Step into the Way Back machine for a moment, if you please. There are some steps I would like to show you to explain how I got to my current writing location. First, National Novel Writing Month happened in November of 2016. I had participated in NaNoWriMo before, but this was the first time I finished my project. I got the t-shirt.
December I took off from writing so I could get over the cold I caught from staying up late to write. Worth it. January and February were to be my months to improve the manuscript. January went as planned, but then on February 1st, I lost my best friend in a horrible way. Page back through the blogs and you will find details.
March loomed, because I had a paid appointment to keep with an editor at the up-coming California Dreamin’ Writers Conference. And I used to talk about my writing with Becky. I knew she wanted me to keep writing. So I worked toward the goal of a story I was proud of. At the conference, the very nice editor listened to my outline, asked a few questions, and then told me to send it in. Almost all such meetings end in the request for the story to be submitted. They need to see what we are doing and find out if there is a new star on the horizon.
I had time to keep working on the manuscript and finally sent it in around May 2017. Not very long later, much to my surprise, I got a wonderful email saying the ideas were good, the writing well done, but (and I knew there would be a but) the characters seemed shallow and underdeveloped. I had to agree, that is one of the areas where I need to focus.
I worked on some other things, short stories mostly. My self-imposed deadlines of blogs and Facebook posts. My birds and my walks with the dog. Holding hands with Becky’s family. Life, as it were. And at the local chapter of Romance Writers of America’s annual literacy support event, I bid on and won a mentoring meeting with one of my favorite published authors. Again, if you page back, you will get to the blog with more details on that meeting.
I confused my brain by moving parts of the story around and adding and subtracting whole scenes and the like. I looked at all the stuff that happens in the beginning and decided it was pretty boring. But I wasn’t sure how to chop it up. Or how that would help me develop the characters.
Finally, in May of 2018, my RWA chapter hosted a Brainstorming session with author Teresa Carpenter. The meeting just happened to be scheduled the same weekend as the last Romantic Times Reader convention, so the crowd at my meeting was thin. That made things so much better. We had more spotlight time to discuss our stories with the others at our table.
Teresa helped us focus with worksheets and important notes. We had to know the following: Goal — Conflict — Disaster — Dilemma — Decision — Resolution. We learned the W plot as well. If you are writing a thriller about a crime, you do need to know how to solve your crime before you start writing. A ticking time clock is important to the conflict and story.
My table group was fantastic, getting to the point in seconds and having a lot of amazing ideas. I thank Teresa for having the wisdom to tell me I had too much going on. I had to lose my secondary bad guy. So long, Travis! Now, the story makes a very smooth transition from the opening to the darkest moment. My brain stormed through the confusion and any day now, I will finish the story!
Why didn’t I finish it in May? Well, I spent many days at the local courthouse, either offering support to my friend’s family and friends or actually getting up to testify. And then the case took a turn that no one saw coming, not even the poor lost boy who was on trial. In a few more weeks, we’ll find out how many years he will be spending in prison. I expect it to be the rest of his life. He’s 26 years old.
I plan to channel all the angst and sorrow and sympathy into the story. It should be amazing when I finish it. I’ll start posting my daily words written count on this blog, too. There really is nothing stopping me now. Someone pass the magic mushrooms.
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.