Sunday, August 29, 2010

WIP: Progress? Yes!

Some of you may remember my latest approach to tackling my current manuscript: Push through the first draft. Don't stop to revise--just keep detailed, organized revision notes. Don't check e-mail until x amount of pages are written each day. Take no prisoners! Write, WRITE, WRITE!

It was working for me. I was flying through my first draft. But when it was almost time to write the climax, I realized I needed to make it bigger and better. I soon figured out that in order to write my climax the way I wanted it, I was going to have to stop pushing forward and make some significant changes to my story. Starting at page 1.

Have I mentioned I was on page 187? Say it with me: "Ouch."

After whining a tiny bit (or maybe more than a tiny bit), I brainstormed. Ideas were coming and I saw the book improving, but I kept getting stuck. This is when I got all rebellious. Some mornings, I slept a little later than usual. Also, I kept my e-mail open
all day long. I even started drinking two Frappuccinos a day instead of one. Crazy stuff, right? I was full of angst because I was so close to figuring out my story, but not quite there.

Note to writer-friends: Frappuccinos are available in bulk at Costco.

But don't stress, bloggy friends. Here's the exciting part! I kept working, going back and forth on ideas with critique partners, and I completed an outline that I'm extremely proud of. Yay! I'm super excited about my book. I can see it's stronger, and I'm on fire to get it all on paper with the changes.

Something else? I'm switching from present tense to past. I was already considering it when
Moonrat posted this at her blog, and her post stuck with me. I've since played with scenes written both ways, and I think past tense suits this story better. (My manuscript PERFECT VISION is written in present tense, and I, at this time, still believe it's the best tense for that story.)

Some great news is I'll be able to keep quite a bit of what I already wrote (switched to past tense, of course). There are some darlings I'll have to kill, but I'm cool with it; I'm certain my book is benefiting. I'll try not to gripe when I'm doing the cutting.

An author-friend of mine says, "No writing is wasted." I agree. We learn from the wrong turns, and it's so much easier to make something pretty once there's clay on the wheel, something to play with and shape. I'm neck deep in novel again, and I'm so happy about that.

How about you? How are your projects coming?


Tabitha Bird said...

No writing is ever wasted. too true. Nothing in this life is wasted if you can figure out a way of using what you went through. All the best for the revisions.

Andrea Mack said...

Dawn, it's so exciting when it all starts to come together! I'm making good progress on my own revisions, and a lot of it is because I've taken the time to think deeply about my story after the first draft -- and not to be afraid to change things that aren't powerful enough.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

LOL. I'm currently rewriting my novel after Ellen Hopkin critted the first 15 pages at the LA SCBWI conference and told me to switch it to present tense. I tried it out and loved it. Plus it helped solve some of the problems I was having with my writing. I write YA romance suspense, which seems to work well in that tense.

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Yes, Dawn, Yes! I'm right with you. Except I have two Dr Peppers in a day instead of one, instead of Frappucinos. Other than that, we could be twins. :) Keep going!!

And even though this is an angst-filled time, it's so much fun, isn't it? Hope you can keep finding the joy in the midst of all the WORK.


Marsha Sigman said...

I'm on page twenty of a completely new wip and its really exciting! This one is going to be the best one yet!
Good luck on your ms!!!

Patti said...

I'm reviewing my old book and on chapter 4 for revisions of my newest book.

Like Tabitha said, no words are wasted because they teach what works and what doesn't

SWK said...

I always find I have to do a couple of giant overhauls in the process of writing. The beginning in D1 is never the true beginning and, from there, everything needs to change. I find printing out a hard copy, spreading it all over the floor and moving the pages like puzzle pieces helps me be truly, productively merciless with my ms. Sounds like your work is moving in a good direction. Happy writing! - Stasia

Kelly said...

I'm glad to hear that your wip is stronger now.
Thanks for the link about present tense. Very informative (my wip is in past, but good to hear that point of view).
I'm still working on my mg, going through critiques of the first quarter to make it better and adding to it.

Tamika: said...

I'm working on rewrites now, and the progress is slow. I can't wait to see the finished project:)

Jackee said...

Sound advice from Moonrat and your author friend both! I'm chomping at the bit to get into revisions on the novel I've been letting rest.

Have a lovely (revising) Monday, Dawn!

Belle said...

