Work In Progress Wednesdays - Kill your Darlings!

Work In Progress Wednesdays


Kate of The Lovers, The Dreamers and Me.

The first draft of "Winter's Illusion is now done (see my celebration dance here) and now we are going to take a break from each other for a little while. Hopefully when I go back to it, will be able to see it with a fresh eye. However, I do have to say I'm quite pleased with myself and how it turned out. It needs work, yes. But it isn't as bad as my first WIP1 - "Floating On The Surface." Let's call it WIP1 for the rest of this post for brevity sake.

WIP1 is my very first serious attempt at writing and completing a story. I heard about National Novel Write Month in 2007 just before it began and decided to challenge myself and see if I could 1) come up with something to write about and 2) complete at least a rough draft in the 30 days. So following the theory of 'write what you know' I did.

At the last minute I came up with a story about a young woman whose life and faith had been floating on the surface of life for various reasons. I placed her in a catholic community and planned on have her discover her faith once more and convert her to catholic. In the process she would fall in love with the priest's brother who also had a life decision to make. She was also going to be a teacher in a classical education type Catholic school created by the neighborhood home schoolers and the Catholic parish.

It started with a very symbolic filled dream and the majority of the action takes place in a 5 day time span and is full of passages from the bible. One of the dangers of Nano is finding things to up your numbers and later when you go back to the story, you think - now why did I do that?" And yes, I know NOW you aren't supposed to start a novel with a dream.

Looking back at WIP1 now, I can see it is flat, two dimensional and it sucks! Big time.... But hey, it is my first attempt after all. I don't want to kill the whole story, but I do want to change and improve upon it. I love the characters, especially my main character, Samantha. She and I knocked heads a few times - she accused me of trying to make her weak and also that some of her dialogue made her sound whiny. I wouldn't listen to her and go in the direction she wanted to explore. So---with another years experience under my belt and having learned to listen to my characters, I'm ready to listen to her.

Thinking out loud here, so bare with me please. I have an incredible amount of back story and went overboard including all the scripture as she read her bible to figure out the symbolism of things told to her. Part of the issue is she already had a strong scriptural background because her father was a pastor. Something I overlooked. So all the scriptural references really aren't necessary. Another thing she kept trying to tell me is that she wasn't weak because of her past experiences, but it had all made her stronger.

Besides that, my mom read the first draft and though she said it was good but she ended up skipping a lot of stuff. My dad's two cents - you need something exciting to happen like an explosion, somebody getting killed or something like that to interest the guys. I blew up the school and sent the story in another direction which basically just fizzled out.

I'm hoping to salvage some of the story, but I essentially will be rewriting the whole thing. I have the setting and the characters, now just need to work on the plot. So, going to ruthlessly kill my darlings. I'm going to keep the faith issue as a subplot and most likely turn the main portion of the story into a suspense romance which hinges on things occurring from her past. I'll be keeping the main characters, eliminating a few minor and add a couple new ones.

My goal for the next week will be to outline the story and see what I can salvage. I'm also going to be taking the time to read all those writing books I bought. When I tried reading them while working on either story, I started seeing all the faults and whatnot. I'm open to any and all suggestions at this point. Wish me luck!

One thing I did do this week is sign up for is an online critique group. Lady Glamis of the Innocent Flower started a private blog called The Quick Quill where we can submit our chapters and ask for critiques. I have yet to have any of my writing critiqued yet, so it will be an enlightening and education experience. I love constructive criticism!

To see how more WIP Wednesday participants are progressing on their WIP"s, go to Kate's.


  1. Personally, I think it takes a lot of bravery to go out there on a limb and just write. I applaud your efforts and am cheering you on!! I love what your dad said!!! So funny and so typical guy huh? Keep at it!!

  2. Congrats on finishing your first draft! It's in the next few revisions you'll really see it taking form. Have fun with it but give it generous thought at the same time.

  3. Glad to hear you're going back to your first novel. I have a hard time giving up on any story, even if it needs to be rewritten.
    And I already love your thoughts for how you might revise it. Sounds like an interesting book to me!

  4. What a wonderful feeling to have a solid draft! Yay! Good for you. Have you ever visited The Blood Red Pencil blog? They have a ton of good info on editing drafts that I've found so useful. Keep going!

  5. WOW! Lots of posts... I'll go through them when I finish commenting here. :D

    Killing your darlings can be a wonderful thing. I think it helps see what we can do emotionally for ourselves and our readers.

    I wish you luck!!! And I really, really hope to see some of your work on The Quick Quill. Thank you so much for your link to it and for putting it in your side bar.

  6. Thank you Everybody.

    Scobberlotcher - I heard of the blood red pencil, but really haven't had time to read through everything. Adding it to my list of blogs to check out. Thanks

  7. Wow! Congrats on finishing your first draft!!

    It sounds like you have a lot of rewriting ahead of you for WIP1, but if you're ready to kill your darlings and have already identified what is and is not working - then you are off to a great start!

  8. Chiming in with the chorus here, it sounds like a lot of rewriting. But hey that's what first drafts are all about (in my experience) and it also sounds like you've a pretty good idea of where the story fizzled out and why it doesn't work. Insight like that is utterly invaluable in reworking.

    I wish you loads of fun with reacquainting yourself with these characters and telling the story that they want you to tell!

    *huggles* Much luck and loads of fun, sweetling!

  9. I hope I didn't just accidentally post twice... ^-^; (If so, I apologise!)

  10. I like the outline for WIP1. As a reader that's what I look for. I know that re-writing is a lot of work but it sounds fun and creative. Good luck.


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