Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Tale of Two Manuscripts...

My friend Maggie has been struggling lately. I don't think it's writer's block but she has definitely been blocked by something. Motivation? Maybe. Time? Possibly. We talk about it over coffee at Strabucks. She narrows down the possible problems. Plot heads the list.
I love her story. It has great possibilities but I finally know what Maggie is going through.
You all know that I'm in the last phases of revisions with my novel Greenwood Girls. I love this story. It's everything I've ever wanted to read. I think tween girls everywhere will like it. (So maybe I'm a bit delusional but it keeps me going!) It's been nothing but a thrill every time I sit down at my computer and hammer out a new scene, or a tweaked scene or even delete a scene. It's fun.
But I can honestly say, I don't quite have the same zest for my work-in-progress novel. I use the same motivational tools for this novel as I did for Greenwood Girls; the display boards, the notebooks on back story and character sketches, etc. But it's not the same.
I submitted the first chapter to my new critique group. Let's just say they were kind. Just like Maggie had done in some past revisions, I got stuck on tenses. Some parts of the chapter were written in first person present, some not. Man! I swear this has been the most difficult thing to overcome. I've never suffered from tense confusion before so why now?
I can still see Maggie, her head lowered and, in a quite eloquent way, said that she felt like an idiot for slipping in and out of 1st person. I feel your pain, Mags.
Anyways, I think it's because I haven't decided how to tell my story. The Great Val Hobbs, my esteemed writing teacher, says this is something that needs to be decided straight off. I think she's right. Do I want Ainsley to tell the story as if it already happened? Do I tell the story as Ainsley experiences it? I think I need to step back and figure it out. Any suggestions?

My friend just dropped off the most beautiful invitation to the 1st Annual Literary Ball sponsored by The Junior League of Santa Barbara. My good friend, Rachael Steidl, of is being honored as Woman of the Year for her philanthropic contributions to our community. Way to go Rachael! If you want to attend, check out the JLSB website for more info.
Just a bit of back story on what the JLSB did last year. The provisional group (the JL newbies) rallied together and solicited manpower and funds to completely renovate a downtown library, focusing on establishing a children's and young adult section. Most certainly something to celebrate.

On a personal note...remember the shoes? Okay. Not such a great idea. By 11pm (way early in Vegas time) my feet had a thousand blisters. Man, they were sore. I think I'm wearing too many flip flops and running shoes. My mother would cringe.

Vegas, though, was fantastic. Strange land, I must say. I had no idea the entire city was meant to be enjoyed inside. I was expecting a Palm Springs setting with palms trees and lush gardens but instead found cars, concrete and lots of strangely decorated hotels. We had a blast and it was fun celebrating Darcy's 40th in grand style.

Now that my blog entry is done, I can sit back and read my critique groups comments in depth. Isn't it an amazing feeling to know someone is giving their time for your benefit? I love the children's lit circle!


  1. Hey!!! I so know what you mean about tenses. I wrote the entire first draft of my current novel from two POVs. And for whatever reason wrote the girl first person present and the boy third person past. Wierd, I know...but that's just how it came out. As I revised I turned both POVs to first person present and I think it works well. I think the reason I wrote the boy in the third person to start with is because his POV made me a little nervous. I never wrote from the POV of a boy before. Let alone a boy ALIEN! Yeesh!

    Go with the flow and tighten it up in revision. If I got hung up on that I never would have written my first draft.

    Excited that you are jamming on your WIP. As for those shoes....I feel your pain. My high flying heels wounded me SO bad Joe had to give me a piggy back ride from the club into the Taxi and then from the Taxi up to the room:)

  2. Ouch on the shoes! How many times I've done that. I wore a pair to NY SCBWI once and I swear by the end of the day, I wanted to cry with each step I took.
    Have fun writing!

  3. When you start putting together your critiques, see if they fall into a pattern. Then start revising. You may discover the best way to tell the story from there. One of my pieces started out from the point of view of the female protagonist and then once I started revising, I realized that the voice would be better from a different character's point of view.

    As for whether you tell the story as it's happening or after it happened, it's hard to say. I have a feeling Ainsley will tell you, though. You'll be able to tell by her voice. Good luck! It's a good story!

  4. Your friend Maggie is still struggling but she's finding a few solutions. Write Away by Elizabeth George is helping. This book is a comprehensive overview of George's writing process and the elements of fiction. Maggie is liking it.

    As for Maggie's friend, Patty...she just has to get used to the beginning stages of writing again. The last few years have been spent with Greenwood Girls revising and refining it into a strong ms. In the process Patty has become an educated writer with high expectations. Now Patty is starting over. Ainsley is eager to tell her story, and Patty has to be a patient writer.

    Good luck, Miss P.

  5. Oh Margaret, you're so right. I spent the entire night having nightmares about dear Ainsley. I'm planning to spend the whole day going over ideas for this story. Actually, it should be alot of fun.
    I haven't had much free time lately...
    Thanks, Vivian, on your suggestions. The critique group is wonderful. I've read the comments and all are encouraging yet no one is afraid to state the problems. I like that.
    I'm wondering how you feel about critiquing a WIP before it's done? Laura and I feel it's hard to do. I wrote my first novel, start to finish, without a single person looking at it. Ah, what fun it was!
    Maybe a good idea for a new post...
    Thanks all!


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