WIP Marathon February check-in

Yeah, you read that right. February. That’s how I roll.

Actually, that’s how I rolled last month. Next time around should be more prompt. A last-minute weekend jaunt to London, followed by our annual March-let’s-get-some-sun-before-rickets-sets-in holiday, this time to the Canary island of Fuerteventura, sort of took over. I was still working, I just didn’t get around to posting about it, though if I could choose one or the other, writing wins over writing about writing every time.

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That said, my February check-in has arrived!

Last report word count: 113,431

Current report word count: 120,600 — bearing in mind that I’m on a sort of second draft right now, cleaning up the first draft hot mess and smoothing out some side plots and world building before sending it to CPs/betas. I don’t have a goal word count for this, but in the end I’d be happy around 100-110k. It’s become a bit more epic than I intended, but I *always* prefer to have lots of padding to work with when I get to the serious edits later on down the road, so I’m pleased with this!

WIP issues this month: I’ve had surprisingly few stumbling blocks, but there are things . . .  like a scene I wrote within my outline parameters, but then threw in a twist at the end. Some characters open a chest in another character’s chambers, and they’re shocked by what they find.

Why did I do that? I had no idea what was inside, and just left the scene that way and carried on. Now in this 2nd draft, I’ve had to puzzle out what of significance they could’ve discovered. Last night, I succeeded. But I tend to work like that! It’s not very organised and for someone as Type-A as I can be, that’s bizarre. But I’m learning that the way I work in writing is not indicative of the way I work in other matters 😉

Four things I learned this month in writing:

1. This I actually learned in reading: the thing that makes me enjoy a book isn’t how perfectly the opening scene is crafted (though a first scene has quite an impression and a lot of responsibility), but the characters and their choices, above all else. One of my holiday reads had an opening scene that made me think it would be a fluffy, one-dimensional tale of one-dimensional characters. Which isn’t good, but this book had such hype, and the subject matter interested me so I pressed on. I’m glad I did! I LOVED the book. So while opening scenes are weighty indeed, I only saw how it fit the story and characters as I read on. On its own, it made me literally wrinkle my nose. But in the end, it all worked together.

2. This isn’t something new, but a necessary reminder! I have a tendency to say the same thing in 2 or 3 (or, geez Louise, sometimes 4) different ways. I don’t know why. I think my brain feels this idea is so *deep* that the reader won’t get all that I’m trying to convey if I don’t describe it from multiple angles. But you know what? That doesn’t really matter. Different readers will always take different views of your words. Nailing a feeling, a vibe, or that one key feature is great. If they don’t get every last little nuance you want to impart, the story goes on. Just nail the key, and trust the reader (ie, get over yourself 😉 Less is often much, much more. They will fill it in with their own experiences just fine.

3. Some great tips on foreshadowing, by K.M. Weiland here.

4. And again, this is obvious, but sometimes the obvious things are the things I need reminding of the most: mystery = compelling. I wrote this on a Post-it and stuck it on my corkboard. Every scene needs to have something, no matter how small, that compels the reader to keep reading. Sometimes I get caught up in ticking all the plot boxes that I forget the simplest goal of each scene is to make the reader care, whether through a budding curiosity, a heart-twisting cliff-hanger, or a shocking revelation. There’s gotta be a question of who, what, where, when, or why, or you lose the reader.

What distracted me this month while writing: Piriformis Syndrome. I think this is what I have, coupled with some sciatic nerve nastiness. I’m calling it Writer’s Ass. I’ve had a shooting cold sensation down my right leg, which moves around and wavers in intensity (sometimes disappears! Like it did for the entire week we were in F’ventura!). I’ve been seeing an osteopath and a physical therapist for awhile now and I think we’ve narrowed it down. So. Strengthen the glutes. And I’ve just ordered a kneeling chair. I’ve used them before and they’re great. I’m praying it helps this because I can sit still for so long but the cold sensation can be so intense, it’s hard to think about anything else. No stretch or ibuprofen or hot bath or anything makes it go away when it’s happening, but sometimes I’ll get a few days’ reprieve. Argh.

Goal for next month: I’ve foolishly signed up for Camp NaNo. I’ve no idea how I’m going to write 50k in April when I’m still working on finishing this 2nd draft of NEVERSEA.

Last 250 words: (A random selection from February. Still first draft.)

Then he saw the front door clearly, the same chintzy white curtains hanging in the bay window that he’d meant to replace but believed there’d always be time. And all these years later, he didn’t regret that the time they’d shared had been spent enjoying each other, rather than mundane chores like redecorating. Seeing those curtains now filled his heart with new purpose, like a royal banner being raised, whipping wildly in the winds of decision. He would take time now for those things she wanted — they wanted — to make their home one that reflected the love they had. And the time they’d lost.

The truth will set you free. Wasn’t that what they said? The truth of his otherness would be breathed by his voice, proven by his native form, and all the cover-ups he’d shamefacedly doled out to her would come undone. He didn’t expect her to understand, or to love him still. But the fantasies had given him the guts to come this far.

