Saturday, March 29, 2014

#WIPMarathon Report #2

Thank goodness I'm a subscribed member to @AmandaShayne's Sort of Blog or I would have missed the fact that WIP Marathon Report #2 is officially due today. So with no further ado (and me being completely unprepared, not to mention I just used the word "ado" which is no part of my natural vocabulary), here is this month's check-in:

Last report word count + chapter count/scene count: 83,448 - 25 chapters completed
Current report WC + CC/ SC: 85, 746 - 26 chapters completed
WIP Issues This Month: I gave my novel to good friend of mine who is NOT my target audience. He read my entire novel in about a week and gave me a lot of positive feedback. BUT--the things he critiqued (two of them in particular) would require a huge undertaking to change them. The thing is, their legitimate critiques. Now I'm torn between two extremes: 1. The thought that perhaps these two issues are actually non-issues for my true target audience (YA females), and I should just ignore them. Or 2. Now I MUST change them (which I'm leaning toward the latter). But the mere idea of making those changes, and what they would mean for my book overall, has left me feeling a bit deflated.   
Four things I learned this month in writing: 
  1. Read! Taking a peek at other novels that fit my genre reminds me of what "good" writing looks like, plus gets me excited to get back to my own book.
  2. That being said, the above strategy can be overused. Too much reading can serve as a great procrastination tool (see the "What distracted me this month" section below).
  3. When you're not happy with your first chapter, you have to find a way to STOP dwelling on it and plug on with the rest of the book (I haven't figured that one out yet).
  4. I think for all intents and purposes it's better for critique partners and beta readers to be as close to your target audience as possible. For example, it might be a little awkward to have a dude reading certain scenes in a book that's geared toward YA/teenage girls. That being said, as long as your critique partners are writers who share a love for your genre and understand the nuances of it, then it's all good. Even though the friend I mentioned above was a male, he is still an avid reader of YA books geared toward all audiences (i.e. Hunger Games, Divergent), and because of that fact, he was able to give me good feedback.
What distracted me this month while writing: Two things - Reading and spring fever. I was sure that once I hit spring break, I would dive into my manuscript, and maybe even finish it. But the very first day of break, the sun came out, and it was so freakin' sunny (as is the nature of the sun), and I had to swing on my hammock, and plant things, and make the pond look pretty, and lay on the grass, and listen to music, and drink hard cider...and I had to do all this for three or four days straight before getting it out of my system (plus the weather got crappy after that). Afterwards, I got sucked into books. I read three days. Yeah. It is SO easy to avoid writing when you're lost in someone else's awesome story-world. Now I'm back to work on Monday and there is NO WAY I will be able to work on my book. It's the last term of the school year and I will be lucky if I can just keep my head screwed on tight enough to get through my day job. 
Goal for next month: I'm going to aim low here and say I'd like to rough out a few pages of chapter 27.
Last 200 words: I pasted them here and realized my last 200 words gives up a secret that one of my MCs has been harboring for the entire novel. So I'm going to go up a few paragraphs to dodge that big fat spoiler:

      I laughed and sobbed into his shoulder, my tears falling onto his neck. He held me tight against his chest, then pulled back to wipe my tears off with his thumb. His face was a mess, his nose buried in bloody mush, yet somehow it was the most beautiful sight I could imagine seeing. I touched his cheek, getting ready to tell him that he needed to go to the hospital, but then he was holding my face in his hands, and the words stuck. He caressed my cheek, his fingers grazing over where the pistol had whipped me just moments before, his eyes probing mine. He leaned closer. My eyes fluttered. I leaned in, knowing what was about to happen. Every nerve in my body hummed. My muscles turned to water. 
     Yes, my mind whispered. I wanted this. Needed this. I needed to feel his warm lips pressed against mine. I needed to feel his hands thread through my hair, our bodies melding. I needed it more than I needed anything else in the world. More than I needed 7:18. 
     But then his fingers fell from my face, and he pulled back. I gasped and blinked, confused. The space around me suddenly felt so cold.


  1. I have no idea why Feedburner delivers your blog posts a day later. Eek! Or maybe it's my email o_O

    You did so great, Jodi! Can't wait to read more! I'm hoping you get to finish your chapter seven soon!
    I'd say it depends on the critiques the reader gave you. If it's about worldbuilding, then you can incorporate the changes (if you desire) but if it's about emotions, then you have to stick with your guts.

    Haha it's very tempting to avoid writing when you're reading an interesting book! Or watching movies. I watched a couple of superhuman videos this month. Thank God we can always fall back on "research" as an excuse.

