1. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    Waifs must be finished.

    Discussion in 'Progress Journals' started by KaTrian, Apr 3, 2017.

    As some of the forum members may already know, I write together with my hubby and fellow mod @T.Trian. We have a ton of manuscripts, but none of them are polished enough, and it's starting to grind my gears. :(

    I want something finished, and we've decided it'd be best we dragged our contemporary novel to the finish line first. Reason: we wrote the first draft in 2010 and getting back to it in 2016 proved there were a lot of things we needed to re-write technology-wise. I'd rather we didn't have to do another similar update six years from now, so hopefully we'll get this thing finished-finished in 2017.

    WIP's name-in-progress is Three Waifs and One More.

    Logline:

    College student Fyen Caradas shoots a rapist to death in self-defense but is framed for murder by the victim's friends and the media.


    We're trying to shave it down to ~100k, which still feels like a lot, but at least it'd be a start. Based on the feedback from alpha readers, the beginning should take off a bit more quickly--so we'll def work on that.

    Yesterday we re-wrote a scene which triggered the main conflict of the story: the protagonist kills a man who attempts to sexually assault her. I'm fairly happy about the way it turned out, what was established and foreshadowed in it, but I think it could be better. More nuanced and subtle (I sometimes worry we are too on the nose). We'll let it sit and re-read it tonight or tomorrow.

    In the meanwhile I have to chew over the next major scene which concerns two other POV characters. It's a sex scene. Sigh. I actually have a tad stupid yet niggling concern: they have sex twice over the course of the story, and I guess I wanted those scenes to be a bit more different but somehow they turned out quite similar, only the POV is different. It feels like a missed opportunity--or is it just me?

    So I guess that's where we're at with this WIP. I really super duper hope we manage to finish this goddamn thing in 2017. :bigmad::-D
     
  2. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    Well now, cleaned up the scene with the protagonist, Fyen, and her friends. It was a good idea to let it sit for a bit. Some of the lines were a little hammy, kind of laying it too heavily on the reader that these people are f*cking idiots, so hopefully it's better now.

    There are a lot of scenes that have now been removed and pasted into a separate "outtakes" file. Additionally, plenty of adjectives and filters just had to go. The editing/revision process can be a lot of fun, but I have to be on a nit-picking, hyper critical mood to do that.

    Of the four POV characters, I feel Fyen and Stan are the readiest--both T.Trian's characters, incidentally. Fyen is going through a shitstorm, and it's going to be challenging to give space to both her current problems (killing a man) as well as her already existing problems; bulimia and homosexuality. Well, the latter is not a problem per se, but her having to hide it from her old friends is exhausting, and we need to understand the toll it takes on her as we write this character. But all in all, I feel her emotional journey is quite congruent and complete. I may be overly critical of my own characters, but I constantly feel I have to work harder on Blake and Jamie's characters. This is a character-driven story, after all, so they have to be well written, well rounded, and interesting.

    But it's fun to have all this food for thought, it's fun to comb through the manuscript for opportunities to convey our ideas and themes better, and learn to write better, stronger characters.

    106 712 words, but I've cut out the ending for the time being, so there's damn plenty to prune. :(
     
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  3. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

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    I bet those scenes are entertaining to look back at now even if they are hammy. :) How do you find this co-writing? I'd imagine it'd be pretty tough if you both have different writing styles to make it all uniform. And what happens when there are disagreements?

    Good luck with your progress!
     
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  4. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    Hi Dracon! Thanks for popping by. :)
    Co-writing is so much fun. It's the best thing ever. I enjoy writing on my own, but crafting these worlds, planning the scenes, and writing the interactions with a co-writer feels more dynamic, I think. Our writing styles are very identical, and we agree on pretty much everything: the tone, style, pacing, etc. This wouldn't work if we didn't. The awesome thing is that brainstorming is really easy when you already have someone around who knows the story and shares your vision. Two brains at a price of one. :D

    Today's progress:
    1428 words of depravity. Blake and Stan got together for the first time: the entire scene was re-written because it was too similar to the second time they do it. This time I wrote it alone as T was busy doing something else, but he'll go through the chapter, make some changes, additions, and suggestions, and then we'll let it sit for a while. I was actually happy to write it alone, not only because I got to take Stan's POV, and as a straight woman it's not all that easy to put yourself into a straight man's shoes, but I also got out of my comfort zone; I'm not very good at writing sex scenes (I should say I'm not very good at writing, period, but you guys know what I mean), so I'm glad I got to do this, got some practice down. :)

    Plus, you know, sex. They're like fight scenes. Unparalleled fun to write. :ohno::rofl:
     
  5. OJB

    OJB A Mean Old Man Contributor

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    Good luck KaTrain, and T.Train.

