Purpose, Pain and Progress

Change is essential, even when you hate it. This week has been about embracing the change that needs to happen and jumping off the editing cliff, knowing that it will be for the better while trying to convince myself that it’s true. This week has been about finding and isolating the purpose in my work, letting go of things that don’t serve the plot and make things harder for the reader, and the reality that it is hard to do that. It hasn’t been easy, but worthwhile things rarely are.

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Last week, I went through my newly completed outline and wrote out the narrative purpose of each chapter. Through this process, I learned that some chapters didn’t have a specific purpose. They were made up of scenes placed in chronological order, that didn’t necessarily offer anything unique to the story, or that offered too much. Other chapters were full of too many important events that were essential to the story, but when concentrated to such a degree, lacked an overall cohesion necessary in storytelling.

Recognizing chapters as disorganized and scenes as dead weight, I was able to re-plan the structure of my book. Initially, with the first four chapters, I started slow, introducing characters and their interactions, establishing setting and context, and setting up a conflict that didn’t pay off. The hook I was using was small and ultimately dismissed, and the story would benefit from a faster pace, so I rewrote the first chapter of the book to include the major plot points of all four. As someone who needs to shorten my novel considerably, it was satisfying, if a bit disheartening to realize how much of my work was hurting the project rather than helping.

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Cutting out the majority of those chapters opened up a floodgate, and I was able to see things that would need to go in future. A scene where the girls play laser-tag, though tense, fun and engaging, bears no relevance to the overall story. It’s a device to have the characters interact in an unnatural setting and takes more from the narrative than it offers. I, personally really like this scene, and it’s hard to swallow that next week I’ll have to write it out, but the glimpses into the characters that it offers don’t justify the amount of room it takes in the book. It’s a fun scene and does offer characterisation, even insights into the themes, but there are other ways to incorporate them that would flow better in the story.

Change is never simple, and never easy. Acknowledging that much of what I wrote won’t see the end of the project is testing. I know I am making my work better, and through this experience, I have found the confidence to proceed in leaps and bounds, rather than poking along, removing a sentence here or there, but that progress doesn’t remove the pain. But pain, if you get through it, tends to be a marker of better things to come. At least it’s a sign of things we’ve already overcome. There is more to do, but I face it boldly, as all writers must.

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Thank you for your companionship and your support along the way.

Project Status: The rewrites have begun in earnest.

The Benefits and Struggles of Outlining: After The Fact

Working through my outline has been an experience. I chose not to outline at the beginning, so I didn’t have an overview of the project. I spent the past two weeks writing the outline for the first draft of the book, the perks of which are that I don’t have to adjust any previous work to match what I have now, and I was able to write the first draft completely free of mental restriction. Pulling the outline together wasn’t easy though, and this week’s post as about the struggles I encountered and the overall benefits of the work done.


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One problem I had was my editing mindset. When I started outlining, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and outline each chapter as I edited. This worked well, up until chapter 15, which is a significant emotional beat in the narrative.  I wasn’t satisfied with the chapter and strongly considered rewriting it, but doing that would affect the rest of my story on ways I couldn’t fully grasp without a full view of the story. I couldn’t change this scene without understanding how it interlocked with everything that came after it. So I decided to finish the outline and correct the book from there. Despite making this decision, my mindset hadn’t changed. In every chapter I worked through, I felt compelled to edit it, despite not knowing if it would appear in the final draft of the book. I didn’t want to waste time, but it was easy to get caught up in the details without realizing. I had to force myself to finish the outline without editing, but that brought a different problem with it.

After Chapter 15, things become more emotionally dense. Charlie’s depression takes a turn for the worst, and all of the characters feel its effects. This is good from a writer’s standpoint but unfortunate for someone trying to write an outline. I would get caught up in the emotions of the chapter rather than focusing on the task at hand, and that slowed my progress dramatically.