    Happy writing next month, so (hopefully) my inbox would be happy too! ;)

    1. I subscribed to my own posts back when you first brought up the problem Ifeoma, and it's definitely not your e-mail, because it gets to me a day late too! Dang Feedburner. So now you just need to tune up your DOT intuition and KNOW that I wrote a post that day. ;)

      Thanks for the feedback concerning the critiques. If it starts eating at me too much, I might tell you what they were and ask for a second opinion.

      Yes, reading is "research." That's my argument and I'm sticking to it. ;)

    2. So true! I need to tune up my DOT intuition. And feel free to share with me! I'm really curious now because I saw you reply to Krystal, and how his critique means you change your inciting incident. #waaaa

    3. Okay Ify, I'll share the two big ones with you via e-mail sometime this week.

  2. I had someone read a fantasy story of mine once who writes romance. She did a great job and made some good points, but the feedback I got from someone who would actually pick it off the shelves and read it was better overall because she could point out faults that the other girl either couldn't see or didn't think was a problem (or didn't know was a problem.) Getting feedback is good, but irregardless of who you get feedback from, you're the writer. If making a change doesn't feel right, then you shouldn't do it. We have to listen to ourselves and stay true to the story we're telling. I think we forget sometimes that we're readers, too.

    I hope you can squeeze some writing time in before the term ends!

    Aww...poor MC...something sad is about to happen isn't it?

    1. Thanks for all that, Krystal! It actually sounds like we had almost opposite problems with our readers. Yours wasn't able to give you ENOUGH critique in areas that mattered, while mine gave me almost TOO much. Not that you can ever get "too" much feedback, but some of the areas he suggested I change would require me to create an entirely new inciting incident, and re-imagine the background/exposition of one of my MCs. Normally when a CP (i.e. Ifeoma) critiques my work, I feel excited to get back to the drawing board, because the suggestions are all fixable and improves the flow of my story. But in this case, I was actually turned off from my story for weeks. That's never a good sign. Thanks for the reminder that I'm a reader too, and that my gut instincts do count for something.

      Yes, something sad is about to happen. *sniffle*

  3. I agreed with so many things in thi spost! "Taking a peek at other novels that fit my genre reminds me of what "good" writing looks like, plus gets me excited to get back to my own book." --I love finding books that fuel my own creativity and make me even more excited to create.

    "When you're not happy with your first chapter, you have to find a way to STOP dwelling on it and plug on with the rest of the book." --Good advice I probably need to follow. :-)

    Your excerpt made me so sad--so much emotion, and then for it all to change so abruptly--it's beautiful and I want to know what happened!

    Happy writing in April!

    1. Thank you, Amanda! I need to follow my own advice too. Seriously, if following advice were as easy as giving it, I'd be rocking life right now.

      Happy writing in April to you, as well! I can't wait to read your next excerpt.

  4. I'd suggest getting a few more readers to critique your work before making such big changes. You won't ever please everyone, especially readers outside your target audience.

    Congrats and best of luck in April! :)

    1. I wholeheartedly agree, Suzanne. I just read your post "How to be a Good Critique Partner," and WELL SAID.

      Thank you for the well wishes!

  5. Love your excerpt, Jodi. Makes me want to know what the heck is going on and how this girl got pistol whipped. Your write beautifully. Also, I use reading, cleaning my desk, doing the laundry, whatever to procrastinate and justify it by telling myself that these things have to be done at some point anyway. But my preferred procrastination will always be books!

    It sounds like you had a nice spring break, despite not getting as much writing done as you wanted. :)

    1. Thank you, Kristyn! And YES, your list definitely covers other awesome excuses I use in my world to NOT write. Seriously, I could write a post called "101 Reasons to Not Write Today," no problem. Of course, I'd be required to WRITE that post, so I guess that doesn't really work.

      I have to go to Starbucks or somewhere to get any real writing done, lest the laundry pile and such start beckoning. ;)

  6. Hi Jodi! Sorry this is late. I'm making the rounds a week late this time around, but great post as always. And I second what others have said about getting more feedback. If several betas or CPs suggest the same thing, then it's definitely worth considering, but if it's only come from one reader so far and they're not an avid reader of the genre, I would let it sit on the back burner. It's so difficult to know what advice should be followed, but at the end of the day, you can't follow EVERYONE'S advice. I'm very slowly learning that. It's important to consider it all, then either place it in the yes, no, or never in a million years bin ;) Sometimes the "no"s might need revisiting, but I'm not afraid to admit I've placed a few things in the never in a million years bin ;) It's all down to what makes the story ring true for you.

    1. Thank you Cheyenne! This helps a ton. I actually just had another editor (also a male because I wanted another male PoV) look over my first three chapters, and he did not agree that those changes needed to be made. So I'll stick this one in the "no" bin for now. But for the record, I am officially adopting a never in a million years bin for myself! Knowing me, it'll end up with a Mount Everest heap of suggestions...yikes. I"ll try to use it modestly. ;)


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