Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Time to Set Another Goal

by Robison Wells

My writing group likes to make fun of me, because I have a tendency to bring a lot of Chapter One's to critique. You know that story that President Monson likes to tell about the furniture store advertising "Finishers Wanted"--they actually wanted finish carpenters, but President Monson talks about how it's important to finish what you start and endure to the end. Well, President Monson would not be happy with my novel writing.

Granted, like most stereotypes, my writing group's perception of me is a little off. I think I've brought four chapter ones to the group, one of which was a rewrite of one I'd already brought, which means that I've only been working on three different stories. Even so, I think I'm much better at starting a book than finishing one.

I think this is because I have good ideas for scenes and good ideas for characters, but I don't have good ideas for plots. My books have a premise, but not a plot. As you can imagine, this doesn't translate well into 80,000 word stories.

However, the time has come. On Saturday, my brother's family came over to visit, and while we were sitting in the back yard, he made a proposal to me: if I was ready for awesomeness, he would pay my way to the World Fantasy Convention. This convention isn't one of the big media conventions, where thousands of people swarm the hall wearing Jedi robes and Spiderman outfits. This is a convention that is small, but packed with editors and agents. It's where Dan and Brandon Sanderson both met their editors. And, since I would be traveling there this year with Dan and Brandon, who are both published and friends with lots of insiders, it's a potential goldmine for me.

But there's one problem: it's a fantasy convention, and I don't have a single fantasy book. Yes, the very first book I wrote was fantasy, but it was terrible and was lost a few years ago in a harddrive failure. And other than that, I have a few chapters of a sci-fi thing, and half a book of a superhero-YA. So, when I go to World Fantasy and have this great opportunity to meet agents and editors, I won't have anything to give them.

Or will I?

World Fantasy is at the end of October. That gives me two months. And, since I'm unemployed, it gives me two months of full time writing. I can totally pump out a book that fast. I wrote Wake Me When It's Over in two and a half months, and that was while working full time. (On the other hand, I wrote The Counterfeit in two and a half years.)

So, my plan is this: I mentioned a few weeks ago that I'm blogging every day about my weight loss plan. This is based on the principle of accountability: that if I am constantly having to report my goals, then I'll be better at fulfilling them (because I don't like to publically announce my suckiness). So, from here on out, I'll be posting a word count every day, along with my dieting status. You'll be able to follow it here. Let's just hope that my writing goes faster than my weight loss.

You can also get updates about me, my diet, my writing, my whiny complaining, and my misanthropy by following me on Twitter. You know you want to. How could something that feels so right be wrong?


At 8/25/2009 12:54 PM, Blogger Josi said...

Very cool, Rob! And I have no doubt you can pull it off. I tend to have the same issue--I've got lots of 'first 50 pages' because that's fun and you just throw out questions and characters and stuff--but then you have to answer those questions and the characters have to do stuff. Rough. I'll look forward to the updates--I'm liking the weight loss updates so word counts will be like sugar free icing on a low fat cake!

At 8/25/2009 1:07 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

Josi, my word counts will be "like sugar free icing on low fat cake"? I'm very insulted.

At 8/25/2009 1:20 PM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

Seriously cool. You WILL do this.

(So does this mean I shouldn't make chocolatey goodness for critique?)

At 8/25/2009 3:19 PM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

Awesome! Will Dan pay for me too if I can write a fantasy novel?

At 8/25/2009 3:47 PM, Blogger Pendragon said...

WOW. What a cool incentive!

and thanks for sharing that "motivation" from pres-monson. I've been feeling discouraged lately cuz it's taking me so darn long to get my book done, and done "right". but you know what? i'm gonna finish the darn thing even if it takes me another x-amount of years! :)

At 8/25/2009 4:14 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

What you mention here is my EXACT problem: I have good ideas for a premise, but then no real idea how to plot it. I've got all these great machinations going on behind the scenes, but no scenes.

How do you go about making the leap from premise to plot?

Also, good luck - I really enjoyed On Second Thought.

At 8/25/2009 5:35 PM, Blogger L.T. Elliot said...

Congratulations! I just know you can do it! How awesome is that of your bro? Good man. He knows talent when he sees it. Get writing, love it, and have a wonderful time at the World Fantasy Convention. =]

At 8/26/2009 3:18 AM, Blogger Melanie Goldmund said...

Man, and I thought I was the only one who had trouble getting a plot going out of a few ideas!

Happy and productive writing, Rob, and I'll look forward to reading your fantasy book! Oh, and have a great time at the convention, too!

At 8/26/2009 10:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Josi was talking about your writing, not your word count, Rob.

Ouch! Sugar free pros on a low fat plot.

At 8/26/2009 1:50 PM, Blogger Micah Bruner said...

I think your book should be about the stay puft marshmallow man at the end of Ghostbusters. I'd like to know why he was so angry.

At 8/26/2009 4:50 PM, Blogger Anna Buttimore said...

Best of luck with the fantasy thing. My heart lies in writing fantasy - I think that'll be the book after the one after the next one. Or something. Advantage with writing fantasy is that there's no research to do, and no one can nitpick.

At 8/27/2009 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have the same problem! I'm great at chapters one through three, then I seem to drop off the plotting cliff...

Which is why I came up with The Complete Novel Plotting Workbook (yes, shameless self promotion here!) Rob, I'd be happy to send you one in trade for a review (if you like it - if you hate it, I'd just as soon you keep it to yourself..) Seriously though, let me know where to send it - I'd love to chip into the next hugely famous fantasy novel!

You can look it over at

Email me if you'd like to give it a try and I'll slip on in the mail to you :) myladyelliott at gmail dot com

At 8/27/2009 8:25 PM, Blogger Lu Ann Brobst Staheli said...

Come on, Rob! We're not THAT bad; we just enjoy teasing you. You can do this. Look at how many words Jeff has pumped out in the last two months. Surely you will not let him get the better of you! Sending best wishes your way. And Annette, I have to PLAN for the chocolate treats you bring. That's why sometimes I don't eat anything--poor planning on my part. Oh, and Zach says I need the chocolate silk pie recipe from you NOW!


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