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In the end, I decided to skim over the emotions as much as possible, focusing solely on the events taking place. Now that it’s finished, I have access to a bird’s eye view of the repetition, symbolism, and scenes that should be altered to improve the narrative flow. I realized that at the end of the book, characters begin having multiple dense conversations that could be distilled into smaller ones to make them more digestible and enhance the themes. I also realized that the symbolism in the novel is very lop-sided towards the end of the book, rather than being evenly dispersed throughout, which would make the work more poignant and cohesive. With access to an outline, I can work on long-term planning, as well as recognize the ideas and emotions that are already in play in the current draft of the book.

Outlines are hard for me because I find them creatively inhibiting.  Drafting an outline of a completed book has complications, but with it done, I will be able to manage my time and tasks more efficiently overall, which will alleviate the pressure of running out of time. It will also give me a tangible grasp on what needs to be changed, instead of just a mental image that could potentially be forgotten.

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Thank you for your continuous support and encouragement. My journey is better for your presence.

Project Status: Editing is on hold as I rework the story with a paper version of my outline. Beta readers are also in play, helping me to discover what does and doesn’t work from a narrative standpoint. Thank you Beta Readers for everything.


If Just One Person Believes In You

The first time I ever posted a story online, it was because of an ultimatum. My sister, seeing my desire to share my stories overpowered by fear of rejection, told me that I could either edit one of my stories and post it, or she would post an unedited story. It was harsh, but it was also the best possible thing for my life as a writer. Since I posted my first story, I have become more confident as a writer, and I have learned to be proud of my work, despite the inevitable flaws.

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When I was young, people would compliment my writing. Their belief helped me accept my talent, and I gradually began to believe in myself. Despite my slow-growing confidence, posting stories online unearthed another layer of terror when it came to sharing my work. The scrutiny of strangers was overwhelming and frightening as I waited months for any response at all. My confidence dwindled, and my ego deflated. When feedback finally did come, it shocked me. They liked it.

Having strangers like your work is a strange experience. No matter how confident you are, it’s unnerving to have someone who you’ve never met look over your work and judge it. You expect their reactions to be negative, and when they aren’t, it’s almost more shocking because of the doubt that crept in in the meantime. Since I’ve started posting, I’ve received lots of feedback, which, on the whole, has been positive. And having that response, from people who have no interest in my success or failure, encouraged me in believing that I have a talent as a writer. That realization has helped me to believe in myself fully.

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An evaluation of my work has also helped me to gain confidence. Early in my career, I would write the first draft of a story, think it was amazing, come back the next day, think it was horrible, and I would abandon it. When I sit down to write a story that I know I will want to post, discarding it like that doesn’t come as readily. If I don’t like the work the next day, I focus on the heart of the story I want to tell. Then I rewrite the story, usually three or four times, but in the end, I produce a work that I am proud to show to people. By believing in my story, I find the courage to push through the hard parts and turn it into something that I can come back to and be glad I wrote.

Authorial integrity is about being proud of your work. Not because it’s perfect, but because the story has a message, form or function that it has achieved and, as a result, there is pride in the success. Looking back on old stories that are no longer up to my standards is fulfilling when I see that the story still achieves its initial intent. While confidence is the drive that inspires an author to try, authorial integrity is the force that ensures a work to be proud of, and it is equally necessary for providing new work because it gives the author something to strive for.

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When I first started posting my work online, I had confidence, but not a lot of authorial integrity. Over time, I lost that confidence but developed integrity. Now, with my current project, both are coming into fruition.

In recent posts, I have displayed my uncertainty with my book and my desire to do well. This week has been spent finding my confidence, talking with people close to the project, discussing my ideas and where to take them, thinking about how to make this book better. Looking back on my past experiences with confidence crises and how I overcame them through effort, tenacity, and integrity has been encouraging to say the least. I was reminded how far I’ve come, in all of my writing, and I want to do more. My sister’s actions may have seemed harsh, but they have laid the foundation for the work I am doing now and given me the confidence necessary to succeed.

For all of those who believe in me, thank you endlessly for that belief.

And for my dear sister who pushed me off the plank, thank you for believing in me and giving me a reason to believe in myself. I couldn’t have done it without you.

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Project Status: I am working on re-vamping the outline.

