Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What's Up Wednesday: Why My WIP Is So Long

http://www.tracyebanghart.com/storage/whatsupwednesday.jpg?__SQUARESPACE_CACHEVERSION=1371060102977I'm sort-of-nearly to the end of my critiquing adventure. My Ready. Set. Write! goals have all been oriented on editing this WIP, my first WIP, which I started when I was a 14-year-old high school freshman and finished when I was an upcoming senior in college.

"Finished." Haha. I know, I amuse even myself sometimes. 


What I'm Reading

MILA 2.0 is going swimmingly. Apart from some weird wordage that occasionally throws me, it's great. I also like that it has an introverted protagonist. 

I'm also working on Throne of Glass. The captain of the guard seems like an interesting guy. The prince is a typical spoiled pretty-boy who probably will fall in love with Celaena and then think he's entitled to her love because he gets everything he wants all the time, and an affair with an assassin is something cool and dangerous outside the propriety of princely life. He's not quite Joffrey, but I will be REALLY MAD if Celaena chooses him. There was a similar love triangle in Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness quartet. Alanna sleeps with the crown prince for a while, and dumps him when she realizes he's using their relationship as his personal rebellion.

Seriously though, I am sick of princes.


http://www.mediarats.org/pichost/i/f02fbf1c58ac.gif
Hahahaha this never gets old.
What I'm Writing

The other day, I had a revelation about The Book and why it sits at 100k words. I was looking at that figure, thinking about everything my CP had said about tightening up the plot and introducing more conflict, and wondering, "How did I get to this point?" And then I realized...I wrote this when I was fourteen. A couple of us were writing "books" at the time, so we would print out chapters and pass them around to our friends in homeroom. I got a rise off of writing cliffhangers and making people beg me for the next part. 

It was like a serial story that you read in the magazine or newspaper every week. In other words, I got to 100k because I wasn't writing a book.

Crap.


If you read it as a longer work with serial installments, then you don't mind the minor conflicts, the mini-resolutions, or the way the main conflict is spread out. It makes perfect sense that way. Nor do you care about the length because you're only reading a small chunk at a time. (Also, it would probably help if you were fourteen going on fifteen and didn't care about things like the craft of writing.)

If you sit down with a 300-page book, though, you get a sloppily plotted monster that gets wrapped up in pointless subplots and seemingly has no focus on the main conflict. And you have to wade through 100,000 words all at once.

The worst thing about it is that even after I stopped writing for the homeroom audience, I kept those characteristics. Once I realized this, I briefly -- briefly, mind you -- considered editing it as a series of shorter stories. And then I was like


http://i.imgur.com/9GTPnhA.gif
...With pretty much that exact expression, too.
NO WAY am I going through this again. I would rather shelve it than try to force it into yet another shape. I'm not at that point yet. I believe that it can be a book -- a real book -- with time, effort, and help. When I was younger, I used to worry that if I didn't get it done by age 16 -- 17 -- 18 -- the age kept going up as I got older -- I'd be some kind of failure. 

Well, never mind publishing young. It works for some, but in retrospect it was never a practical path for me. I was not homeschooled, I did not have a supportive family or oodles of time or money on my hands, I took AP and honors courses all through high school and served in various cultish clubs, and STILL managed to write 215k. I say 215k instead of 100k because that's how long it was until I chopped it in half and called it two books. So while my WIP might suck at the moment, I'm still proud that I even wrote it at all.

I probably should not have had William Faulkner and Stephen King as my 10th grade writing idols.

What else I'm doing right now

Speaking of Stephen King and long books, I'm enjoying the TV version of Under the Dome. I've also heard so many mixed things about Orange Is The New Black that I started watching it just so I could decide for myself.

I've heard people laud the show as the most progressive thing that's ever happened in television -- which makes me wonder what show they're watching because clearly we aren't seeing the same thing -- and others condemn it as the most racist, sexist thing that's ever happened to television, and it doesn't deserve that either. It's somewhere in the middle, doing things right and wrong...but for me, it's definitely on the side of "uncomfortable." I had too many feelings...it gets its own post.

What inspires me right now

Cats. Cats have a very liberating "don't give a shit" attitude. I'm more than usually stressed right now. I need to have more...cattitude. 


Also, can we all just look at this again?


http://www.mediarats.org/pichost/i/f02fbf1c58ac.gif
Talk about therapeutic.

12 comments:

  1. It's always fun to learn more of the backstory behind your book. :) I have a similar problem, where I started writing my book when I was around 15, and now it's been four years and already my tastes have changed and I see how I could have thought some things made sense when I was 14, but I don't like them anymore.

    I wonder if published authors, especially those published young, ever look back and their books and regret them? I know you have to go through a lot of hoops of people before a published book comes out, but I'm sure it's happened to someone.