    I am glad that I am not the only one that finds them fun to write.
     
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  6. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    Whew, did some editing all through the evening, and re-read the latest new scene. I feel it's one of those scenes that should have never seen the light of day, but hey, there it is, and it'll justify a few things that happens later and triggers some plot/character development related stuff as well.

    We try to include only scenes that have a purpose, so there wouldn't be anything for the sake of having something in there that we think is cool. But I know there's still a lot of fluff, darlings yet to be murdered in cold blood.

    I'm reading some of my favorite books to get a feel of the upcoming breakdown I want to re-write as I'm not happy with it as it stands. I sometimes do this to "get in the mood", so I read Jay McInerney's Story of My Life and Vigdis Grimsdottir's Nimeni on Isbjörg, Olen Leijona (=My name is Isbjörg, I'm a lioness). We'll probably write it tonight or tomorrow. As it concerns Blake, I have to do most of the legwork.
     
  7. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    Wrote about 2000 words new stuff, but managed to remove about as much, so I guess that's good.

    The new chapter, and a small expansion to an existing one, elaborates a little bit more on the topic of slut-shaming. While our stories are not meant to be political manifestos, we like to incorporate clear themes and even messages in our writing. With Waifs, there are several topics that are touched upon, like struggles of the people who've fallen through the cracks or veered off the straight and narrow because the rest of society perceives these people as undesirables. We even discuss gender issues, as hated as those seem to be nowadays, but it seemed quite natural to bring some of that stuff to aboard what with the main cast of two women and two men, and the very different ways gender roles and female/male sexuality affect them. No, there won't be any of that "toxic masculinity" or "mansplaining" drivel, that'd be too much on the nose, but I guess we do point out double standards in human behavior here and there.

    Song for the scene: Dandy Warhols - Horse Pills
     
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  8. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    The word count is steadily coming down, wo-hoo!

    Dug out some old songs that used to be on Waifs' playlist: The Distillers, Bikini Kill, Bitch Alert, L7, The Donnas, Alice in Chains, Metallica, Guns 'n Roses, Tori Amos...

    Maybe it's going in too deep, but we tend to know what kind of music our characters listen to. For Fyen it's riot grrrl punk rock, for Blake '80s rock and metal with a dash of Tori, for Stan Final Outlaw, for Jamie... Well, his music taste is shit so we don't really listen to it when writing. :D
     
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  9. ajaye

    ajaye Senior Member

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    You know you've done a good job if your character likes shit music despite you. We must let them be them.
     
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  10. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    Thanks to @Lifeline 's super useful comments -- once again, she's a gem -- we got some food for thought, and realized we could do more with the description of our characters' mannerisms, expressions, and movements. It's especially useful when we're in a limited point of view and can't show what other characters are thinking.

    We revised a big, rather crucial chapter yesterday that leads to Stan's character's breaking point. We have a breaking point for every character, where they reach the pinnacle of their character arc. I guess it's like with their character development, there is rising action, the climax, and then falling action. Not sure if that's good or bad writing, but that's how we tend to go about characterization.
     
  11. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Contributor

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    Yeah well, I sympathize :p. I recently dived into body language to get all the meanings across without falling out of close third or spelling out in speech what goes on. It's really fascinating: There's so much a body can express without putting into words, I don't believe I'll ever be accused of 'telling'. All the little expressions of shoulders, hands, frowns etc will cue the reader to what really goes on—but it doesn't necessarily mean that the POV character is savy enough to interpret these clues :D
     
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  12. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    I think it's good to mix and match, as always. But your advise definitely made us pay more attention!

    I recently read this book called The Kiss of Deception (I forget the author). I was a bit of an idiot when I downloaded it 'cause I thought it was adventure but it was romance, and I very rarely read romance novels. I don't know if it's part of the genre to make the POV character dwell on another character's eyes and manners for paragraphs, but god damn, that was way too much. I couldn't suspend my disbelief anymore because I kept thinking, "I never think about this stuff when I meet someone! They'd file a sexual harassment claim since for me to infer all that from their looks and body language, I'd need to stare at them for minutes on end!"

    So T and I just have to find the happy medium. :D
     
  13. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Contributor

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    Yeah, I once stopped reading an otherwise interesting story because at ever chapter (I swear) the love-interest was described in glowing detail (I can't even count how often his eyes smouldered). I wanted to scream at the author to just cut it out!!

