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.

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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