Real and Never WIP

After reading over the many, many awesome and very curious responses to our share your last sentence entry, Brandyllyn wrote:

I was reading the post on last sentences and saw that many were from people’s works in progress.  I thought a minute about mine and while I have a couple of WIPs floating about, most recently I was writing on my never story.  This is usually a short story (sometimes fanfiction) where I can do silly things with my characters and writing knowing there’s no way I’m ever going to try to publish it.  It’s where I write when I have no ideas for my novels but need to write anyway.  I find a lot of my good writing migrates between the “never” stories and the “real” stories as it’s a great tool for me as a writer.

I suppose the long and short is – am I the only one who does this?  I’d be curious to know if anyone else has a ‘never’ story.

Huh. Interesting question. I’m usually writing for this here site, and while there have been a few entries I couldn’t really get anywhere with (“Does putting the names of contemporary songs in a novel date it or somehow interrupt the reality constructed by the reader?” – Yes/no questions don’t really light a fire under my verbose ass) most of the time things I start out writing end up here.

But what about you – do you have a never and a real?

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Random Musings

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  1. 1
    Suze says:

    Not so much real and never, but I have WIPs (real) and a writing journal, in which I just write.  I pull a topic out of the jar (sentences, ideas, objects—just anything to write about), and write about that.  It doesn’t have to apply to anything, it’s just writing.

    Like dance class for ballerinas.  Keeping my writing chops juiced up and moving, so I don’t strain something when I’m doing it out in public view.

    A lot of what comes out of my fingers in the journal is complete dreck that will NEVER see the light of day, but some if it is delightful and will probably become something worthy of spending more time on, and making real.

  2. 2
    Marta Acosta says:

    In a word, no.  I always write with the delusion that I can use the writing somewhere, even if it’s just to amuse friends.

    However, I do have ideas that no one is interested in.  I toss them by my agent and editor and they say, “Hmm, that’s interesting, but I was thinking…”  They say “interesting” in the same tone as a doctor observing a weird skin fungus.

    I will occasionally be so enamored of an idea or a character that I keep dragging it back into stories, which is how Lefty’s Happy Looky-Dat! Club got in my second novel after having its butt kicked to the curb in a previous novel.

  3. 3
    Leah Guinn says:

    I have a lot of ideas that seem really cool when they first flash into my head, but which don’t really go anywhere after that.  I have one I decided not to pursue for religious reasons.  I was kind of torn about that one, but after a few months, realized that I was more into the gimmick of it, than the main character’s story. Oh, and a children’s story that really doesn’t have a market, but which my daughter loves because it’s about her!

  4. 4
    Ri L. says:

    My mind is full of never stories that I’m too shy and chicken to draw.  The ideas sound fantastic in my head until I get them on paper.  At that point they either suck and I have to go play video games to drown out the shame of writing something so stupid/drawing something that looks so awful, or they’re gold and I get paralyzed and can’t write an actual story.  My two best are the webcomic adventures of a dead girl in college and a glorious fairytale retelling set in an abandoned amusement park.

    My fiance, meanwhile, bangs out sci-fi with no care for the world’s opinion of his work while in progress, intent on someday finally catching that dream that’s been hovering just out of his reach.  I’d do anything for that confidence in my own voice.

    (range25 – At the age of 25 I should have a sizable range of creative work under my belt, but that’s not going to happen, is it)

  5. 5
    Liz says:

    when i write, i know that it won’t get published anywhere, except possibly on my blog, and i have stopped even doing that since my mom fears i will be plagiarized.  nothing i write, except for a fanfic that i wrote about 6 years (dear lord…way back in hs) ago, is really any good at all.  I have been working on the same story that i started in 2007 off and on when i have the time, but i never think that i can get anything published, and if i did it wouldn’t sell.

    btw, i don’t think that putting anything in a story can date it.  Sometimes I sit back and go “wow…i thought i was the only one who still liked that song/tv show/movie/etc.” i think it just adds a layer to the characters.

  6. 6
    Holly says:

    (range25 – At the age of 25 I should have a sizable range of creative work under my belt, but that’s not going to happen, is it)

    Child, please.  I didn’t start putting fingers to keyboard till 44.

