I’m a Wimp. Who’s Going to Grow a Spine.

The last few days have been traumatic ones for my WIP, my characters, and me. I’ve been whining (or whinging!) about it on Twitter & FB, and today it’s going to stop. Not the trauma. But definitely the whining.

After this explanation.

It’s not that I don’t want to do the work when I write. It’s that, honestly, I don’t like the pain. That the characters go through. I have this problem often as a reader, with books that really (even necessarily) take their characters through the wringer. Even as I am glued to the page, wanting to find out what happens, loving the story, I’m worrying. Fretting. Wincing. Wiggling around in my chair & wishing I had a magic wand and could make them (and the real people they represent) happy.

Which may be why my first book was a fun, light MG mystery. That kind of problem–a mystery problem–a kid can solve. And while he gets in danger along the way–along with being totally humiliated AND busted by parents–well, I knew he was going to solve the crime, catch the bad guy, AND get to ride the roller coaster. My  mystery MC and I, we have fun together. I love the book and think there are a lot of kid readers out there who would love it, too.

Working on my new WIP is, well…it’s exciting. It’s scary. It’s shocking. And, yes, it’s gut-wrenching.

I’ve been talking to my characters. What with the research trip coming up and summer vacation still going strong, I had stalled out a bit on writing forward. So I thought I’d use my more piecemeal time to get to know these people better (suspecting, too, that NOT knowing them quite well enough might have contributed to the stall).

Wow. Okay, first of all, these people all have BIG troubles. Some in their presents, some in their pasts, but throw it all into the mix, and you get this bubbling, simmering soup of pain, loss, and holes that need to be filled. If they even can. And, of course, everybody’s soup is bumping up against everybody else’s and just making things worse. There are, apparently, no happy people in this story, and everyone’s got a heck of a lot of work to see if they can even make things better by the end.

I know, that’s a GOOD thing.

Here’s what’s been trickiest for me, I think. It’s not just the bad things that are rocking my boat. It’s something about learning all this new stuff at this stage. In my other writing–the mystery and other books I worked on before–I usually made these discoveries during revision. When I could see–yes, with some work–where the new details fit, how they played out in the story. I could weave the changes into my existing story, plant new seeds early in the book, play with resolutions at the other end. This time around, for some reason, I need to know this stuff NOW, before getting very far into the story. Why is the pattern changing now? I have no idea.

I’m going to go with it, though. This is a totally different kind of book for me, so why should the old techniques work? And I was stalled, so maybe this change is a gift from the muse or my pysche, or just from the stage I”m at on my writing path. I’m going to look at it that way–as a gift, a plus, a positive.

And I’m going to stop whining. Really. From now on, I’ll be doing the happy dance, waving bright banners, and tossing glitter at all of you out there on FB & Twitter.

With maybe an occasional eeep! of panic.


  1. eeps of panic are okay.
    But you’re no wimp. You will get through!


  2. K.M. Weiland says:

    I think all novelists have to be (or at least pretend to be) slightly sadistic. Scarily enough, my favorite scenes are often those in which the characters are suffering mightily. Wonder what that says about my psyche?

    Oh, and just for the record, I love the word “whinging.” 😀


    • beckylevine says:

      I think I have to amp up my sadistic factor! And I love whinging, too. Well, the word, not the act!


  3. P. J. Hoover says:

    you are so not a whiner.
    I’m growing a spine on my WIP, too. I keep having to talk myself into the hard parts.


  4. I agree, you’re not a whiner. It’s hard to put our characters through the tough stuff. But the fact that you already care this much about your characters bodes well for us readers down the road.


  5. Amy says:

    You’re not whining, Becky! Every book demands something different from us. You’re wise to listen to what this one needs.


  6. YOU CAN DO IT!!!


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