The Chance to Choose

*Trigger Warning: Brief discussion of suicide attempts and the emotional ramifications thereof. Mentions of cutting and self-harm.*

This week has brought me to a crossroads. I’ve known for a while that I would need to make significant structural changes in my book, but I hadn’t encountered the need in a practical sense until this week. This week I hit chapter fifteen, which focuses on Charlie’s first suicide attempt, and here is where the problems started.

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I wasn’t there the first time my friend attempted suicide; I only appeared later. Since the beginning of my involvement, I was aware of the attempt, and it informed my overall perspective. I was afraid of that attempt and the possibility that it could happen again. Sam shares this fear, and it defines much of her character. Sam fears loss and is willing to do extreme things to minimize the risk of losing Charlie. Currently, Sam’s terror is a direct result of the first attempt, and that terror informs the rest of her growth throughout the book. Sam’s growth relies on this event, whereas I wasn’t present for it.

When I first wrote chapter fifteen, I intentionally dulled the emotions of the scene. I did this for a few reasons: to highlight Sam’s naivety and later her denial, to keep the progression of tension in the book consistent, and to reserve the highest level of tension for the climax, which focuses on the attempt that I was a part of. I wanted to keep the emotional momentum steadily increasing throughout the book, but after reading the chapter, I recognized my mistake. The emotions that should be in the scene weren’t there, and they needed to be. That is the whole point of my book.

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The issue brings me to a choice. I have several options. I could add tension to the scene, by drawing from my experiences and share those emotions between both scenes. I could remove the first suicide attempt and replace it with the revelation that Charlie is cutting; this would keep the narrative tension consistent with my original plan and would form a basis for Sam’s fears. I could leave the scene as is, which undermines the purpose of my project, or I could change the scene to resemble my experiences by having the first suicide attempt happen before the events of the novel.

Each of these four options has a problem. If I add tension to the scene, I pull focus from the climax and have to rework the emotional landscape of my project. If I remove the attempt, I change Sam’s perspective and approach to the situation; while learning a friend is cutting is awful, a suicide attempt is much worse and inspires the sheer terror that Sam deals with throughout. Option three is unacceptable on all fronts, as the current state of the scene works narratively, but goes against the spirit of my book. Finally, making the scene resemble my experiences seems like the wrong way to go, because it defeats the purpose of fictionalizing the events. I changed the story, ultimately, to remove unnecessary details and preserve the privacy of those involved (blog post about it here). I don’t want to tell the story exactly the way it happened because depression exists in many different ways, and I want my book to reflect that.

The heart of my novel depends on what I choose, but the choice is mine to make. As the author, it always has been. It’s nice to have a choice this time around. I’m not going to waste it.

Thank you for listening and for your continued support.

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Project Status: Editing is currently on hold as I finish my outline and re-organize from there.


An Ode to Community

This week’s post is about people; namely, the people who make it possible to write and publish a book. Several authors research, write, edit, market and publish books all on their own, and that is not easy to do. It demonstrates an author’s courage, tenacity, and belief in their work despite adversity. The people who do this are amazing. I am not one of them.

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The fact that I am writing from lived experience indicates that not even my idea-generating process was a solitary one. First I had to ask permission from the people involved if I could write the book at all. Afterwards, we discussed ideas, the subject matter and my goals for the book. By talking these friends and others, I was able to work out what my vision for the project was and what I wanted to do with it. During this process, they questioned me, and those questions helped me form a mental-map of the plot and helped me to choose what aspects of the story I wanted to include and what parts weren’t necessary.

My writing process was mostly solitary, but my editing experience is definitely not. I currently have a group of people reading my work, giving me opinions and feedback on the plot and characters, as well as pointing out flaws, inconsistencies or things that are confusing that will need correction in subsequent drafts. While I still have the final word on any changes made, their perspectives on something that I’ve been deeply involved in for several months has been invaluable to me, as well as humbling. I still freak out whenever I get a new round of feedback (because criticism is hard), but I know that their comments are to make my work better and reach its maximum potential. It’s exciting that there are people who are willing to help me do that and I am grateful to them all.

