WIP Wednesday – The Minor Flirtation, part 2

My last novel, MIRRORPASS, took me three years to finish. I am not normally that slow of a writer. Spending so long on a single novel was torture. It was three whole years of having new ideas and not being able to write them. When it finally (finally, FINALLY) came time to pick a new novel to focus on after shipping MP off on submissions, it was a pretty even tie between two ideas.

One was Shutterbug.

At the time, Shutterbug was brand spanking new. Like maybe six months old, or even newer. It was the idea I had begun because I wanted something entirely unlike my other novels to think about; I wanted sweet, early teen romance;  I wanted a boy protagonist, and dual POVs; I wanted to set it in a city, which I’ve never done before.

The other idea was old. Very old.

Before I wrote MIRRORPASS, I took a whack at this big-concept story called “The Eternity Shift,” about a girl with a deadly disease getting frozen in cryo, by accident, and waking in a world where everyone was cursed with immortality and couldn’t manage to die. They wanted to die, though, because immortality sucked, and they were all cryo survivors in a weird new world, and nobody knew how they’d gotten there. And somehow this girl have managed to stay mortal when everyone else hadn’t. So she had this cure.

It was a great idea, but I didn’t realize how many flaws it had until I got that iconic 20k into the first draft. I pushed through, though, for another 10k, until the story petered out just short of 30,000 words and I had to trunk it. It was the first novel in years that I’d gotten so far with and had to trunk. It was a colossal failure. And even worse, the idea refused to release it’s grip on me. I still liked it, after all that waste.

So. I told the idea, fine. I’ll keep you. But you have to sit nicely on the shelf with the other bits and bobbins and percolating concepts, and every once and a while I’ll try solving you again.

Which it had done quite nicely. Over time, especially while writing MP, whenever I got bored I would take my Eternity Shift idea down off the shelf, poke at the beginning (and by poke I mean write 2,000, or 5,000, or even 8,000 words) until things went wrong again and I had to stop. I never managed to get it right. Ever. I’d solve one piece of the puzzle, but find the others were still mucked up.

Thing was…while writing MP…I started getting close to solving The Eternity Shift. (Which abbreviates to TES. Do you mind if I just call it TES? I’ve been doing that in my head, and it works great.) By the time I finished MP, I felt TES was almost ready to go again. Maybe was ready.

But Shutterbug was maybe ready, too.

And so was Time Travel story, come to think about it.

As you know from my previous post, The Minor Flirtation, trying to write two novels at once is, in my opinion, not only a very bad idea, but also pretty near impossible. I had to let all but one go.

I spent a tortured month or so turning them all over in my minds, writing bits and pieces of their beginnings while trying to figure out which one I wanted to spend the next 6 months+ with. And in the end, as you may have guessed, I chose Shutterbug.

Time Travel story behaved nicely. It kind of like, sighed, and went back to sleep.

But TES did not play nicely. TES hovered. It waited a month or two, and then presented itself with brand new solutions that made everything which hadn’t worked before work. Crap.

But I told myself, no. You are writing Shutterbug. You can poke at TES, but you cannot write it.

Okay. Poking at TES. Writing Shutterbug.

That seemed to work okay. TES, it seemed, still had a few minor details to iron out. (Does she run into the forest? What would motivate her to do that? And like, do I really want her to be a dancer? Should she have another hobby, maybe?)

And that was fine. Shutterbug roared ahead and lurched to halts during finals. Roared ahead again. All in all, things were going good.

And then…

Sigh.

Then this month happened.

TES happened.

I was doing my poking thing to TES, as I commonly do. This was on the wings of a sudden spurt of inspiration, as it usually is. Nothing unusual here. Except that for the first time ever, I was landing those first chapters with voice.

VOICE. The voice of TES has eluded me for so long. I have known the plot I wanted to write, much of the feel of how I wanted to execute it; I have even known the voice I wanted it to have. But the subject matter was so…strange, sometimes, that it was nearly impossible to hang onto the voice.

And this time I did.

Not only that, but I got the love-interest-sortof-maybe guy right, first try. And I got the tricky opening plot points right, first try.

EVERYTHING WAS WORKING RIGHT AND WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE SHOULD I STOP SHOULD I KEEP GOING I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DOOOOO.

I kept writing. Couple days ago, I tweeted about writing 8,000 in one day. Yeah, that was in TES. This morning I woke up, sat up in bed, had an important paragraph I knew I needed to type before I lost it, and ended up writing 2,500 words before breakfast. I added another 1,300 this afternoon.

TES is going nuts, guys. I’m already at the 14,000 mark and it’s been less than fourteen days. Because I’m switching back and forth in time, I have a good first third of the novel plotted out almost in entirety. And I am already very close to getting over the speed bump I’ve always encountered during the first plot movement–the second plot movement is where things always used to fall apart. Thankfully this time I’ve solved that.

I know, once my characters enter the third plot movement, things will have to slow down because I am very vague now where things go from there. Which is kind of a relief actually, because hey. Backup plan! I’ll be forced to stop writing and just think for a little while. Which will give me an opportunity to pick Shutterbug back up. In case, you know. I dropped Shutterbug to write TES.

