Chy - 7

#WIPMarathon April Check-in

Outlandia path in Glen Nevis
Outlandia path in Glen Nevis

Okay, so it’s April’s check-in for WIP Marathon but I’m here to say, we’ve still got four whole days left in this month! And I will finish what I said I’d finish in April by the time the 30th rolls around. Maybe we should start doing these on the last day of the month, whenever that day falls? :}

Oh, and here are more gratuitous shots of yet another set of Scottish adventures.

Last word count:
116,587. What was a first draft of my WIP has become a second draft, really. When I was drafting it in Nov-Jan, I started to change my mind on characters by the time I got to the last third of the ms. And I also began to develop more worldbuilding ideas. So when I wanted to do a quick read for continuity of the first draft before sending it to CPs, I realised a lot more work had to be done for them to receive a coherent story. (Or something vaguely resembling one, anyhow).

I also realised there’s no point in sending out a mish-mash patchwork story to anyone, if those ideas are all likely to change. So rather than work on a new WIP for Camp NaNo, I’ve spent the month giving this story a much more detailed clean-up. Terminology confuses me sometimes, but this was no revision. This was just trying to get all the subplots to make sense!

Current word count:
119,336. I’m happy with this. As I said last month, this is unfolding to be a rather epic tale, and if I have about 120k to send to CPs/betas, then when they tell me everything that’s wrong with it (haha) and I have to turn into Edward Scissorhands to clean it up, I’ll have plenty of buffer.

WIP Issues This Month:
I think this story is a bit schizophrenic at the moment, so trying to fix that has become trying to accept it. It will have several more drafts before it’s ready to go, but in the meantime, it is what it is. And until I chip away at it to find out exactly what kind of story it wants to be (apart from fantasy, obviously), it has a handful of elements in it that *I* would want to read. The fact that they’re currently all mixed together is something I’ve decided is okay, for now.

Loch Tulla near Bridge of Orchy

Four things I learned this month while writing:

1. Get characters talking. I’m pretty sure I “learned” this before, but it’s an important point. I just finished reading RED SEAS UNDER RED SKIES by Scott Lynch — second in the hugely engrossing Locke Lamora series. Actually, I listened to the audiobooks for both because the voice actor is perfect. Lynch is one of the most incredible world builders and the detail he delves into makes you believe in his world implicitly (though some might say that detail gets a little rambly at times, but on audiobook I don’t mind it so much since I’m usually multi-tasking).

Lynch is also amazing at dialogue. They’re never talking heads. And what I realised is how much time he spends in dialogue. He has his interludes of descriptive language of setting or how an aspect of his world works; but when the characters are talking, it’s never boring. It’s always entertaining, always revealing conflict, always upping the tension. He’s a master at this stuff and highly recommended.

Of course, not all books share the same style, but it’s helping me be unafraid of pushing the dialogue envelope. I have a tendency to leave them in their heads and that’s BAD, and boring after a very short while, but most importantly, misses out on conflict.

Yes, a character can be in conflict within themselves and that’s often a large part of the story; but it can’t be the only part.

I also read an article by KM Weiland where she discussed one of the easiest ways to fix a boring scene is to get the characters interacting. The most basic of concepts… but I’ll take that reminder as often as I can.

And I’m leaving it at just the 1 item for this month because it’s a biggie 😉

What distracted me this month while writing:
Apart from a long Easter weekend trip to Glasgow (8 hour drive because of traffic so a VERY long trip) and two fun, peaceful, rejuvenating days camping and hiking in Glen Nevis/Glencoe, I’ve not had a lot of distraction. Mostly had my head down trying to plough through the most difficult stage of editing (to my mind) — when ideas are still forming. I find polishing much easier than arguing internally between various characters’ traits or personalities, for instance. Once I know them well, I’m much happier!

The north face of Ben Nevis.
The north face of Ben Nevis.
Buachaille Etive Mor. We’ve been up there 2x! NEVER ceases to amaze me 🙂

Goal for next month:
1. 
Send out A SIGHT OF NEVERSEA (this WIP) to my CPs.
2. LEAVE IT ALONE while they have it.
3. Read, brainstorm, and return to the first draft of my space opera.
4. As for other matters of which some are aware, grow in the areas of patience and belief I’m on the right path, no matter what the outcome is.

Looking forward to seeing how everyone else did this month!

Share Button
Chy - 7

No Day But Today

I’m nearing the end of THE HAPPINESS PROJECT by Gretchen Rubin, and it’s making me think a lot. I found the book in a very odd way – after our trip to Disney World in June, my husband randomly found a photo via Google of a couple going down Splash Mountain (our favourite ride) posing with a Jenga game. It’s a great photo. The woman in the photo ran 30candles.net, a “30 before 30” list, and one of the items was taking a ridiculous Splash Mountain photo (I know what I’m stealing for my “Before I’m 40” list ;).

ANYHOW, on her page she mentioned Rubin’s book, and I loved the whole idea – the list, the book, and the project. If you’ve not read it, I highly recommend it. It’s not a one-size-fits-all book, but it’s got some fantastic ideas and how they played out in Rubin’s life.

The first thing on my list of notes taken from her book is this:

Nothing is insurmountable if you do what ought to be done, little by little.

No news flash there – it’s a summation of Dale Carnegie and a thousand others’ mantras, but as I say, it’s the first thing in Rubin’s book that put my pen to notebook. I’m learning this slowly over the last few years. The other week when the Scotsman and I climbed Buachaille Etive Mòr in Glencoe, it reminded me that the first time we climbed it, I was new to hillwalking. I was nervous, especially during the scrambling bit. But I kept telling myself, “This is like writing. One step at a time. Just do what’s right under my feet, and that’ll take me to the next bit. One step at a time.” And I was amazed, and so proud, when we finished. I’m not an unfit person but this was a big deal for me, mentally as much as physically, being afraid of heights, falling, and all the rest.

IMG_2269 - Version 2

It’s a sentiment shared widely in the writing community, particularly among those of us un-agented and unpublished, with good reason. Little by little, a word becomes a page, becomes a chapter, becomes a book. Then you start over… edit, revise, cut. But it is that simple. One word at a time. I have to remind myself of this – and maybe others are the same – because I’m one who gets all too easily overwhelmed in life. One step at a time.

“No Day But Today” is one of my favourite songs (from the musical RENT). I used it as the song my bridesmaids walked down the aisle to last year, before I entered the room (I walked to my favourite piece of music of all time, “Glasgow Love Theme” by Craig Armstrong), because I think the message is universal. There’s only now and here, and I can happily say that finally in my life, I’ve gotten to the place where I’m grateful for every day and try to get the most out of every moment I possibly can, because I’ll miss it when it’s gone – especially the smaller moments. I might only get one chapter edited today, or I might not get any done if another moment takes over. But the important part that this book has brought to mind is that any mountain can be overcome if you take one step at a time, and today is your best time to do that.

#Writemotivation Update

I’m actually on track! Hard to believe, I know…

1. Finish WIP revisions. Finished this last week. Now currently Cutting All The Words (flabby, weak, soft words, as highlighted by John Skipp on the LitReactor course I did in August).
2. Send to CPs. Sent full MS to one CP, another friend has read the first three chapters, and I think a third CP to read the entire thing would be brilliant.
3. Get back to routine! Doing this 🙂
4. WF x5. Done!

I hope you’re having a great September and accomplishing little by little whatever you want to do 🙂

IMG_4632
Severn Estuary, Portishead. Enjoying my last few runs in this neighbourhood.
Share Button