How do you fall into the pitfall of amalgam? You aren't trusting your good ideas, and hence you've gone into the work of others in search of beefy bits to give your story some ooomph. You set out to write a classic regency romance novel. Sparks fly between Jane and her Mr. Bingley. It's innovative and working. Then you read this really great book about time travel, and low and behold, a thieving time traveller -- think Eric Bana -- shows up in your novel, in search of a cursed star sapphire and he seduces your Jane.
Oh, then you read a great conspiracy thriller and decide to mix in some political intrigue about the medieval masons. Jane is the last in a line of powerful steampunk wizards and must kill Mr. Bingley to prove her loyalty to the guild and take down that thieving time traveller, because the cursed star sapphire is part of a magic scepter used to keep Underworld demons at bay. This is not turning out to be a very satisfying romance.
You've written 150K words of your book with no end in sight, and you don't really know what your book is about anymore. You flail around, and wonder what happened. You shove this manuscript into the box at the back of closet that already has 10 other manuscripts in it -- all failed attempts. The good news is all this failure is really a good thing. You need persistence to succeed as a writer.
The bad news is this is not a pile of genius that is overlooked. You have created a pile of a lack of confidence. How are you ever going to get on track? Well, stop being so hard on yourself and try having some fun. Relax. Your best content comes from your emotional core. You obviously like a lot of different kinds of books and mashup isn't an impossible thing, but you are the glue that is going to make it work. You have to take control of your writing life, what do you want? Focus. Classic regency romance? Do that. Something else? Fine, but define it and stick to YOUR vision.
At the end of the day, I 'm not saying to don't mix elements. But if you do, you need to synthesize them and you need to own them. Don't let all the work of others bleed into your book. Be inspired. Be bolstered. But don't be a book cannibal.
So pull out that manuscript that haunts you and start cutting out that bloody mess that has infected your great book. You have always felt there is a good book in there. Believe in your vision. Add in your unique slant. Synthesize. Do it. Climb out of the pit. See you next week with more writer pitfalls.
This week's doodle is called: Blue Seagull.
I'm closing up with a quote for your pocket.
Some things are destined to be -- it just takes us a couple of tries to get there. Jessica Rowley Pell Bird as J.R Ward