The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Monday, July 10, 2017

Staring... and Finishing (at least a 2nd draft)

This is what I stared at, off and on, for three hours yesterday.

      There was a write-in at the St. Louis Art Museum. From 1-4 I sat in an overstuffed chair (big enough for two, but I hogged up both spots with my stuff) and typed away on my laptop.

       Okay, saying I typed away for several hours might give you--my one reader--with the impression that I got pages and pages down.

       El wrongo.

       I just looked back on my WIP to see how much I actually got down. Less than a page, plus part of an author's note (it's historical). However, this was one of the hardest parts--the ending--and so I'm thrilled I got the last few paragraphs down.

       Now the hardest part. There is a question at the end that's a crucial one for the main character (a young teenager named Henry). I've known--since the very beginning--that my first page is not how I want the reader to enter the story. However, it was how I had to enter into the character... so I need to completely revamp the beginning.

      I want to have a hint of that question (that's at the end) in the beginning... and then perhaps insert a thread of the question here and there throughout the story. Then comes the next steps:

1) Finish the author's note. This is a historical event that very few people know about. There's some backstory and some details that were not covered in the story. To have a completely well-rounded view of what happened, an author's note is necessary.

2) Speak to an elderly person about some of the slang/expressions/products. I've included some of the expressions that my grandfather used. He was born in 1904. The story takes place in 1921. However, these are African American characters. What sayings were popular back then? I have a couple of lady senior citizens I'm going to sit down with and talk to. (I've highlighted all the word choices and phrases I'm curious/unsure about. Going over it page by page, I'll ask if they can remember their parents or grandparents saying anything similar.) Also, what kind of gum was popular back then? What kind of things did they hear from (unkind) white passersby?

Now it's all about looking at the small details. Notice the small
details in this painting. The way the towel is draped across one
shoulder. The guy on the right--see how his right foot is raised and angled?

3) Have a few of my students critically read it. They're close to my target audience (I envision it for 5th, 6th or 7th graders and my students are 8th graders). However, at least one student I'm thinking of is a reluctant reader. He was the one who kept prodding me--long after NaNoWriMo was finished--asking me, "So how's your story coming, Mrs. R?" If I can keep Danny interested, I have a chance with kids who enjoy reading...

4) Have my writing critique group read it. Hey, they willingly read my earlier manuscript, which was (and still is) a steaming, angry pile of poop. I actually think this is fairly decent. They might not have to drink large amounts of wine/eat large amounts of chocolate (Linda)/nibble on large amounts of bean sprouts (Lynn) to slog through this one...

How about you? What have you been proud of recently? Or, what have you finished/semi-finished recently? Nosey minds want to know...


  1. Looking forward to reading your latest. You have intrigued me. I am proud of an essay I wrote and frustrated that my computer thinks it's spam and refuses to send it...and tech support is useless.

    1. Linda--Technology is the enemy of both of us. I'm sure you'll emerge victorious, and the essay will eventually be published.

  2. I have started nothing and finished nothing, and that fact weighs heavily on my conscience. I'm like a thirsty horse, led to water, yet refusing to drink.

    I am proud of altruistically turning in a plethora of found items lately, though I fear that today I went too far. That, like the flap of a butterfly's wing creating a tornado a world actions might have contributed negatively on one or more lives.

    1. Val--I imagine that if or when a longer project becomes pressing
      --a collection of stories, a memoir--you'll succumb. And succeed.

  3. You've mentioned this story to me, though it has been some time ago, so maybe it was just a seed when you told me about it. I'm glad you're going for it.

    Historical writing is tough for me because I'm not much of a history buff and unlike so many other people (my critique partner, for one) I don't get into the research. I don't dislike it, but it isn't my favorite thing to do. Where my critique partner revels in weeks of research, I get antsy because I want to WRITE. My WIP takes place in current times, but one of the characters is the spirit of a man murdered in 1928, so I had to read up on slang of the era, clothing, and furniture (the primary setting is the house where the murder occurred; the present day occupant purchased the home and all its contents intact from the niece of the dead man). Anyway, getting those little details right is so important. For instance, my present day character makes a reference to the Ghost and Mrs. Muir. For the comment to work, I had to know that my spirit died 17 years before the book was published. Most people wouldn't know or care if I got that fact right or wrong, but there are other readers who wouldn't read another word after a historical oops like that, especially one so easily checked.

    All of that to say historicals are a lot of work, but when done right, they're worth the effort. I've no doubt your work will be top notch.

    1. Lisa--Was this comment written while you were at the beach? ;)

      Sharing some details about your WIP has me intrigued. I mean, you had me reading romances before and enjoying them, which is no small feat. Imagine how eagerly I'll read this one... (I'm assuming it is not a romance?)

      Thanks for the encouraging words. I can't say I'm like your critique partner. I didn't revel in the research, but I did enjoy doing some of it. Whether it rings true or not... That remains to be seen in the distant future.

      Good luck with your WIP. Is that what's getting published next?

  4. I'm pretty excited about a new middle grade I've started, and though it's contemporary, it's based on a past famous event so I've been doing a LOT of research and it's been fascinating! I always get inspired after a couple of hours of research; it's almost like following the yellow brick road. :-) I can't wait to read yours--sounds intriguing!

    1. Cathy--How do you have time to start a new novel, when you're taking over the Korean children's book market?

      You have ME intrigued. I'm curious what the famous event is...

  5. You know I love historical fiction! Your new WIP sounds very interesting and I'm glad you are getting those words on paper.


    P.S. Yes, I enjoy research!

    1. Pat--I know you do. And I know you love research like you love air conditioning. ;)

  6. Aw man! I wanted to go to that write-in but not alone, and nobody out this way was interested/available. It reminded me of the walking write-ins you led us on in Old St Charles.

    Anyway, I'm intrigued by all the wips going down. And by Danny being enveloped by your story.
    I'm all about research. It gives me an excuse to procrastinate on the actual writing.


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