So you've finally finished drafting your beloved WIP, and you're moving on to editing. Now it's time to take that next step: deciding what to draft next. If you're like me, you have plot bunnies everywhere – it's almost impossible to choose just one. But if you're going to crack down and get to work, you'll have to do just that.
The best way to do that is to examine the pros and cons of each of your options. To list-land we go!
- The Sequel
You absolutely fell in love with your last WIP, and you can't bear to tear yourself away from your darlings. You want to continue their story in this next installment of your sure-to-be-blockbuster series. Your CPs are begging for more, and to be honest, you are too. You miss your beloved characters dearly and you don't want to forget their lovely faces.
PROS: It's easy. You don't have to bother with new MCs and supporting characters are a little easier to develop. Plus, you've already established a world and rules, so that saves you time. Writing this universe comes naturally to you. You won't have to fight for words, so NaNo is almost a sure bet!
CONS: If you want to publish Novel 1, this isn't a good idea. (Cap explained this to me a couple days ago, when I had a crisis of this sort.) You need to polish up that WIP and get it sold before you can start work on another.
- The Second Cousin
You know you can't start the sequel, but a similar novel in the same genre might help with that WIP withdrawal. It's not exactly the same, of course, but you kind of combined all those unused plot ideas from your first universe and combined them into this one. It's like your last WIP, but more satisfying, because it does nothing but tie up loose ends!
PROS: It makes sense. The plot's all spelled out, and you can copy/paste a few of your supporting characters, change the names, and no one will notice. Probably. Anyway, it makes you feel better about having to cut that dream sequence.
CONS: You're getting nowhere. You're writing this book to get over your last WIP, but it's like getting over a bad breakup by stalking your ex's Facebook page and making cute couple names. It's not going to work, and you're going to regret it.
- The Left Field
This has nothing to do with your last WIP. This has nothing to do with your general genre. This has nothing to do with anything, actually – one morning you woke up with a sudden strong desire to write a book where a sexy district attorney teams up with a plug ugly dog to commit the perfect crime, with a subplot where they sign a suicide pact with a kind-hearted prostitute. It makes no sense, but you have to write it right this second!
PROS: You're excited about it! Plus, it's got a clear space in the market, mostly because it makes no sense. You can write this book, and no one else can, because no one else has ever had this idea.
CONS: The reason no one else has had this idea is because it is insane and poorly formed. You need a lot of work before this hopeless plot bunny is novel-ready. It's workable, but needs work.
You've had this idea sitting around for a while, but it's not your genre. You really like it, and it's honestly an interesting premise, but you don't even know where to start. There's something really lovely about it – either it speaks to you, or the market is ripe for it, or it's just a really fresh idea. Unfortunately, it almost feels wierder than the Left Field.
PROS: It's genuinely a really good idea! It's got a well-developed plot and characters you like. You could write this book because you like it. It's a book you would read. You can get excited about it!
CONS: It's so outside your realm of expertise you will have to do a ton of research before you can even outline. You just don't know what you're doing. It's a great idea, but it's definitely not a comfortable idea.
“Well thanks Tasha!” you think. “But which one do I choose?”
See, now, that's up to you! What you need to examine is why you're writing this book. Is it for NaNo? Choose something you can write quickly and without worrying too much about insanity – maybe the Left Field. Want to just keep your drafting muscles in use without getting too serious about it? The Second Cousin is your best bet. Writing just for fun or to get a sense of where to go with your WIP in the editing stage? Work on the Sequel! Looking for a totally new field that you can polish and even query after a lot of work? Get your encyclopedia and start researching the Exchange Student.
Ultimately, it comes down to where you want to go with this draft. And that, my friend, is something only you can decide!
-- Black Widow