Tag: WIP

Progress!

Things are moving. Up, down, sideways, I don’t know. But they’re going, and that’s exciting!

The evidence:

  1. I am Kiersten’s first Query Week victim guinea pig winner! (Er, no, it wasn’t actually a contest… but whatever.) Today both Kiersten and her agent Michelle Wolfson — and several helpful readers! — gave me feedback on a query letter I’ve been sending out for Twenty-Somewhere. Overall verdict: well-written but vague. So I’ve already taken that feedback, revised the query, and will send it to a few more agents. It’ll be great to see how responses compare to the Before and After versions.
  2. I finished my outline!!! That means I’m ready to start writing my WIP! Well, almost ready. See, I’m going to start writing it — today! today! — but I’ll have to stop at Chapter 3 if I can’t think of a name for one of my male characters. I mean, I guess I can put {Insert Name Here} as a placeholder and do a Find & Replace later. But somehow I think that’s not as fun.
  3. Okay, there is no 3… yet! But hey, how about those Olympics?

No really, how about those Olympics? Is anyone else watching? Who are you rooting for? Do you like how the media turned the Chinese pair skaters Shen and Zhao into a fairytale? I actually did enjoy that, and I cried for them a little when they won gold. (Yes, I am a sap.)

Whas happenin’

Things that are happening:

  1. LOVING Erin Danehy’s young adult steampunk-ish fantasy manuscript. I don’t want to jinx it with any crazy predictions, but it’s good, y’all. Really good. Definitely shelf-worthy, if you catch my drift.
  2. Querying, and thus rejection. Yes, I got my first rejection from an agent today. I was disappointed because she seems like a great agent, but I didn’t take it personally or anything. I just turned around and sent 3 more queries out. That makes a total of 10, which I think is a good “resting place” for now.
  3. Drinking Airborne. Yesterday my lymph nodes started to feel swollen and uncomfortable, so I think I might be battling a cold or something. No fun.
  4. Itching to write! (Note: This is a totally different kind of disease, which I never try to fight.) Last night I took the prologue and first chapter of my young adult supernatural manuscript to my writing group, and they were extremely complimentary and encouraging. It’s such a great feeling, that high you get when you realize that something you’ve written has really pleased people. But! I already put that book aside to work on a different book. And then I put that book aside to work on this new one. And this new one is still in the planning stages! So: I want to write, but it’s not time yet. Boo. Hopefully this weekend I can scratch the itch…

Things that are not happening:

  1. Planning the new book. I mean, it was happening, but I hit a snag. Last night as I was falling asleep, I thought of a huge problem with my new world, and I have yet to solve it. Grr.
  2. Thinking of good blog ideas. Obviously. I keep wanting to talk about the progress I’m making on my new book, but oh yeah, see #1 above. Sigh. Instead I may post the last of the short pieces that I wrote at the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, since I haven’t managed to place it into any magazines for publication.
  3. Your face.

I can has world?

I’ve sent a few queries for Twenty-Somewhere and plan to send a few more, but in the meantime, I’m also moving forward with my new story. You know, the one about the twenty-something couple that gets thrown into another world, which puts their relationship to the test.

As I mentioned before, I already wrote a lame first chapter that I had to scrap. Now I’m realizing just how much prep work I really need to do before I can try to write the real first chapter. Not only do I need to outline (something I don’t usually do because I’m stubborn/lazy), but I also have to truly create the world into which this couple gets thrown.

Worldbuilding. Oy. I’ve never really done it before. In fact, I’ve usually avoided it when possible, because as I mentioned before, I’m stubborn/lazy. I mean, inventing their clothing, language, geography, customs, history, values, whaaaa? I get tired just thinking about it!

But, no more. If I want to do this story right, then I have to do right by this story, and that means giving it a rich, full, carefully thought-out world.

Am I daunted by this task? Heck yes. But I’m looking forward to it too. Because some of my favorite stories revolve around fantasy worlds. Chronicles of Narnia, Fushigi Yugi, Harry Potter…

What about you? What are your favorite fantasy worlds, and why? What do you think makes them so great? I’d genuinely like to know, because I need all the help I can get!

(Also, for any other inexperienced worldbuilders like me, check out this great list of worldbuilding questions on the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America’s website. And thanks to Erin for showing me that.)

Accidental drive to Mexico

First, go read this post about “outlines and word quotas and why they sometimes might lead to sucky writing.” Then come back and let me tell you about all the outlines and word quotas and sucky writing I’ve been doing lately. ‘Cause boy oh boy is it fun! (Not.)

Okay, if you’re too lazy to read Justine Musk’s post (but really, don’t be — or at least read section #3) then here’s the gist of it:

I believe in outlines. Except when I don’t.

I believe in daily word quotas. Except when I don’t.

I believe in encountering the work, which an outline can prevent you from doing.

Unfortunately, this is extremely relevant to my new book. See, I decided to set word quotas, but I did not outline, because I too believe in “encountering the work.” However, what I encountered this time was a big fat BORING first chapter.