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    1. I've heard a couple of published authors of various ages, regret certain aspects of their book or publishing journey. They were all successful, though, so I think the lesson is that everyone has regrets at some point about something. :)

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  2. Even if it's not publishable in it's current state, I definitely think your serial HS writing is a great beginning to your writing career. Given the length and age at which you wrote it, you may need to take a big step back from it and actually do a lot of rewriting, not just revising. That doesn't mean you were wasting your time though. You wrote a story that entertained a lot of teenagers (who happened to be your friends when you were a teenager). Now you just have to convert those words into a book that can entertain teens that you don't actually know.

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    1. Oh, I'm definitely rewriting. It feels like major surgery -- like I'm building some kind of Frankenstein's monster out of the spare parts from that initial draft.

      The funny thing is, when I was in HS I always thought it was perfectly fine, precisely because all of my teenaged friends liked it, and we were the market for YA, right? I didn't think about the form they were getting the story in and how it might affect their enjoyment of it.

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  3. SO, I totally love and am creatively borrowing "cattitude." LOVE IT. Also, yes - cats have the best outlook - one I need to adopt. :)

    And yes - HUGE congrats on finishing the story even if it feels like a serial. My first major writing project was a fan fiction and I submitted a couple chapters at a time. It gave me what I needed most - proof to myself that I could start a story and finish it. Good luck with your next writing adventure!

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    1. Haha, glad you liked it! Lots of writers can probably identify with cats. "Give me food and let me lurk in the corner with this WIP for a while. I may bite or scratch anyone who approaches." :)

      Thank you so much! I've heard that a lot of people start with fanfiction. I haven't written any of that, but I don't really regret the writing journey I've traveled because it taught me a lot.

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  4. Hey, my current WIP is currently 463K, and my projected final guesstimate is 550K! My first Russian historical, which I wrote from ages 13-21, was 342K at the end of the first draft, went up to over 350K at its longest during all the revisions and rewrites I began two years ago, and is now down to 335K, hopefully able to go down to 330K before I'm finally done editing. The second Russian historical is 406K in its rough draft, and my contemporary historical Bildungsroman is 387K. Sometimes a book just needs to be long, particularly in the historical genre. As my aunt said, who expects a Russian novel to be short?

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    1. Wow that's a lot of words! :D Good for you! And yes, if you wrote a Russian historical novel that was short, I would be like, "Something is wrong here." ;)

      Mine is high fantasy (not known as a short genre either) but I don't think the genre made it long. It has its own set of problems. Books can be long without *feeling* long, if you know what I mean. Right now, mine isn't as long as some -- definitely not as long as yours -- but it *feels* way longer than it should.

      Here's to both of us working through long drafts! :) Thanks for stopping by.

      Do svidaniya!

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  5. HI-LARIOUS! I don't know if you meant it to be funny, but you basically explained everything I was feeling with writing my novel. :) and I enjoyed your commentary on Orange is the New Black. Progressive? No. Funny? Yes. Racist? Probably, but I would suggest it's without the awareness of being racist. Yes the show is full of perpetuated stereotypes that make light of our social structure and system, but hey, what show isn't? I still couldn't help myself from laughing at Crazy Eyes. :)

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    1. When Crazy Eyes got up in the high school kid's face and started reciting Shakespeare at her, this was me: "FAVORITE CHARACTER AWARD BESTOWED!!!" Maybe if the main character wasn't so annoying, I'd like the show better. Where it really lost me, though, was when it made Piper's "choice to be gay or straight" a major plot point. No. Nonono. You can't bill yourself as a progressive show and then pull that crap.

      I'm glad you found my post funny. It was meant to be a bit humorous. :) And I could watch that Joffrey gif all day and still laugh.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. Okay, LOVE that Joffrey/Tyrion gif so much. I laughed out loud when it showed up a second time in your post. Too funny! And I have to say, I'm all for a Celaena/Chaol pairing big time. I think you've summed up exactly how I feel about Orange is the New Black: uncomfortable. I can't erase a couple of things from my mind: the disgusting 'sandwich' and Crazy Eyes peeing on the floor. Yikes. Needless to say, I don't really think I'll continue watching. Good luck with your edits this week! :D

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    1. There are a couple of videos of Joffrey-slapping on YouTube. I admit, they work wonders for the stressed-out writer. :) I hope your writing and reading goes well too!

      Chaol just seems like a deeper, more interesting character to me. He might not be a huge looker, but that's not what's important. I'll just be disappointed if I see yet another YA heroine choose looks over depth.

      The vulgarity in the show doesn't bother me so much as some of the subtler content. I'm still sitting on that review...

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