WIPmarathon Check-in No. 6

July has been an amazing writerly month. I stayed at home, safely behind my PC avoiding the summer swelter that finally found its way to Finland. I did attend FinnCon in my old university town, which was super awesome. Not only did I take part in one of the most well attended panels of the con (LGBT in SF/F) with Cheryl Morgan, but I also met a bunch of cool people, some of them foreigners like me living and writing in Finland. FinnCon was immensely inspiring and I think it kicked my Muse into over drive because I’ve since managed to finish the book I was working on!

Last report wordcount:Β 51, 039

Current report WC: 78, 965 – which still gives me a bit of wiggle room in revisions πŸ™‚ And to think I was so concerned I didn’t have enough story to make it past 65k!

Writing Issues This Month:

None really. It was one of those rare and wonderful months where pretty much all I did was write and climb and have evening picnics in the park.

Four things I learned this month in writing:

1. Outlines are great! As Ifeoma pointed out on Twitter this morning, I wrote this book in less than three months and there’s absolutely no way I could’ve done that without having had an outline and a synopsis before starting out. Go outlines!

2.Β Outlines are awful! Around about the half way mark I realized that my characters had it way too easy so I threw in some curve balls which ended up derailing my original outline. I panicked. How could I continue without an outline? (despite having pretty much pantsed all my other novels) So I re-outlined and re-outlined again and wrote out chapter summaries, chopping, changing, reordering and rewriting as required. In the end, I tossed out the original outline altogether and the story is much, much better for it!

3.Β Being inside the head of four characters, each going through emotional and psychological hell, is exhausting and breaks are required. As much as I often wanted to cancel arrangements with friends and forget about climbing, I actually needed those interruptions. My writing was always better for the break and the writing sessions post climbing or post wine-with-friends were also much more productive. In short, sometimes distractions can be a good thing.

4. Music. Music is essential and I would not have made it through some of the heavier scenes without the character playlists I built. This will become a thing from now on, building playlists by chapter, scene and characters rather than just by book.

What distracted me this month while writing:

Not much to be honest. Although I have done a lot of reading as well. I read some amazing books, namely Made of Stars by Kelley York and Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn (I deliberately avoided YA sci-fi this month). I’m seriously considering trying my hand at a YA contemporary again – but first, the SNI…

Goal for next month: Recover, think about that SNI awaiting proper attention and possibly maybe start a revision read through toward the end of August.

Last 200 words: Well, I obviously can’t share the last 200 because that would give away the ending of the book, but here’s a snippet from one of my favourite scenes…

My pulse quickens as I stare in awe, not at the picture, but at the girl who painted it so effortlessly in less than five minutes.

β€œDo you like it?” She stands back and adds a few touch ups with the red and blue. I wish I could put into words what I’m thinking, to tell her exactly what I’m feeling as I stare at a small robot with blue circuitry along its skinny arms holding out a heart-shaped red balloon to a formidable yellow tank with ‘Humanity’ scrawled on the side. Beneath the mural she’s written, β€œHave a heart; we do.” 

And that’s it for July. How did you do?

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  • Ifeoma Dennis

    You’re a hero, Suzanne! Many congrats! I agree with outlines being awful, but unlike the rest of us who deal with awful outlines months on end, you plodded your way through it pretty quickly!
    I need some of that superfire muse πŸ˜‰

    And lovely snippet too! I love the last sentence, most especially!

    Hope you catch some well-deserved rest before you plug into writing another WIP! <3

    • Haha – thanks πŸ˜‰

      I think this one went so quickly because it was a sequel and I knew my characters so well. My Muse was definitely working over time too – it seems I work well under pressure. I should always set myself these crazy goals.

      Yay!! πŸ˜€ It’s an important part of the story!

      Definitely – need to give my mind and heart a break.

  • Amanda Shayne

    Ha! #1 and #2 made me chuckle. I very much agree that outlines are both horrible and great. They have their moments, for sure. But they can also be stifling.

    Those are some pretty elaborate playlists you create! I’d love to sit down and create different ones for each character. Maybe I’d divide mine by “part,” since my characters tend to shift noticeably at the quarter marks. Hmm… THanks for the idea!

    Love your excerpt, too!!

    • Indeed – It’s a love/hate relationship for sure!

      Yup, but they really do work.

      Thank you! πŸ™‚

  • Emma Adams

    Glad you had a great writing month and congrats on finishing your draft! πŸ™‚ I have to outline a book before I can start, but I do find I reoutline as I go along as the characters gain a life of their own. πŸ˜‰

    • Thanks!

      This is exactly what happened to me! The characters deciding things were going one way when my outline said the opposite – had to go where the characters took me though.

  • Krystal Jane

    It’s so great to have wiggle room! You did so well this month!
    Oh my gosh, that’s so true about taking breaks. We need these little breaks and distractions when we’re writing. Our brain needs them. ^_^

    I just recently started making playlists, and I love it! Especially during the brainstorming process and for certain scenes.

    You really make me want to read more sci-fi!

    • Thank you!! πŸ™‚

      Our brain definitely does – and sometimes the heart too πŸ˜‰

      Yay! Read more sci-fi – it’s awesome!!

  • Amy McNulty

    Yay, congrats again on finishing the manuscript! And I totally agree with you on outlines–they’re the way to do! And I haven’t yet stuck to one religiously. I always wind up rewriting them, but I do much better with the outline than without. Good luck next month!

    • Thank you!

      This is me – I making the most of the outline but not feeling restricted by it – feels like having the best of both worlds to be honest.

  • Cat York

    LOLOL. Outlines are great/ Outlines are awful. You speak the truth, sister. I always outline and I always throw out my outline. This is the way of outlines.

    Congratulations on all the progress! Good luck with your revisions! You had a really productive month!

  • Amazing work!! Congrats on a highly productive July πŸ™‚ It’s so encouraging to hear how things turned out with your outline. I’ve found I get discouraged when I hear about writers who come up with an outline and stick faithfully to it and it all just magically comes about without any issues… That’s great for them, but I’ve tried this more than once and it rarely works. I think the important thing is that you started with a plan, and made way for the changes that came along. Woohoo!! Hope you have a great August! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you!

      Yeah, I’m not that kind of outliner. I’ve got to be flexible and let my characters take control sometimes.

      Hope you have a fabulous August too! πŸ™‚