Day 142 – Getting what you want out of the story

Day one hundred forty-two of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 1,300

So. Much. Fun. I started Chapter Seventeen tonight after ending Chapter Sixteen in suspense last night. I thought about it often today, my fingertips itching in anticipation. With the kids in bed and husband home after working late, I finally got into it after a long day and it was hugely satisfying. Even more satisfying was getting what I wanted out of the story.

I’ve mentioned quite a few times lately that I’m nearing the end of this book. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the plot is circling back and characters are being reunited just before the end of a long struggle through dangerous adventures. Writing that moment – when two main characters finally reach each other after being separated and unable to find each other for an agonizing period of time – was like having dessert. I couldn’t wait for them to be together again. They couldn’t wait to be together again. And when they finally were, it was…pretty awesome. I’m so jazzed about it I have to share a little snippet – pardon the raw, unedited feel of it:

“Skylar!” Thomas immediately took off at a run toward her. With awareness in the moment that felt more out-of-body than the wildly visceral experience it actually was, Skylar stumbled toward him through the deep snow like a weak-kneed drunk. Never so happy or relieved in her life, she felt like she needed to vomit or cry, or maybe both, as they reached each other and embraced with a driving force that would have dented a Buick.

Ahh. Now that is getting what I wanted. And the story still has more satisfying moments to come.

Day 141 – Ending a chapter in suspense

Day one hundred forty-one of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 1,100

I ended Chapter Sixteen on a suspenseful note tonight, which leaves me excited to write the beginning of Chapter Seventeen tomorrow. I can’t help but wonder and hope…if while I am writing I feel the suspense and can’t wait to turn the page to continue writing, will readers experience those same feelings?

It is hard to know while in the midst of writing how a reader will feel about a scene. Everyone perceives descriptions differently. Everyone experiences different feelings from the words they read. But suspense? I tend to think that everyone perceives suspense equally.

When a scene is deliberately written to offer the reader some insight into what is coming next and the scene ends before what’s next actually comes, the reader can feel the suspense. That’s what I would like to think, anyway. True or not, I leave for bed happy and charged for writing tomorrow. And that is a good feeling I haven’t had in a while. Thank you, suspense.

Day 140 – The itch to write something new

Day one hundred forty of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words for Days 138, 139 and 140 – 1,000

This weekend was not a big writing weekend for me. In fact, I barely knocked out 1,000 words between Friday and tonight. I actually wanted to take off the weekend from writing altogether, but I thought better of it and decided to keep true to my goal of writing every day. Even if I only managed to write a couple hundred words, it would still be better than nothing.

Since I started this project 140 days ago, I have been writing a book. I’m nearing completion, which I believe is now only a couple of chapters away. You’d think since I’m getting close to finishing I would want to focus on writing the end and getting it done. You’d think that. But no, I like to keep things interesting.

For the first time in the last 140 days, I had an itch to write something else. Nothing in particular – maybe a short story or other fun piece writing – as long as it was something other than my current book. As it turned out, I didn’t do it. I decided to keep my focus rather than start something new. But don’t worry, I’m going to scratch that itch another time.

Day 137 – One more character was hard to resist

Day one hundred thirty-seven of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 550

Just when I thought I was done introducing new characters, I decided to bring in one more. A single, hermit-like, eccentric fellow is now in the mix. And I think he is a good addition. His role will be limited and short-lived, but he will be center stage during the pivotal moments in this scene and the ending.

Since the first draft of this book is nearing completion, I must say that it felt odd to add a character so close to the end. But this guy is going to spice it up and be the catalyst to bring about the ending. In a way, he’s my closer. I would have liked to write more about him tonight, but motherhood calls so I have to wrap it up until tomorrow.

Day 136 – Man, I love writing fiction

Day one hundred thirty-six of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 1,300

About a year before I started writing this book I had written down an idea for a scene to include in “a book someday.” When I began writing this one, I hoped to find a way to fit that scene into it. Chapter after chapter, I never forgot about it. About half-way through, I was sure that I could make it work somewhere. I just wasn’t sure how it was going to fit in, timing-wise. The further I got into the book, the timing never seemed right. Until now.

