And Start Again At Your Beginnings

New book, new process. That is the apparent fact of my life as a writer. So despite that I’m writing a “sequel” – and you’re all, Bethany, why would you put that in quotations, and I’m all, Friend, I can’t really go into that – writing Avrilis 2.0 is another exercise in learning to write the book. And that’s not a bad or hard thing.

It’s exciting to me to figure out what I need and what I need to know to really start a project. Once I had my grid process for Avrilis 1.0 (whose Goodreads page I SHAN’T neglect to foist upon you from here on in, get used to it!), I thought that would be the key to all future projects.

Shuttup.

Anyway.

So I still have the chapter grid, altho the column functions are different now because I graduated from needing all of them (YAY improvement!) and also identified which ones I don’t really rely on (like “dialogue” became “highlights”), but I have disabused myself of “pantser” or even “plotter” in the sense that I often see it used.

Hello-My-Name-Is-Label-LB-1992

I have accepted how very much happens on the page. I imagine the writer who can completely plot out a novel and know down which rabbit holes her mind will go, and I think, how nice for her. Or something less committal and equally uninvested. The thing is, go, her. Do you, everybody. But I am very aware that anything I plot will end up sounding super boring or will be so far-fetched that I’d never get there organically once pen goes to paper. Or I’ll summarize a conflict in one sentence and be like, this is gonna bloom once I’m actually writing it! And either, nope, that was it, wasn’t as deep as you thought, or yep, there’s no logic to that. Too intentional.

SO! What worked/is working with this one: I wrote down the major things I knew would happen and estimated where in the book they would occur. (That’s something I’ve never done, btw, tho it feels closely related to word-count segmenting, which I did for This Is Not Heaven.) And then I worked my way back from the first such thing (I mean, the first chapter inciting incident notwithstanding), and voila. First five chapter outline, give or take.

But to be honest, this time the thing that made everything pop-pop! (isn’t it cuuuute how Magnitude went on to be Sid in Galavant, d’awwwwwwwwww)

– wait, where were we?

YES! So the thing that ended up being the MEAT? Totes not the list of big things or whatever the devil I was talking about here. It’s what happened off-camera (Bethany, you’re talking about a book. I know, shuttup.) and how people feel about it. Seems so DUH once it’s decided. But something was missing and trying to just plot out a book and think about the things that would happen and even KNOWING the things that would happen didn’t make it WORK.

All of which is to say, that column I didn’t need on a grid anymore… is basically what I just circuitously defined as being the thing I needed to know.

That, Children, Is How We Digress

First of all, I don’t understand how half of these referring sites are related at all to my blog. Andy. Please explain.

Okay, so before I get to work today, I must talk about feedback. My untitled novel, The Steampunk One, has passed the 12k word mark – which I realize sounds more arbitrary than just rounding down to 10. I’ve seen the in-progress bars on some of your sites, which is super cute, but haven’t felt the compulsion strongly enough to procure one.

I'm lactose intolerant, Mother!

Anyway, I have reached a new place in my writing – one that makes me feel like it’ll sound like (I like to say like) I’ve been stagnant and playful in my craft for the past twenty years. I round up to eight when determining when I first wrote a story, even though I distinctly remember the story of a doe named Feline – pronounced feh-leen and what was wrong with me. That back-to-school night, my teacher taped it to the face of my desk for my parents to admire. I remember my mom carrying my tiny baby brother, Carlton, and saying how much she loved the name. (Which, you see, is where I get it.) My dad wanted to see the science fair exhibit in the gym, for which my sister Jennifer had once again or perhaps for the first of what seemed like many times made teeth out of plaster of paris and styrofoam cups and sawed them in half before diagramming the anatomy. Of course, this was back when he was telling my two sisters that they would be a doctor and a dentist. Back before his obsession switched to the creative – which unfortunately was too far in the future for him to be all that intrigued by my second grade teacher insisting to him that I was her only student who wrote songs. (I cringe to think about the type of songs a second grader writes – although I still remember the Christian songs my sister Jennifer used to write. I still sing them.)

O_O That was a mighty digression. The point of this post was supposed to be about feedback. And to lead up to that, I was going to say how I’ve reached this wonderful point – I am relatively sure I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. With the genre, with the concept, with the story living up to either of them. It’s. Pretty awesome. There’s a whole entry I could write about how this all relates to my relationship to God. But I just wrote a journal entry about it. I can’t say I never had intense moments, particularly when I wrote TMLA – about which I could also write an entry because it began life as a dense 53k word literary novel and I know it needs to be somewhere between that and the 80k words it is now. I’m sorry, I just had to mention. Anyway, what I felt with that one was an intellectual obligation – to digest and articulate the social predicament I was describing. But most of the sinking feeling was – “Lord, I don’t wanna argue about this.” That was me looking ahead to the response to the material. But this is different.

Anyway…I guess I’ll write about feedback tomorrow? (I’m a winner, folks.)