Why? Because I wrote back story. I wrote 3,500 words about Jake and Yvonne that could have been summed up in one simple sentence: Their relationship has gone stale.

When I realized what I’d done, late on Sunday night, I kind of wanted to die. Because I was exhausted, I still had a quota to fill, and my writing was poop. (Poop!)

Did I cry that night? You bet I did. Teeny tiny tears of frustration. It sucked. Did I write that night? You bet I did. All 1,000 words. They sucked too.

So why did I even bother to finish my quota if I knew I might have to chuck most of it? Because I didn’t want to lose momentum. A more disciplined person probably could have afforded to just stop, take a step back, and focus on fixing Chapter 1, but I’ve proven time and time again that if I don’t keep my momentum going, I will lose it. And 2010 is about winning, not losing.

Therefore, I am now outlining. But wait, Kristan! Didn’t that quote say outlines are bad and lead to sucky writing?! Well, yes and no. It said outlines sometimes lead to sucky writing, because they can make a writer feel tied to an idea that doesn’t truly fit the story. But sometimes you really need an outline, otherwise you’re driving from Maine to California with no map. Sure, you might know to head southwest, but guess what? Mexico is southwest of Maine too. And though there are a few similarities, Mexico and California are most definitely not the same.

Some people have a really good sense of direction, and they would have no problem getting to California without GPS or Google Maps or even road signs. But me, I need a map. If something comes up, like heavy traffic or construction (cough cough metaphor for part of the outline that isn’t working cough cough), then I’ll find a detour. But driving across the country with nothing more than my instincts? That’s not for me. Not this time.

What about you? Do you have a good sense of direction, or do you prefer to use a map? (Note: I’m technically asking about writing, in a roundabout way, but if you want to talk about actual driving, be my guest!)

Living life without a safety net

First, thanks to everyone for your wonderful and supportive comments about the stories/scenes I recently posted! I’m so glad I put them out there, even though I was hesitant because they’re so rough. I have a tendency to blog about writing in general, as opposed to my writing specifically, but reading Kiersten and Natalie’s blogs made me realize that I should probably open up a bit. Because it’s fun to share (like secrets at a slumber party!) and your responses are so encouraging.

To that end, I have a confession to make: I’ve started a new book. I’m excited about it, so if you think it sounds stupid, please don’t tell me.

In a nutshell:

A twenty-something couple seeking adventure in order to revive their stale relationship gets more than they bargained for when they are whisked away to a strange and possibly dangerous other world.

Think Alice in Wonderland meets Princess Bride meets Spirited Away meets real life. Or something like that. I’m only 2,200 words in right now, but I’ve hit my word goal every day this week, so I’m feeling pretty good. I’m also going to employ alpha readers on this project, and it’s the first time I’ve ever had alphas (well, besides my thesis adviser Hilary Masters) so I’ll talk more about that next week.

In other news, my friend Julia has started blogging flash fiction once a week at 52 Tales. Julia is awesome, and a very talented writer! (We met at the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop.) Most of her current tales are about Austen Clark, a California lawyer who ran away to Micronesia for some mysterious reason involving a sawed off shotgun. There’s humor and adventure and even (I’m anticipating) a little romance. It’s like LOST, but without plane wrecks or polar bears or time travel or crazy conspiracies! In other words, not very much like LOST at all, except that it’s set on a cool island and is fabulous. Check it out.

Another friend, Mandy, recently blogged about how everyone’s pressuring her to get a backup plan. See, she recently quit her job to do freelance writing full-time, and apparently a lot of people think she’s going to fall on her @$$. What I love about Mandy is that she’s bold, so her response to those people was a big fat SO WHAT?

I don’t want to make a back up plan. I don’t want it to become THE plan as soon as things get tough and I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.

I want to struggle (a little). I want there to be times where I realize I need to hunker down and crank out some work if I want to pay my student loan. I want to make myself nauseous from the procrastination I’m doing to myself, and I want there to be days when I’m up until 4am finishing up work because I sat around all day reading blogs.

If I have complete security and comfort, which so many of us see as a level of “achievement,” like we’ve all suddenly reached our goals and can sit and be there and stay there, what am I going to get out of it besides the cash? What’s going to teach me, tempt me, freak me out, or make me squirm in discomfort? I know in the end we all want that feeling, but thinking of the day where I sit back and say “yep, this is it. This is where I’m at and how it’s going to be for the rest of like, ever…” makes me realize how I’m not ready to be there.

See? Bold. And brilliant. And totally going to rock the freelance thing.

Me, on the other hand… I compromised. I quit my job to write, but I got a safety net (a part-time job). Granted, it lets me spend a lot more time writing without making me a charity case, but sometimes I wish I were as fearless as Mandy.

(And sometimes I think I still will be… If 2010 isn’t the year, I think I’m going to have some tough decisions to make.)

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