Tuesday, January 1, 2013

IWSG - January, 2013 - Going to the Dark Side




It's a new year and time for Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted by Alex J Cavanaugh.  I hope to have a new year of encouraging posts rather than angst-filled ones.  We'll see.  You never know until you get there.
 
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In mid-December, I stated here that I would write 10 to 20 chapters in the second half of December.  I'm pretty sure I said it more than once.

But I had a problem with the gummy middle of my WIP, the novel I half-wrote during NaNoWriMo.  Each of the last few chapters were only partially done.  I was so burnt out on it that I labeled the last several chapters as "Chapter Next" instead of giving them a number. 

In the gooey, half-done chapters, my characters were in a church during a blizzard.  They were trapped there until I figured out how to build a bridge between that scene and the first chapter of the second half.  I was trapped there too.

I thought it would be easy to start clean in a future chapter where the sun was shining (very temporarily) and time had moved on.  So I outlined from the midway point of the novel, the point I hadn't quite gotten to yet, all the way to the end.  I tried, but I couldn't just pop forward in time and write the first chapter of the second half.  It was like I was paralyzed. 

I thought cleaning my desk would help.  It didn't.

So instead of starting fresh at the halfway point and easily writing the new chapters without worrying about the undercooked middle scene, I went back to finish the Chapter Next chapters.  The fact is I couldn't number my later chapters anyway until I knew how many chapters came before - apparently I'm a smidge too OCD to carry on with estimated chapter numbers. 

Very slowly at a rate of half a chapter a day, I fixed the three Chapter Next chapters and pushed through into the darkness until I cried with my characters and knew it was just right.  Then I wrote some new chapters, not ten or twenty, but enough. 

When I told my teen what I planned to write in the next few chapters, she stood up in horror and said, "Oh, God, Mom, that's so dark!"  And she left the room.  My husband and I giggled.  I must be doing something right.


My Teen


How awesome is it that I can ick out a teen like that with just the premise of a story?  It's not paranormal or sci-fi or fantasy.  There are no vampires or gruesome creatures.  No one is carrying an ax except to chop wood.  There aren't any serial killers or deranged people.  I do have one mean drunk that did at least one terrible thing while intoxicated, but he wasn't in the scene I described to my daughter.  It's a story that really could have happened.  It's just life. 

Sorry to tease you all - I don't want to give away what happens quite yet.  I can't wait to get it done so I can get my CP's reaction.  Apparently my teen won't be volunteering to read this one.

This month I feel very secure about my ability to go to the dark side in my writing while keeping it real.  I hope that next month's post will be about how secure I feel about finishing it.  Maybe not.

What do you feel secure about in your writing?

If you'd like to sign up for this monthly group hug or read through the post of the other participants, go to Insecure Writers.  We love comments (except for the anonymous kind with questionable links), so don't be shy.

91 comments:

  1. If you icked out your teen, you are on the right track!!!

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  2. Good luck! It sounds like you're on your way to fixing those chapters.

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  3. Good signs from the freaked teen, I agree! haha. I used to skip around and write what chapters I wanted to, back in the day. Nowadays though, I force myself to at least spew out some semblance of writing to fill gaps, before moving onto bits I want to write. It's just easier than having to go back and tie bits together later.

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    1. I wrote my first novel out of sequence - whatever chapter I wanted to write was first. But it was more difficult to knit the chapters together.

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  4. Ahh, the dark side. I've been there and have visions of going back again. Funny, when people get freaked out by something, usually means you hit a nerve. But with your teen, she probably never expected it! Good job!

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    1. Thanks! I didn't think she'd get freaked out. I thought she would like it.

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  5. Sounds like you're doing all the right things Tonja! It's nice to have a live-in ick meter! Julie

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  6. "monthly group hug" ..... LOL I love that! That's so what it is. And high five for icking your teen out. Definitely a good sign. ;)

    Happy New Year!

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    1. Thanks. Happy New Year to you too!

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  7. I love that you are feeling secure! What a wonderful thing to read first thing in the morning but what really got me was this line:

    "How awesome is it that I can ick out a teen like that with just the premise of a story?"

    Kudos for creeping out your teen! I love it!! =)

    Be well!!

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    1. It feels awesome - not that she was disturbed by it, but that the story is what I want it to be. Yay.

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  8. If you can freak out a teen, you writing is THERE!!!

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  9. I was plotting out the second book in my MG series, and I knew it was coming up short. The stakes weren't high enough. Then I had a crazy awful idea while doing recess duty on the playground. I rejected it, but it kept coming back. I told my CP and she said, "I hate it. It's perfect." I told my husband and he flinched. I told my 12 year old daughter, and she said, "Yeah, Mom. Do it!"

    The worst ideas are the best. And if it makes you feel horrible writing it, like you can't believe you're doing this to your characters, it's probably a winner!

