Wednesday, May 30, 2012

(Work-in-) Progress Reports: Bonnie and Clyde

Word count (to the nearest thousand): 3,000 for Bonnie, 24,000 for Clyde
Status: Chugging through the first drafts
Attitude: Excited

Look, a (work-in-) progress report! It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. I’m happy to report that my new project, who shall be known from this day forth as Clyde, is coming along at a nice pace. I’m not writing him quite as quickly as I wrote Steve, but then, I have been a bit distracted, what with “The Writer’s Voice” and all. Still, I’m hoping to finish the first draft sometime within the next month. We’ll see how I do.

Clyde is a straight-up MG contemporary, with no fantastical elements or funny business. He’s a cute, quirky little manuscript who’s forced me to get in touch with my inner nerd:) But mostly, he’s just forced me to admit that I might really be a writer of realism and not a writer of fantasy.

I started to suspect this while I was writing Steve. Sure, Steve has a few less-than-plausible plot points, but I truly believe that, at his core, he’s a genuine historical, with period characters making period decisions according to the standards and mores of their day. Steve is about real life, and so is Clyde. Real life, apparently, is what I write about.

To further cement this theory, my other Shiny New Idea is also for a contemporary, this one a YA. Since I kind of think of these two manuscripts in the same thought, I’m naming this one Bonnie. She’s going to be my pet project for the time being, my experiment, and as such, I’ve only written a little more than her first chapter. Once I get my buddy Clyde into the hands of beta readers, I’ll reward myself by writing Bonnie:)

I’ve wanted to write a book set in two different timeframes for a few years now, so I’m going to try that with this one. I’ll tell the front story moving forward from a particularly significant day for the MC and the back story moving backward from another equally important day. This will also give me a chance to try my hand at present tense. In truth, I’ve never been a huge fan of present tense--it often feels like a gimmick to me--but in this case, I think it will help me keep the front and back stories straight.

Yep, these two projects have definitely forced me to reevaluate my own writerly self. I’ve always considered myself to be a writer of big, bold fantasy and science fiction, with lots of explosions and action scenes. But the truth is, I think I’m better at writing the quieter, more intimate moments between characters, and for the first time in, well, ever, I feel like I’m playing to my strengths.

So how are your projects coming along, and have they ever forced you to think about your writer-self differently?

18 comments:

Susan Adrian said...

Yay, Krista! Great work!

Status update: You know what I'm working on (ha), and I'm at 26k as of this morning. Hope to be at 30k by the start of next week!

Michelle Mason said...

I've had an opposite experience with my writing. I thought I should write something realistic (or mostly realistic), but the magic comes to me more easily. I'm in the research stages for a new one that's going to involve space and a bit of magic, too :). I'm not sure where it's going yet, but I hope to get to the actual writing in the next week or so! Good luck with Bonnie and Clyde!

Ben Spendlove said...

Well, I'm working on getting THE FREEZER ready for beta readers. Thanks for asking.

And as for doing things differently, I recently had a bizarre idea for a novel about a kid pretending to be an alien consciousness possessing his own body. It sounds sci-fi, and I did write a short story where the alien entity was real. But I thought it might be more interesting if it were just a straight story about someone purposely dissociating from himself as a coping mechanism. The problem is that I can't think of a really good ending.

That makes two ideas in my queue after the current WIP. That's a record. I've gotta start writing more.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Susan, we're both chugging right along! I'm glad I'm (kind of) keeping pace with you:)

Michelle, I love the thrill of discovery when you're starting a new project. I love feeling like the story is still full of wide-open possibilities. (And good for you for starting something new! I'm always too much of a wreck once I send those first queries to focus on anything:) )

Ben, I'm on the reader list, right? RIGHT? :) (As you can tell, I'm really excited for this one.) And isn't it interesting how ideas morph? We expect them to be one thing sometimes, and then they turn into something completely different. Also, endings are always the hardest part for me.

Elizabeth Briggs said...

Aw, no more explosions? But it's good you found your niche.

You and Susan are totally beating me at the word count race. *scrambles to catch up*

Kirk Kraft said...

Great stuff, Krista. Thanks for sharing. It’s funny you brought up finding a different writerly self.

I’ve written fantasy or science fiction since I was in 4th grade. Whenever I’d pick up a pen or pound a keyboard, those were the stories that poured forth.

In the past 2 years I’ve ventured into the picture book realm. Having four kids 10 and under may have just a little bit to do with that.

