Self-shaming Novel Update

Last week’s goal:  Continue with the outline – map through to the rising action, at least.  Write Leo Baxter’s inciting incident scene. 

I’ve made some progress with the outline.  For me, it’s a slow tedious process.  I have waffled a bit on one particular element – to kill a character, or not.  Usually, I don’t have a problem with this, but I like the guy.  I’m having difficulty letting him go.  I’ll get over it.

The first blow took Leo Baxter by surprise, the second drove him to his knees.  – Retribution

I’ve been staring at this sentence for a week.  All in all, it’s not a bad first sentence for Leo’s introduction scene, even if it’s a little cliché.  I think it’s a good pushing off point for the event that spurs Anna to reenter a life she fear and loathes.  I just wish I could come up with the sentence that comes next…and the one after that…and the one after that…and so on.  Even now, as I stare at it, I am perplexed.

This is a pivotal scene, and I’m well aware of what I need to accomplish.  It’s just a matter of getting the words to flow.  I’m sure they will eventually come to me.  Probably when I’m in the shower with shampoo in my hair and no writing materials within close proximity.  Or better yet, at the gym on the elliptical with 30 minutes left on a 45 minute workout.  I’ve tried keeping a note pad and pen with me at the gym, but I’m not known for my grace, and well, I’ve almost fallen off trying to jot down an idea.

Anyway, what else have I done with regard to Retribution since I last saw you?

Very little.

Well, that’s not exactly true.

I feel I was able to accomplish part of last week’s goal.  The outline is coming together. Leo’s scene is not.  Therefore, I did not advance my word count this week.  Not a big deal. It’s not always about the word count.

Next week’s goal:  Continue plugging away at the outline.  Make a firm decision on the elimination of a certain character.  Finish Leo’s scene.

Until next time.

An update and an award

Usually, I post these self-shaming updates on Sunday, but I was too busy watching Roger Federer reclaim the top spot in men’s tennis.

One must have clearly defined priorities, right?

In between break points, I did manage to pull myself away from the television long enough to take a good hard look at my WIP.  I haven’t really done that since JuNoWriMo ended.  I was a little scared, but it wasn’t all that bad.  There are parts that work, parts that don’t, parts that scream WTF.   It could have been worse.   It needs to be better.

After reading through 90 or so pages of material, I decide that Anna needed a brother.  So, I added him, and then I killed him.  Cold, I know, but necessary.  It will add an emotional element and focus to the story that I felt was lacking.  Of course, adding (and killing) an important new character means that the underlying dynamic of my story has changed and therefore, an outline revision is in order.

I can’t tell you how much that thrills me.  You know, because outlining is my favorite part about the writing process.

Moving on.  I want to take a minute to acknowledge and thank Julie over at Word Flows for the Lucky 7 Meme Award she tossed my way a couple of weeks ago.  These sort of things always put a smile on my face.  Thank you, Julie!

Of course, this one is a little different from most.  It requires giving up a piece of my WIP for the world to see.  That’s not something I am comfortable doing outside of my writing group.  If it had been anyone else, I would have bowed out, but for Julie, I will do it.

The Lucky 7 Meme Award Rules are as such:

1. Go to the 7th or 77th page of your work in progress.
2. Go to the 7th line of the page.
3. Copy the next 7 sentences or paragraphs. Remember, they must be as they are typed.
4. Tag 7 authors.
5. Let them know they’re it!
 

So, here are my 7 lines – unedited and raw.

That’s all I’m willing to give.

“Rome, however, remained constant. The streets and lanes were still narrow and winding, paved in worn uneven cobbles.  The stucco facade of the old buildings were still faded and covered in graffiti. Smart cars, motor bikes, and scooters still clogged every conceivable inch of space.  Life moved on.

Anna inhaled.  Even through the fog of her grief, it felt good to be home.

She didn’t live far from the piazza, just around the corner on the Vicolo Moroni, a street so confined she could touch the walls on either side.  Her flat was on the top floor of a Renaissance era structure the color of salmon.  A heavy wrought iron gate shielded an intimate courtyard with a bubbling fountain and potted orange trees from view.   The entrance to the…”

There you have it.  Doesn’t tell you much, does it?

***There seems to be a formatting difference.  In Word, this excerpt is truly 7 lines.

Just Write: Beginnings

Plato once said that “the most important part of a work is the beginning.”

Planning is key.

I think for most of us mere mortals, this philosophy holds true.  Unfortunately, I had to learn this lesson the hard way – through humbling failure.   I have always hated the process of outlining, but I understand now that it is an evil that must be endured – for the greater good of humanity.   At the same time, I think that the spirit of Plato’s words can be applied directly to the physical beginning of a work:  the first sentence, the first paragraph, the first chapter.   They set the tone for the entire body of work.

A few months ago, I accepted that my WIP  needed a major overhaul.  To do that, I had to suck it up and draft an outline.

It was painful.

It gave me a nasty rash.

It took three tries to get it right, and even now, I think “right” might be an overly generous description.

There’s only one problem.

I didn’t know where my story – Anna’s story – begins.

I know where she’s going.  I know why she’s going.  I know, for the most part, how she is going to get there.  I just don’t know where she begins her journey.

That’s a pretty significant problem, eh?  It sort of reminds me of the third Indian Jones movie – The Last Crusade.  You know, the one where the senior Dr. Jones has spent a lifetime plotting a map that will lead him to the Holy Grail, only to fail to figure out where his quest will begin?

That’s where I am at right now.

At the beginning.

Still.

Just Write: Self-shaming Sunday update

We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” – C.S. Lewis

Progress is a relative term, subjective, and in the eye of the beholder.  If you take a quick peek at my notebook, it will tell you that I have worked diligently this week in an effort to nail down a set up for my work in progress.  However, if you delve a little deeper, you will see that I’m floating untethered in a turbulent sea of uncertainty.

I’m sure this is a normal phenomenon in story planning, and I have no doubt that it’s the natural order of things.  It’s a learning process, after all.  However, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling frustrated.  It’s a dizzying thing to take two steps back for every step forward.

On Friday, I was convinced that I had come up with the perfect midpoint plot twist that would turn the entire story on its ear.  It was fabulous.  The greatest idea I’ve ever had.  I was blinded by my own brilliance.

One step forward.

Today, I hate it.

So, I changed it.

Now the midpoint doesn’t jive with the set up.

Two steps back.

Okay.  Enough with the whining.  Let’s get down to it, shall we?  How did I stack up this week?

Last weeks goal:   Finish up character profile for Ivan and continue working on setup outline.

Goal = met – I guess.  I did finish up my character profile, though I think with the new midpoint, I will need to make him less douche-baggy.  

Next week’s goal:  Figure out this midpoint thing and get it to jive with the set up.

Did I make progress this week?

Yes, I believe I did.

(Cue the obligatory golf claps now)