Sunday, May 9, 2010

WIP Progress

I'm all fired up about my new WIP (though I don't know how long I can refer to it as "new"--I guess it's just my WIP now), but I recently had a little bump in my path. I started questioning whether YA was the best genre for this story. I asked myself, "Self, would this be better as a tween book?" And I didn't think it would. Truly. But I wasn't sure. Of course, changing the genre would change my story quite a bit--not only the voice but so much of what actually happens. You know, the big stuff. The thing is, once you ask yourself that question, you have to be really open to the answer.

I went through my outline knowing that
if my story could be Six Million Dollar Man-ified (rebuilt better, stronger, faster--wow, I'm so dating myself...uh, my grandma told me about that show), it would be the thing to do. We, after all, want to write the best books we can. So I experimented.

In addition to noting necessary changes to my outline, I wrote the chapter I was working on at the time with a thirteen-year-old protagonist. Then I wrote the same chapter the way I'd started the manuscript, with my sixteen-year-old protagonist. I played with various scenes both ways to get a broad and detailed sense of the story. I feel a big difference between thirteen and sixteen--and so many little differences that add up to a character's voice. It was interesting but stressful, having this sudden uncertainty. Still, I'd rather play with it now when I'm less than halfway through the first draft. Of course I have plenty of revision ahead regardless, but if I can nail the genre now, it will be much easier to revise later. So I looked hard at the YA books I've been reading, talked to a librarian, asked an agent at the conference about genres, and thought about the story I want to tell.


To make a long story less long, I, in my heart of hearts, now know this book is YA, and I'm pushing forward, glad I experimented and more confident in my outline. I'm also slightly changing my writing goals to be more productive. Rather than putting in
a certain amount of time each day, I'm shooting for a specific amount of pages. I'll let you know how that works for me. Something else I'm trying in the name of productivity: I now have to earn my email.* Eep! I won't allow myself to check my email until I finish my writing for the day. I told the critique partner who suggested this, "I can't do that! I have submissions out!" She said the cool thing about email is it will all still be sitting in my inbox when my work is done. And you know what? She's right. Those crit partners...so wise and willing to give you an extra push when you need one. :)

So how's your writing schedule? Is it just right or would you benefit by pushing yourself a little harder? In the comments, feel free to write something you'd like to try (or something you've already tried and found helpful) to make your writing time more productive.
Otherwise, you can place bets on how long you think I can succeed at/survive this no email while I'm working thing.

*Unless it's critique group day (I have to be aware of last minute changes, especially since we often carpool) or a weekend. That means I'm allowed to run to my computer at 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday if I choose to do so. The thing is, why would I?

30 comments:

Stephanie Thornton said...

Email is evil. I check it waaaay to often.

I'm glad you were able to work through your outline- I agree that there's a huge difference between 13 and 16. I'm glad I write adult- writing anything younger is just plain hard!

paulgreci said...

My recent WIP is in that border area bet. YA and MG. I just gave it to my agent so it'll be interesting to see what she thinks in terms of genre.

It sounds like you are in a good position to move forward on your WIP. Good luck. Sometimes I just leave my email minimized on the bottom of my screen and if a message pops in I check it, that way I'm not thinking about checking it.

SAMUEL PARK said...

Glad you're so fired up--and I bet questioning the best genre for a moment only strengthens the work you're doing! Thanks for following me--happy to be following you now!

storyqueen said...

Timely.

I have a YA that I did a complete draft on and now I am not sure if it is YA or not. I mean, maybe it is....but I am not certain if I am a YA writer or not....

Shelley

Travener said...

I am way too undisciplined to have a schedule at this point. When I start the actual writing it will be just barrel through until it's done. But plotting it out is, for me, a catch-as-catch-can thing. Plus right now I'm sick, so thazt doesn't inspire. Plus, as you well know, the weather here has been totally suckish, not counting yesterday.

Tara said...

You're right, huge difference between 13 & 16. Glad you are figuring things out and getting the outline worked through. Yea :)

Marsha Sigman said...

Blogging is my big time killer but I have no intention of stopping.ha

I write almost every day and I think I have a pretty good system worked out. Most of the serious work gets done on the weekends.

Susan R. Mills said...

It's great that you narrowed down the genre. I just came back from a blog break, and I've decided that I can't blog on any given day until I've met my writing goal. I will do my post first thing in the morning, but then I won't read other blogs until I'm done writing. So far, so good. Of course I just started today. :)

Becky Levine said...