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When I first started this project, I didn’t realize how group-oriented writing a book could be. So far, I’ve worked with my project accountant, a graphic artist, my beta readers, and other writers and by the time I finish my project, I’ll have worked with a graphic designer, a publisher, an editor and probably more. The involvement has been phenomenal, from my friends lived it with me to my mentor, my beta readers and my audience, who never ceases to amaze me with just how excited and encouraging you all are. I want this book to be the best that I can make it, and your belief in me helps me to strive towards that every day.

I told my mom earlier this week that, “I think, perhaps, that reading is an act of trust, and writing is an act of faith.” I wrote, hoping that someone somewhere would find meaning in my book, even if it was just the people who lived through this with me, but that isn’t going to be where this thing stops. I wish to prove myself worthy of your trust.

Thank you for your ever-present belief and companionship along the way.

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Project Status: I am still editing. Right now the goal is to cut out unnecessary words and sections while reading for continuity. I am learning new tricks as I go. It’s exciting and exhausting all at the same time.

PROCESS UPDATE: I learned that setting a specific goal (ex: 3 chapters a day) helps me to work at night, though the quality of the work is not as good as it is during the day. I also have started the “read it out loud” trick. It’s scary, but it works well.

Hacking My Process 101

This week’s focus was rewriting. After outlining the emotional arcs of my protagonists and figuring out the timeline, I understand what needs to change to improve my book. After last week’s discovery, (I don’t edit well in the dark), I decided to begin work earlier in the day to optimize editing time. I was only somewhat successful, but, thanks to my night-owl tendencies, I learned to work around the limitation… sort of.

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I started the week trying to edit the early chapters of my book. I was able to get work done, but not as much as I’d hoped, and when the sun went down Monday, I hadn’t finished my scheduled time for the day. I didn’t want to stop working without finishing my time, but I didn’t know what to do because of my mental block. Then it hit me.

One of the major decisions that I’ve made, in light of the timeline and emotional arc outlines, is to link Charlie and Sam’s experiences more closely to my own. Previously, one of the main issues in my writing was that, due to changes I’d made in my characters’ lives to make them different from the people in my real-life situation, my characters were no longer experiencing the same emotions that I had, which diminished my ability to write about them. When outlining Sam’s emotional arc, I realized an event that I experienced was informing Sam’s view point, even though she hadn’t experienced it herself. I knew I had to add that event in order for her arc to make sense.

The “event” that I am referring to is a six-month separation that my friend and I agreed to during our situation. My feelings of helplessness, combined with my determination to help, were agitating the situation and fights were breaking out between us near-constantly. It wasn’t helpful to my friend, and it wasn’t helpful to me.  We agreed to separate to give us time to heal, process, and figure out what boundaries needed to be in place for us to continue coping. The separation was hard, but I learned a lot and many of the conclusions I came to during that time inform Sam’s arc. Because of that epiphany though, I need to rewrite the last third of my book.

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I was hesitant to begin the rewriting process because I wanted to maintain the narrative flow that the “pantsing” writing style provides. But in light of my productivity problem, my new editing schedule gave me an idea: I have trouble editing after dark, but that is the best time for me to write, so my solution is to edit during the day and write/rewrite new scenes at night.

My productivity skyrocketed. I was able to edit two chapters per day (before I was doing one, and the quality would vary per chapter) and write new scenes without feeling pressured to focus on one or the other. Writing the new scenes is a bit tricky because they outside of where the story currently points, but I am creating a new foundation for my work, which is very encouraging. I am more excited about editing now, knowing that I can still be creative with this project, which inspires me further. All in all, it’s been a good week for work.

I am satisfied with my plan and will let you know how it pans out long-term.

Thank you for your support and encouragement.

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Project Status: Currently, I have edited up to chapter 8 (of 30), and I have begun the rewriting process.
Note: I am looking for a professional editor.

A Matter of Time

Recently, I wrote a post about timelines as they pertain to my book and their overall importance. This week, the focus is a little more personal.

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For the past few weeks, I have been digging into the editing aspect of my project. As expected, editing is hard. Much harder than writing, editing involves looking at all the flaws in one’s work and trying to correct them; making dialogue sound more natural, adding or removing descriptions, shedding unnecessary scenes, rewriting scenes to make them work better in the story, re-organizing or adding events to change the direction of the story. Editing is slow, precise, and involved work and I struggle with it.

