Tag Archives: WIP

An identity crisis of the writerly kind

July 10th 2013

The other day I emailed a critique partner and whined that I was going through some kind of author identity crisis. The poor girl had to talk me off a ledge — via email.

I had been sending her scenes from my WIP to get early feedback. Was the Key West setting descriptive enough? Did she like my protagonist? Was the pacing strong? Typically, I don’t let anyone read my work until I’m satisfied with the writing, but in this case I wanted someone to reassure me that this novel had potential. But at some point, I stopped and reflected on whether I wanted to finish it by September, as I had hoped, or finish it at all.

No one is holding a gun to me head to write this story. This book isn’t under contract and I’m really only 10k words into the story — 1/7 finished, technically. Why would I stop when I invested so much time in characterization, plot and scene lists?

I stopped because I want to write a historical mystery. History is my first love (I have a BA in history) and historical fiction is my favorite genre to read. I recently finished The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni (a fellow PA writer) and was inspired to work on my own historical mystery. Her prose, build-up of suspense and 19th century setting created such an incredible story that I felt driven to write one of my own. I have a penchant for early to mid-20th century history and so I had a vision of a mystery set in a boarding house in the 1950s with the female protagonist hiding her Jewish identity.

All of a sudden, I felt energized by this new narrative but also saddened to quickly give up on my WIP. I mean, who was I? A spec fic writer? Or a historical mystery writer? And why did I have to choose?

As my crit partner told me, the nice thing about writing YA is you can write in any genre and still be a YA author. Maureen Johnson writes contemporary and speculative fiction and no one questions that (because she’s Maureen Johnson and no one should ever question her anyway). And yet, I still had to wonder what kind of author I wanted to be — what would brand my work a KGG book?

And so I emailed my crit partner and bounced some ideas of my YA-expert-on-retainer and decided to write just the opening scene of my new novel. Just one scene. And while it’s not a perfect scene, it’s the start of a new project with a lot of potential. And that’s enough because the only kind of author I need to be is a good one.

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Making progess on my WIP

March 21st 2013

My WIP is like a woefully neglected house plant that I have forgotten to water. In trying to query my finished manuscript, I haven’t been writing much. Instead, I’ve been researching agents, personalizing queries and refreshing my inbox so often, it’s embarrassing.

So the other day, I sat down at reread my current WIP, all 28K words of it. And you know what? It’s pretty awesome for a first draft. Now, granted I haven’t moved beyond 28K words because I have some plot holes that need patching. There’s also an issue with pacing, and for a dual POV, there’s an inequality of word count among the two main characters — but whatev — these things can and will be fixed.

I started the draft during NaNoWriMo and we all know how shitty those usually turn out to be. But this puppy works. It reads fairly clean and has fully-dimensional characters. I missed this manuscript. In the query frenzy, I’d forgotten how much fun it is to create. I’m doing Camp NaNo this April in hopes of writing an additional 20K words. If I budget my time wisely and outline, I could finish the draft before summer. With two kids under the age of three, I’d say that’s pretty good progress.

What say you writers? What progress have you made on your WIPs?

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