I wrote the scene into my book tonight, although it is not quite finished. I wrote it in by making it about a refuge for my main characters to reach. A destination. The scene meant not only a moment of relief and curiosity for the characters, but also a moment of intense satisfaction for me. I finally got to write the scene into the book. I finally reached this goal, this destination, that I had envisioned a long time ago. Satisfaction.

The coolest thing about it was that in a way, my characters and I reached it together. I felt like I shared a secret with them. Something that has been a part of my conscience, known only to me, became real. It’s real now because it is a part of their story.

Man, I love writing fiction.

Day 135 – Mountains, coyotes and bears, oh my!

Day one hundred thirty-five of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 500

My writing moved slowly tonight. Partly because I am tired and had trouble keeping my eyes open. That’s nothing new. But it was also due in part to the scene I was writing. I had to stop a few times to do some quick research about winter mountain effects, coyotes and bears. While that might sound like fun (or not), the stopping and starting impacted my flow of writing. It was a disjointed effort to say the least, but in the end it all turned out worthwhile.

The scene evolved into some exciting action, which is always fun to write. This was especially true because I wrote a pack of coyotes into the characters’ experience on a mountain at night. I think it turned out rather cool. Had I not had to stop and start so many times, I think I would have gotten into a groove and written a lot more. While I may not have written a lot, I did get a lot done. And even though the scene isn’t finished, the research for it is. I look forward to diving back into it tomorrow for some more action, this time with a black bear.

Day 134 – Staying true to the process

Day one hundred thirty-four of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words for Days 131, 132, 133 and 134: 2,200

Finding time to write over the weekend was especially difficult. Life gets busy, but a writer still needs to find time to write. On Saturday, I only wrote about 100 words. But at least I wrote.

The story I am writing is building up to the apex. Hilariously, I still don’t know how this book is going to end. I have a general idea about it of course, but I am unsure about how it will all shake out.

I’m trying hard to stay true to the process. The control freak in me wants to mash, mold and force it into the outline of the story I originally envisioned. But I won’t. During my writing process over the last several months, I have let go and allowed the story to evolve organically. In many ways, it has been an interesting ride. I have learned a lot. Now that the story is nearing its end, I choose to continue the same spirit of the process. Let’s just hope it works out.

Day 130 – Robotic skeletons in the closet

Day one hundred thirty of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 600

Does it ever feel like you’re writing the skeleton of a scene? You know – all frame and no substance?

I’m writing a scene that has turned into dry dialogue and stiff action. I keep stopping while writing to try to write the next sentence better. To give it more substance. But it isn’t working. The scene is nothing more than a robotic skeleton, rigid and awkward.

I won’t let myself go back and read it because I don’t want to get bogged down with trying to re-write the scene now. Early on in this project I made a pledge to save all editing for when the entire first draft of my manuscript is done. But I can tell you without a doubt that this particular scene is not good and needs major work. Later. Remember the mantra: Write now, edit later. For now, there’s a robotic skeleton in my closet.

Day 129 – Stay solid and on track

Day one hundred twenty-nine of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 500

I again had to fight the urge to go straight to bed tonight instead of writing. When I get like that I resort to giving myself little pep talks, saying things like, “just sit down and write,” “stay solid,” and “stay on track.” Thankfully, it works. I sat down and wrote. Only 500 words, but that’s a little over a page I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t.

Staying solid and on track is so important. Not simply to make progress on your writing, but also to encourage yourself. To be able to acknowledge and even celebrate what you accomplished each day leading up to today will help drive your ambition tomorrow. Be your own inspiration. Even when you’re tired.

Day 128 – Surprise yourself

Day one hundred twenty-eight of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Words: 1,200

Completely weary, I sat down at my laptop quite late tonight. I wanted to just go to bed. But I ignored that need notion and settled in front of the keyboard. Write, I told myself. Even if only a hundred words, write. Think about the story, keep your focus. Write.

1,200 words later, I’m now going to go to bed. Satisfied. Pleased with myself. Totally surprised that I pulled that out this late at night when I was so tired. Sure, I nodded off for a moment here and there. I even startled awake to find sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss across my screen. But that’s what the DELETE key is for. No harm, no foul. 1,200 words down (not including the string of ssss), and the story is continuing to move forward. Progress, when I could have easily just gone to bed and made none.

When you’re feeling like you don’t have it in you or you just plain don’t want to, go for it anyway. You might only manage a hundred words. But then again, you might just surprise yourself.