Which I don’t intend on doing.

I intend on writing Shutterbug and TES at the same time.

Even though that never, ever seems to work.

Even though you always say to yourself, “but this time is different!” and it turns out, no, it’s not.

What can I say? This time is different.

*Headdesk*

 

*

 

And that, guys, is my crazy WIP update. I’ve decided to start including some kind of stats with these WIP posts, so, here goes:

SHUTTERBUG MEETS (INVISIBLE) GIRL — YA magical realism with romantic elements. 16-year-old Toby McCleary sets out on a renewed quest to find the mysterious disappearing girl of his childhood, with only the clues in an unsolved mafia case, the pictures on a lost camera to guide him, and his own faith to guide him.

Current word count: 82k out of 85k
Why this is not as good as it sounds: because I’m just wrapping up Act 2. I lingered too long on a specific plot movement, and now I need to get the plot back on track by hammering out some important scenes so we can get to the good stuff. Am working on hammering out those now–successful so far, in that I wrote one already this month (between writing TES. Hah, hah.)

And speak of the devil! Introducing, my second-possibly-WIP…

THE ETERNITY SHIFT — a YA dystopian. A girl who loves to dance wakes up in a future cursed with immortality, where, as an accidental beta-tester for the first cryogenic pod, she’s the only mortal left.

Current word count: 14k out of 90k
Status: Moving from the opening, establishing chapters (which have always given me grief in previous drafts) to the exciting part, when Robin starts digging into her relationship with the guy who she really, really shouldn’t fall in love with, because he was bred to be a killer and oooh…tension!

TES also has a Pinterest. In case you’re interested. (Because getting a Pinterest is, like the first thing I DO with new ideas nowadays.)

So ANYWAY. That concludes my massive two-part WIP update.

 

What about you guys? How are your WIP’s going? Does anyone else out there storyboard with Pinterest like me? Share!

 

Truly and always,
-Mandy

The Minor Flirtation, part 1

 

 

At some point in every writer’s life, typically sooner rather than later, they are tempted to write two stories at once.

Sometimes it’s because they have two brilliant (or three, or four) ideas at once, and they CAN’T CHOOSE. Often it’s because they had a brilliant idea, started writing it, and around the 20k mark things got…a little less exciting. A little slow. A bit tricky. They looked out the window to stare moodily at the landscape, when BAM. Brilliant new idea goes flashing across the glass. And, well. Brilliant new idea just won’t go away. It becomes a minor obsession. The not writing it, the idea of giving it a try.

Especially when it’s a really good idea. That makes it easier to justify. (This one is more marketable, I should be writing it first.) (This one has a better hook. Agents will like it more!) Yeah. Right.

There is also a third scenario, which involves crazy deadlines and being forced to write two things at once, but that’s an entirely different beast and I’m nowhere near qualified to discuss it.

Tonight I want to discuss the minor flirtation.

 

 
Ahem. The minor flirtation with IDEAS, you know: the idea flashing past the glass.

We all have this, I think, through the course of writing novels; and I’ve learned to channel these flashing ideas into short stories, to give me something new to think about that will resolve neatly and allow me to continue writing my WIP. But in the past it was always like, OMGOSH, this is such a good idea, I have to write this. No, I mean I really just have to write this. I can’t abandon old novel…but I could do both! At once! They’d inspire me to write each other. They would give me breaks from each other, and that way I’d be twice as productive.

That’s always how our thought process goes, isn’t it? But the answer is…no. Even if you think it’s part of your process…it’s probably not.

 

 

I used to know people, great writers, back on the Absolute Write forums, who did this. They’d start out with one WIP in their siggy, and then they’d have two, and then three, and then four…until the old ideas were trunked and the new ones became old ones. It was a never ending cycle. And the only way out of it was to  shut the door, pick one idea, and write it until it was done.

So that’s always been how I’ve done it. Once or twice, very rarely when I simply can’t STAND it any more, I’ve tried writing two things at once. Usually it’s with some sort of stipulation, like, when story #2 stalls out around the 20k mark like I expect it to, it’s back to WIP #1 with you. Or sometimes I’ve allowed myself to pick away at a secondary story that has had a sudden resurgence in interest, because I doubt it’s going anywhere at the moment. I’ve noodled with this idea before, and it has a long way to go before it can become a full-fledged novel. So there’s no worry it will try and take over. I’ll ride out the flirtation, learn what I can learn, and go back to my WIP without any guilt.

 

 

*

 

So.

This is the point when I normally start giving you examples based off my own novels. The problem with that is, the examples are long. They involve an Awful Lot of Blabbing. So this time, I decided instead of making one incredibly massive posts…

I’d split it into two. Part 2 comes Wednesday, when I will be discussing one of the other alternatives, that I may or may not have slipped into. COUGH. But for today, what do you guys think of about the minor flirtation? Have you ever struggled with it? How do you deal with it? Has anyone out there ever managed to write two novels at once and done so successfully? Because, despite what’s coming up in Wednesday’s post, I just have a hard time believing that could work unless you were really, really motivated.

(You people with deadlines, I feel for you. Deeply. How do you stay sane doing that?)

Until Wednesday!

 

Truly and always,

-Mandy