Sunday, June 6, 2010

When the writing gets hard, it's time for a makeout scene.

I follow a few writers on Twitter who are working on new manuscripts (MS). They've been tweeting their progress. Two of them write small and edit to expand. I'm not that way. Not saying that I write epic or anything, but the first draft of JUST A LITTLE RAIN was 156K words. The first draft of WHERE CURRENTS PULL was 125K and I felt like that was a major accomplishment. Just for info sake, most writing sites give adult fiction the range from 80K to 100K. I've seen some literary agents expand that to 120K. I'm still out of that range in both books, and trending that way with ABOVE THE WAVES.

I recently hit page 50. My second milestone. As a celebration, I allowed myself to check the word count. Yes, that's celebratory to me. I'm at 30K. I think I'm maybe a third through this book. I guess that's trending towards a pretty good word count, if things work out. Who knows, though. Here's my problem. I'm an explainer. (Yep, made up that word.) I love detail. I love backstory. I think it's the best part of the book. This is why. Because those details, the stories behind the story are how you learn about the characters. You understand why they make the decisions they do, you see how their flaws developed, or how they impact their lives. And that's the thing. We are not just events. Our lives are not just action. There's the everyday and the relationships and the small happenings that create us. And I love to read a book and *get* a character. I love when I can identify with them. I love dropping in on their lives for the short period of a couple hundred pages, but leaving feeling like I know them, and feeling a sense of loss that I hit The End. I enjoy making up the afterstory in my head.

I guess this is why I write big. I want to know the entire story. I want to know it all. And I want my readers to know it as well. To feel like my MC (main character) is their friend, who they laugh, cry, cringe, and grin with. Whom they champion.

The downside to this. I write every day. I mean, I do write each day, but I'm talking about my story. I feel weird spanning time, so I tend to very specifically write the goings on for my MC. Eventually, like during the editing process, I adjust this. But to get the feel, while I'm writing I get into the details. And even for me, sometimes, this gets pretty laborious. Like the last few days. I'm on the cusp of events in my ATW, and getting there is making me exhausted. I want to just get there already.

While writing the last two books, this happened for me so I skipped around. JALR was weird because it's split in two, the first half MC Eliza 16-20 and the second half when she turns 30. So when I found myself getting bored, I'd jump to another time in her life. That really kept me on my toes because I had to switch to completely different mindsets, but I think it was good because it kept things fresh. With WCP I got stuck around pg 50 and skipped ahead to the falling in love/courtship part of the book. Always a nice thing to do. There's nothing more fun than writing a makeout scene. Okay, maybe making out is more fun than writing one, but that's largely dependent on who you're making out with. In a book, it's as good as your imagination allows it to be, where he puts his hands, how it feels when he touches you, the music in the background, the setting.... Alright, I need to stop, because I'm getting distracted. Point being, skipping around has worked for me in the past.

So I tried to do that with ATW. Problem is, we start the story and she already has the boy. The point of this one, folks, is that the right boy doesn't solve all the problems. He doesn't make it all better. Neither does getting the right job. So really, the focus of this book is to go down that tough road, to look at the scary, to know that life is good and bad and the bad always feels so much more powerful than the good. And to weigh within yourself if any of it's worth the effort. It's not as fun to skip ahead when ahead is certainly darker and gloomy, but I suppose that my need for detail will make that gloomy *feel* that much more painful for the reader. Strangely, for me that's a positive.

I have this file of outtakes. Parts of the books that I've decided to take out, but can't stand to lose forever. The nice thing about having characters who all know each other is that it feels like a little world, and I can visit any of them without feeling like I'm losing touch with my current work in progress (WIP). So I think that, when I find myself having trouble with ATW, I'm going to open the outtake file and just write a random makeout scene. Just because it's so good.

Listening to: Knapsack "This Conversation Is Ending Starting Right Now"

xo. kb.

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