1. Intangible Girl

    Intangible Girl Active Member

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    Intangible Girl's fanfiction: working title Mindscape

    Discussion in 'Progress Journals' started by Intangible Girl, Jan 2, 2019.

    tl;dr Fanfiction novel now, middle grade original fiction later.

    Almost ten years ago, mere weeks after graduating from college, I realized the time had come for me to write my Someday novel. Since I no longer had classes and homework to keep me away from doing the thing I'd always meant to do with my life, I diligently buckled down to do it. Problem was, I had no idea what to write about.

    I also quickly realized I had never actually written a novel before. Prior to that I had almost exclusively written short stories and fanfiction, and it was becoming clear that a novel was an entirely different beast. I had no idea what I was doing, and I knew I needed to learn.

    But rather than jumping in the deep end, I had the brilliant idea of writing an "easy" novel as my first. You know, to get a feel for the format, figure out this story structure thing, ease myself into it. Not a terrible idea I guess, at least on the surface. However, it is to my everlasting shame that what "easy" meant to me back then amounted to just... teen romance. Just the whole genre, one I neither read nor enjoy (no shade on those who do!). I read one Sarah Dessen novel as research and plunged into fixing up a Nanowrimo project I'd abandoned years earlier.

    Needless to say it didn't go well.

    In fact, the experience was so bad it made me question whether or not my lifelong goal of being a novelist was something I even wanted to pursue anymore. I felt like I'd failed at something that, before then, had been foundational to my very identity, and I wasn’t ready to face the idea that I’d been wrong about my purpose in life for so long. So for almost 8 years I buried myself in fanfiction, constantly kicking the decision of whether I'd ever try again down the road.

    Towards the end of 2017 a series of events that included a kind review on my fanfiction page and my father's advancing age, stopped the can dead in its tracks. It was time to put up or shut up: was I a novelist or not?

    By this point I had begun to suspect what the problem with my first attempt had been, and so I devised a test. This test would isolate whether it was my lazy, prideful attitude that had been the problem, or whether it was the very writing of novels itself I had found so unpleasant. If I wasn't meant to be a novelist, I wanted to know, so I could throw my energies into something else, and if I was, I wanted to, you know, do that.

    My brilliant plan this time was to write a novel-length fanfiction in the Dragon Ball Z fandom, something I'm already enthusiastic about and doesn't involve character or world building, thus proving to myself that it was not the novel format that had been the problem. I outlined for most of early 2018 and by March I was writing. By mid-May I had reached 50,000 words and the end of my first draft, and I’d already realized that, yes! Of course I want to be a novelist! Don't try to write books about subjects you aren't interested in, stupid! Hindsight, you are a cruel teacher.

    So now I'm happily stuck in this project I enjoy but that doesn't further my career very much. Not that past me was wrong about everything: everyone has to write a few duds before they get published. Why not let one of those be fanfiction?
     
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  2. Intangible Girl

    Intangible Girl Active Member

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    1096 words today. My completed chapters total 62,828 words, not counting the chapter I'm currently working on. I'm just starting chapter 19, with a current estimate of 23 chapters total.
     
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  3. Intangible Girl

    Intangible Girl Active Member

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    988 words and most of them are going to get scrapped tomorrow. I scrapped a good portion of yesterday's words already.

    My goal is 1,000 per day but I can't figure out this scene in chapter 19. Something about it isn't coming together. Two characters arguing, and I've changed their conflict slightly from what it was in the second draft, so the climactic fight scene that I love doesn't quite work anymore. Is it a darling I need to kill, or do I need to undo the changes and go back to the way I had it before? Either way, it'll probably be one of those things I need to rewrite a thousand times before it clicks.
     
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  4. Intangible Girl

    Intangible Girl Active Member

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    2232 words written and deleted, written and deleted, all to find the 746 that work. :superwhew: But this is how it goes. I'm not the only one, right?

