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Updates, Work-in-Progress 2

Trying New Plotting Styles

When I wrote the first draft of Clipped Wings (Work-in-Progress 2) my plotting style was, I admit, non-existent. But, with the necessity of seeing it all laid out for me, I’ve found it necessary to outline this next draft. I’ve learned a few things from outlining that my previous “pantser” lifestyle didn’t allow. The first, background is ridiculously important. The second, main character agency (whether they have it or not) is key to how the plot plays out.

Of course, I would be lying if I said I learned this all on my own. I spent about two months carving my way through Lisa Cron’s Story Genius. She spends a lot of time nailing home a few key points. Namely, emotion is incredibly important to why people keep reading a book, and cause-and-effect drive the story forward. At least, those were two things I got out of the book on my read-through with my current project in mind.

For Clipped Wings, I’ve found my main issue was agency. My main character very rarely made the decisions that led to her actions after the first “act” of the book. To fix the book, I need to fix the agency. To fix the agency, I need to fix what drives her emotionally. That means taking a deeper dive into her background to find what really makes her tick, as well as everybody around her (according to my interpretation of Cron). I am thrilled with what this is doing so far.

I don’t have everything put where it seems to fit quite yet, but I’m feeling much more confident that I’m on the right track. The emotions of all my characters seem to shine through more authentically and the conflicts that arise are already more realistic.

I’m not going to say that it’s all because of Story Genius, because a lot of craft books is what you bring to the table and read into them (e.g. what you’re looking for when you go into them). However, the few gems of wisdom I got out of it have really helped me so far, just as with some of the other great ones from my past writing courses used to.

Plotting

Now that I know what I’m trying to accomplish, I’ve started using scene cards. I’m sure I’d make Lisa Cron want to slam her head against a wall if she knew I wasn’t going full-out on her format, but I am using the scene cards to plot so far. I’m adding a few other things to them, including “tone” to remind me how I want the scene to feel to the reader.

I never used to be plotter (or an outliner) so the very fact that I’m doing this is a huge step in becoming a more conscious storyteller. At least, that’s how I like to think of it. I have a lot of material from my first couple of drafts I’d like to reuse, but I’m not going to hold onto it if it doesn’t fit this new outline.

This type of creativity gets me very excited. Everyday I feel I get to work on a project that is actually going somewhere.

Work-in-Progress, Work-in-Progress 2

Revision Revelations

I had two big revelations over the course of about 12 hours regarding two separate books. One, my work-in-progress that I had set aside to be completely reworked and re-imagined. The other about my current project that is in revisions.

Work-in-Progress 2 (Clipped Wings)

As I fell asleep one night, I had the first revelation. This one coursed through me with dread. The kind that tingles at the scalp and makes the hair on your arms stand up as it worms its way into your mind.

My book is written wrong.

Now, it’s not completely wrong. Just, some of major (maybe little things building onto each other) things that make the book fit together. Certain scenes don’t fit, certain themes don’t go all the way through, and certain tones just don’t radiate through the pages the way I want them. Fixable things.

I can fix it. I think.

What knocked me back the most about this thought was that I knew how I wanted the book to make me feel. I know WHAT I want to say, I just haven’t accomplished the HOW quite yet. I’m sure I’m not the only writer who has struggled with that over the course of hundreds of pages. The first section of my book is nearly spot on, but after that it seems to drop off. As if the current beneath its wings simply died out.

There are a few options I have in mind for fixes. Here’s hoping that those work out, or at least start to form some cohesion in my threads.

Work-in-Progress 1 (Safe Haven)

The second revelation I had came to me as I collected my things to leave my house in the morning for work. Sometimes ideas hit you like somebody striking you over the head with a two-by-four. (It’s both startling and inconvenient). I made sure to write it down as soon as I got to work.

What if the house was a character?

This one came for building out a concept from my previous book into something more like a character. The setting of the novel would act more like a character, have a purpose, and show grief just like the characters. I also thought that it might be more effective to show multiple POVs for the main inhabitants of that setting.

While I’m not currently drafting this one, I’m taking my time to pull together the characters and how I’m going to structure it. I want to make sure this one is done right since I feel a strong connection to the themes and the characters. I’m planning it as a duology and would love to write them together rather than as separate entities. But that means double the planning and double the headaches.

I’m taking this one as it comes, not stressing over it too much (haha riiight).

Updates, Work-in-Progress 2

Living and Learning

Working on one writing project was beginning to feel redundant, monotonous, and (dare I say) boring. Until I found what I was trying to say.

I started this project last May, or rather I learned my main character’s name. The first draft was finished near the end of September. Writing so quickly was like a dream (and honestly I hope to make it my lifestyle). Revisions feel like plodding through mud.

