at large.