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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | The 10 Stages of Post-WIP Neurosis

The 10 Stages of Post-WIP Neurosis

As many of you know, I recently finished the first draft of my WIP. Then I cleaned up the plot holes and added an element it was previously lacking. My wonderful first beta read the whole thing, and I went back through it a second time, making adjustments based on her feedback. Now I’ve sent it off to a new batch of beta readers.

So what now?

I’m neurotic, of course, and I’ve discovered a certain pattern to my moods and thought processes after the completion of every WIP.

Stage 1: Elation – Just a few short months ago, I was looking at a messed-up manuscript, wondering if I’d written myself off a cliff. But in spite of pantstering the whole thing, I’ve reached the end, and it all makes sense, and I’ve tied up things I didn’t even consciously know were going to tie together!

Stage 2: Depression – I suddenly realize I have nothing to write about. I miss my characters. I wonder if they miss me. I start making up little scenes in my head about what they’re doing now. It’s pitiful.

Stage 3: Cheering Up – I remember that I’ll probably be revising this story repeatedly over months, or heaven help me, years. I’ll be spending lots of time with my characters, re-writing scenes, re-arranging scenes, creating new scenes … And I can never predict where these projects will take me. I finished the first draft of We Hear the Dead in November of 2006 – and I’m still writing about Maggie and Elisha in the screenplay, four years later!

Stage 4: Wonder: I wonder when I will have an idea for a new story.

Stage 5: Worry: I worry I will never have an idea for a new story.

Stage 6: Panic: I have no ideas! I have no ideas!

Stage 7: The Hook: Something catches my eye, or I read something – and suddenly, there’s the glimmer of an idea. It might be dim or flickering, or it might be bright and mesmerizing (the caged graves were the latter). But it’s an idea.

Stage 8: The Birth: Out of that one idea, a character rises from the primordial mist. I can see her (or him) in my mind. I can describe this person; I can place this character in at least one scene. Sometimes I even know the name …

Stage 9: The Story: Out of that one character and one scene, the shadowy plot elements begin to coalesce in the fog.

Stage 10: Chortling Happiness: Research begins. Outlines. Brainstorming and free-writes, just to explore the story. A new project is underway …

Yeah, that’s my process. What’s yours? And in case you’re wondering – I’m currently on Stage 8.

9 Responses to The 10 Stages of Post-WIP Neurosis

  1. mshatch says:

    can’t wait to hear about it…

  2. Lenny Lee! says:

    hi miss dianne! thats a lot of stages for sure. im glad you got past most of them and got to 8. im thinking you go through all those stages cause your a for real writer and maybe thats what all really good writers go through. that 6 sounds pretty scary and im glad you got past it. cant wait to hear what your new story is gonna be about. cant wait for your last one to get published. might be another date for sebi. ha ha.
    …hugs from lenny

  3. ha ha good luck when i start writing another manuscript I can never get the last hero and heroine’s names out of my head because i just never want to let go.

  4. Linda G. says:

    Congrats on reaching Stage 8! That’s a fun one. 🙂

    My process is similar, if a little messier, with stages often overlapping, elbowing other stages out of the way.

  5. Joanna, I have that problem, too! (Especially the hero from the manuscript before last — I think I have a serious thing for him.)

    Linda, I have the overlapping thing going on too. It’s never a clean progression, and sometimes I go backwards.

  6. Claire Dawn says:

    I go through the same thing. Except that I’m always bursting with ideas. Even if I never have another new one, I’ve got a file full right now. 🙂

  7. lol- I go through the same things. Right now I’m trying to revise the crap out of my MS which means I have to stay away from it for long periods of time while awaiting feedback or getting ready for another read-through. I try and keep busy with reading books and compiling query info though…dreaming of the day this mother will be ready to send out!

  8. I feel like I’m in a constant state of revisions…ideas, write, revise, revise, revise, repeat….I’m pretty sure at some point I have to get to the submitting bit. (wink) Congratulations on reaching level 8! Have a great rest of the week…

  9. Vicki Rocho says:

    When I’m working on the WIP, I feel like I’m driving that little cart at the driving range. The one that sucks up the golf balls? While I’m busy trying to do my job, ideas constantly pelt me, threatening to derail me.