WIP Marathon Report #4 – May

How is it June tomorrow? HOW?!

Last report wordcount + chapter count/scene count:

18,160 / 5 chapters / 12 scenes. Some of these scenes are just ideas for later, set aside. 

Current report WC + CC/ SC:

24,795 / 6 chapters /16 scenes. Again, some of these scenes aren’t sorted into chapters yet. I write out of chronological order at times when a future scene starts bubbling up in my head, and save it for later.

Not great progress. Not at all, especially considering I’d hoped, once again, to finish the flippin’ first draft of this by June. It pained me to delete off my iCalendar yesterday, “FINISH 1st DRAFT!” because obviously, that was laughable. But I have spent a LOT of time working on an older MS. Again. 

WIP Issues This Month: 

I’m currently going over what I’ve already written, which I don’t usually approve of in a 1st draft, but I want to make sure I understand the characters and check for tension BEFORE moving forward, and I had a few ideas of improving both these areas. I wanted to implement these ideas now before I drafted any further chapters, and that happened about mid-month so it sort of stalled me in writing new words. But ultimately it will help.

Four things I learned this month while writing:

1. This wasn’t something I learned, but was reminded. You CANNOT and WILL NOT EVER please every reader. Other writers, readers, agents, publishers. Trying to make every change to suit every taste is the way to madness. Note to self: just stop trying.

While I’m beyond grateful for every drop of feedback people are generous enough to share, if I run around changing every aspect of the story I’ll never stop changing it.

I received kind feedback from someone recently who writes other genres/age categories, and obviously likes their characters a bit more bubbly and perky than one particular character of mine. There are things I’m taking from that in order to consider how the character comes across off the bat, yes. But in this example, if I try to make my character fit this person’s taste, I’m doing myself and my writing a disservice. Polishing, yes. Changing to suit someone else’s personal taste? Not unless you agree.

It’s hard to remember for someone like me who is an immense people-pleaser. I want to please everyone, but it’s just not gonna happen. Nor should it.

#1 was a biggie, so I’ll be brief with 2-4.

2. Janice Hardy, as usual, rocks. To add tension to your scenes, think: what do the OTHER characters want? Super-simple, yet effective. Read here.

3.  A reminder from a WD bootcamp I did this month: keep your characters interacting with their environment. Always. Not just standing around thinking. That’s a given, but it’s worth repeating!

4. Another given: if you’re sending a query / letter to your editor / entering a contest, EVEN IF you’ve read the submission pages a thousand times, if you go and tweak one word on the fly, make sure you re-read the whole dang thing. Because if you don’t, inevitably you’ll miss that one word that is actually a word, but the typo in it gives it a whole new meaning. Yep. I did that this month. Just saying.

What distracted me this month while writing:

Such a busy month! May is by far the busiest. I have about 9 family & friends’ birthdays this month. The Scotsman and I went to London for 2 days, saw Phantom, and got to catch up with my old college buddy, Mike (who’s been Miley Cyrus’s keyboardist for 8 YEARS!). I saw Mike in London last time he was here on tour 4 years ago, but he hadn’t met my husband (who was my boyfriend still then). Mike and I went to Belmont University in Nashville together back in the day.

Then the weekend after was a bank holiday. The Scotsman and I did some hiking on a 2-day trip to the Peak District. And last weekend was another bank holiday and our 2-year wedding anniversary, so we had 5 nights away in the Scottish Highlands. My first trip to Aberdeen as well, to visit a friend. It was probably the warmest, loveliest day all year! Who says Aberdeen is cold? 🙂

Doune Castle
Doune Castle

We stayed in Edinburgh one night and in the morning, walked through a neighbourhood my MC in my WIP stays in for part of the story. I took a ton of photos and imagined which flat she might stay in, and there was something really magical about seeing it in real life. I’ve been to Edinburgh dozens of times and usually visit the same places, but this neighbourhood was new to me.