The moment was here. The jig was up. He knocked on the door, a door like a hundred others in a hundred London suburbs, but as his flesh connected, it could’ve been a silkenstone gate to a palace of crystal and diamond and cut-glass beauty that would only shimmer in his sight. Of all the wonders the cockatrice had seen in his long life on both sides of the fissures, this door and — more importantly — what waited beyond, was incomparable.

A dog’s bark came from inside, followed by the sound of a chair scraping the kitchen floor. His heart thumped like a wild hare beating the burrows to announce the presence of danger.

Anna was allergic to dogs.

– – –

Good luck with March! What’s left of it 😉

White Saharan sands <3
White Saharan sands <3
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13 thoughts on “WIP Marathon February check-in

  1. Damn, those photos are stunning! Been wanting to go to the Canary Islands for a while now but just seem to end up in other places in the north instead of sunny places to the south!

    Cockatrice! That is awesome and different and so British – I love it! That writing sample is also great, I especially love the final sentence and the visceral punch to the gut I got reading it. Great stuff!

    Wishing you all the best for you and your numb bum in March/April 😛

  2. CAMP NANO!

    Do you wanna be in my private cabin? 😀 (I just invited you, I remembered you were on my NaNo Writing Buddy List. I’m Taethowen in case you don’t remember.)

    I’ve had poor luck with assigned/public cabins except for one session of Camp NaNo so far. So I’m just skipping it altogether this year.

    1. Hey hey! Sorry late reply and I don’t know if you’ll see this! I’ve been cabinified already, so sorry I missed out on being in yours!! Thank you for the kind invite 🙂 I’m beginning to have second thoughts about how to handle Camp NaNo… I might aim to spend half the month revising and the other half maybe 20k on the new story. Either way, here’s to a productive April! 🙂 Good luck to you!!

  3. I totally understand writing 3 sentences that all say the same thing. When I have this problem, it’s usually because I like all 3 sentences and can’t decide which is the best. Luckily, this is something that’s pretty easy to catch in edits. (Also, if I pull out a sentence I really like, I can probably save it for another chapter or another novel.)

    I just googled “kneeling chairs” and they look really cool.

    1. Yep, you just nailed another part of the problem for me. I can’t decide which is best! It is getting easier for me to catch in edits but for the longest time, it seemed like I was actually *okay* with it. Ugh! Oh well, live and learn 🙂 And good idea on saving the sentences rather than chucking them altogether!

  4. Love your excerpt, especially that last sentence!

    I’m dyng laughing at Writer’s Ass. Sorry, I know you’re truly suffering. But Writer’s Ass! *collapses in giggles* I think we have all been struck with that.

    K.M always gives such awesome advice!

    Best wishes with Camp NaNo Cheyenne, and I hope your physical ailments go away soon (though you seem to be accomplishing a hell of a lot even with)!

    1. Thanks so much, Jodi 🙂

      No, go ahead, laugh it up. Laughing about it is better than crying, and I’ve been near to that!! Am hoping the PT + time + warming up my ass before my daily writing sessions (and working out, of course) might just be the thing. Oh, and laughter. xx

  5. Hey, I do that myself: I write ‘on the fly’ on the first draft, then I have to figure out everything in the second. Oh, well…

    I like the snippet. The last line was fantastic!

    1. I’m glad I’m not alone!! 🙂 I outline to make sure I have an idea where I’m going, but it seems like that idea always morphs as it unfolds anyhow. And thanks a bunch! 🙂

  6. First off, I love the new look of your blog!! And that cover picture fits in with “A Leap In The Dark”!

    An annual “get-some-sun-before-rickets-set-in” sounds sooo fun! You have no idea how vicariously I’m living through you! I hope your leg didn’t make the experience less fun! (and the stretching exercises are helping!)

    Mystery= compelling. When I read great advice like yours, I just want to open up my Scrivener and start writing again. But in due time!
    Yes, I think the opening pages are a bit overrated, and there are quite a number of good books I’ve read that started off a bit dull. And vice versa.

    Love, love everything about the excerpt you shared! That last line gave me chills.

    I know March is almost coming to an end but happy writing!
    xoxo!

    1. Aww, thanks Ify!! I got this groovy rotating set of images for the main image, though it only seems to work sometimes. It should be one of four every time the page is visited. Thank you!

      Actually, amazingly my leg was FINE from the moment we landed until about 4 hours before we left, so for the whole week, my piriformis (if that’s what’s causing it) was absolutely chilled out. (Having a cold and food poisoning is a whole other subject, but we didn’t let it ruin our trip 🙂

      Thanks so much for stopping by 🙂 xxx

  7. Love the excerpt! I’m Camp NaNo-ing too, but with edits. Not sure how that’s going to work yet, but it’s always good to have the accountability!

    1. I’m the same now! I’ve had second thoughts… think I’ll focus on revising for the first half, then send it out to eyes and work on the new story in the second. I could try to push it and work on two at once, but I know myself and know I need to concentrate on one story at a time. And yeah, it’s all about the accountability!! Good luck! 🙂

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