And maybe picture books aren’t a reach, although some of those are definitely what I would term “quiet” books.

The more interesting thing (to me) is my foray into nonfiction. Never thought I’d write it and now I’m knee deep in writing sample chapters for a book about parents with seriously ill children, based on my family’s personal story. I’m also working on some essays about my dad growing up on a duck club --- a real duck club! – in the east Bay Area. So there you have it!

Every day something new seems to come up that throws me for a writing loop but I’m happy to walk down these trails to see where they lead.

Kristen Wixted said...

I just started a YA for the first time, never had any interest in writing one, but it just came out.
Stange.
Looking forward to returning to MG too, though.

T.L. Bodine said...

I love that you give all of your WIPs "people names".

I'm knee-deep in outlining for my next project. I'm trying to convert from my Pantster ways, but I'm totally hung up on figuring out an ending so it may take a bit.

Martin Willoughby said...

It was while writing a serious SF novel that I realised that the characters I was creating were funny rather than serious, so I changed tack to comedy. It's been a whole lot easier since then.

E.B. Black said...

I have tried to written both contemporary and sci-fi/fantasy. Hands down, I am the opposite of you. My strength is in world building, inventing complications for having certain powers, abilities, or technologies, developing new and cool things for my characters to be able to do, have action scenes and tie it all into their emotions. That's where my strength lies. When I try to write contemporary, I get bored a lot easier and my stories often wind up too short because I just don't have as much to say. I hope to improve in that area, but am okay with the way I am.

Kelley Lynn said...

Congrats on playing to your strengths!!! And look at you, such great work you're doing here. :)

I'm querying one work (YA Science Fiction) and finishing up a collaboration for a YA Contemp. All lots of fun.

jamieayres said...

That's funny b/c for the past 3 yrs I've written YA contemporary love inspired stories and now I'm throwing the paranormal and fantasy elements in. I know they say that's all dead, but now I'm finally getting interest . . . maybe it's just b/c I'm finally finding that elusive writer's voice:) Love that you named your projects Bonnie and Clyde-we had pet dobermans named that when I was a kid. Best of luck to you!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Well, Liz, I'm not promising I'll NEVER write another book with an explosion. If the right idea comes along... :)

Kirk, I think picture books are definitely a big jump from adult fantasy and sci-fi! Picture books are way tough because every single word is important. When you only have a thousand of them, every little one counts. And I think the foray into nonfiction is great, too. The path to publication certainly is a long, winding road for most of us.

Kristen, Steve was my first MG project. Sometimes you just have to write the ideas that come to you:)

T.L., you've got everything but the ending figured out? I say start writing! There's no reason you can't be half pantser, half plotter. I've tried both, and these days, I just do whatever I feel like:)

Martin, that's a big jump to make, so good for you for making it! Isn't it interesting where these stories of ours take us?

E.B., good for you! Sounds like you're playing to your strengths also. Good thing we all have different ones:)

Kelley, how has that collaborative project been? A couple of my CPs and I were joking about doing something like that on Twitter, but as the conversation progressed, it became less and less of a joke...

Jamieayres, I do think it takes a while to settle into your voice, so I'm not surprised your later projects are having more success than your earlier ones. Good luck to you!

Tara Dairman said...

Krista--my new project is also YA, present tense, with dual timelines, and a total departure genre- and style-wise from what I've written before. Fun! I was even trying to do one of my timelines in reverse for a while, but it wasn't working out, so now they're both (mostly) going forward.

Anyway, I'll be interested to see how yours works out...maybe we should swap when we have drafts done. =)

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Tara, what a coincidence! I know you mentioned you were working on a YA project, but I didn't realize it had so much in common with Bonnie. It'll probably take me quite a few months to have a working draft, but when I do, I'd be happy to trade (although, if you finish sooner than I do, feel free to shoot me an e-mail)!

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

Awesome, Krista! Can't wait to read these. :)

Myrna Foster said...

I never thought I'd be selling children's poetry. In fact, I told my poetry professor at BYU that I was taking his class to improve my prose (which he responded to with more grace and encouragement than I had any right to expect).

I'm excited to meet Bonnie and Clyde! And I'm wondering what your husband said when you told him you'd be writing in present tense. ;)

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Amy, I hope I have something for you to read soon. I hit kind of a low point last night, so we'll see...

Myrna, when I mentioned the whole present-tense thing to Honey Bear, he made a face at first, but when I explained that I'd use the tense shift to separate the front story from the back, he grudgingly admitted that that made sense:)