    Total word count so far is just over 63,000. Currently I'm working on draft three, and when this is done all my structural edits should (hopefully!) be done and I can start on scene level revisions. Still tired of ignoring the line-level prose and letting it be bad. I hate sounding bad, dangit! That's why I'm trying to write more short form stuff I can edit into the ground and make it sound pretty, so I don't lose that ability.

    Still enjoying noveling.
     
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  5. Intangible Girl

    Intangible Girl Active Member

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    1089 words.
     
  6. Intangible Girl

    Intangible Girl Active Member

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    1,958 words! Woot woot!

    Granted, I'm off work today, and I got to write a lot of delicious people standing around and talking, and, even better, people lecturing! My favorite. But still. Two day's work in one go. It's a good feeling.
     
  7. Intangible Girl

    Intangible Girl Active Member

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    500-600 words, some of it notes on paper. But I finished chapter 19 and chapter 20 is going to be a doozy, so I need to plan. Also, the first half of chapter 19 became all of chapter 19, so that's a thing.
     
  8. Intangible Girl

    Intangible Girl Active Member

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    1794, but I already know I'm discarding 743 of them.

    Writing dreams is hard to do during the day.
     
  9. Intangible Girl

    Intangible Girl Active Member

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    600 words.
     
  10. Intangible Girl

    Intangible Girl Active Member

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    Yesterday was dismal. 300 words. I ended last week with a huge breakthrough: a character arc I've been chewing on since I started writing finally came together. I was really happy with it, but it meant that the weekend break was especially hard to come back from. I take Sundays off for religious reasons, but I always mean to add Saturday into my writing schedule. Coming back cold from one day off is hard enough, but two days off is almost impossible. The problem is I always write in the morning and I work Saturday mornings. Being a creature of habit means once I made writing into a habit I rarely miss a day, but it also means it's difficult to create new habits. Excuses, excuses.

    But today was great. 1,503 words and significant progress on two subplots. I'm in the thick of the climax, wrapping up the, oh, five (million) character arcs I have going on, and I already know I'm going to be playing the restructure game with these chapters once they get around to the revising stage, but the basics are coming together. The scenes will just need to be reordered, is all.

    Finding a beta for this monster is going to be a nightmare.
     
  11. Intangible Girl

    Intangible Girl Active Member

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    1068 words today. 751 words yesterday, but I did a lot of reorganizing. I think I might have only one more chapter left instead of two or three. Wrapping up character arcs that changed in the middle of writing is tricky to say the least. I was thinking I might go back and change a few obvious things before putting this sucker to bed for 6 weeks, but now I think I'm going to get to 'the end,' print it out, and put it in a drawer, obvious flaws and all. It will give me something easy to fix when I finally come back to it.
     
  12. Intangible Girl

    Intangible Girl Active Member

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    I'm... done?

    I'm done????

    I'M DONE




    Wth the third draft.

    Oh, and, 1350 words.
     
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  13. Intangible Girl

    Intangible Girl Active Member

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    It's been 11 weeks. I planned on maybe 6. Oh well. That's how it goes.

    I took the printout of draft 3 out of the drawer (well, off my husband's bookshelf, where I placed it for safekeeping, because he'll know if I touch it) and read the whole thing through in 4 hours. It is both better and worse than I remember. More importantly, I now have the barest beginnings of a revision schedule. Next I plan on reading through all my notes and possibly even my previous drafts, which will probably take several days. At that point I will create a more detailed revision schedule and then get to work.

    I may not have a written word count today, but I read over 70,000 words, so I feel pretty accomplished.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019
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  14. Intangible Girl

    Intangible Girl Active Member

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    Read a bit in my notes, realized I'd 'decided' something yesterday that I had already decided 11 weeks ago. Haha. I will probably need to refresh myself on researching how to do a 2nd draft. I did some research on it last year and it made me feel a lot better to see how many published authors also struggle with revisions, because it feels like I'm facing down a Gordian knot without a sword.