Now, however, I might have finally hit a decent habit for my revisions. Habit is the key to most progress for anything in my life, so why would writing be any different.

I know I have another draft (or several) after this one, but I’ll have at least made it through a revision. And that for me is huge!

 

Updates

2017 Wrap Up and Plans for 2018

Time sure does fly. I thought I would update this blog one more time before a new year starts and I feel like I’ve completely let something slip. So here’s a progress update on my projects and where I plan to go from here. Spoiler: They’re going really good!

The One That De-Railed Me

I’ve been lovingly calling this project “Catch an Angel by the Wings” and then it was streamlined to “Clipped Wings.”

This project turned out to be slightly less than a break from my frustrations and more of a whole new idea. I ended up capping the first draft of this project off at around 102,000 words/361 pages (hefty I know). I was not expecting to have a finished project by the end of August but there I stood with something I was pretty proud of. Not to mention that it was a full, stand-alone plot line.

I’m now about 100 pages into a very intense plot edit, which is about to hit the bulk of the issues with the draft. To say I’m cautiously optimistic about it would be an overstatement. (It’s driving me crazy at the moment).

The One That Won’t Sit Still

My ever “in-progress” project, which I had been calling “Safe Haven” but that title just doesn’t seem accurate anymore, is still sitting unfinished. A breakthrough finally caught my attention the other day.

The morning after a writers’ group meeting, I was washing my hair and it seemed to seep over my mind like the water over my hair. And so, I have a new beginning. For the fourth time.

It also changes the entire POV to first person. So, I’ll be doing an entire rewrite of that book when I have my ideas sussed out. This books, series, idea of mine, only ever gets me past the first seven chapters and then changes its tune.

Someday I’ll figure out what it wants to be about. When I do, I know it’ll be worth the struggle. Some ideas just don’t sit still.

An Overactive Imagination

Of course, the year wouldn’t be complete without my overactive imagination butting its head into everything. I attempted a new genre for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and failed. While I still love the idea, the plot, and the characters, I think that “traditional” fantasy just doesn’t sit well with me. I’ll try again when I have my world set a bit better.

Along with that, my NaNoWriMo plot from last year came sneaking back into my head and begged for attention. I didn’t give it more than a quick jot of notes for the fixes it offered to the horrible plot mistakes I had made during my whirlwind month of writing.

Various short story ideas came to mind. Likewise, I had multiple nibbles at my consciousness for longer stories. All of them begged for full control of my creative energies. However, as I want to focus on one project, I am trying desperately to keep my flitting imagination from nabbing the upswing that comes with consistent creativity.

Plans

I am a serial planner with terrible follow through when it comes to personal projects with imaginary deadlines.

That’s why I enjoy participating in NaNoWriMo so much. Joining a critique group has also helped me keep a more consistent editing schedule with expectations that I will bring a certain amount of pages every other week. While my imagination loves to be spontaneous, my personality is all about the plan.

My goals for 2018 are simple (if I make any more specific promises I will probably break them):

  • Finish the first draft edit of “Clipped Wings”
  • Write a short story for submission somewhere
  • Start the new draft of “Safe Haven”
  • Read more

It looks like a lot, and it probably is, but if I finish even one thing on that list I’ll be happy with where my year went. Honestly, I’m pretty pleased with my year in writing this year. A year when a draft is finished is always a good year.

Let’s see where writing can take me next year.

Work-in-Progress 2

Reset and Refresh: New Projects

I’m just going to admit it.

I started a new writing project.

Also…I really love this new project. (Like I’m already 50,000 words into it…love it.)

I have not given up on my former project, not even a little bit, but I have put it “on hold” for the time being. For me, it just doesn’t feel like I’ve gathered all of the pieces. Whether that’s because I’m missing an emotional concept or I just don’t quite have the right structure to it, something feels off. So I’m letting it sit to come back to it. I think I just need one more read through to figure it out.

Writing sometimes feels like a rubix cube to me. I know there are set ways to solve this, but until you really learn the right technique–the way to turn it so all the colors match and it all fits in place–the story just isn’t going to sit right. So, I’m going to keep reading through it and work on this new draft idea.

The New Draft

My new draft is a sci-fi focusing on a futuristic racing sport. I am very much enjoying writing the first draft of this. I forgot how much fun writing first drafts was after working so hard to revise my previous project. That excitement of words just flowing from brain to page is invigorating. As the quote goes “I hate writing, but love having written.” Sometimes seeing those words on the page is the best feeling. It’s like seeing the sketch that will some day become the masterpiece finally taking shape.

Now let’s hope that when I get to adding the paint (revisions), I like it just as much.