So I think I’ve mentioned here before that this WIP feels a little different than others I’ve worked on.
Hey, it has magic!
That’s not really the kind of difference I mean, but it is new for me as a writer, and it is all kinds of fun.
But the story also seems more connected to a real kid’s world and a real kid’s concerns than the other books I’ve worked on. Maybe for just that reason, I think I care more about this protagonist, too. And, on a personal note, I feel like this book has the potential to lift me and my writing to the next level. Whether that will be enough to get me agented and/or published, I couldn’t tell you. But a step up is a step forward.
So, I’ve been doing a few things different as I write this draft. (I call it my 3rd draft, but it has tons of new material in it. If I didn’t abhor the word, “should,” I would tell you that I should have been doing this work and writing this material in the second draft, but let’s not go there.)
So what’s new for me?
- I’m slowing myself down as I write each chapter. I could blast through them again and get more words on the page, but I did that for two drafts already, very possibly one too many.
- As I write more slowly, I’m thinking more about the truths of each chapter, for my protagonist and for the secondary characters.
- I’m letting myself (or maybe making myself) drop those truths onto the page, however and wherever they land. If I don’t think of it until the last page, when I should be doing the wrap-up or cliff-hanger? I write it. I suddenly and thoroughly derail some snappy dialogue by dumping it all into a horrible explanatory narration “disguised”as a spoken response only by the quotation marks? Write it. Insert it as an entire page of boring internal monologue with zero action? Write it. It’s painful and grates on the part of me that prides myself on pretty prose, but it’s the only way I’ve found to get to the this in,”The scene is about this.”
- I’m revising. As I go. Not as I first write the scene. But I don’t put it in my binder until I’ve read it through and, almost always, made changes. Sometimes I’m lucky, and those changes are mostly tweaking. Every now and then those changes leave me still feeling like the scene is a mess, like I still don’t know the this. But most often, I find myself looking at those truths I plopped in, getting a new scene focus, and revising around one of them. And feeling much better about what I do put in the binder.
Where is all this going to get me? I’m hoping that I’ll end up with a version of the story that is ready for a full-read from some Beta readers. (Even if I still don’t quite understand the difference between critique partners and Beta readers.) Maybe something that is ready for an SCBWI mentorship program, if I can find one that looks doable, location- and time-wise. Maybe something ready for a professional editor (manuscript, not copy) to look at.
At the very least, though, I think I will end this draft still very much in love with my story and my characters I think I’ll feel as though I’m giving them my full commitment and care. And that’s a lot.
What do you do to shake up your writing process? How do you push yourself to go deeper into your story and the worlds of the people in it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!