    I do remember hearing both that it's a good idea to start with big picture stuff and work down, and that you should start with something small and manageable and feel accomplished. I have a feeling I'll be swinging back and forth between both approaches. My first three chapters need a lot of work, and stuff further down the line will be dependent on how those are changed. But some of what I need to change is to add foreshadowing to stuff that happens later. Er... Circular logic much? I guess I need to just push up my sleeves and dive in. The problem lately is that I'm getting more and more busy. I run the Young Women's program in my church, and we're gearing up for Girl's Camp this summer. So time is only going to get more scarce until June... Then I'll have plenty!
     
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  15. graveleye

    graveleye Senior Member

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    Finished it? Awesome! That's when the work begins right?

    This is sort of unsolicited but it helps me at this point.
    Everyone's different, but for me at one point in the revision process I will print the whole manuscript out, double spaced. I usually get a three hole punch and put it all in several binders. Seeing it on the printed page makes items in need of revision "jump" out at me, and I'll take my red pen and mark it up, and add notes, scratch things out, rewrite sections in the margins. The nice part is I can grab a folder or two and carry them to work or wherever and work on it at lunch or break. It's surprising how much you can get done.
    After I'm done with that, I make the corrections to the manuscript and off to the editor it goes. But that last printed go-through seems to iron out most of the wrinkles in the overall story (as well as some embarrassing SPAG errors.

    Good work though and I'm happy for you and your accomplishment!
     
  16. Intangible Girl

    Intangible Girl Active Member

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    Today I figured out a new arc for one of my characters. And with that I've pretty much figured out what big picture things I need to fix before doing another readthrough, so I actually did some writing today! It felt good to focus on quality prose instead of word count. Tomorrow I have work off for Good Friday (I love living in the South!) so I might actually finish it. But that reminds me, I should probably take a minute to make a more detailed revision schedule, because I'm only giving myself 6 weeks, and this first one is almost over.
     
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  17. Intangible Girl

    Intangible Girl Active Member

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    I had a double shift yesterday, and I thought a lot about my revision schedule, which led to thoughts of my larger writing schedule. Writing with an eye towards quality prose instead of word count feels really nice, but it also goes much slower. By the end of 6 weeks I might have something good enough to hand to other people for critique, but that's not nearly enough time to polish it to my standards. And revising, the act of tweaking a sentence over and over again until it sounds right, is one of my favorite parts of the writing process. I don't want to skimp on that simply to get a finished product out there. Which means I probably need to lengthen my timeline for getting published by quite a bit.

    I turn 32 next month, and I have set a vague goal of being published by the time I'm 40. That feels doable, I guess. But there's something in the back of my mind that feels like I should already have been published by now. I was 13 when Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, also 13, published her first novel, and I've just felt like I was behind pretty much ever since. I don't know her story, if she was like Christopher Paolini and had parents in the publishing industry, but I do know comparing myself to others is a good way to be miserable. It's just... so hard not to, sometimes.
     
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  18. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Contributor Contributor

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    Beware that you don't make that goal your prison. I happens easily.

    I think that the best way to get published is to write so fascinating / useful / fun / exiting / compelling /addictive... text that agents / publishing houses / production companies want to get it.

    If you do that, then you'll get published with some delay.
     
  19. Intangible Girl

    Intangible Girl Active Member

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    874 words today.

    Fixing chapters 1 through 3 is going to take a while, and involve a lot of new writing. Once those are fixed I will probably move on to fixing the arc of a minor character. After that will come tweaking existing words, strengthening characterization and adding descriptions, expanding and adding interest to fight scenes, making the dreams sequences more trippy. And I'm not sure how to track my progress with that sort of thing. It will be more task based, I guess.

    I've also been thinking about my overall workflow, and I've decided that rather than cycling through three or four projects at once I should just stick with one until it's finished and focus on fanfiction during any breaks. I don't want to give fanfiction up, after all, but I also don't want to add it into the rotation since it's not my primary goal as a writer.
     
