I can’t believe we’re into May already! Last week just wheeched by, and I’m still trying to get my head back round the right way.
As you’ll see below, I’m still working on making plot, motivation, stakes, and character changes to my stack of index cards for Working The Asset. In my fantasy version of pre-editing, it was going to be so quick and easy to make all these changes. But it’s not. It’s slow and laborious. Though, not as bad as doing it after writing 80K words.
The pre-edits are helping me craft a pretty incredible story (well, the kind of story I love to read, anyway), and I’ve had to remind myself often that I’m learning a new method and that it will get faster with each book.
If it wasn’t clear from the above paragraphs, last week did not go as planned. But, the story is growing into something that genuinely excites me. Something I know will be worth the hard slog. Something I can’t wait to share with other romantic suspense/action-adventure romance fans.
Since I took last week off to refill my creative well, I obviously have no work goals—other than the well refilling—to review. I fantasised that this would be a quick two-paragraph entry, but here’s the thing with giving yourself permission to chill, your mind miraculously clears. And, with that clearing, you learn some things about how a well-oiled machine of creativity can groan under the pressure of hyper-productivity and eventually seize up.
What I Learned When I Allowed Myself To Breathe
The things I learned seem so damned obvious now, but I couldn’t see the problems in the depths of non-stop work—the problems that I had created. 🙄
This last week was so different from my norm of the previous few months. I could get down on myself, or I can use it as a learning experience that I’ll take with me into my next holiday time (in about three weeks from now 🥳)
Uhh, it didn’t really go. I got around 25% of the work done, and that was like pulling teeth.
Well, after my mandatory level of caffeine intake, I sat myself down like I usually do: herbal tea, some Ludovico Einaudi, my notes, and two stacks of index cards … but my normal work vibe was missing. I couldn’t focus on the job and struggled to get just one scene done on Monday.
On Thursday, Ludovico went from calming to fudging irritating and was promptly replaced by silence. I managed to clean up and change eleven card sides (two scenes), boiling them down to just four. I was finally starting to feel the work vibe coming back.
I’d mentioned last week that I’d have to do the bulk of the pages twice because I’m writing an action-adventure romance. This is down to the fact that these subgenre stories essentially contain two plots. Both of the plot threads share equal billing (50% each), and it requires a delicate balancing act to get it right—the same is true of romantic suspense, paranormal romance etc.
What I failed to remember in my scheduling was that with romance (the dual-protagonist kind that I write) is that the heroine and hero also have equal billing. Meaning, I had to do two sweeps for the romance plot. So, yay, more work. 😑
Last week started great. On Monday, I exceeded my daily goal. I actually managed to triple it and gave myself a healthy headstart on the work.
Tuesday and Wednesday were devoted to site building/maintenance and blog writing—last week’s post and a post on my craft site. As those were my days off, we treated ourselves to two excellent movies: Bad Company and The Man in the Iron Mask.
Thursday, I was still going strong, getting a couple more pages done than planned, but other tasks needed my attention, preventing me from getting more done. But I was happy with the work.
Then Thursday night threw up a bit of an issue. For a few weeks now, my left ankle has been in agony—not enough to stop me running, stupidly—and that night, it decided to swell up like a balloon. I knew then that I would have to get it seen to, or there’d be no running, and that doesn’t sit well with Neen (my inner chimp who loves running).
Welcome to my first public author journal. I’ve been doing these for my own eyes for about a year now and have found them invaluable in helping me to conquer my writing to-do list.
This method is pretty simple, and I’ve used it to tackle many non-writing tasks and projects with great success. I start with a review of the previous week—the goal(s), how I felt I did, what worked, what didn’t—then it’s into the goals for the upcoming week, and finally a quick assigning of tasks to days.
I think this works for me because I’ve got a set of goals to accomplish for the day/week. I love crossing things off my list, and with each completed task, I’m motivated to get the next done etc.
It’s about time I did a writing update. I got out of the habit of doing updates, and I suppose the time away made it a wee bit daunting. But here I am, braving the blank blog page.
A while back, I decided I needed a break from pre-editing Working the Asset (Deniable Unit #1). The story still excites me, but there’s something not quite right about it. A bit of time away and a good hard look at the structure will fix it when I get back to it. Of that, I’m certain.
So, what have I been spending my time doing? Besides a significant declutter, dealing with injuries/illnesses–my own and Jez’s–and going yarn daft, I took a story structure course to up my outlining skills.
This week has been a hard slog…to no real progress. Well, none that moves the percentage bar. I’ve come across a few issues with my scenes in the form of wishy-washy scene goals. Up until this week it wasn’t noticeable. That was until I started working on the Character pass. It would have been okay; the characters all have scene goals in there, somewhere, and the story still flows and entertains.
It didn’t become a real problem in my eyes until Monday when I was nearing the end of a novel by one of my fave authors. There were several issues in the book, but the one that stood out–because I was dealing with it myself–was that the characters just seemed to go along with the story to get to the overall story goal. It didn’t engage me the way that that author normally does. The problem? The characters didn’t have any concrete scene goals.
Looking at my big stack of index cards with lots of weak-ish scene goals wasn’t too daunting. Yet, I couldn’t get myself to focus. At all. Day after day, my progress slowed to a snail’s pace. Something was wrong.
After a quick look through my planner (I’m a planner geek), I realised that I hadn’t had a day off since 11th June. I promptly freaked out at the thought of taking a day off, until I remembered that Jez was off work for a couple of weeks. So, I’ve decided to take a week or so off to give my inner chimp (Neenee) some downtime, and me some time to unwind and refill the creative well–movies, Halo, and some baking.
Which brings me to the wee bit on Genre Scribes. I’m going to take a break from Genre Scribes until October. Once I get back into Working the Asset, I really want to focus solely on that.
For now, I’m off to make some wheat-free, sugar-free, dairy-free cookies. 🤤
I love update post day! It means that I’ve made progress on my WIP, and that I’m ever closer to my goal of releasing Working the Asset.
Since the last update (ten days ago), I’ve completed Pass #5 — four days ahead of schedule 😃🥳 — and have made a start on Pass #6. In fact, I’m 12% of the way in.
For those interested, Pass #6 is all about the characters. Whittling down the cast size, cementing introductions, ensuring that I’ve treated them with respect–even when I’ve got to make them suffer 😈–and a whole host of other character related tasks.
Since the last update, I’ve blasted through Pass #4, the aim of which is to deepen audience delight with genre sequences, dramatic irony, and making sure that the story escalates well.
I’m now working on Pass #5. This pass takes care of the Fou Rs or as H. R. D’Costa (the creator of this outlining method) calls them The Four Workhorses. The four Rs are Realism, Relevance, Repetition, and Rhythm.
For the past few days I’ve been working through my stack of index cards—the continuously growing stack—looking for, and creating, setups and payoffs. And, tomorrow sees me tackling the fun/teeth-drying task of wrangling my subplots into shape.
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