Big Rig


Five thousand words.  Ninety thousand to go, but who’s counting?

It seems I’m finally settling into the beginning of this new story.  Months ago, I decided on a setting and a working title.  Now, with the other project waiting in the wings, this is a welcome distraction.  The last book was doggone hard to write.  I’ve been trying to take the ole “lessons learned,” with that one so I can prevent any future, “I’m freaking out!” comments made at random to those who asked.  And by that I mean I’d like to have some idea of where the heck this new thing is headed.  My previous work, (A BLACK WATER SEASON) was sort of like driving an eighteen wheeler in a blizzard at times.  There were days on end I just couldn’t see where to go.  So there I sat with the big rig, engine rumbling,  mashing on the gas and grinding the gears.  That is, if I even thought it safe to yank out of park.  Many days, I saw nothing ahead but whiteout conditions and can I tell you, that storm came and went on a regular basis.

I’d prefer not to take that route again.  Despite that, I can’t, I repeat, can’t bring myself to complete an outline – at least not a full outline.  I’ve done that and for me, it was a waste of time.  Oh, sure, while I’m working on my beginning chapter I’ll sit and think about what scenes should happen next, like how I should get from A to B, but, beyond that? A, B, C, D –> Z?  No.  Even the thought makes me hyperventilate.  I wasted a lot of time doing this before and by the time I got to what I’d outlined for chapter six, I’d already changed stuff so much, the big rig was plowing a new road across the snow drifts and had landed onto Route something or other.

Anyway.  I’ve been spawning ideas for the new story, only to toss them out the next day.  After several false starts since the holidays ended, yesterday my brain suddenly caught fire and I was able to lay down 1,500 new words. The collective five thousand words I have are not a cohesive start to finish beginning.  Actually, after about page seven, it’s sketchy at best.  Still, I won’t delete them just yet because you know how we writers like to hoard our little darlings until we have to axe them.  I’m excited about the possibilities and where the ideas might take me with this particular story.  I have a lot of fodder for future use already, a more organic growth than what seemed to happen in the previous project.

For now, the main character’s backstory is coming together.  I know what she does for a living (something unique!), where her mother is in her life , where her father isn’t, and same with her brother.  I’ve yet to introduce any other characters, or the antagonist.  Some part of me hopes this will ultimately be a surprise.  I’m aiming for the reader thinking it’s this person, and it’s really that person.

I’m also aiming for dark and creepy.  Like this:

Bad Moon RisingAnd this:

Dark_corridor

Courtesy blog.libero.it

And this:

After a day of writing this story, must remember to watch comedy at night.

How are you doing with your latest project?

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14 Comments

I’m a total “pantser” writer – outlining makes me go all QPF (*), as does this thing other historical novelists I know have talked about, researching for x-amount of time and only THEN writing. Bewildering. I do create a timeline so I know where my dates are, but as to writing, I do it when it comes, I accept that MOST of what gets written for the first time is just acclimating myself to the story, not actual writing, and I find the right places for all the bits of research I want to use (accepting there, too, that not all of it will survive draft 1).

Gee. How has it taken me ten years to write, revise, and query this novel??

(*QPF: quizzical puppy face, that head-cocked, forehead wrinkled thing you get when you ask a dog about the latest trends on the stock market.)

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    *QPF…and make that strange Scooby noise? errrrr?

    Yeah, total pantster here too. I’ll pause between scenes, etc and try to figure out where it’s all going. I’ve ripped out entire chapters because I realized after the fact it really did nothing.

    I love what you say about “what gets writtenfor the first time is just acclimating myself to the story, not actual writing…,”

    That is so true for me as well!

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      It took me such a long time to accept that I really was hardly “writing” at all until I began REVISING. I was so ignorant – of my story, of where it’d go, of how to write a novel, of the business. Now, accepting it, there is a kind of freedom in the WIP, still very embryonic, in feeling I can write what I want on the odd occasion I feel like doing it.