  7. 7
    Wendy says:

    Boy do I have nevers!  …I am in fact trying to stop working on a “never” right now, and my re-focus is reading this blog.  We’ll see how well that works.  ;)

    Often, there are situations I need to get out of my system, so I write them down, hoping to purge them.  Sometimes, this actually takes me down delightful new paths of character growth. i.e. I actually discovered that one of my main characters was stronger than I thought he was by trying to slash him up with the friend he has a crush on.  It just didn’t want to happen.  Even I thought I wanted this to happen, and it felt so forced that I wound up re-writing the scene to “cannon” standard, and I love what it’s done for my characters’ relationship.  I’ll leave it to my—someday—readers to make Justin/Armand get it on. ;)
    Now that I think about it, a lot of my “never” writing is luuurve drama that never makes it into the story ‘cause I’m theoretically writing fantasy with romance in it, rather than romance with a fantasy element.  …someday, I might just give in.  We’ll see. 

    I’ve also written a lot of fanfiction that never went anywhere…just because some little something unexplained was blocking all attempts at creatively using my own characters. 

    Even though I’m trying to stop myself following a ‘never’ down the road right now, I think there can be a lot of good in this sort of writing.  As Brandyllyn points out, sometimes you need to be writing, but the “real” stuff isn’t coming to you.  Better, I think, to make your characters/others’ characters do “silly” things than to stop writing completely.

  8. 8
    rebyj says:

    I always assumed writers had a lot of never wip’s.

    Back in the old days, lots of notebooks filled with scribbles, now days lots of txt files with ctrl F keys worn out from searching for some phrasing they KNOW they wrote down somewhere in something.

  9. 9
    Ziggy says:

    All the time! I have a “never book” in my head. I’ve written more of it than I have of my various WIPs that I’m writing with a view to publishing one day in the distant future.

    I think of it as a never book because the characters are so real in my mind that I can never relegate them to one plotted narrative. I write about them in various different what-if scenarios. There’s a set of circumstances where one character dies and that impacts on all the others. Then there’s another where he doesn’t.

    So I would never be able to write them into one story and end it and be done with it. It would be like killing them. I’m not sure that explains it well.

    Because I have no restrictions in terms of age, plot, and other what-ifs, I go nuts writing this stuff. I guess it’s pointless from a publishing point of view but I enjoy it a hell of a lot. It’s really helpful for character-building because while I’m liberated in terms of plot and movement, I’m bound by the constructs of the character, and you end up thinking quite deeply about these made-up personalities and how they would react in various “what-if” scenarios.

  10. 10
    Barb Ferrer says:

    I’m Marta in this.  Pretty much her post is my post.  If it’s something that’s personal, it goes in my blog.  If it’s really personal, it goes in my paper journal.  If it’s something story-oriented, it goes in a WIP file.  Sometimes, my worlds have collided, as it were, when I’ve posted story excerpts from ideas that aren’t likely to go anywhere in the immediate future as part of the Chica Lit blog tour.

    Last week, I used my blog to post the entire partial for a romance set against the backdrop of competitive figure skating.  It’s a story that I love, with characters I love, that went out on limited submission to see if there was any kind of interest/market for it.  There’s kind of not.  *g*  So I figured “What the hell” and put it up.  It amused me and it amused my friends who like skating.  All good.

    And you just never know what you might use in a story—last night, I was doing some research and one article led to another and led to another which led to a story idea.  My husband walked into our bedroom, I looked up at him, grinned, and declared, “Bubonic Plague!” 

    Thank God the man’s lived with me as long as he has.  He just rolled his eyes and said “Got another story idea, have we?”

  11. 11

    (“Does putting the names of contemporary songs in a novel date it or somehow interrupt the reality constructed by the reader?”)

    Good question!  And, does a reader’s musical preferences factor into her decision to buy the book?  Will she not be able to get the song out of her head while reading it?

    Um…I don’t have any never books.  I have unpublished material, but I didn’t mean for it to be when I started. 

    That said, I like the idea of freeing yourself from constraints and writing whatever strikes your fancy.  I imagine that could help spark some extra creativity for the “real” stories.

