WIPMarathon Report #2 – March

Hooray for WIPMarathon!

I’m so glad we’re continuing to check-in with each other, mostly on Twitter right now but also with monthly blog posts to note our progress on our respective current manuscripts. Lately, I really appreciate accountability for much-needed motivation.

Having said that, however, I am officially a week late on this, but my excuse is I was in London last weekend and then this week seemed to be playing catch-up no matter what I did.

On Waterloo Bridge
On Waterloo Bridge

Last report wordcount + chapter count/scene count: This time last month, I was still in the idea sketching stage. So, a month has passed . . . I must be WORLDS ahead by now, eh? EH?! 

Current report WC + CC/ SC: A month later — words: 13,195; chapters: 3; scenes: 6. Draft #1 is on its way. Slowly. I hope it picks up the pace.

WIP Issues This Month: As I’m now keeping a spreadsheet in Google Docs containing notes on what I set out to accomplish each day versus what I DID accomplish, I can actually look back and answer these questions with some accuracy. This is the first time I’m starting a MS with a 3-act structure diagram and (vague-ish) outline from the get-go. Each day before I sit down to type out a scene, I’m trying to sketch a brief outline with ideas for what NEEDS to go in the scene, in a notebook. I’m hoping this gets me into a kind of routine that helps push me forward each day (thanks to Susan Dennard‘s recent blog series).

The problem I’m finding is that not every scene has an obvious “magical cookie” (i.e. the thing that makes you really excited to write that particular scene). I agree with Susan that each scene SHOULD because of the old, “If it’s boring to the writer, it’ll be boring to the reader” maxim. I believe that 100%. Susan says that if you can’t think of a magical cookie for a certain scene, go back to your original inspiration for the story in the first place, and find it there. This is excellent advice, but I’ve not been doing it. I’ve been trying to force a cookie out of thin air. So I need to work on that.

St. Paul's Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral

Four things I learned this month in writing:

1) Reading books you once adored and thought were the BOMB is healthy — because you might realise you no longer think that. Or you might learn what specific things you loved about them, but where they went wrong that you were idealising all this time. It’s healthy! Though a little disenchanting.

Example: I’m rereading a book that was one of my favourites in my early teens. I haven’t read it since I was about 20. It’s a re-telling that expands on someone else’s characters; sort of an old-school fan-fic. What I loved about it all this time is the *characters*, the idea behind them, the gothic tone, and the historical reseach the author did. The prose and dialogue is actually rather elementary. It’s nowhere near as detailed as I remembered it. It’s a little bit of a let-down, but I’m glad I’m rereading it to find the gems that drew me to it in the first place. It’s nice to know I’m becoming more objective.

2) What kind of story should *you* be writing? I won’t sum this up but simply point you to a great article by the always wonderful Janice Hardy: http://diymfa.com/writing/writing-right-story

3) Don’t know why a scene is happening, or what its motives are? Find the love in the scene. Figure out what the characters love (what they want to happen), and you’ll figure the scene out. Brilliant and surprisingly simple advice from Biljana Likic over at Pub(lishing) Crawl: http://www.publishingcrawl.com/2014/03/28/motives/

4) When someone you really admire gives you compliments mixed in with advice (that you might not agree with)… and I mean, someone you REALLY admire, would love to get to know, etc. etc., take those compliments. This person is not a crit partner, nor a friend of a friend, but someone with a position to know what they’re talking about. Take those compliments, and move forward with them 🙂

What distracted me this month while writing: My sister had a baby (her third! A girl!), and thank God for Facetime 🙂 I had some disappointing news mixed in with the good that brought me low for about a week; I had my first (I think) migraine which lead to a week of panic about my eye health; and I had a weekend away in London. I also recorded my first Vlog this month, for Write Away! Lastly, I read the truly inspiring Jim Henson biography by Brian Jay Jones. For someone who grew up with the Muppets (only the originals, please!!) and Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock, this is a must-read. It’s hugely inspiring especially for those in creative fields, and I found Jim’s eternal optimism, when when networks and critics panned his work, is as magical as his body of work. I found this distracting because I essentially spent a week watching Jim clips on YouTube and crying my eyes out.

If this video doesn’t move you, you have my sympathy!

Goal for next month: For real this time, I would like to have the entire first draft of this WIP completed by May. We’re already 5 days in to April so I need to get a move on, but I’ve at least made it to Act 2.

Last 200 words: (this is a very, very first draft!)

Without pulling her eyes from the heavens’ arresting mélange, she knelt to the ground, neck still craned. The stars took turns in their luminosity, one color intensifying before ebbing as another outshone it. It was a night sky ballet of twirling tulle and organza of light, donned in all shades of the rainbow. How long she had slept, how she’d fallen without major injury that she could suss, what time or even day it was — Luma knew none of it. She knew only this: she wasn’t in Cornwall. She wasn’t in Britain. And she wasn’t in her right mind.

She sat cross-legged, hugging her knees as though doing so hard enough would prompt the dark earth to swallow her up and spit her back out beside the engine house. Night sounds closed in; a susurrus of scuttling as though from a creature with too many legs, and the dissonant melody of wind rustling leaves filled her with frightful wonder. With unfamiliar constellations pirouetting above, and the inexplicably small barrow at her back, Luma at last took in the ruins of an enormous statue, its pieces dotting the clearing. The limbs were mammoth, and marble perhaps. Arms shot upright like macabre trees, and a giant head leaned crookedly in the center.

In the midst of her disorientation, of alien lights, no mine in sight, and a sense of otherness she could not escape, Luma’s prevailing worry was how Brielle would get to work without her car.

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Thanks for stopping by!

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P.S. Had a fun weekend away in London with my lovely friend Lauri from uni. We saw Phantom from the 3rd row, frolicked along the river, and had many adventures (some of which included the ever-popular game of suitcases-on-the-Tube).

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