Dawn, what a great post--I love how you pushed yourself to really figure out your genre/age for your story. I'm clear that my current WIP is YA (although that's not saying i'm being successful yet in getting the right YA voice!), but I am struggling with the same question about an earlier book. I plan to take some time this summer to do what you've done with yours, really look at it and play.

Solvang Sherrie said...

I tried turning off my sound so I wouldn't know when an email came in, but then I noticed that my screen did a funky little blink whenever I got a message. I can't ignore it ;)

That's cool that you went so deep into deciding whether or not your story should be YA. I'm sure it helped a lot with developing your character as well.

Kelly said...

That is great that you manipulated your story so you knew who your main character truly was.
I changed my genre recently and I do think it is the right choice. You don't know either way unless you try, right?!

Medeia Sharif said...

I wrote a MG years ago that was never accepted for publication. Now I'm wondering if I should make it YA by adding a few years to the MC's age and making the story edgier.

I'm glad you made a decision about your wip.

On heavy work days, I pay attention to how much time I've spent writing. During my leisure time, I look at how many pages/words I've written.

Hema P. said...

Wonderful post, Dawn -- lots of writing truths in it!

Good for you that you got that big dilemma about the genre out of the way early on! And congratulations about getting strict with yourself on a schedule. I do not have a schedule. If I put myself on one, it only ends up drying up my creative juices. I write wherever and whenever and it seems to work okay for me so far.

And you said: "once you ask yourself that question, you have to be really open to the answer". That is SO true! And at times, sadly, I realize that I should have asked a particular question of my characters long ago, but I had chickened out. But cowardice always comes back to bite you :).

Jemi Fraser said...

Good for you - going through a major dilemma like that so logically and smoothly. I'm impressed!

I don't set goals - my life is too crazy busy to keep to any set schedule, so I just do what I can when I can. :)

Dawn Simon said...

Stephanie, I check it way too often too. And certain emails at the right (or wrong) time can really pull me out of what I'm doing and waste writing time. Thanks for the positive thoughts. Being a high school teacher, you definitely have a handle on various ages! I think which genre is harder is so subjective. What is easy for you would probably be really hard for me!

Paul, it will be super interesting to hear what your agent says! It's so cool you have an agent with whom you can sound out ideas. YA and MG are my two favorite genres in the whole world, and I'd eventually like to be published in both. I've minimized my email or kept it running in the back, but I'm trying this cold turkey method. We'll see how I do. ;) I can't tell you how fun it was opening email today when my work was done!

Samuel, welcome and thanks for following me back! I hope it strengthens it. I feel like it has/is.

Shelley, so tricky. I obviously don't know the answer, but I do know you're awesome. I've been a storyqueen fan since I first found your blog, so I just know you'll figure it out. :)

Travener, there really isn't just one approach. That's one of the many interesting things about blogging: you hear so many different ways writers tackle their projects. It's cool, huh? I'm sorry you're sick. I hope you feel well soon! :)

Thanks, Tara! There is a huge difference.

Marsha, you always crack me up! It sounds like you have a good system!

Susan, sounds great! This no email during work hours is new to me too. We can cheer each other on!

Thanks, Becky! It can be hard, can't it? Two years ago, I started a YA that ended up being MG. I look forward to finding out what you decide! Good luck! :)

Sherrie, I tried the sound thing, too, but when I'd hit a hard scene, I'd be like, "Huh, I wonder if I have any email..." Ack. Yeah, it did help me develop my character more--and the whole book, in my opinion. *fingers crossed*

Kelly, exactly! I'm glad you made the change--that's great!

Medeia, ooh, that'll be cool to try! It sounds like you have a schedule that works for you! :) I'm curious to see how my shift from time to pages will pan out. It's too early to tell.

Thanks, Hema! Creativity is a funny thing. Here I am shooting for x amount of pages, but knowing NaNoWriMo would stress me out and kill my creative juices. And I've dismissed questions that have come back to bite me too! Unfortunately, we can't catch all of it.

Jemi, I may sound logical and smooth now, but I was kind of jumpy in the middle of it. ;) All you can do, really, is what you can, when you can. I just happen to be at a place in my life where I can have a structured schedule and, being a wee bit OCD (okay, more than a wee bit), I'm embracing it!