    Problem with writing is, that anything you write is a big slap in the reader's face. Even if he normally wouldn't consciously notice the i.e. crossed arms in real life, when he reads it his attention is naturally going there. It doesn't mean that all readers will be able to interpret these clues (and some maybe read over 'filler sentences' entirely—but that's their problem :D ), but they are there for them to pick up. If I write 'Kay crossed his arms before his chest' this means that Daniel notices it too. Again: not necessarily meaning that he picks up that something goes on (there are other reasons for one crossing arms, too).
     
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  14. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    Exactly right.

    In that novel, it wasn't even in glowing detail... I mean, I kinda get it that if you're in love with someone, they become a pure manifestation of perfection, I'm okay with that. But it was stuff like "Stormy seas churned in his dark blue irises as his penetrating gaze bore into me. His dark eyebrows quivered and his chest heaved as if he was was struggling to keep something terrible from spilling over", you know? And I'm like, girl, how long have you been ogling at this dude? He's right in front of you, he must be getting a little self-conscious by now!
     
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  15. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    Super stuck with a scene. :(

    Doesn't happen with us that often since we've got the benefit of two brains, but this damn scene... everything feels somehow forced about it. It's been sitting for a couple of days now. I feel like an exciting idea is waiting just behind the corner, but it just won't reveal itself.
     
  16. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    Did some edits based on Lifeline's latest comments. Quite happy with the way the chapter in question turned out, although I'm sure it could be better.

    Still desperate to cut down more words, though. :( Identifying all the killable darlings is hard. :(
     
  17. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Contributor

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    When that happens to me I try to jump sideways with my brain and ask the most outragous questions, 'what-ifs', that would come to me. Sometimes research-reading helps and trying to transport the scene into the book. And sometimes it really needs time. I feel for you.
     
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  18. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    Thanks for the tips. :) I'm afraid T and I are a bit too close to the story at this point and maybe have read through the scenes one too many times, so they appear more boring than they probably really are... But I have this feeling there are "assets" we could take from some earlier scenes and use them later to create something that makes you feel like things come together, you know? Just haven't found them yet...
     
  19. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Contributor

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    Yeah well, just last week I'd have agreed with you on my current chapter. I had the exact same problem: I don't know how many times I started new because I was dissatisfied. I'd write something, would be briefly satisfied (about a few hours, just long enough to sleep the creative mood off), then read it over and this awful feeling would start whispering. You can do better, this is not working,...

    :rolleyes: Well, problem solved. In my desperation I started in the middle of my planned chapter (tried it just for the heck of it, didn't think it would lead to anything) and astonishingly enough, it worked.
     
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  20. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    Looking forward to reading any new edits! :)
     
  21. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    Finally got THAT LONG-AWAITED VISION for the scene that we've been chewing over and over for a few weeks now. A draft has now been written, and while the tone is still a little shaky (considering it's a humorous scene although what happens is a bit shitty for one of the characters), I hope this - will - be - it. The old version was bland-ish, it didn't pack a punch, it was more like getting slapped by a tissue while I think the new one is more "us" and fits the story's tone and events. So, yay! :)
     
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  22. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    Been working on the beginning. It's not catchy; it feels bland and tell-y. I can feel the momentum start gathering only by the second chapter, but it should already begin in the first. Hopefully tonight T.Trian and I get something productive done. We have a basic idea as to how it should be improved, but we'll see how it will work in practice.
     
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  23. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    So the beginning was revised + two more scenes that got a complete make-over. Yay for "progress"! Also, a writer friend from a distant past reached out and asked how T and I were doing. We chatted a bit, and he offered to read Waifs. Not sure how far he'll get, but any feedback will be precious! :cheerleader:
     
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  24. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    Waifs might have hope yet. It's down to 80k now, and while it's missing the ending, T and I planned out the shortest possible version yesterday, and hopefully we'll manage to keep the end product under 100k.

    The feedback we've received from our current beta makes us cautiously optimistic. We've asked him to pay extra attention to our biggest hurdles, language and pacing, and I'm looking forward to fixing and honing whatever complaints he'll find (and I'm sure there are many!). He also pointed out another rather common gripe our betas have: setting descriptions tend to be sparse.

    But I'm always happy to receive developmental feedback because it'd be scary if the beta reader just went, "this is perfect, I love it." :p I was also glad to notice he's gotten attached to different characters than other readers. That hopefully means they are all more or less well-developed characters, which is kinda important in a character-driven story. :p
     
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  25. Stormburn

    Stormburn Contributor Contributor

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    It's interesting to see you progressing. Great work!
     
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