I wanted to kill my third novel. I wanted to kill it for the same reason Johnny Cash wanted to kill that man in Reno –¬†I just wanted to watch it die.

I’d spent months on it. Almost a year. It was finished; I’d typed The End on the last page. I loved the characters, loved the concept, but something was missing, and I couldn’t figure out what it was. I was so frustrated I just wanted to hit the delete key and be done with it.

But I didn’t. I let the little yellow folder hover in My Documents, lonely and unloved amid the younger, more popular folders.

Still, the book kept haunting me. And that’s exactly what a paranormal romance should do, right? So I pulled it out of document limbo a few weeks ago, got out my metaphorical scalpels and bone saws, and went to work on the cold cadaver. Here’s what the autopsy revealed: the poor thing didn’t have a heart.

I’d gone about the writing process a whole new way, using lots of new techniques from writing books and workshops. I created a great plot, with highs and lows in all the right places. The characters all have clearly defined goals, believable motivations, and they’re up against plenty of juicy conflict. But while I’d tossed all those balls into the air, I’d dropped the most important one. I’d micromanaged my characters, forcing them to conform to the needs of the plot, instead of getting to know them and letting them lead the way.

Having discovered that, I groaned, smacked my forehead, and put the book away – again. I knew what was wrong now, but I still couldn’t fix it. The patient was too far gone. The operation would be so invasive, it was bound to be fatal.

Now I’ve figured out some new technology that just might save it. So suit up, Nurse. Strap on your mask and slip into your booties¬† – we’re going in.