Tag Archives: NANTUCKET

Validation, Plot Lines and A Goal (Of Sorts)

I’ve started working on my fantasy WIP, ELEMENTAL, again. It’s the one I started a while back, and found myself writing not only from two viewpoints, first person and third person, but, somewhat to my horror, in two different tenses, too.

I had put the five scenes I’d written on the backburner, because in my worry about the two different tenses, I felt so much resistance to working on the story anymore.

But last week, I decided to send the scenes to my friend Jules. Jules is a writer and a reader, too; she reads voraciously, and has the same eclectic taste in fiction that I have. She had also recently read a book which had a narrative structure very similar to the one I’ve been playing with – the novel used both first person, present tense and third person, past tense – and she found the narrative structure very uncomfortable to read.

Which made her an ideal reader for the scenes I’d written. So I sent the pages off to her and waited for her critique.

In the meantime, I also had lunch with my daughter, Hayley. Hayley is not much of a reader, which I find somewhat astonishing as she’s a very good writer. I mentioned my WIP to her, she was interested, and I decided to give her my five scenes to read, too.

The results? Jules found the scenes worked well; the switches between the two very different viewpoints worked for her. She didn’t find them jarring the way she’d found the novel she’d read a while back to be jarring.

And Hayley read through my scenes in her thorough, methodical way, and when I asked her about the switch in viewpoint and tense, she said she hadn’t noticed.

Both of them were eager to read more, find out where all my little plot points would take the characters.

Validation! Now that I know the narrative structure isn’t a problem, at least not for two very different readers, my resistance to tackling this WIP has lifted. I tell you, it’s hard to write when in the back of your mind you’re thinking, “yes, but I’ll probably have to rewrite this in a totally different tense sometime down the road.”

So yes, I needed this information, this acceptance.

And ever since then, I’ve been inundated with plot lines. It’s all boiling together in a really epic way, and while I have no clue how all the twists will come together in the end, I want to find out what happens.

Every quiet moment I have, my storylines pop into my head and I learn even more.

It’s the best situation to be in, from a writing perspective.

Which brings me to my sort of goal. The fact is, I’m getting really tired of always being in the same position writing-wise. I’m tired of always wanting to write, but never having written. Of dreaming of writing, but never seriously doing it.

The first draft of NANTUCKET is still sitting there, waiting for me to work on it. And now ELEMENTAL is seriously calling to me, too. It feels like I’ve been in this situation forever, almost.

And so I’ve decided that I will just plunge in and get going. According to a friend of mine who does Chinese face reading and astrology, this year is my year for accomplishing the stuff I want to do. It’s my stellar year – and it ends this coming February, when I’m in for a year of relaxation, ease and delight.

I’m also knee deep in my busy period work-wise; ironically, it’s always when I’m most busy that I get my most serious urges to sit down and write. So I’m going to do that, make the writing a priority and make full use of all this writing energy that deadlines always provoke in me.

By the end of this year? I would love to have the first draft of this current WIP finished and yes, Nantucket finalized and ready to send forth into queryland. That’s my sort-of goal.

Bad Guys and Villains

Have you noticed? I haven’t talked much about my WIP, WAVERLEY, after having to cut 33,000 plus words from it early last month.

That’s because I felt kind of numb.

I didn’t really know how to begin again.

So I did what I now do when I’m not sure what to do. I let it go. I decided to stop worrying about it (and were there ever a lot of worries – the main one being a deep fear that perhaps I would never be able to translate the story in my mind onto paper).

Thankfully, after letting it go, the answer came. Not anything full scale, no brilliant moves forward in the plot or anything like that. But enough to get my feet back on the right track.

Bad Guys and Villains, Alive, Alive, Oh!

We don’t “do” television at our place. No cable, no satellite. But one of our favorite things to do as a family is to find a series we’ll all enjoy, and then purchase each season on DVD as it comes out for family night fun.

One such series is Numb3rs. We recently finished watching Season 5 on DVD, and I noticed something interesting. About a third of the way through the season, the episodes really began to pick up. Things got a lot more exciting.