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    1. "A crazy awful idea during while doing recess duty on the playground." That's so funny.

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  10. Ooh that's amazing!

    I'm secure in the fact that I have some brilliant drafts waiting to be rewritten, once I decide to do them. :-D

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    1. I'd rather have drafts than a blank screen. Awesome for you!

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  11. That is just fabulous. Playing around with your dark side? I like it! Best of luck with your endeavours in 2013.

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    1. Thanks. Everything I've written has been dark. Apparently it's the way my mind is wired. Nothing to be done about it.

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  12. That is great! Love that you just pounded through where you were stuck too. Can't wait to be able to read your story. Today, I feel confident that I will be doing more writing in 2013. :-)

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    1. I'm going to write more too. I want less days where I write nothing.

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  13. I love it. Hehe! You better quote her when you get it published. LOL!

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    1. That would be awesome on the back cover.

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  14. Its fun to do things like that to our kids hahaha! I'm always stepping out on a limb in my writing. Just when it seems I've written myself into a corner, I think of something really cool that adds the WOW factor to the story.

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    1. I was completely surprised by her reaction.

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  15. You freaked out your teen, as in "what have you done with my mom"? LOL! Good for you Tonja!
    It's great that you've started 2013 on such a positive note!

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    1. I think it's going to be a good writing year.

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  16. Tonja! What a tease you are! Glad to see you got one up on your teen. That's always reason to celebrate. I raised 5 teens and survived so I know! Haha.

    Happy New Year!

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    1. I have a teen and a preschooler and one in the middle.

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  17. Congrats on getting past your stuck point. We all know that isn't always an easy thing to do. Even better you icked out your teen ;)

    Happy New Year!

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    1. I'm really pleased I made it through those tough chapters too. I can see the rest of it - like a movie in my head, so I think the second half will be easier even if the subject matter is difficult.

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  18. You are a terrible tease with this! I'm so curious about the story. I love dark tales of all kinds so I just know whatever you are working on will be right up my alley. Happy New Year! :)

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    1. It's terribly dark but not evil if that makes sense. I can't wait to get it done. :)

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  19. High praise to ick out a teenager. Glad you got through it and went on with the story. I hope we get to read it sometime soon. :D

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    1. I'm fast with the writing but slow with revisions. Maybe 2014. :)

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  20. Teens are all bluster. But I'm still glad you could ick her out. :))

    And that really is a telling sign that you can create that sort of emotion from someone without having to rely on "props" like fangs or claws. I have an attempted rape scene I have to write this afternoon that won't be pretty. But sometimes you gotta go to that dark side for the sake of story.

    And, hey, happy new year!

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    1. Ugh. That's going to be difficult to write.

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  21. Sounds like a story I'd like to read! And I kind of like the idea of people being stranded in a church, during a blizzard. I've been through a similar situation, but I ended up rewriting the whole story. I'm glad you were able to salvage. Happy writing! :)

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  22. When I get stuck in the middle of a novel, I do the jump ahead thing and then write it backwards, scene to scene with the question: ok, so how did they get here. Sometimes the forward scenes dictate what already happened. The technique is not for everyone though.

    At least you found your way of getting into the setting and atmosphere; and sounds like you rediscovered a love of your natural writing style in the process. That's awesome! Writing isn't always easy, and as you say happened to you, sometimes we do get burnt out on the process.

    Knowing when to take a step back to re-evaluate is as important as pushing ahead. Well done Tonja.

    And I like everyday creepiness :) Yes, it is so much darker than the paranormal.

    ......dhole

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    1. I wrote my first one completely out of sequence - one chapter at a time and knitted them together. I think I prefer writing in order now. But I knew what my ending was before I started, so I knew when I was in trouble at least.

      You all are making me feel optimistic that people will want to read my dark terrible stories. Yay!

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  23. I'm totally intrigued - I want to know right now what was so dark your daughter left the room. Good job ;) Congrats on the progress!

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  24. I think all writers have a little OCD. I can't wait to see what you've come up with.

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  25. Hey Tonja. I can't write out of order. I tried on one novel last year and it is giving me a headache in edits. But, I know what you mean by going dark. You can totally do it with out the cliches and it's even better. I can't wait to read it. Good luck.

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  26. I get what you mean about wanting to finish the middle part before starting the end but I have, for the same reason as you, started writing the last chapters before finishing the middle. That's why I don't number my chapters.

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    1. I have an unhealthy need to enumerate. :)

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  27. I prefer writing in order too, so I can see why you were feeling stuck. I'm glad you got things worked out, and any progress is progress. Good luck finishing the novel!

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    1. I'm actually feeling good about the half-chapter pace while the kids are in the house. I usually want to write a full chapter or nothing. It's kind of liberating. :)

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  28. Wow! You must write really fast. I can't imagine writing chapters out of order. That would confuse me. Wish I had cleaned my desk.

