Saturday, May 30, 2015

WIP Marathon May (and April) Update

Last check-in: Finished re-write of chapter 34. Wrote chapters 35 and 36. Started re-writing a scene for chapter 37. (120,893 words)

Current check-in: Finished chapter 37. Wrote about half of chapter 38.

current word count = 126,742

WIP issues these last two months:

Chapter 38 was really difficult to write. There's a lot of background fighting in it, which means I have to figure out a lot of setting and description and the magical powers of characters who only appear for a few seconds. That, as well as time constraints, set me back a lot.

I was hoping to have time to write in the evening or on Saturday during my study period, but studying required a lot more time than I expected. Some days I didn't come home until nine. Saturday was supposed to be my easy day, but it ended up turning into my catch-up day.

I only wrote two days during my study period--one day was when I made minor edits on chapter 33. The other day was at the beginning of week 4. I had completely overloaded myself on studying the day before, and all I could think about was the novel. I ended up writing for four hours that day, and took the rest of the day off.

Things I learned:

1. There are some chapters that flow right out of you, and some that need to be written in very short intervals. Really intense conversations are usually the ones that I can write in a single sitting. Description-heavy scenes or those with a lot of characters are the ones that need to be written in short bursts. (Chapter 38, which I'm working on now, is a little bit of both.)

2. "The only girl in the army" or "the only girl on the football team" isn't a feminist trope. It's even worse if the story goes to great lengths to show that the girl is better than all the boys. Why? It's like telling girls that if they're not naturally awesome at something or exceptional in some way, they don't have a place in the story and might as well not even exist.

3. The first step to showing that a character is smart is showing the character trying to be smart. Intelligence isn't just the stroke-of-luck brilliant idea you have. It's the brilliant idea you have AFTER observing, asking a lot of questions, and sorting out your options. There's a lot of work, as well as trial-and-error, that goes into intelligence. What do I mean by this?

Game of Thrones spoilers (highlight to read): I'm not bothered by the fact that Sansa was raped. I'm bothered by the fact that Sansa specifically agreed to marry Ramsay Bolton in order to get revenge for her family, and yet she has done nothing to actually make that revenge happen. Just because it's too early to put a plan in motion, doesn't mean it's too early to start brainstorming and gathering information on how she can make the Boltons fall apart. Instead of showing Sansa walking around the grounds of Winterfell with no particular direction in mind, why isn't she eavesdropping on people or going through their papers? Why isn't she the one initiating conversations with Miranda and the other servants, especially when one of them specifically promised to be loyal to her? Even if she doesn't gain any useful information, the fact that she is making an effort would show her intelligence. But the show doesn't seem to be interested in making Sansa intelligent. So far, all she's done is beg Theon for help and pick up a set of keys that someone mistakenly dropped. Picking up the keys isn't scheming, it's luck. When you promise me an empowered female character, I expect her to be empowered by more than just dumb luck.

Distractions this month:

Oh, where to begin? I finished second year, which involved three exams and a lot of random little assignments and responsibilities that are somehow more anxiety-inducing than the tests.

I went on a weekend retreat with my friends.

Then I spent six weeks studying for the board exam, which is a seven-hour exam that covers two years' worth of material (and yes, it's the same exam that Ifeoma took a couple months back). Study period, for the most part, was a lot less stressful than medical school, since I only had to focus on one thing, but it was also its own special brand of hell consisting of all-day study marathons and lots and lots of practice questions. I barely saw any of my friends, other than my roommate, and some days I would just shoot off random emails to people because I was feeling really lonely. It didn't help that  my med school's campus isn't the most beautiful place in the world. There are barely any windows and you get really depressed after being there all day. The few occasions when I took time off to go to the gym didn't help my mood much, since all they play is Top 40 music, and one of the TVs is always set to Fox News.

Luckily, many of my classmates discovered a different campus near my apartment that has a beautiful library, so I spent the second half of study period there (which significantly improved my mood). I also tried to study more at home, to break up the monotony. I also read a lot more.

My board exam was yesterday, and I am still recovering. I got sick three days ago, and it's been seriously fucking with my ability to sleep. I didn't get any sleep the night before the test, despite warm milk and Benadryl, and I seriously considered re-scheduling, but then I decided that I just wanted to get the damn thing over with.

It's done now, and I'm slowly re-adjusting to real life.

Books:

Go figure that all the library books I put on hold came in during this time.

Finished:
-Pointe (a quieter book, but really good)
-A Picture of Dorian Gray (audio)
-We Were Liars (really liked it)
-A Darker Shade of Magic (loved it - also, my new life goal is to become Lila Bard)
-An Ember in the Ashes (I liked Laia's chapters, but Elias' chapters are going to require their own separate rant)

Currently reading:
-Under a Painted Sky (I'm not crazy about the prose, and the pacing is too fast.)

Started and DNF-ed:
-Gone Girl (I wanted to read it so that I can finally read everyone's blog posts about it without being spoiled, but I had to return it to the library before I could finish it.)

Goal for next month:

Like always, the goal is to finish the first draft.
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