Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Cracking the whip (in isolation) on the WIP

The hardest time for me to blog is when I'm writing first draft. Go figure. It's all writing, right? I'm already cranking out words. Why not spend a few of them here? But when I sit down to type, guess what document I open? Yep, the work in progress (WIP).

Complicating matters, I'm one of those writers who won't discuss my WIP. Today proved how sincere I am about keeping it all in. I've written a decent sized chunk on the new novel. I remain excited about the story, I love the characters, and it's something I'm excited to pursue. But today I realized I have too much backstory (stuff that happened before my novel opens) to include without some drastic measure. This problem arose when writing STRUCK too. In that novel, I came up with a device to incorporate a huge chuck of backstory in a single section mid-novel. It worked very well for STRUCK, but that method ain't going to work twice, at least not on this novel.

So I've been scratching my head, and, for the first time, thinking about who I could turn to for input. I have wonderfully talented writer friends who are as generous as they are gifted, and I know they'd be willing to shell out the energy to help me through this if I asked. But then I'd have to reveal my story, my dilemma, all this stuff so safely tucked away in my mind and my computer. I clinched at the thought.

It's not that I think anyone's going to steal my idea or my story or my characters. New writers endure that paranoia openly, but we get over that phase sometime during our first novel, which we later "trunk" as trash before moving on to a novel that has some commercial promise. No, it's just that I don't want input. This novel is mine and mine alone until I'm ready to share it. I don't really know why that's important, but it is.

Isolation is one of the hard parts of writing a novel. Yeah, plotting is difficult; research is time-consuming; writing first draft takes great perseverance and dedication; editing requires concentrated effort, time, and attention to every detail.... But believe it or not, it's the isolation that's the most trying sometimes. It's like keeping a big secret that you're very excited about for a year or more. Every day provides at least one opportunity to share that secret, but somewhere inside you, you believe sharing it will diminish it. So you don't. And I didn't. And I'm glad.

I think I've found a new track for tomorrow, a solution to my latest problem. With luck, this solution will take me well into next week before I need to rethink things again, face renewed temptation to seek input, which I'll decide against, and find another solution to some big problem.

So having said all that, here's my detailed report on my WIP. It's going well.


  1. Glad to hear it's going well!

  2. Thanks, Nerine. I had to reinvent the story, and now I've had to reinvent the telling of it, but that's part of it, and I'm making good progress and having fun.

    Hope you're having some fun and not working yourself to tatters over there.

  3. Oh boy do I hear you, Keith. I've been struggling with my WIP for 6 drafts. But guess what? I changed the POV to present tense for both my protagonist and something really really kewl happened. I connected! I'm smacking myself for not thinking of it before, and I know this probably won't work for yours, but I just had to tell you. Know that the solution is there. Hiding, but still available. Hope you catch the little dickens.

  4. Hi Joylene. I didn't hear you come in. I'm having some fun, actually. Once I realized I started too deep into the story, I added a new beginning in front of the original beginning. I liked it and what it did to the story. But I STILL had too much backstory that'd be better as real time action, so I added a newer beginning in front of the new beginning in front of the original beginning. Now I like it even better!

    So I'm adding words I like, but I keep adding them to the wrong end of the novel. Ha. Leave it to me to write a novel backwards.

    It's fascinating (to me) to see how the different starting points flavor what I've already written.