That was the first nudge from the Universe.

Then recently I had my own very lovely personal mini-readathon weekend, during which I managed to get through three books and partway through a fourth.

That was the second nudge.

I added the two nudges together, and realized what was wrong with WAVERLEY, why I was dreading going back to it.

Numb3rs really picked up because suddenly the bad guys in each episode became really bad guys, and as a result, there was so much more at stake.

And in every single one of the books I read during my mini-readathon weekend, there was (1) a make-no-mistake-about-it villain who (2) showed up early enough to let me, the reader, know that (3) there was a hell of a lot at stake.

That was my answer.

WAVERLEY is an urban fantasy that’s wrapped around a very lovely situation (if I do say so myself) – it’s one that is just brimming with possibilities and the world-building has been so much fun. And my main characters had shaped themselves up nicely in the words I’d initially written (well, all except for the late-comer). My plot seemed to be moving along okay, too. Not chugging along, but still, every time I sat down, something new and interesting flowed from my fingers.

But when I read through those 50,000 plus words of WAVERLEY last month, I wasn’t excited. I didn’t find myself tearing through the manuscript, like I had done when I picked up and read the first 30,000 words of NANTUCKET, written during NaNoWriMo 2008, and found myself wishing, when I came to the last word, that  I’d written more (which was how it became my practice novel).

You see, with WAVERLEY, I don’t know who the villain is. I have some vague idea of a group of bad guys with an equally vague evil intent (to destroy the world as my protagonists knew it, of course) but other than that, the villainy and badness is as clear as mud. It’s all terribly generic, and not particularly exciting.

The thing with NANTUCKET, my practice novel, is that from the beginning, I knew who the bad guy was. Not only that, I knew why and how, too. Even though I didn’t have a clue how I was going to get from A to Z, I knew as much about my villain as I knew about my protagonists. I knew what was at stake. I knew the motivation driving my main characters to do what needed to be done.

Plus, being a murder mystery, the bad stuff is introduced right at the beginning, which is a huge help, too.

Because I had all the necessary elements I needed, getting from A to Z without a map was a fun ride which resulted in a fairly interesting manuscript.

Now I’m back on track with WAVERLEY. I still don’t know who the villain of the piece is, but my imagination’s going to work on that, and when I do know, I’ll be able to sit down and begin working on the manuscript again.

And now I know something more about the way I write. Which is very helpful indeed.

A Rambly Random Wednesday

I’m feeling rather random-ly today, so of course, it means another post of random stuff! Here are the random things that have been delighting me:

Dream analysis. My older son has been getting university acceptances and a few scholarship offers, as well as several phone calls from the universities he’s applied to, so we’ve had lots of celebratory-feeling days around here.

Last night, I dreamed he cooked up a whole batch of bacon – it was crisp and perfectly done. I’ve never really been big on dream analysis, but this one just jumps out at me. Yes! He is going to be successful, bringing home the bacon!

A Clean Desk. I did it. I finally got around to cleaning up my desk. I took a picture, since it’s a rare event and I like to record things like this for future reference (and to remind a certain husband that I can occasionally be tidy).

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And this should give you an idea how I did it – I call it the “everything-in-the-box” method (note: patent pending).

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Writing. I started my first readthrough of my WIP, NANTUCKET, last night and I’m very happy to say that this readthrough is going so much better than the readthrough I did of my NaNoWriMo novel last month. No, it’s not perfect, but there’s stuff I can work on, and the story (so far) is shaping up quite well. (Please feel free to cheer …)

Reading. I finished The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern and have one burning question (don’t worry, not a spoiler):

Did Rosaleen know about the book, or not? If you’ve read the book and have more of a clue about this than I do, please let me know!

Lust Speaking of Husbands. As most of you know, my husband is a martial arts teacher. Now that we have a little dojo in our home, he holds the occasional private class here.

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What this means is that I’m now getting to see him in his black belt uniform again (I hadn’t seen him in his dogi for quite a while, because I rarely make it out to dojo functions these days).

