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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | Learning


June garden 007I’m working on a new WIP — well, an old one actually, that I started and abandoned last September. Now, I’ve returned to it, and I’m 25k into the first draft.

I’ve reached the point where I think this is the stupidest thing I’ve ever written. It’s boring, it’s unmarketable, and it’s a waste of my time.

Which is what I think about every first draft at about 25k.

It’s a good thing I’ve learned this about myself, or I’d never finish anything. It’s also a good thing I have my critique partners to wave the pom-poms and encourage me to keep going. They keep asking me for more chapters, so I guess it’s not as crappy as it looks from this end.

Aug 2015 2This one is a challenge, though. It’s a mystery, so I’ve got that problem of where and when to put all the clues so the reader can figure out a little at a time, but still be surprised by the conclusion. There are two storylines taking place in different time periods, roughly two decades apart. And the whole narrative is non-chronological.

That’s a first for me. Telling a story out of order.

There are multiple points of view, and some chapters are excerpts from a biography of one of the characters. I’ve never written a biography before — real or fictional — so I’m having trouble getting the tone and voice right.

Parts of the story are told in first person present tense — a POV I’ve never tried before and don’t even really like very much. But this character only exists in theย here and now, so this is the only way to tell her story.

Aug 2015I figure, even if I break up with this story again — or it comes to nothing — I’m learning something in the writing of it. Of course, it would be great if it turned out to be an award-winning New York Times bestseller, but in the event that doesn’t happen (LOL), I know writing it will teach me thingsย about plotting and voice and point-of-view that I would otherwise never learn.

I spend a lot of time thinking about this story at my goldfish pond, which is where I go for inspiration. I don’t know why watching fish is so fascinating, or mesmerizing, or calming — but it is. A lot of plot issues get untangled sitting right here.

What are you working on right now? Trying anything new? Where do you go for inspiration, meditation, or just to feel as if everything is all right with the world?

18 Responses to Learning

  1. That certainly sounds like a story that will stretch you. I’ve never written anything in first person either. That point of view feels odd to me.

  2. Hilary says:

    Hi Dianne – the goldfish pond will bring it all together … it’s good to mull things through .. the garden looks lovely and I bet you get lots of inspiration in it or with it … take care and keep on writing – cheers Hilary

  3. Tiana Smith says:

    Ah, the 25k blues. I know them well ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope you can push through! I haven’t worked on anything for about two months because my computer has been broken. I’m itching to work on edits.

  4. Anna says:

    Sounds like quite a challenge, but isn’t that writing in a nutshell? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Anna from Elements of Writing

  5. It sounds interesting and a nice way to build your skills! Fish and ponds are great inspiration!

  6. J E Oneil says:

    I’m glad you learned not to give up :). That’s a very valuable skill. Plus I’ve always liked anachronistic order. It’s hard to pull off, but when it does it really works. I bet yours will come out great.

  7. That’s great you know you always hate your writing at 25,000 words. And I haven’t written in first person either.

  8. Your pond is so beautiful! Your WIP sounds intriguing. I look forward to reading it. I’m trying a new genre and category. So far, I’m enjoying the change, and the research.

  9. You hit the hate stage at 25K? For me it’s more around 40K, and I totally think writing out of order is the cure. At least, that’s what works for me. If I can just grab a snippet from the future that I love, the story will go forward. Here’s to getting over the hump!

  10. I have several manuscripts that I would like to exhume as well, see if I can reclaim anything. Fish are truly mesmerizing, and inspirational. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Joanne Fritz says:

    Laughing about your 25K thoughts. It usually hits me around 15K and then I have to put the darn ms away because I hate it so much and it’s boring and stupid. Yep. Been there.

    Looking forward to reading your new story.

  12. Steven Symes says:

    I’m not big on the first-person narrative, either, but it’s good to push yourself. I like going into nature as a way to decompress, especially mountains where you feel like you’re on another planet altogether.

  13. The story does sound like a challenge, but my gut’s telling me that you’ll be able to master it. And when you do, it will probably be amazing. So write! My stories fall flat around 30k, and it’s a struggle to keep going. My latest MS is turning into a major battle. I’ve had the idea forever and have it worked out in my head, but every time I sit down and write, I feel that it’s not coming out the way I want it to. I’m not sure if it’s the remaining plot holes that are causing the problem, or if I’m psyching myself out. Maybe there’s an herbal tea to loosen a writer’s mind ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. I hear you on this – I wrote my crazy dream book because I had to get it out of my head, though I figured it would never sell and I knew it would be a real challenge to write. But even if nothing comes from it, it’s always good to stretch as a writer and try things that we think might not work. Far better to know what did or didn’t work than to always wonder if it would have.

  15. We learn so much when we write outside of our comfort zones. I think it’s great you’re doing this.

  16. It sounds like you’re trying a lot of new things with this book, and that’s a good thing. Means you’re growing as a writer, and are willing to test yourself by spreading your wings a bit. I’m sure you’ll kick butt with it, because you’re just that kinda writer.

  17. Denise Covey says:

    I don’t mind a first-person story. Hooks you in usually. That Irish festival sounds great fun even if work. ๐Ÿ™‚