It’s not so much feeling overwhelmed by the size of the project, as being unaware of the flaws in the work. Reading through my own work is less engaging than reading through someone else’s work because my mind is familiar with it and connected to it. As a result, the problems that are obvious to others tend to go unnoticed or I misunderstand the full extent of the problem. The reluctance to rewrite, due to my fear of making things worse, also stands in the way, despite knowing that I have to start somewhere. It is all rather daunting.

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These are a few issues that I’ve been facing this week as I edit, but I think my real problem is something rather mundane. The problem goes back to when I first started to write my book. I, by nature, am a night owl. When writing my book, I stayed up all hours of the night plugging away; I would sleep into the afternoon and do it all again. My mind likes to create in the evenings, and good ideas tend to after midnight, so staying up late is an easy way to catch those ideas and incorporate them into my work. Because that is the schedule that I used when I started writing the book, it is the one that I stuck to during my project hiatus and when I started editing my work. The problem is I don’t edit well in the dark.

It might seem weird that editing, for me, is a daytime activity, but I think it has something to do with the way creativity works in my brain. The sun is good for daydreaming, but the stars are a source of inspiration. I can harness the restless energy I feel at night and funnel it into my book, using it to increase my word count and productivity, but when it comes to editing, that’s not what I want. I don’t want to get words down; I want to focus on the words I wrote and refining them. I want to be looking for the flaws in the work and correct them. When I try to do this, at night, I am not as efficient.  My “night owl” nature begins to work against me because it wants to be creative and free, instead of caught up in the minutiae of the work at hand.

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Recently I edited a chapter for a colleague, and I was utterly unable to work on it after sunset. Something in my brain switched off, and I lost all motivation to work on it.   I ended up putting off the project for days before returning and finally completing it. When the sun goes down, I lack focus and a sense of space that exists in the daytime that I think is necessary for my more analytical brain. School happens during the day, so it is the time of day that I habitually devote to work, as opposed to evenings which I see as free time. I was able to write my book in the evening because writing is something that I do in my free time and enjoy, whereas editing requires more discipline and focus.

Scheduling is important, especially for your workday. Throughout my project’s timeline, I haven’t been careful about scheduling my time. I keep track of the work I do, but the timing of when the work got done was arbitrary, and until now, that hasn’t been a problem. Now I know that editing at night is not a viable option, and I hope I have the tools to be able to change my habits and improve the end product of my book.

Thank you for your company and support.

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Project Status: Editing.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Awhile back, I wrote a blog post about the experience of writing the climax of my book. I hid the post as my blog was relatively new and I didn’t want to overshare early on. By this time, I have established myself as an honest-about-my-process author, so I am opening that post up to the public. Feel free to check it out here.

The Heart To Find

The heart of a story is critical; it is the purpose of the book. Without it, a story becomes meaningless and ultimately forgettable. This week, I found the heart of my story.

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This discovery was unexpected, in that, I thought I already knew what the heart of my story was: the resilience of two girls and the courage that drives them to fight for what they want, while holding on to hope. The purpose of the story was to counter the lies that they believe and explore the value of their friendship and why it’s worth having. This is a very nebulous statement though, which is a problem I had with the research documents I was reading during my situation. It’s too broad and impersonal, which makes it hard to apply in real-life. That is the exact opposite of what I want my book to be.

I didn’t start the week trying to find the heart of my story; honestly, I didn’t think I needed to. The reason I ended up looking for it is because of James’ Patterson’s views on outlines. It’s no secret that I don’t like outlines, (a fact which has both positively and negatively affected my work over the course of the past few months), and I was more than happy to dismiss his views with little thought. But I was watching an interview about his views and near the end, he said that outlines can be used to figure out the emotional arcs of your characters which will help you write the story better because you understand the characters at play. For some reason, this stuck with me.

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Unable to shake the idea, on Monday, I sat down and wrote out the emotional arcs of the two main characters Charlie and Sam. I specified events, what they thought and felt about those events, the lies that they believe and how it affects where they are in the story and leads them to where they are going.