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I’d forgotten I have a tendency to swoon when I see him in his karate dogi. Oddly enough, it’s not the same for me when he’s wearing his aikido uniform or his jodo uniform.

I guess it’s a good thing to be swooning over one’s own husband.

Blog Stuff. I’m hoping to be able to start working on a new look for Ms. Bookish next week, so if you see funny things happening around here, you’ll know why. The dilemma right now is picking a new template. There are just so many – it’s tough to choose just one. I guess it would be too confusing to use several at once!

Exercise. I’ve decided exercise is no longer going to be a dreaded word for me. It helps that I found a picture of me taken not so long ago where I looked decidedly more svelte than I do now. The reminder that it wasn’t that long ago was a good one.

So, treadmill, you and I are going to begin our love affair, starting today tomorrow Friday. I promise!

That’s my random stuff for today. Every now and then, I love a day of random. What random stuff have you been delighting in recently?

Writing Update: WAVERLEY and NANTUCKET

It has been a very long while since I last sat down to work on WAVERLEY, my current WIP. First it was the workload over the holidays – I tried, but I just didn’t have the energy to write on top of meeting all those deadlines.

Then, during the past three weeks (my recuperation phase, as it’s now fondly called at the Bookish household), I found myself procrastinating the final approach to the computer where my writing program rests waiting for me to – at long last – click on it and open it up. And start writing.

Here’s the thing: I really, really like Stephen King’s idea of whipping out that first draft without going back to reread, not until the first draft is done. I like the sound of that as much as I like the idea of working without an outline, so that I have the fun of discovering what happens as I write. So I’ve been determined to do both things.

But there comes a time when one has to look facts in the eye and say, “flexibility is a good thing”. And that time is now.

Because, you see, the seven weeks of not-writing has really pulled me out of the loop when it comes to WAVERLEY.

It feels a lot like putting down a book when you’re only half finished, and not picking it up until seven weeks later; I don’t know about you, but I hesitate to pick up such books again (which is why often when I put down a book and don’t pick it up for a while, it’s the kiss of death for that book even though I hang onto it, fondly thinking that, yes! I will! eventually! finish! reading it! Doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, sad to say). The excitement of reading the first half is, by that time, only a ghost of its former self, and it feels like a lot of work to pick up where you left off.

Not only has my momentum been lost, but there are certain things I remember only vaguely. And I also added a new, important character and it would be nice to go back and add in the scenes where we first get to meet him, and re-do the scenes that he’s supposed to be in, only he wasn’t, because at the time I wrote them, I didn’t realize he was supposed to be in them.

So I’ve decided to print out the 50,000 plus words of WAVERLEY and give it a readthrough before I start working on it again – even though I’m really only at the halfway point.

(For all of you who’ve offered to be my first readers, no need to panic. The first draft will likely be over 100,000 words, which is way too long for a children’s book, but my intention is to pare down to the requisite number of words by the final draft.)

After the readthrough, I will begin my “it’s just 20 minutes a day” daily writing goal again. It worked so well for NANTUCKET, and I know it’s going to work well for finishing WAVERLEY now that NaNoWriMo is no longer here to push me onward.

It helps that I’m pretty certain I’ll be able to get back into the momentum of it all once I’ve read it through and the things that have faded become bright and shiny for me again. To write my stories, I need to be in the world I’ve created; a hiatus only works to pull me further away.

I think this is what King was talking about when he said don’t stop the momentum of that first draft. Get your story down as quickly as you can. And now I’m adding, for myself: and if by chance you do stop the momentum, get your momentum back by reading what you’ve got, get yourself back into your story again, and then … don’t stop the momentum.

And as for NANTUCKET – it’s been sitting on my shelf for three months now. It’s also ripe for it’s first readthrough. I know it’s my practice novel, but I’m feeling very curious about how it will read after airing out for this long.

The thought of reading what I’ve written so far of WAVERLEY and my first draft of NANTUCKET is very exciting …!