      Fortunately, never having been all that attached to my “darlings”, killing ’em off (or, at least, mutating the bejeezus out of them) doesn’t get to me. When my best beta ever told me to strip 60 pages once, I darn near kissed her. 🙂

      *Insert Scooby noises here!* Love that.

      Liked by 1 person

      I definitely prefer the revising/editing phase to actually getting the story down. I think it’s kind of fun to know once you have the structure in place, now you can start to work on improving the scenes, adding in better descriptions, dialogue and tweaking other stuff. That’s when I can get a little crazy.

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1. I love outlining. Makes for easier and faster writing. Though when I work on an outline, it tends to be more Z, Y, X…

2. I am resisting the temptation to start a new project. I’ve got three other projects I need to finish up with polish. After that, I am debating whether I should polish a project that’s been sitting in the trunk for a few years, or start a new one, that would fit in nicely (series-wise) with two other books. Seeing that my Big Goal this year is “get an agent”, all my current efforts need to work towards that goal. And that means polish existing projects. Once I have an agent, I will be listening to her advice regarding what my next project should be.

3. I am actively eschewing anything that inspires me, because I don’t want the regret of not being able to work on what promises to be an exciting project.

4. When I am brainstorming ideas, I write down the first ten that occur to me. I toss out the top five and go with what’s left. I do this because the first five are plebian and all-too-easy to conclude. Me, I prefer to keep my readers guessing until the end.

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    You jogged my thoughts when you said, it’s more Z, Y, X… for the new WIP, I do have an idea of the ending. I know what conclusion I want to get to – today anyway – but not exactly how I’ll get there. Like you, I’m hoping to keep the reader guessing, all the while dropping certain hints that might seem obvious to them once they read the final chapters.

    What sounds really nice about your work is that you’ll have a nice backlist. When an agent says what do you have? You’ll be able to place the other projects in their hands quickly. I agree with polishing up what you have before starting something else. I was already on to whipping out another book while the first was on submission and my agent said, “whoa, let’s talk about what your writing, and make sure it’s something editors are looking for.”

    Which was a learning experience for me. I was like, “what? I’ve got to write something THEY’RE looking for?”

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I have never written an outline for anything I’ve written. I can’t, it screws me up. In college when an outline was required I’d either not do it (and lose points) or, if I had time, write the whole paper and then go back and break it down into an outline and a crappy rough draft. And always aced those suckers too.

Those pics remind me of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and the sequel Hollow City (reviewing them soon). The author took old, creepy photos and wrote stories around them. Flip through one when you get a chance. (They’re YA books.)

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    Funny, after I wrote the last book, I wondered how I’d ever come up with an outline for an editor at a pub’ing house. Another writer who was under contract for two books had to do this for the second one. The thought of perhaps one day being required to do the same paralyzes my brain.

    I’ve seen the book, and always wanted to read it. I didn’t realize there was a second one out. Can’t wait for your reviews!

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I just had to jump back in and tell you how creepy those pictures are. Especially the road. If my car broke down on that road I would pee my pants, and wet and all, hide in the trunk. If my phone was dead I knew I would be.

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I love your whiteout metaphor, and I certainly think it is apt for my experience much of the time.

I seem to have overcome some hurdle and am writing a bit again. Two stories drafted in about a month. That’s real progress for me.

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    Thank you, Paul. I’m so glad to hear you’re writing again. I visited your blog the other day (didn’t comment, just lurked 🙂 ) and saw your entry where you’d written your magical number – 3,000. That IS progress. Keep going.

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How are you doing with your latest project ?

Wondering if I should continue to rehash or start something new. My engine is idling. It’s warm and way to comfortable in my cab. Maybe I need a ride down a 25% grade in a 4×4 during a rainstorm, to shake things up.

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    It’s hard to put something aside to work on a new project. In my limited experience it does help though. And, sometimes these FF entries spark ideas for another story – at least for me. Your entry? Those were the seeds of something, IMHO. It might just be the new route you need.

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