Sunday, October 26, 2014

WIP Marathon October Update

Last two check-ins: Finished chapters 19-21 and 23. Working on chapter 22. Outlined chapter 24. (word count = 77,928)

Currently: Finished chapters 22 and 24.

Current word count = 84,321

WIP issues this month:

I’m not happy with one of my chapter 22 scenes. The first half of the scene involves a conversation between two of my characters, and it didn’t quite go where I wanted it to go. A conversation that should have been thoughtful and interesting is instead completely weighed down with my character’s self-doubt and uncertainty. It’s boring and disappointing. I was hoping this would be a good scene for character development, but instead it feels like character regression. A few chapters ago, the character was on the fence about a major life decision that affected both her and the world around her. In her previous chapter, she finally made that decision, but in this chapter she’s back on the indecision fence, and it’s slowing down the narrative.

I need to re-write the scene from a different perspective. Instead of “What am I doing here? I feel like a fraud,” it needs to be “Well, I’m here. A lot of people think I don’t belong here, and maybe they’re right, but I’m here for a reason and I need to figure out what that is.” Yes, this character is self-conscious and sometimes naive, but she is also hard-working, intelligent, and curious and I need to show that, too.

Things I learned in writing this month:

1. Training scenes are a necessary evil, but still need to be done well. A training scene should never be just a training scene. They’re a great way for characters to get to know each other. They’re a very good way to introduce and develop mentor figures. These scenes can also be used to introduce worldbuilding details and backstory. If possible, they can also be used to further the plot.

I currently have three characters who are learning to use new types of magic, which means lots of training scenes. I’m trying to make the most of them.

2. It’s good to put brief reminders in your story so that readers don’t forget what happened 10+ chapters ago, especially when you're weaving together 4-5 different plotlines.

3. I’m currently listening to Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief, and yesterday I had a thought: imagine if the protagonist were female. The answer: I literally can’t. The main character is a brat who spends about two thirds of the book whining about food, and I could never, ever imagine a neurotypical female teenager acting that way. It’s not even a question of likeability—it’s just something I have trouble picturing. I don’t want to be one of those people who holds female characters to different standards, but there are some biases even I have trouble shaking.

What distracted me this month:

-a very difficult exam
-family in town for a weekend
-making my Halloween costume from scratch
-spent all of yesterday supporting two friends who are training for the World’s Toughest Mudder
-books completed:
     Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (audio) – overrated
     Entangled – decent, but hard to get into
     Made of Stars – liked it a lot (will review soon)
-books started:
     A Plague of Doves (audio) – loved the writing style, but I stopped listening when the second narrator came on
     The Thief (audio) – the characters are distinct and memorable, the worldbuilding is well thought-through, but I have yet to be blown away; also, the protagonist is a dumb, whiny brat, but not without endearing qualities
     The Twistrose Key – beautifully-written middle grade
-still reading:
     Shameless – books that center on a romance just aren’t my thing
-watching: various shows (note: How to Get Away with Murder is awesome and everyone should watch it)

Goal for next month: finish chapters 25-27

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