Plan, Plan, Plan

I’ve been traveling and dissertation writing and haven’t worked on fiction in a week. But I have been reading K.M. Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel and I think I know why I tend to hit 20,000 words and then have the well run dry.

When I’m thinking about a new project, I do commit some notes to the page. Usually this plan is less than one page single-spaced. It identifies the characters then briefly summarizes the plot. I generally have some ideas for major scenes: how the heroine/hero meet; the first kiss; maybe a subplot. There’s a lot of unanswered questions. A lot of “and then something happens and they fight” or “somehow, that subplot that I haven’t defined resolves the conflict.” It’s not a plan at all, really, it’s a sketch. And I’ve discovered that I sketch in 20,000 – 30,000 word chunks.

What I need to do is not to let myself jump into the writing until I can write a fuller sketch — something more like a plan or an outline — so that all the writing can be as good as the first two frenzied weeks tend to be. I feel like I could write a novel in about 6 weeks, but only if I have a solid detailed plan.

To focus on the good for a minute, I’ve written 40,000+ words in the past month, plus revisions for Together is Enough and dissertation reading/writing. It’s not enough to “win” NaNoWriMo, but it’s much more than I could produce when I started writing fiction last November. I still like both projects and want to continue working on them. But I think I need to pause and work through an outline or plan before I can finish drafting.

What are some of your strengths and weaknesses as a writer? How are you approaching them?

Word Count Check In

The novella has 20,053 words. It’s gotten to a very sad place and it distresses me. But I love my characters and I need them to achieve happily ever after.

I also started writing the novel of the sticky scene, and it has 3,301 words. And I absolutely love it. It’s such frisky fun and I’m resisting my normal impulse to get the hero/heroine together too quickly. I don’t think I can stand to break these two up, so it’s more of the will they/won’t they plot. We’ll see how it goes.

Plus, I finished my dissertation introduction and I worked on revisions on dissertation chapters and Together is Enough. It was a very successful writing week.

Cheers!

Word Count Check-In

My novella’s up to 14,231 words and I hope to write this evening. I only penned 5 dissertation pages this week, but I worked fairly extensively on revisions for Together is Enough, which I hadn’t planned for. I’m going to go ahead and call that a successful writing week.

Next week will be all about the dissertation, but I’d like to get the novella over 20,000 words.

I’ll get a full review up at some point in the future, but I wanted to draw the attention of my readers to Kimberly Truesdale’s new novel, My Dear Sophy, a beautifully realized prequel to Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I was fortunate enough to read an early draft and I can assure you that it’s delightful and squee-worthy. You should just go buy it now.

Happy writing!

Soundtrack for Writing

I was working on revisions last night and it wasn’t going well. In part, I’m not used to organizing my utterly unstructured scenes into something like the W plot. But eventually, I determined that it was also that I had A Capitol Fourth on the background. It was the wrong music. It was not the manuscript’s soundtrack. I couldn’t think my story to John Philip Sousa.

Do you use music for writing? Do you have a certain genre that inspires you? Do you have songs for certain characters or types of scenes?

For your listening pleasure, I’ve embedded the key songs that I associate with Together Is Enough after the break.

Continue reading “Soundtrack for Writing”

Final, Final, Final

I’m shocked and astonished and overwhelmed to share with you that my contemporary, Together is Enough, is a 2012 Golden Claddagh finalist! You can read about the entire thing here if you want.

I couldn’t have been more surprised to get the email. But I’ve discovered that this is where the real work begins. My first-round judges gave such generous, insightful, and constructive comments. They taught me so much about this manuscript and the writing process in general. I feel like a lifetime of reading fiction was surprisingly poor preparation for writing it. I have so much to learn that it’s humbling.

Now I’m deep in revisions to resubmit for the final round. I’m focusing on the three P’s: pacing, plot, and passive writing.

When we get bad feedback or when we’re rejected, we tell ourselves that it’s only one person’s opinion, that we learn from critique (whether the comments are warranted or not), and that at some level, we write not for accolades or appreciation but because there are things within us that just need to be expressed. If that commentary is true when we do poorly, it’s also true when we do well.

I couldn’t be more excited to have some positive feedback (tempered with much, much helpful criticism), but more than that, I know that I have a long way to go.