  12. 12
    karmelrio says:

    Child, please.  I didn’t start putting fingers to keyboard till 44.

    Me too.  And it’s one my New Years’ resoultions to finally stop beating myself up for not starting back when I was closer to Ri L.‘s age.   

    No never books here – have just finished my first mss.  Will start #2 after a burst of querying for #1.

  13. 13

    Oh, loads of them. Scenes that fit into the background of things I’d like to try to publish someday, fanfic, random stories that I started and forgot about…I have a whole catalogue of ‘never’ pieces.

  14. 14
    Silver James says:

    Wow. I had to stop and think about this. I have three fanfics I wrote “just for fun.” One starred my then teen daughter as a “Mary Sue” inserted into an particular author’s universe and was for her eyes only. The second was a short novella with a different author’s characters and universe woven into a story where they logically would be and I tried to imitate that author’s voice as a creative writing exercise. The third one was a second attempt at creating an author’s voice but taking a beloved character and working her back story the way *I* wanted it to be. Those two were written at a time when I’d lost my own voice. I never finished the second exercise as I rediscovered my own voice and started writing for *me* again.

    Do I have stories/manuscripts that will never be sent for consideration? Yeah. Many. Do I occasionally take a recalcitrant character, give him/her their head to sow those wild oats in an unrelated story? Yup. Guilty. So…yes. I suppose I do have never stories if not actually “books.”

  15. 15
    Keira says:

    I have written tons of fanfiction – last one was a HP book 7 story that I started the year before JKR published her own and revamped the Boy-Who- Lived to have a twin. It was fun and I got a ton of responses from the HP fandom on it. Some 11K-12K reviews.

  16. 16
    Charlene says:

    My “last line” was from an obituary, but I do write a lot of things in fiction that are Not For Others To See. I even have entire multi-part imaginary series I’ve never put down on paper, and likely never will.

  17. 17
    Madd says:

    In my younger days I fancied myself a playwright. Actually, a group of people fancied me a playwright and I went along with them for a little while. I enjoyed writing and watching the plays performed, and people seemed to enjoy watching, but I never felt comfortable having to work with theatre folk I didn’t know. I’m pretty antisocial. And the only time I was published was when I was a teen and had a poem published in Star Wallpaper, an anthology of works by young Chicago poets.

    I enjoy writing, but I’m not very good at keeping focused and/or getting things done when I’m frustrated, so I’ve never really considered trying to do it professionally. Not to mention that my level of social anxiety would likely be a big obstacle to trying to get published. Also not encouraging was the fact that a college professor once told me that I was intelligent and creative, but that my seeming inability to grasp the rules of grammar, coupled with my occasionally dyslexic spelling, gave the impression that I should be riding the short bus.

    I do write stories for my own amusement though. And I’ve participated several times in NANOWRIMO, although, that being a very busy month for me, I’ve never made it all the way to 50k.

  18. 18

    I have lots of what I call “Just for fun” stories.  Most are fanfiction, in AU (alternate universe) worlds I create myself with my writing partners.  I never even post them online anywhere anymore, but they get written a lot and stay on my hard drive for my reading pleasure later when I’m in the mood.  My co-author Margie and I even set aside one day a week just for fun writing.

    Work writing is important and is fun too, but these are stories where we can really just do it for the love of it, not for any goal other than our own pleasure.  Fridays are our “chillax” days and we look forward to them greatly after a week of writing nothing but stuff aimed for publication 7 hours a day.  :)

  19. 19

    Sort of.  I have a file labeled “Weird Western” that I plink at every now and then.  Usually after I’ve had a drink.  It’s very different from my other writing, but when the characters speak to me I figure they’re doing so for a reason, so I write it down.

    Maybe it’ll be a book some day, maybe it won’t.

  20. 20
    Liz says:

    Madd, that is absolutely ridiculous.  So what is your grammar and spelling is bad; you just have to work on it a bit more than others.  Your prof. was probably jealous of your story ideas, and figured that the best way to stop you is to tell you not to keep at it.

  21. 21
    Madd says:

    Oh, she loved me, she was an awesome lady. It concerned her that people would think me dumb because of the way I write. It’s ridiculous that I just CAN NOT retain ANY of the rules of grammar. It’s like they just flit in one ear and out the other without once stopping to rest in between.

