My First WIP is…

2 02 2012


… giving me indigestion.


I bought Scrivener a few days ago, and was happily putting my NaNoWriMo novel into it. I love the way each part of the story is easily accessible, and how the outline and corkboard views make it easy to see the story’s trajectory. So far so good. I was psyched.

Then I decided to put my first (unfinished) novel in, and uff da. What a mess! What I’ve written covers most of the protag’s life, from just after birth to his 50s in therapy.


::excuse me while I die laughing at myself::






Ahem. That took a while. Advice from the writing blogosphere: don’t write your character’s therapy. It’s boring to read! (in my defense, I got bored myself and didn’t finish the scene…)

I was a complete pantser when I wrote the Canelli book, with no concern for plotting. I had scenes in my mind, and though many of them turned into true chapters, the chapters don’t fit together. In fact, the character changed as I wrote, becoming a much more complex, darker character. That kind of character development works well in novels, but I’d been writing his story out of chronological order. At 38 (which I wrote in August 2011) he’s a dark character, while at 48 (which I wrote in March 2011) he’s a happy being of light.

I hope to rescue this 96k novel and turn it into something more readable. (Yes, I wrote nearly 100k in this meandering mess.)

My first task: setting up a three to four-act plot. What is the point? Who/what is the antagonist? What does the protag want? What is his passion? What scares him to death, makes him break out in a cold sweat? What would he give everything he has to have in his life?

My second task is like unto the first: deciding what happens in the end, and write it. Is the guy salvageable? Or have his secret compulsions backed him into such a dark place that there is no way out? Will he manage to weasel his way out of XXX?

Can I bust out a series of short stories from this manuscript? Or a bloody TRILOGY? (Duology?) Or a sensible Contemporary Fiction 85k word novel? Or will I finish it at all?


That’s a lot of questions to be answered. There’s a bunch of dreck to be deleted, okay stuff to be rewritten, and some awesome wordsmithing in the manuscript. Time to spend some time coming up with a working logline, and plot from there.

The basic formula for a logline (from Anne R. Allen’s linked post above):

When______happens to_____, he/she must_____or face_____.

That’s what I don’t yet have… but I will!



6 responses

6 02 2012
Karen McFarland

Hi Julia, sorry to be late to the party, but it’s been crazy busy here. Thank you so much for taking time from your Superbowl Sunday to come and support me. I really appreciate it.

So hey, don’t fret. I think to some degree we all write a little messy on the first draft. But we’re here for you. Now I have a suggestion. Have you ever heard of WWBC?

What is that you ask? Well, it was started by the NYTBS author Bob Mayer and is now headed by our own Kristen Lamb. There are several groups. But it’s purpose it to teach us to write the WWBC way. And I can tell from your post today that you could really use this. It helps us to organize our thoughts and how to get to know our characters before we right the mess. lol! And then how to plot and write that great novel.

And they are so very nice over there. And it is free. Yes, you heard me right. Free. And we like free. So take a peak at it and maybe it might help you gain back your sanity, although these days I don’t know if any of us can really do that. LOL!!!

Go for it Julia and have a great week! 🙂

6 02 2012
Julia Indigo

You’re welcome, Karen… and the only way I knew that it was Superbowl Sunday was from twitter. 😉
I have heard of WWBC, but I thought it was an in-person thing in DFW. Is it online? Where? Point me in the direction! 😀

11 02 2012
Belle of Mountains

I wrote an entire first novel that I kept to myself to get to know my characters. Now that I know them well I’m writing novels that are much better and more solid than before, and I can rewrite the first novel into a prequel. 🙂

14 02 2012
Julia Indigo

I can definitely see me doing that as well! Thanks for the comment, Belle!

21 02 2012

A very late comment, but I want to say good luck with your re-writing. I know you can do it! As others have said, it’s all about getting to know your plot and your characters well before you sit down to write everything out. Keep up the energy!

22 02 2012
Julia Indigo

Thanks, Julia. It’s daunting, but will get done eventually!

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