Having all of this written down as a list was very helpful. It highlighted where things move too quickly, where they feel unnatural, and the ways that character conversations add to each other to guide the characters’ growth. I learned that I am going to need to fundamentally change the middle of the book to obtain the emotional impact that I am going for. I am also compiling a list of scenes that must be removed to rewritten to enhance the emotional flow of the book.

The heart of my story is in the lies that the characters believe, and the way that they overcome those lies and learn the truth. The truth doesn’t solve everything, but it breaks the haze and gives my girls something to fight for, and something to believe in. I am not going to spoil what those lies are, but I think that it’s a very human to experience lies and explore the truth, and through that humanity, I can connect with the reader and write a story that can touch human hearts. That is my goal.

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I bid you hope for the future and light on your way. Thank you for joining me.

Project Status: Editing.

The Framework of Time

This week’s problem has been my timeline. I knew from the start of the book that I wanted to cover events over a year and a half time frame approximately. In order to cover that time interestingly, I incorporate time skips into my book which I use to improve pacing as I move between poignant and essential events. From a narrative perspective, it works. The only problem is the effect it has on the overall timeline.

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My goal with the first draft was to capture the emotional progression of my characters and pace that journey well. I wanted to make sure that each character had enough time to process their situations and come to various conclusions without the story seeming rushed. I wanted them to have the time to discuss their views and form full, complex perspectives that differ from character to character. Outside of that, everything else was left to sort itself out.

My “laissez-faire” attitude had somewhat disastrous effects on the life of my character Jo. Jo is a member of Sam’s friend group, and, currently, she is also a competitive gymnast. She spends a lot of her time in the novel training, and on two notable occasions, she attends competitions. Both times, Sam accompanies Jo as she travels to the meets. The second meet is pivotal as it provides an explanation for Jo and Sam’s absence on the night of Charlie’s second suicide attempt. Narratively, Jo’s competitive lifestyle plays a vital role, but when it comes to real-life timing of gymnastic competitions, Jo’s competitive season doesn’t align with the surrounding emotional states. Charlie comes to her conclusion before Jo’s competitive season would began in earnest, making it unrealistic for her and Sam to be attending a meet at the same time. Jo’s timeline doesn’t match reality, thus it becomes unbelievable. The solution to the problem would be to allow more time to pass between Charlie’s depressive episodes, but that creates more timeline ripples which tend to tidal wave as the story goes.

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One such tidal way is the school calendar. I decided to set the beginning of the book in April, as the girls are beginning to prepare for exams and it fits well with Charlie’s own sports career.  After making that decision, I made no attempt follow a school calendar, and as a result, the High School that the girls attend ends classes in mid-July, and the college they attend later that year begins in October instead of late-August. Despite the summer lasting longer than usual, the girls only have time for six weeks of activities before school resumes. Additionally, Sam and Jo are able to rent, furnish and move into an apartment all within a span of three weeks.

One of the benefits of making the timeline is that I was able to see the anachronisms, which I can now fix, but I was also able to note plot threads that appear at the beginning of the book but never eventuate. By witnessing the loose strands of my story, I can decide to either take them out completely or add scenes that will bring them to fruition, making my story stronger with a more cohesive structure.

Timelines are the structures that humans use to understand change. They are an essential part of understanding development and growth, and they help people relate to each other. Humans can instinctively tell is something is moving too slowly or quickly, and that can make it harder to empathize with a character because it makes them seem unrealistic. Details add believability and allow the reader to become more invested in the story as a whole. Currently, my timeline is a mess, but it is important to me to get it right, so as to not diminish the effect that the story could otherwise have. Life is change, and time is how we mark it; so get your timelines; it’s essential.

Thank you for your company and your continued support.

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AUTHOR’S NOTE: The playlist is available. If you are interested in hearing the songs that very much lend to the atmosphere and emotions of the characters, feel free to check it out here.
Thank you for your support.

Project Status: Pre-Editing. I am tying up the last loose ends before beginning to edit my first chapter. Editing will commence next week.

