Side Trips Can Lead to Huge Discoveries

(U-turn road sign, against panoramic blue sky. Time to change direction.)

My writing partner and I just finished the first draft of our first book together. Several weeks ago, we had thought we were approaching the end, having turned a legend into a world-killing nightmare. I awoke one morning with the dreadful feeling that we had lost our way.

We had taken a limited story world and exploded it. I wrote a note to my partner and said we needed to talk, indicating that I thought we had gone astray. My partner was quiet, taking it all in. (I found out later that my partner was actually thinking along the same lines, but was just hesitant to mess with our new villain, lest I disagree about changing the story again. We now both agree it is far better to put things in the open right away, rather than let them fester.)

Several phone conversations and email exchanges later, we discovered that were actually on the same page. But man! We had written some incredible stuff! And our villain—well our villain was to die for. But we agreed that the villain was too large for our current story.

We ejected the villain and stuck with our main characters, including a much-diminished villain, still evil but bite-size, as befits our story.

It took deep breaths and my partner’s trust in me as an editor for us to admit that we had taken a wrong turn onto a tangent, and that we needed to do a U-turn and get back on track. We were verklempt to have “wasted” so much time on a wrong turn, but the more we spoke, the more we realized that it wasn’t time and effort wasted.

My partner trusted my instincts, and I handed over the reins for the rewrite, trusting my partner’s instincts for the rewrite, returning to the original story. We know we like each other, but now we know that we truly trust each other’s strengths in the partnership. Hurdle cleared!

As a result of our digression, we now had an incredible villain for one of our other series, a cataclysmic series that deserves a colossal villain. Et voilà!

Our side trip also helped us to focus on our current book and enlarge ideas within it, while also streamlining the plot. Less is more with legends. Our current book has been enriched by our segue, and our future book beckons, calling urgently for us to ditch our present plans and jump to that book. But no, we must not. Our villain must bide and grow.

In the meantime, noses to the grindstone, we now turn our minds to editing. Not nearly as much fun as original writing, but certainly necessary. At least twice.


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