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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16 thoughts on “WIP Marathon Report #4 – May

  1. Sometimes it’s good to go over what you’ve already written, if it helps you move forward!

    Yes, absolutely – you can’t please everyone! Every reader has their own personal tastes, and it’s the same with writers and industry professionals. It’s sometimes hard to remember that especially if the advice is coming from someone with a lot of experience who knows what they’re talking about, but ultimately, it’s your writing! 🙂

    Your travels sound like so much fun! I love Edinburgh. It’s really cool that you got to visit locations from your WIP, too! 🙂

  2. I always love your pictures! May was definitely beautiful for you, and more than made up for your wordcount this month (which, by the way, is still awesome!)

    I agree with your #1 lesson (and all of them!). You can’t please everyone, and even in real life. Write your story for you.
    And thanks for sharing the Janice Hardy post. I subscribed to her, but because I’ve not been writing for a while, I hardly opened any of her updates this month.

    Best wishes for next month! May the muses be with you 🙂

    1. I know what you mean, Ifeoma… I subscribe to a handful of great blogs but sometimes life just gets too hectic (or in my case often, my HEAD gets too full) to go through them all. Her posts are always great but that one leapt out at me at just the right time, as I’ve been questioning tension and how to increase it. We will rock June!! 🙂

  3. I think putting the pressure on yourself to finish in a month with so much to go only leads to disappointment (I feel the same! ;-;), so I’m glad you re-thought your goals for June–best of luck! 🙂

    Holy cow, what lovely pictures! Sounds like you did some fun things this month!

    I had the exact same problem with one of my beta readers for my YA fantasy! She doesn’t usually read YA, but she enjoys fantasy, and she thought it didn’t quite come across right. I think she was expecting more of a elves and swords type of fantasy, and my narrator speaks too casually for an adult fantasy world. So I took in what parts of her opinion could strengthen the narrative without getting sidelined with her expectations as to what the book should have been.

    1. That’s fantastic that you were able to sort through your beta’s feedback for the bits that you could apply to YA, and leave out the rest. It’s a real skill, and I’m *still* learning it, but I think as my feedback has become more and more positive with less critical suggestions, I’m beginning to figure out how to distinguish between what I need and what I don’t 🙂 And if you ever need another beta reader, give me a shout!

  4. Yes! so much to your #1! Our only job is to write the best story we can and be true to the plot and characters involved. In my story, I had someone tell me it was too dark. Showed it to someone else, and she didn’t have a problem with the darkness at all, then again, the second person I showed it to writes the same stuff I do, so yeah, when it’s a matter of taste/style, always go with your own. There are other people like you. ^_^

    OMG, LOVE all your pictures soo much! AND you saw Phantom! Glorious! I got lost coming down from Edinburgh castle when I was there. And it’s so beautiful there, like I didn’t even care. Lol! I love Scotland soo much!!

    Anyway, ^_^ I, too have made some pretty unreasonable goals these last few months. Good luck in June! Whenever I travel anywhere I come back so inspired. I hope this next month is super productive for you!

    1. Thank you so much! Yes, I definitely feel inspiration bubbling in me when I’m away and I’m just ITCHING to write when I return, so I’ve got big hopes for my (more reasonable) goals for June! Best of luck to you, too! 🙂

  5. I, too, am an eternal people-pleaser, so your #1 really strikes a chord with me. There are times when my desire to please ALL readers leaves me *this* close to tossing my MS aside and saying “Forget this!” Thanks for the reminder that all writers go through this plight, and that we need to let go of the trying-to-please-everyone-madness.

    GORGEOUS pics. I’d never get any writing done if I had those places within arms reach!

    1. I think one of the amazing benefits of writing (when it’s so easy to focus on all the difficulties of this path, especially in the earlier stages) is how it’s helping me respond to rejection or not pleasing others in other facets of life. I’ve got a long way to go, but I think the potential for it helping me put things into perspective and get over it if someone doesn’t return my call or smile at me is big 😉

      And yeah, this is why I hardly ever get any work done lately! I love going away on long weekends, but I think I could do with a few months of nothing until I feel like I’ve earned it!

  6. Great photos! So jealous! You’ve gotten so much done this month AND you traveled? That’s amazing.

    Congrats on all your progress and insights. I love Janice Hardy too. Her whole blog was like college for me.

    Good luck with all your polishing. It’s fun when something pulls together and you can focus on the details. <3

    1. Ahhh, thanks! I wish I felt like I’d gotten way more done, but even during the months when I do get a lot done I still tend to feel like I could’ve done more. But JUNE is my MONTH! I can feel it! 😉

  7. I can definitely identify with wanting to make the first few chapters solid before continuing on, especially when it comes to understanding character motivation.

  8. Wow, those are stunning pictures.Makes me want to visit Scotland even more now!

    #1 is a really important lesson and a hard one. That’s why it’s so important that authors go with their gut and don’t compromise their story to please others.

    Good luck with your writing goals for June! 🙂

    1. It IS so hard, and so tricky, especially sometimes differentiating between “my gut” and “my resistance to changing the story.” 😮 But I like to think my gut speaks pretty loudly sometimes 😉

  9. Yeah, you and I are so in the same boat lol. It’s always a good reminder that you can’t please everyone. I LOVE that Janice Hardy article you tweeted about remembering what OTHER characters want. It was brilliant. Thank you for sharing it!

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