B. WHITTINGTON said...

This was the perfect post for me to read. I started a new WIP last month and have had little time to work on it. Is it still my new WIP.
Last week was my target date to get serious and everything that could go wrong did. Now today has been taken up with meetings. TOmorrow is my date to start - again.
I've promised myself there will be no doing anything on the computer until I've worked the allotted time or number of pages. Same for reading fiction. NOt allowed unless it's a reward for work well done. And I'm a hard task maker.
Good luck to both of us as we set out on this path.
Mine is adult mainstream told from pov of 8 year old girl.
Blessings!

Anita Saxena said...

I'm not sleeping enough because I've spent the past two weekends celebrating major events with family and friends. I'm a zombie. Hopefully I can be a writing zombie.

Dawn Simon said...

Barb, life sometimes gets in the way. I'm chiming in late, but I hope today was a great writing day for you! :) And yes, good luck to both of us!

Anita, lack of sleep is no fun. The writing zombie comment was funny. Hee!

Molly Hall said...

Oh my gosh, I am so happy for you that you came to a clear answer in your own heart. This is great! Now you KNOW what your book is. That has to be empowering!
I most definitely could stand to push myself harder. I haven't got the willpower to stay off of email... I have heard there is some kind of "Freedom" software that disables your internet for X number of hours. I am seriously considering it! I also just need to get better at clicking into work mode. I always need a transitional period, warming into it etc. I've got to become more strict with myself and just DO IT!

Thanks for sharing your process! : ) It's always a joy to read your blog and see how things are going.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Earning your email...whew! You are one tough cookie.

Thanks for stopping by and reading about Stripes. It's been a touch week. I need to follow up with Mark and was given a lead on a publisher in the UK to submit one of my stories to, but right now I'm still concentrating on trying to function without Stripes...

Dawn Maria said...

I love your email idea. I'm on hold with my WIP until school is out and we're back from a big vacation. Once mid-June hits I'll hit my MS. In a way it's frustrating to wait, but in another way, I'm being realistic about what I can get done right now in a busy month for work (day job) and life.

I'm learning to make the most of the time I have, rather than being cranky I don't have more.

Dawn Simon said...

Molly, thanks for the positivity. Interesting about the software, but I'm not willing to relinquish control. Geez, I wonder what that says about me. Anyway, I always love your blog, too. Of course, we are blog soul sisters. ;)

Sharon, it's only been a few days, but I appreciate the support! So far, I kind of like the no email thing--and it feels so good to finally get to see what's in there. Regarding Stripes, I'm so sorry for your loss. He sounds like a very special cat, and beloved pets become part of the family. I know it's a tough time. Good luck with the publisher in the UK.

Dawn, I'm looking forward to June for you. You're right--if you can't get to it, there's no sense in getting cranky (easier said than done, I realize)--you should try to enjoy your time.

Susan Fields said...

Wow - you really researched changing the age of your book's audience. Good for you - after all that I'm sure you made the right decision!

The thing with email is that often I do get emails that can't wait until the end of the day, and I don't check it that often because I don't know how to access it from my laptop (I'm sure it's simple, but I don't know how and I don't want to know how). What I have thought about doing is not allowing myself to check my blog unless I have time to respond to each comment and visit each commenter's blog right then - I'm sure that would make me spend much less time checking in on my blog!

Dawn Simon said...

Thanks, Susan. I liked your comment about not wanting to know how to check email from your laptop! Good luck with the blog balance!

Jackee said...

It sounds like Self (and CPs, an agent, and a librarian) had some great answers for you. I struggle between that fine line of MG/YA too, though really, even adults love these genres so it's only important when you're trying to sell it/stock it.

I have NO advice for sticking with writing time. I'm bad about that, what with all the distractions of home life and the internet. So thanks for YOUR advice!

Medeia Sharif said...

I'm back to inform you that there's a blog award waiting for you on my blog.

Anastasia said...

glad your making progress!

Dawn Simon said...

Jackee, people really are helpful in the writing world, aren't they? It's interesting to see how many of us deal with the same questions.

Thanks, Medeia! You are so sweet!

Thank you, Anastasia!

prashant said...

It sounds like you are in a good position to move forward on your WIP
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disgruntledwriterscircle said...

I know what you mean about genre jumping. I had that problem with my most recent project (well not most recent but the one I have been working on recently) and am still uncertain of exactly where I should place it ... I think we'll just have to listen to our stories and, like always, go with our guts.