    Interesting post. Good luck.

    Monti
    Mary Montague Sikes

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    1. I type crazy fast. And I drink too much coffee. I am glad I cleaned my desk. Now to clean the space next to my desk....

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  29. I wouldn't have been able to write out of order, either. The story has to flow forward for me or I'd be lost. I'm glad you were able to write it in the end, and too funny about your daughter being freaked out about it!

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

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    1. It bothered me having crap in the middle. A lot.

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  30. Color me thoroughly teased. I have the same OCD chapter number thingy. I love that you caused a teenager to react that way! I'm in awe and envious. My current WIP needs more darkness and all I give him is sunshine and flowers.

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    1. I will send you my dark Muse. :)

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    2. Please do. Mine's intirely too playful at the moment! :)

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    3. And a spellchecker. sigh. entirely"

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    4. Maybe write a quick children's story with rainbows and unicorns and work it out of you. :) (My eyes read that as if it were spelled correctly. Why don't they have spellcheck for comments?!!)

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  31. Dark sounds good. So many YA books are very successful going that way.

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    1. I have lots of mommy-type characters. I probably won't be attracting the YA crowd. :)

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  32. Love this post and especially the way you handled your problem. Good lesson for me. Can't wait to learn more about your dark side. :) Thanks for popping into my blog and leaving a comment.
    And I get many anonymous posts with questionable links.

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    1. Thanks. I opted to ban the anonymous.

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  33. Sounds like an intriguing story! I'm on revision number (you don't want to know), and I'm almost to the finish line with my first novel . . .but the next month is going to a load of work, both to put on the last polish and to get all the businessy stuff figured out.
    Best of wishes for your writing! And Thanks for stopping by my blog today!

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    1. Good luck on making it to the finish line! I've stopped counting revisions on my other WIPs.

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  34. Dark can be good, and it's always good to freak out our teen children. Hmm...I wonder what I could pull from my WIP to freak out my son? :)

    I think what I'm secure about is my literary voice. I know what I want to say, and it clearly reflects my thoughts. Well, I think it does. Anyways, great IWSG post!

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    1. I think that's a great thing to be secure about. And thanks!

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  35. Hee hee, I think you describe the mess of the murky middle stage very well.

    I love angst-filled posts as much as the positive ones, but this one made me smile.

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  36. Yes, the dreaded middle. I'm so glad you found a way to bring yours to life. Make sure you post the reaction of your CP after reading...

    Happy New Year!!

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    1. I'll definitely post her reaction. I met with her last night, and am proud of myself for not blurting out what happens next. I think it takes some of the steam out of it if you tell it before you write it.

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  37. I don't feel secure until my publisher is happy with my edits. And even then, not until my readers say they love it.

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    1. Everyone gets bad reviews. Will it be good enough if some of the readers say they love it?

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  38. I know its late but here goes.

    I am most secure in the concepts of my MS but not so much the execution of it. I am not good with writing short stories or being concise with words but I take comfort in creating a world which gets me excited to write about. But if your daughter is irked by your work, I guess that is a good sign! I wish you the very best with it all. Cheers!

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    1. Well, perfect execution with a bad concept doesn't work. So, you're in a relatively good place.

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  39. It's strange, but in my first ms I jumped around a lot, wrote scenes as they came to me, completely out of sequence. By some miracle I managed to finish it. But the sequel is a completely different writing experience for me. I'm stuck at the beginning because I can't seem to move forward and find it impossible to write out of sequence....

    Funny you got such a reaction out of your teen, you're surly doing something right! (: Oh and love your reply to Mina Burrows, that would be fun to quote her on the back cover! :D

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    1. Me too. My first one was out of sequence. And I don't think I'd have a problem picking up a different one at a later starting point. It's like they are unique little babies that need to be handled the way they need to be handled.

      My daughter would love that if I quoted her. Probably. Actually, I'm having more and more problems predicting her reaction.

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  40. totally awesome tease! i love that its so close to scary reality it makes a tough teen squeamish! keep writing so we can taste the intensity!

    way to start 2013!

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  41. Glad you didn't give up,.especially when you get frustrated. Keep it up girl, you're awesome!

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  42. *waves* New follower. Thanks for the advice on my post!

    Nice post here, although I'm dying to know what the dark part is that icked out your teen!!! :D

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  43. Whenever you can ick out your teen you know it's good. Glad it's coming together for you.

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  44. That's a great tease :)
    Sounds like you got a lot done despite the trauma and frustration.
    Best wishes for 2013!!

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  45. Lucky you to have a teen handy to ick out.

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  46. Loved your post. Good luck with your writing this year.

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  47. Haha chapter next love it, Im comfortable with my characters, I know their reactions and emotions without thinking :)

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