Friday, April 3, 2015

Snail crawl

Well, I wrote a bunch on Monday when I was so motivated. But once I’d finished the scene, I found myself back where I was: not sure where to go or how to get there. It was disheartening. But, having a writing binge (purge?) did help me keep my boot on fear’s neck.

I realized something: I hadn’t thought through how Cassidy was actually going to solve the mystery. There are two simultaneous mysteries going on (as there should be; see this for a good guide on how to structure a story), and I had thought my way through one of the cases entirely—the one Cassidy doesn’t know she’s solving. But the case she was hired for, I hadn’t completely figured out how she’d solve it. And now that that time is basically nigh, I’m having to figure it out as I go.

Pro-tip: don’t do this. Mysteries are hard to follow when you’re reading them. They are no less so when you’re writing them.

I’m also finding that shucking things off as #ThirdDraftProblems doesn’t actually make them non-issues. For example, Cassidy’s amnesia. This draft, I’ve mostly ignored it. Sometime recently, I realized that in my efforts to make Cassidy a mostly-well-adjusted human being in spite of her amnesia, I had managed to gloss over it completely. Because of that, I’ve managed to make it seem like she didn’t care. Because of that, I haven’t built any tension relating to it, which makes releasing that tension super hard. Even if I can stick my fingers in my ears and go “lalala I totally built that tension already by now in my third draft,” I don’t know how I’ve built it, therefor I don’t know the most powerful way to release it. Le sigh.

One of my techniques during NaNoWriMo to come back and write with momentum the next day was to stop writing right in the middle of a scene. That way, I’d be excited to finish it when I came back to it. This time around, I haven’t been very good about that. Scenes feel like capsules. When I get to the end and say “now what?” I spend quite a while going “I don’t knooowwww” and despairing. I think I need to go back to the basics and review the last thing that happened in the story.

  1. What did Cassidy learn?
  2. What did the readers learn?
  3. What changes did these discoveries cause?

If thinking about these things doesn’t set off a spark, trying to occupy Cassidy’s head and figure out what she thinks the next move is will probably also help.

Taking myself out of my normal writing environment has also helped me at least start my writing engine on a day-to-day basis. Monday, it was as simple as sitting on my porch in a reclining lawn chair for a few hours with my laptop on my lap. (It helped that it was 80° outside.) Between that, Starbucks, and the library, I definitely have options. Going out helps discourage me from playing video games, since my desired setting while playing Don’t Starve is to have a show on in the background. Being separated from my TV helps me shut off the impulse to play games mindlessly until something better comes along.

So, I am going to finish Cassidy1 in April. This is going to happen. Hopefully early April. I’m ready for my month-long break between drafts and to tackle some of those #ThirdDraftProblems we’ve all heard so much about. Wish me luck, okay?

Word count: 35,150 (襎)


Becky Munyon said...

Good Luck.
I don't quite know how my characters are going to solve the mystery, I'm just taking it one step at a time. I think with mysteries it's hard to know whether or not it's too confusing, or if we're making it too easy. That's why I'm relying on you and the rest of our group to tell me, and I can adjust as necessary. And we'll tell you.
I think your first draft focuses on the development of Cassidy and her history, and the second draft focuses more on her detective work. Maybe you should put the two together and they can make a love child.

Elly Conley said...

I TOTALLY hear you about worrying that I'm making it too easy. I think I'm much more there than thinking I'm making it too confusing, but you guys make me feel much better about that. :3

Also, I like your suggestion about the love child. I'm sure I'll get there.