The Next Big Thing

Can you imagine yourself as the Next Big Thing?

Miles run today: 11

Words written in my novel today: 0

Omelet with goat cheese eaten today: 1

I am a writer.

And as a writer, I have always lived at least partially in my own head… in a fantasy world of my own making.

When I was young enough to still be wearing orange polyester pants with little, yellow lions on them and a yellow turtleneck with one big orange lion on it, I told my parents that I was waiting for my real parents to come and get me.

My real parents, of course, were a benevolent king and queen who lived in a distant land full of dragons and beautiful, diaphanous dresses.

Luckily, my parents were the sort of parents who thought this was hilarious.

I never quite got over the fantasy world, and when people go on a bit with the boring details of how computers work inside or how to fix a toilet, I am usually hoping that Daniel Craig will show up and spirit me away to a spa somewhere.

My point being: visualization of big things has never been a problem for me.

There’s a fun exercise going around the blogging world, and awesome writer and photographer, Amy Makechnie over at Maisymak tagged me so I could tell all about my Work-In-Progress. She also sent me the novel, The History of Love, when I won it in a drawing on her blog. Yay! Thanks, Amy!

What is the working title of your book?
Reality Ever After

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I wondered what happened to adult children after they starred on reality TV shows, how it would be possible to lead a “normal” life.

What genre does your book fall under?
Commercial women’s fiction.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I think it’s very bad luck to speculate about a movie when the book is in the query process. (I am knocking on wood and crossing myself to ward off bad juju.)

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When Clementine Monroe Hartley receives an invitation to the twentieth reunion of her family’s reality TV show, “Runs in the Family,” she wants nothing to do with it; she has spent her entire adult life trying to forget the scandal that rocked the end of the show and create a normal life for herself.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I will be querying agents after I finish the revision process.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? May we see an intro?
I started this novel in April, I believe. My goal was to finish by last weekend’s writing conference. I got close! Before I finish the last few chapters, I’m going to go through and make some suggested revisions. I think the result will be a stronger book.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I’m going to have to work on some good comps.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to know more about peoples’ lives after the cameras go away.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Romance, scandal, forgiveness, a funeral, music, running and family relationships.

I am tagging some of the next big things:
J.Bo.net

Ravena Guron

The Sense of a Journey

Dennis Langley

Khaula Mazhar

Rules of The Next Big Thing:

*Use this format for your post
*Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
*Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

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I Am A Work-In-Progress

Keep working, Mr. Bee.

Miles run today: 10

Words written in my novel so far: 53,592

Times I have been wrong: 4.5

You may ask my husband and family: I am never wrong. Well, I mean… mostly never.

Memorable times in history when I have been mistaken:

1. “Pluto and Yugoslavia will always exist as they are today.”– Anne, circa 1987.

2. “I don’t get the big deal about the Information Superhighway. It isn’t going to affect my life in any major way.” –Anne, circa 1992.

3. “I am completely uninterested in sharing my life in a blog.” –Anne, circa 2009.

(The .5 is to encompass any slight oversight in my recollections.)

Please control your gasps, but a sea change occurred recently in my writing life, and I need to confess:

4. I was wrong about being a pantser. Plotting and outlining my novel might be a good idea.

I know. It’s huge.

Much has been made about the plotting vs. pantsing divide in the writing world: some writers prefer to construct detailed outlines of their novels, while other writers write “by the seat of their pants.”

I read an excellent blog post by a published author recently, though I can’t find it now to save my life. She said that she had many reservations about outlining… until she got very pressed for time: between caring for young children and rigid deadlines from publishers, something had to give.

She found that by taking a few minutes at the start of each writing session to write out, longhand, the gist of the next couple of chapters, she increased her word count by thousands of words. The result was dramatic and life-changing.

I was resistant to the outlining/plotting process. Like this author, I was afraid that specific, Roman-numeral, English-class-style outlines would stunt my writing, essentially locking me in a 10×10 cell wrapped in blank pages.

I’ve never been fond of formal outlines. They represent everything about school that I disliked, all rules-y and authoritative, judgmental and blocky.

But if you can find a way to make a chapter summary-style outline work for you, it just might change your life. I am finding, not that I’m writing wildly productive, 10,000 word sessions, but that the chapters I am writing have more of a focus.

And if you struggle with maintaining tension and keeping conflict alive in your writing, as I do, a scene/chapter loose outline may help you hone in on the nugget that each chapter needs to push your story forward.

I am fortunate to be in an excellent critique group, and if you have critiqued other writers’ work as I have, you will find that sussing out lack of tension in other writers’ work is SO EASY. Why, how simple it is to see what someone else is lacking! You, there–your story is getting dull! Your characters are talking about nothing that helps the story move forward! I just read a chapter that didn’t even need to be in your novel!

But it’s not so easy to see in your own work. At least not during the initital writing process.

You can become so enamoured of your characters, of the setting, of your snappy dialogue, that you forget the very essence of why you are writing: to make the reader want to find out what happens next!

I’m still muddling through on my WIP. I am no speed writer or novel goddess. I have not yet placed in the time trials of Olympic Novel Writing. I, myself, am a Work-In-Progress.

But I’d love to hear back from you about what you have changed about your writing process. What were you wrong about? What has made your job as a novelist easier? What nugget of wisdom can you pass along to make the world a better place?