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  20. Intangible Girl

    Intangible Girl Active Member

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    492 words.

    I love finally getting to let out my inner editor.
     
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  21. Intangible Girl

    Intangible Girl Active Member

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    780 words.

    Done with chapter 1. Which is now going to be part one of chapter 1. I'm combining it with chapter 2.
     
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  22. Intangible Girl

    Intangible Girl Active Member

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    1,600 words.

    Most of the way through chapter 2. It was largely switching POV's and making it match the way a certain character's arc ended up by the end of the story. My beginnings are often rough because I haven't gotten to know the story yet, so once I finish combining chapters 1 and 2 and fix the weird break I left in chapter 3 most of the big obvious structural stuff will be done.

    No, wait, that's a lie. My endings are also rough. Figuring out how to wrap up a story in a satisfying way is one of my weaknesses. A consistent feedback I get on my short fiction is that it ends too abruptly. But while the ending might be big and structural, it's not obvious. I guess what I'm saying is I'm entering the territory of harder but more fun.
     
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  23. Intangible Girl

    Intangible Girl Active Member

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    I sewed up the big gap in the middle of chapter 3 and created a new naming structure for this fourth draft to help differentiate it from the previous drafts. I think I'm pretty well past the point of worrying about daily word counts and am well in the territory of task-based goalsetting.

    Next on my big structural fixes (other than simply combining chapters 4 and 5) is chapter 6, which is much less straightforward. Because I didn't know how to get from one point to another when I wrote it, that chapter is a bunch of flashbacks, one after the other and all going back to different points in time. Now that I know how things progress I need to decide what to write out and what is still a flashback.

    Some of it can certainly stand to be summarized, but probably not all. Or, if it is all summarized, I can at least put things in their proper order. And of course, that chapter ends extremely abruptly because originally chapter 7 was part of it, and I chopped it in half when it got too big.

    I should probably write out most of it. Maybe break it in half and make another chapter. But before I get crazy I need to think hard about what I want it to accomplish and how it fits into the rest of the story. A lot of what I summarize in the chapter is boring, connective tissue type stuff, so I either need to summarize it better, or make it more interesting to read through.

    I've been feeling very impatient lately, and I think part of the reason this whole noveling process feels like it's taking so long is because of my short story background. Most of my fanfiction is around 2,000 words, a lot of it closer to 1,000. I can do principle writing and significant revisions on something like that in a week, and give it the proper amount of time to sit, rise, punch it down, and repeat several times in the same amount of time it's taken me to write the entire first draft of a novel. Of course I need to learn to be patient, but I also wonder if maybe there's something about my process that could be improved. Maybe it would take less time if I spent just a little bit more time on making the prose sound good in the first place. Or maybe I just need to, you know, get good. Practice practice practice.

    In better news, I thought of another wrapup scene to make the ending less abrupt. It ties together about five people's arcs rather nicely, although I probably won't write it out until later.
     
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  24. Intangible Girl

    Intangible Girl Active Member

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    I'm starting to lose motivation. I don't know if this is burnout with writing in general or if I feel like I'm not accomplishing anything because I'm working on fanfiction. I wonder if it would be okay to just take a break from writing in general. My schedule has been quite busy lately and it's only going to get busier going into summer, although I'm hoping things will taper off in June. Maybe I should just take a break until then, although I'm afraid of losing this habit I've built up. All the writing advice says to write every single day, but I write for the fun of it. Publication is just something to work towards, a way to make it feel more meaningful than just writing things that will stay on my hard drive forever. If it's not fun, though... But sometimes writing isn't fun. Sometimes it's work. All the advice says you have to muscle through those times, not give up.

    I don't know. I'll have to give it some thought.
     
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  25. marshipan

    marshipan Senior Member

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    What about starting a new project, something that gets you excited again?
     
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