WIP: A Writing Update

No April Fool’s today, just a quick shout-out to my mother (it’s her birthday!), an announcement, and a long-overdue post about my WIP.

First, the announcement: I’m switching back to posting once a week. Why the change? This final quarter of classes just might melt my brain. (If you didn’t notice my two-month-long trial of posting twice a week then I haven’t changed a thing, I swear. Pretend this paragraph doesn’t exist.)

If you visited the blog recently, you noticed that the WIP counter on my sidebar has suddenly changed from 82k, a mere 3% away from my 85k goal, to 87k. Admission time: I’ve been past the 85k goal since the beginning of March. I didn’t want to change my progress counter until I actually finished First Draft B, which is silly, but true. I haven’t finished it, but I can see the finish line.

Trentwood’s Orphan cover mock-up by Belinda KrollIn terms of writing, I’m squeaking by. I didn’t write a single word during my spring break, which is depressing. But the other night I stayed up writing an after-death scene which reveals how much Mary, the main character, has grown. As I wrote to Erica , Mary is an odd mixture of subtle sass, pervasive doubt, and sad resignation. With an imaginary friend who looks like her dead father. Oh, how I love the twist.

A departure from my first book, I have multiple people dying or dead in this book. This isn’t meant to be depressing, but more a reflection of the Victorian world. Based on my research, the fact that Mary dwells over her father’s death longer than “socially acceptable” causes all sorts of problems, least of which that people assume she’s spoiled. Shocking, but oh-so-true. Below is a re-working of my hook, which I still don’t like.

A grieving daughter encounters love and ghosts in Victorian England.

1887 English countryside: Mary Winslow is a 26-year-old viscount’s daughter trying to make amends for crippling her father in a London carriage accident years ago. When her father’s ghost appears after his death, Mary returns to London to face her past and convince her ex-fiancé, Mr Spencer, not to sue her for breach-of-promise in order to prove she will not spend the rest of her life as an unhappy countryside recluse.

I don’t like it because I still feel like it doesn’t represent the novel properly. This book is very internal, for all main characters involved. How do you make a book about a woman learning to let go of her father’s death and allowing herself to get hurt/fall in love sound like something worth reading? Or is that enough? I feel like it wouldn’t have enough “hook” to it. Have any suggestions/thoughts? Does this sound like something you would want to read? For a previous version with more details and less focus, see here.

As a side-note, Microsoft Word’s comment feature is my new best friend.* Instead of obsessing over details the way a proper Type A personality should, I make a note to myself. I have little red and blue comment bubbles all over the document, some saying things like, “Incorrect description. Reference green notebook, Victorian courtroom notes.” Or better yet, “Graham says Alex is a man’s man. Would a man’s man do this?”

Which is a perfect transition to recognize my awesome beta-reader, Graham, a Swindonian who found my blog by accident and has since become a fellow writer friend. Being that he is a British male, and half of my characters are British males, and he lives near my deliciously remote location in England (Compton Beauchamp), his insight is irreplaceable. Even the few paragraphs I posted earlier, along with the first chapter I sent him, gave enough details for him to say, “We don’t say it that way,” or “Actually, in the location you’re describing, it would be a hedgerow, not a low stone wall.” Did I mention he actually copied the February and August 1887 archives from the local newspapers to help me with local detailing?? He already has a proper place in my acknowledgment section because of the immense help he’s been.

Tell me, how is your WIP going? Read any good writing books lately? Chat me up!

Next week, a guest post from Blair Hurley on how to write on the go!

*See Refresh Your Writing for another nifty Microsoft Word trick to help you focus on your writing.

4 thoughts on “WIP: A Writing Update

  1. Ah, WIPs.

    I have a whole first rough draft that I'm reading through. A beta reader has read it too and likes it, but we're always harder on ourselves as writers and much of what I have written I think is lurid and self-indulgent. Nevertheless, I press on with the reading, editing, and the writing of comments to myself, like "find a book on arms and armor" or "bigger reaction here."

    Putting WIPs away for a good long time is also beneficial. I picked up the one I finished in 2007 just this past weekend and found myself totally engrossed in reading the end of it! I think that's a good sign that my own plot hooked me!

    Like

  2. Ah, WIPs.
    I have a whole first rough draft that I’m reading through. A beta reader has read it too and likes it, but we’re always harder on ourselves as writers and much of what I have written I think is lurid and self-indulgent. Nevertheless, I press on with the reading, editing, and the writing of comments to myself, like “find a book on arms and armor” or “bigger reaction here.”

    Putting WIPs away for a good long time is also beneficial. I picked up the one I finished in 2007 just this past weekend and found myself totally engrossed in reading the end of it! I think that’s a good sign that my own plot hooked me!

    Like

  3. We’re always harder on ourselves as writers and much of what I have written I think is lurid and self-indulgent.

    How right you are! My first book is five years old now and I like to think I've grown as a writer, so when new readers tell me they like it, I'm a little shocked. That old thing? I think.

    That's a great sign that your own plot hooked you! Especially since you read so much and so have a lot of competition to compare it to. Bravo!

    Like

  4. We’re always harder on ourselves as writers and much of what I have written I think is lurid and self-indulgent.

    How right you are! My first book is five years old now and I like to think I’ve grown as a writer, so when new readers tell me they like it, I’m a little shocked. That old thing? I think.

    That’s a great sign that your own plot hooked you! Especially since you read so much and so have a lot of competition to compare it to. Bravo!

    Like

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