The Drawbacks of Experience

*Trigger Warning: Brief mentions of suicide and slight exploration of a depressive mindset.*

This week I have been taking writing classes in order to give myself space from my work, so I have fresh eyes when I return to it. During the week, I came across a video about writing from personal experience, the crux of the video being: “no matter how similar you and your character may be, you are not your character, and your character is going to react differently than you would, even if put in the exact same situation.” This reminded me of something that happened while writing the climax of my book.

The climax of the novel is Charlie’s suicide attempt, told through Sam’s eyes as she tries to help the situation. While writing this scene, I didn’t just draw from my own experiences; I transposed them into the book. I went through conversations I’d had with my friends, the helpline operator, and the authorities and I copied it into my book almost word for word. To me, replicating my reactions seemed like the most natural way to express the emotions i felt in those moments, and Sam’s personality is similar enough to mine, that her perspective worked. The problem came when I realized that Charlie wasn’t reacting how really would.

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Charlie is a very complicated character.  She is both similar and different from my friend. They both like being with people and making them happy but Charlie, being on a sports team, is more social and team-oriented. Charlie develops depression, and she begins to isolate and focus on the more negative aspects of life. She concludes that life is meaningless and purposeless. I based her transformation on the one I observed in my friend’s life and, Charlie’s decline is evenly paced throughout the book as she steadily loses hope.

Because Charlie’s personality becomes very cynical and somewhat self-absorbed during her depression, the events that take place during and after her suicide attempt don’t make sense in the story. She comes off as too optimistic and positive so soon after a very dark episode. She is too hopeful. The reason for that lies in the setup of the real-life events.

In my own life, for various reasons, I had not been in direct contact with my depressed friend for an extended period of time before the event my climax is based on. I was kept up-to-date by mutual friends, and I knew what was happening, but I had no influence. The night of the attempt, a group of our friends was involved in trying to help; I called the helpline, another friend called the police, and we all worked together to obtain the best possible outcome. After the authorities became involved, the people who had direct contact stepped back. Our friend was in the care of professionals, and there was little more we could do. It was suggested for at least one person stay in contact with our friend, and I took the opportunity to break the silence and talk with them. Because of our previous distance, our conversation was a reunion that offered mutual joy and solace as well as giving both members things to talk about outside of the situation. We were able to reconnect, and I was able to show my support even though I was far away. That reassurance was comforting to my friend, and it helped me to accept the situation for what it was. It kept us both open-minded and positive.

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In the novel, I took steps to keep Sam absent from Charlie’s side on that night, but because of the differences between my situation and theirs, it doesn’t make sense for Charlie to react as my friend did. Charlie is a very relational person. She connects with people deeply, quickly and separation can come across as a betrayal to her. Given her situation and her fear at the time, it makes sense for her to accept Sam’s presence, but she would not have the same feelings about it as my friend did; thus she wouldn’t react in the same way. Because Charlie’s reactions would be different, so would Sam’s, thereby making the scene different.

Writing from experience is very personal and difficult. It is vulnerable to talk about things that happened to you, and it is emotionally draining to spend days and weeks reliving things that were hard to go through the first time. It is a rewarding experience and can help the writer process what happened and learn more about themselves and the situation, all while offering the reader insight and understanding into what can happen and how to deal with it, but it is important to remember: “you are not your character.” When I wrote the climax scene, I was my character, and as a result, the scene doesn’t make sense in the progression of the book. The scene takes things in a different direction than Sam and Charlie would have, thus breaking their characters. I will need to rewrite that scene. I will always have that experience in the way I lived it, and now I will need to write it in the way that my characters will live it. The idea is daunting but not impossible. Sometimes we all need to be reminded of the basics.

Thank you for listening to my story, and I hope all can learn from the things that I am learning along the way.

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Recently, I have been toying with the idea of posting my playlist on my blog to show you all what songs I listened to while writing my book. It is an edited version of the one I created while I was living through the situation and I have tailored it so that different songs emphasize a character’s perspective or characterization at different points in the book.
Are you interested in reading about my playlist?
Please let me know in the comments below or via other communication methods.

Thank you for your support.

Project Status: Pre-editing phase. My focus is on taking classes and removing my mindset from the novel before I dive into the editing stage.