Eileen noticed that my work count bar had gone back to zero. Had I scrapped what I already had on the story? Again?
I wanted to completely rethink the whole thing and go back to the basics of getting to know my characters muuuuuuuch better. Go through the whole process of creating the book again, because I knew what I had wasn’t going to work. Too much external conflict, and the villain was a stronger driving force than either the hero or the heroine.
That had to change!
I signed up for April Kihlstrom’s Book in a Week workshop, mainly because the intensive writing week coincided with this week I have off between jobs. Her focus is strongly on character driven plots. Just what I needed. The first few weeks is spent asking ourselves questions about why we want to write this particular story, and about our characters. I had fun doing this! Fell in love with my hero. Felt I knew my heroine so much more. They’d shifted from being cardboard cut outs designed to fit the plot, to being the people who were going to make the plot happen.
Then this week I planned a grand write-fest. This coincided with the intensive writing week of the five week long workshop, which was one of the reasons I signed up. Worked out if I could average 7,000 words a day I would get a 49,000 word first draft done in 7 days. Which was fine for a Presents or Modern Heat as I would have space to layer in more lusciousness- sensuality, sexual tension, the stuff I know my first drafts tend to be light on.
Hah! My word count has been pretty much on target, my estimate of getting a first draft in a week was way off the mark. I have over 35,000 words and I’m nowhere near half way yet. I knew I was overwriting, and that I could chop probably 10,000 off the beginning without too much problem. Then things got even less predictable. Wednesday was a particularly exuberant day, I had so much fun writing! But oh,oh, it’s not a Harlequin Mills and Boon any more. The only way to make it one will be to chop out all the parts I love the most. (Though come to thing of it, I’m sure I’ve read a very similar quote somewhere describing the editing process as exactly that. It is possible that when I was having fun I was being self-indulgent and writing total bollocks.)
The thing is, now I have no idea what to do. Keep writing as I’m doing, and allow it to turn into an 80,000 word monster, or try to rein it in and make it what I originally planned? I want to just let it go wild and see what I get. If what I get is a huge crazy mess that can’t be edited down into a series romance, I can always aim for single title. A harder sell I know, but I do have the RNA New Writers’ Scheme to help. If my reader thinks it’s marketable, she’ll tell me, and make some suggestions where to try.
The main issue is, even if I go with it staying closer to Plan A, I can’t possible write this hero and heroine to their HEA by Sunday.
I really wanted to finish the first draft by the end of the week. With that gone, what’s to push me on? Yesterday was a real struggle. I hit my 7,000 words, just, through hard slog. I feel so demotivated, so tired. If I’m only going to get two thirds of the way through by Sunday, why knock myself out for the next few days for that? I can take it easier and be half way through instead. Start my new job Monday relaxed instead of exhausted. It’s now 3pm here, and I’ve written nothing yet today.
Of course, I’m not stopping, maybe slowing down a little. I have a particularly good scene to start with today. I’ll use Write or Die to push me on. I’ll try hard to convince my husband that when I say “I’m writing now, please only interrupt me if it’s important,” that doesn’t include asking me if we have any hummous in the fridge. I can probably get 5,000 today. But it does feel a bit, “Why bother?”
Okay. That’s where I feel I haven’t achieved my goal with Book in a Week. Maybe I’ll feel more motivated if I look at what I have achieved.
What I’ve gained (so far, may well be more to add to the list by the end of next week!)-
- been given a method for planning a book and digging deep into characters that resonates with me and keeps me character focused and the plot character driven
- discovered a tool to document my planning (Text Block Writer, a free program for organising notes) that works well for me, and feels really intuitive
- have created a template in Text Block Writer that I can use for story after story that seems to help a lot with planning, keeping track of characters, and plotting. I’ve already worked out how I can use it for editing too.
- discovered that I overwrite big time in first draft. Part of my way of continuing to work out the story as I go seems to be to write far too much. So if I want a 50,000 word finished story, better plan for at least 60,000 in first draft. Possibly this will change as I get better at writing. Possibly it’s just how I write.
- found I like to write significant scenes twice, from both the hero and the heroine’s point of view. Probably when I edit, those two takes on the same event will condense down into one
- know I can write over 7,000 story words in a day, if I try. Could come in useful!
- worked out easy ways to save and back up my writing
- discovered I probably don’t write Sweet. More Modern Heat or Little Black Dress. Need to wait until I finish first draft and reread to know for sure.
- know I can manage to write without needing to go back and edit what I’ve already done. Keeping on writing forward at last!
- even if I don’t get the first draft finished by Sunday, I know I can write an astonishing number of words in a week if I make writing my main focus
- even if I don’t get the first draft finished by Sunday, two thirds of a first draft is a hell of a lot closer to finishing than what I had before
Okay, enough procrastination, I gotta go write!