Retreat to Move Forward

jackdonaghySo, tonight instead of writing words, I cut about 600 from the draft of the first chapter of the co-written Romantic Suspense WIP. (I need a better name for that. TCWRSWIP? Hmm, not much better, actually… And my writing partner and I definitely agree that I’m not allowed to come up with titles for anything else. Maybe I’ll see if she’s got any ideas.)

Anyway! I sort of can’t believe how much I’ve learned in the two-year fallow period I spent in between bursts of work on TCWRSWIP (for lack of a better title). I’ve been reading a lot about story structure, scene structure, beats, etc. at Jenny Crusie’s side project blog, and that has helped a lot; and, of course, the first version of this scene was sort of a trial balloon that Chel wrote to see if I had any interest in the concept (4 years and 143k+ words later, I think it’s safe to say yes–yes I did). But the story has changed very significantly since then in our minds.

So that draft did its job (get the writers interested). 

TCWRSWIP started off as a spinoff of a spinoff of a fanfic of an obscure cartoon that was based around one of the recurring (3 episodes out of 52, but still) villains’ imaginary children.

a5200_missile_command
This image from Missile Command could easily double as a plot chart for the events of TCWRSWIP where we last stopped writing, circa January 2015.

Which I had originally written (badly–very badly) when I was, like… 14? I think? I wrote it on the Mac that my dad had retired to the spare room when he got a Windows computer. I also played Missile Command on that computer. Pretty sure that I took serious inspiration from a Melissa Etheridge song while writing the climactic scene. We are all–although me more than anyone else–lucky that said fanfiction no longer exists on the internet.

I wrote a slightly better version of it a few months later, teaming up with another writer on the text-only-email-only Mailing List that I had joined based on a common interest in the show. My child-of-the-villain had been female and hers male, so we teamed up to make them siblings and then she disappeared, so I stuck with the siblings and eventually got so attached to both that I still love them dearly 19 years later and am still excited to put them into stories.

I also met my co-writer, Chel, on this mailing list, although many years later; she and I fangirled each other’s stories (mine now focused on the brother of the same pair, hers on an OC with similar superficial qualities to mine) and eventually became each other’s beta-readers, real-life friends, etc. (We have been in touch through many evolutions of technology, our writing abilities, our careers–and now, for the first time in a decade and a half, we actually live in the same city, so we can have Writing Dates without multi-hour road trips to get together!)

Anyway, Chel and I have been working with this story for a very, very long time. And Draft One of Chapter One of this particular incarnation of it is now getting massive plastic surgery once again – I chopped 600 words tonight, but I have no idea how many I chopped earlier (and I am too lazy to figure it out–sorry, not sorry, that’s time I could spend writing/sleeping/grading but will probably spend reading blogs or Twitter). But that’s a good thing – because the now I’m trying to do a different job: get the reader interested.

I wrote about 2500 new words and have about 15 more pages to destroy/recycle/replace. I’ve got the characters and their goals on the page, the main characters meeting about five pages in, and (if I do say so myself) some nice, snappy dialog. (Chel will add the descriptions of things, as I mentioned earlier, because she is excellent at that and I am… improving.)

I’ve also got what I think is a pretty decent opening line:

“OK, I’m going to head out,” Jessie said, grinning. “If I’m not back in an hour and a half, be sure to let the cops know who killed me!”

Admit it. You’re hooked.

🙂

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