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!