It's always so fabulous when things start clicking! I recently sat down for a reread of a WIP (I wrote the first draft like you, without stopping, and stopped just short of the climax) and was happy to discover that I'd actually planted threads throughout that I can now expand on in the rewrite.

Dawn Simon said...

I'm enjoying reading all the comments. It's so fun, hearing where everyone else is in the process. Also, I appreciate all the tips, support, and inspiration you guys give. Thanks! :)

Tabitha, I agree.

Andrea, that's huge. I think we really have to open ourselves to all the possibilities in our stories even though doing so can be tons of work. Congrats on your progress!

Stina, I was lucky to meet with Ellen Hopkins at a workshop a couple years ago, and she is brilliant. I personally love present tense when it suits the story, and I think some books are better told that way. As I said, I think it was the right tense for my last manuscript. I'm currently reading Libba Bray's REBEL ANGELS, and it's in present tense--as I think it should be. That said, I respect Moonrat, who is a smarty-pants, and she makes excellent points--and her preference echoes something I heard two other industry professionals say last year. I'd already been thinking about experimenting with it in the past tense; once I read Moonrat's post, I felt I really had to. And it's better for this WIP, so far! I'm glad you found the right tense for your book, and it's great it helped you with your writing! :)

Thanks, Amy! Loved your comment. And cheers! *clink*

Dawn Simon said...

Marsha, woo-hoo! I'm so excited for you! And thanks for the good wishes!

Patti, you have a lot going on! Good luck with both books!

Stasia, I agree--I do better with my manuscript in hard copy at certain points. I haven't tried the puzzle method for my entire manuscript, but it totally makes sense. Thanks for the tip!

Thanks, Kelly! Good luck with your project!

Dawn Simon said...

Tamika, good luck with the rewrites! I'm sure it will feel incredible to see the finished product. I look forward to hearing about it.

Jackee, good for you, letting your project rest. The benefit of reading a ms with fresh eyes never fails to amaze me. Happy revising to you, too!

Belle, it IS fabulous when everything starts clicking. And I love it when I find planted threads, whether they were intended or not!

Anonymous said...

Dawn, it sounds like you are "in the zone," really in touch with your story. Very exciting!!

I'm hoping to pick up a 1st draft I'm about 90% finished with just as soon as I finish polishing another book. Should be soon, in a few days.

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm kind of at the same point - I need to make a few changes that will probably influence almost every scene - nothing huge, but a lot of work! *sigh* Thank the writing gods and goddesses I love it :)

Anita said...

I was doing the moving forward, moving forward thing and then, like you, I had to go back and revise, revise. I'm almost back to the place where I stopped and can hardly wait to start writing fresh again. But you're time wasted.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Dawn--It sounds like you've been really productive... Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

You're friend is right. No writing is wasted. When I have to go back and do major changes, at least I have something to go back to. Steady writing is key.

Hema P. said...

I kept nodding and wagging my head for all the angsty points you brought up, Dawn, and that's where my project is. I have changed one major plot point in my wip whose ripple effects were felt from page one until the the end. Yes, ouch! I have made the changes about a third of the book and am making a slow progress towards the climax.

Yeay! I'm excited for you, and I'm rooting for all of us in this boat!! :)

Kjersten said...

I think the thick of rewrites is so interesting, fabulous, difficult and satisfying. It's like solving a tangled puzzle. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I'm working on two WIPs right now and making terrific progress. They're about half finished so I'm very happy. Now to keep plugging away at them.

Stephen Tremp

Dawn Simon said...

Paul, I'm excited for you! I enjoyed your post about the final read-through.

Jemi, I'm feeling your pain--and your joy. :)

Anita, good for you! The writing fresh thing will be fun--and maybe a little scary. When I changed the ending of my last manuscript and the rest was pretty polished, I had to remind myself to loosen up/get back into first draft mode. But I may be weird. It will feel so good when you get to the new part!

Thanks, Sharon!

Medeia, yes, it's great having something to go back to. I also agree steady writing is key; if I step back from a manuscript for too long, I lose time reentering the story.

Hema, wow, there are a lot of us in the same boat! Yes, I'm rooting for all of us, too! Those darn ripple effects: changing small points causes a surprising amount; changing large things...yeah, I'm right there with ya.

Kjersten, well said. Good luck to you, too!

Stephen, yay for your progress! Keep plugging!