  22. 22
    Elizabeth Wadsworth says:

    range25 – At the age of 25 I should have a sizable range of creative work under my belt, but that’s not going to happen, is it)

    Child, please.  I didn’t start putting fingers to keyboard till 44.

    That’s pretty close to my situation—I’ve been writing pretty much ever since I learned how, but I only began seriously to work on a novel a year ago, at the age of 42.  I’m now on the last chapter of my first draft.  Yay!

    My first “never” story probably is a full-length play I wrote my senior year in high school and have no plans ever to produce.  It’s a murder mystery set in a remote French inn in the 1930’s during a raging thunderstorm (of course) and is heavily influenced by both Agatha Christie and P.G. Wodehouse. 

    The second is a romance novel I wrote shortly after graduating from college which I actually shopped around to a couple of category houses until I got bored with the whole thing and decided I really wasn’t cut out to write category stuff anyway.  It involved rival disc jockeys at a Richmond VA radio station who take on a corrupt chemical company exec. and fall in love in the process.

    I used to have notelbooks filled with “ideas for story” that never went anywhere; I finally picked the one I most wanted to tell, did a full outline, and got down to it.

    spamword:  worked41—I’ve definitely worked on more than 41 story ideas in my time; actually finishing them is the big deal for me.

  23. 23
    Lori says:

    Madd, your prof may have loved you but I think her advice was a little weird.  Grammar & spelling issues should never keep anyone from writing.  It would have been one thing if she had suggested having a writing partner who is familiar with your difficulties look things over before you show them to a wider audience.  It’s another thing altogether to say that people will think you’re stupid or handicapped if they see your writing. 

    If that’s how she deals with a student she loves what in the world does she say to the ones she doesn’t like?  And how does she handle students with actual handicaps like dyslexia?

  24. 24
    Jenna says:

    I start every work of fiction with the intention someone will read it, whether it’s for a fanfic or original fiction audience. Sometimes the story doesn’t work out, though, despite all manner of tweaking, and it gets set aside in the “never will” file.

    There are a few things I’ve written thinking they were too strange for anyone else to read but I posted anyway, and readers liked them, so that shows what I know :).

  25. 25
    Jamie says:

    I have some WIPs, and some “never” stories.  I write erotic romance, so I’ve written some short erotic pieces which have mostly been just to put out there and see what people respond to.  Some of them have been silly, and some have been a way to try out some themes of erotica which I couldn’t write a whole story around.

  26. 26
    Deb Kinnard says:

    I have so many never books I cringe to mention them. Most of them are dreck, if not all of them. But I had one book I considered a never book—it wasn’t supposed to sell, much less sell first. But it became my first published novel ‘cause I didn’t know beans about what the romance market was like.

    I’m glad someone else saw potential I didn’t see.

  27. 27
    Noelle says:

    I mostly have never blogs and emails.  Good lord I have so much truth in me that will never get out to the people that, in my jaded bias and humble opinion, need to hear it. Bless their hearts.

    Well and there is that story about Romanian werewolves, gypsy kings and mystical threesomes with a threadbare plot.  I love the characters but it’s a never.

    spam: could83. I would take 83 lashes if I could please just tell you what I really think.

  28. 28
    delphine says:

    There are no never stories… only fan fiction.

    And then there are stories that just haven’t ripened yet. I find myself going back now (I’m 41) to my very early ideas and realizing that I just wasn’t ready to write some of those stories when they first occurred to me. Either the idea was too green, or I was. But now some of those snippets and ideas have found their way into books (and, of course, fan fiction). So I guess in a sense they weren’t “never,” they were just “later.”

  29. 29

    I have what I call “sideways” writing where I write, usually in first person and in total disregard of tense (tho I tend to do that anyway), to flesh out a secondary character or just have fun. It’s particularly enjoyable with a villain.

    As for the mss. languishing on the hard drive or wherever, I’m a big believer in recycling.

  30. 30
    P.N. Elrod says:

    :snerk:

    “Never” is a word that just ain’t in my internal lexicon.

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