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

We stopped in to see my mother-in-law the next day, toured Doune Castle (filming location of Monty Python & the Holy Grail, and OUTLANDER!), did 2 days of hiking in the Cairngorms, then to Aberdeen. Fun times! 🙂

Hike near Loch Brandy, Glen Clova
Hike near Loch Brandy, Glen Clova

Goal for next month:

1. Be completely polished-as-polished-can-be (aka DONE) with Older MS. That means Chapter One rewritten, CP-approved, polished, DONE.

2. Reach the 50k mark on WIP. That’s a bit more reasonable.

Last 200 words:

Ugh. I just can’t. I struggle sharing first drafts because they’re just so first-drafty! Next time.

And a photo post coming up detailing some of the above-mentioned jaunts 🙂

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NaNoWriMo and November #WriteMotivation Wrap-up

I just realised my first #Writemotivation and NaNo post for November was saved as a draft . . . and never published. This is the ultimate example of how scattered my brain has been. My great ability to start things and not finish them has reared its head this year. Well, that’s quite enough of that. If nothing else, I hereby dedicate 2013 to be the year of finishing projects/tasks/goals I start, and being able to happily point at finished products before moving on to the next thing.

To everyone who wrote *any* words during November for NaNo, WELL DONE! A lot of friends and Twitterers have said they focused more on the quality of the words they wrote this year, as opposed to just throwing whatever up there in order to “win”, and I’m wholeheartedly in this camp. I think NaNo is an awesome motivator for people to get pen to paper and fingers to keyboard. It’s rewarding to be writing alongside others, even if they’re fellow storytellers we’ll never meet, and this is never more obvious to me than during NaNo, so thank you to everyone who shared encouraging words on Twitter 🙂

Writing Ahead of the Blank Wall

My goals for November #Writemotivation and NaNo were the same: add 50k to my WIP, A BREATH OF SILVER, and I succeeded. This time I tried something different though – I have the synopsis for the story down, all the pivotal story points and the ending, but it was the little details and connecting scenes that I began to struggle with halfway through the month. Some days I wrote nothing. Two weekends my husband and I were away so I got nothing down, but I secretly revelled in these excuses to take a break. Then I decided to do what someone suggested: write what I know right now. I wrote some pivotal scenes I’ve had simmering for awhile, and in doing so, on the spot I came up with details, characters, and side plots that I’ll have to explain later.

For instance, my MC–Bryn–travels from North London to Scotland in 1691. The last scene in chronological order I wrote was her arrival north of the border. Then when I blanked on what happens between her arrival in Scotland to her life at her ancestral clan’s Highland castle, I jumped several months ahead to her trying to fit in, what job she’s doing there, and what friends and rivals she’s made. That meant I immediately had to make up the peripheral characters and situations that would propel her to the next plot point: meeting a romantic interest and major character. It also means that the bits that will come in between her arrival in Scotland and her life at the castle are now sketched out, and backtracking to write these scenes will be much easier.

The point is, I think sometimes you need to move forward to fill the gap. It can be a massive chasm of unknown obstacles, characters, creatures, threats. There could be anything in there, particularly as this is first and foremost a fantasy. But when I jumped to the other side of that ravine, since I know what happens there, I can look back easier than I could look forward. I know some are totally against writing out of order, but I’m finding it really does get my creative juices flowing when I’ve reached a wall. So, you never know until you try. If you’re stuck, I recommend it! But probably only if you’ve got a solid overall synopsis constructed first.

It felt great to reach my goals this month for the first time in awhile, and special thanks to Leigh Caroline, Megan Peterson, and Andrew Patterson for encouragement, and Susan Dennard and Sarah J. Maas for their fabulous #NaNoWriMoBattle word sprints that seriously pushed me! Hope everyone enjoyed pressing forward in their goals this month, and are enjoying the holiday season!

Oh yeah, and yesterday was a year since my husband proposed to me 🙂 Nice to see my ring has survived everything I’ve put it through, including climbing Helvellyn in the Lake District covered in snow, climbing the highest peak in England & Wales (Snowdon), as well as other hills, scurrying down rocks to reach a hidden cove in Cornwall, jumping off a boat into the freezing-cold Mediterranean, and many other adventures. Here’s to many more 🙂 <3

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