Wednesday, October 14, 2009

WIP Wednesday and Blog Chain

Happy Wednesday... I guess. It's a gray day today here in Knoxville, with steady rain coming down, and no end in sight. And while I like the occasional rainy day - it's always a good excuse to curl up with a good book and a cup of tea - we have had so many of them lately that honestly I am a little sick of it.

Maybe though my anti-rain bad mood is just me being disappointed that I didn't meet my goal of finishing my rewrites this past weekend. The problem is that I kept hitting walls that I hadn't anticipated, so instead of having a plan of how to get over or around them, I ended up just sitting, staring at the computer screen (or sometimes a Bejeweled Blitz game) and wondering what I should do next.

I am slowly figuring things out, and eventually moving past the walls, but it is definitely a process, and one that can be very discouraging at times. I guess it is all part of the journey though... and that is my kind of lame segue into our current blog chain topic brought to us by Sandra.

What kind of journeys do your characters make? What effects do they have on the characters and the plot? Also, if you wish, please tell us about one of your personal journeys and how it changed you.

As several other blog chainers before me have mentioned, the most important journey that a character makes is their internal one. The question of how my main character changes or tranforms by the end of the story is second only to what that character wants. However, it can also be helpful to show rather than just tell about this journey by the character going on an actual physical journey - whether that means having them hop on a transcontinental flight or a simply take a trip to the mailbox at the end of the driveway.

In my first (now trunked) novel, a contemporary romance, the main character, after having her heart broken, decides to bicycle back to her hometown of Buffalo, NY from her current location in Miami. After spending several days on the road, mostly getting lost and frustrated she comes to a realization - that she is lost in more ways than one. Here is a small excerpt of her making that realization:

Now on day five, after ending the previous day having actually lost a mile, Stella tried to once again to remind herself why she was here. Wherever here was… she was once again foggy on that point. The rational that it was something Old Stella wouldn’t have done now seemed preposterous. It had taken Stella five days to realize that there were in fact many things that Old Stella didn’t do, that any sane person wouldn’t - for good reason - ever want to do. Stella was beginning to suspect that bicycling from Miami to Buffalo might be one of those things. With this thought, Stella stopped peddling.

She was on a completely deserted road. Lost is what she was in every way possible. She wasn’t doing this to prove something, this was now clear. What she was doing was running like a chicken with her head cut off. Or like someone uncertain of where she belonged anymore. The truth was she didn’t want to go home. This bicycling thing wasn’t flying solo - it was stalling. It was when she got home, and had to decide what to do next that Stella would have to test her wings for real. Maybe the stationary bicycle in her living room hadn’t been taking her anywhere, but for all intents and purposes, this one wasn’t either. Decision made Stella wheeled her bicycle around and started peddling back in the direction she had come from. For the first time in days she felt like she might be going in the right direction.

As for my own personal journeys, I think that just like in fiction the most memorable ones are those that help us learn or understand something new about ourselves.

On some trips you learn that if you are going in July to stay with a friend who lives in North Carolina you should really make sure they have air conditioning (and in this case, I also found out that you should also be prepared for less than clean living conditions when you already know ahead of time that this person had been on the Jenny Jones show in a segment entitled: "My Roommate Is A Slob.")

On other trips you learn about your own resiliency when you end up in an unknown city having to seek out a ear, nose, and throat specialist for a horrible earache, and your bare minimum health insurance doesn't cover it.

And finally there are simple day trips, like when my husband and I drove from LA up to Santa Barbara and I found out that while it may look cool to be driving in a Jeep with the top down, in reality you mostly are just hot and windblown, while on the next day you end up with some pretty funky sunburn lines.

So what journeys have you made lately - whether it's a character's journey or your own?

And to follow this full chain, check out Rebecca before me and Amanda after.

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If you want to participate in WIP Wednesday, simply post your own WIP Wednesday entry on your blog and leave a link to it in the comments below. Or if you don't have a blog, feel free to report your progress directly into the comments box.For more detailed information concerning what all this nonsense is about please consult the original Work in Progress Wednesday posting.

23 comments:

  1. showing the character's journey rather than telling it - excellent advice!! :) And still laughing over your jeep trip :D

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  2. Crap. You just reminded of something I forgot to develop in the book I just finished.

    (Characters are supposed to take internal journeys too -- I need to write that down.)

    Thanks for blogging about this as I begin my first round of revisions.

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  3. I'll have to remember that - the internal journey the character makes with my next nano wip and when working on wip2 rewrites.

    I hit the wall on wip2 rewrite and have shelved it until nano is over. But if 2009 nano is anything like last year, it took me a while to finish that one.

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  4. Sorry you didn't get your rewrite done. Don't feel bad. I completely skipped posting WIP Wed. today because I had zip to report.

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  5. Jenny Jones? Man, that takes me back...

    And, I have to agree about road trips w/out roofs ... mine was on a motorcycle. It sounded fun and romantic but was just miserable.

    thanks for the giggles and thoughts...

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  6. Journeys...Hmmm journeys...writing is the bigest journey for me. By far the hardest hing I have ever done...and one of the most enjoyable. I literally learn something new about myself on a daily basis as I try to figure out how to craft a better story.

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  7. Lately very day is a journey. Some days it ends with me hotting a brick wall. Other days I remember to swerves around it. ;)

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  8. Right now I'm making a journey as a mom to two new cats that need to be integrated with our two dogs. It's a very noisy journey, let me tell you.

    As for my wips, I'm huge on the internal journey with growth. They're my favorite type of stories.

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  9. Sounds like you can learn things even when you journey to nowhere.

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  10. I soooo want to hear the story behind that trip :)

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  11. The emotional journey is always the one you wish you'd prepared for better! Too bad an extra bottle of shampoo doesn't solve a "doh!" moment resulting from bad choices.

    But as you pointed out from your jeep story... sometimes the physical journeys can result in "doh!" moments too! Sunscreen does solve some problems!

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  12. It was rainy and dreary here today, too. UGH! Hope you see some sunshine soon. :)

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  13. I can just imagine the fun after Jeep-sunburn. What's funny is how much we encounter on journeys that we did not expect - another great thing to do to a MC. If they don't expect it, neither will the reader. Nice post.

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  14. Send that rain my way! I'd gladly take it off your hands for awhile. :)

    Journeys are so amazing and the best part is that two people can take the same trip and learn completely different things. I love that. I love that every sees things with unique vision.

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  15. character arcs are so important unless it is a plot driven book

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  16. I like your excerpt and the idea that Stella is on this journey, but at this point, she's not sure if she's getting anywhere. Her realizing she's not getting anywhere is key to moving it along, so nice job on that.

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  17. I'm so glad you Bejewel it up when stuck too. I do the same thing. :)

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  18. Great post and advice! Our weather has been pretty crappy here as well. We're finally seeing the sun after a week of drizzle and low temps. Hope your doing well!

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  19. Jenny Jones? LOL! OMG. I'm dying here.

    You're awesome, Kate!

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  20. What a great post! And I am one of those Jenny Jones slob people, lol. Well, I'm much better now, but there was a time. :D Very well-though-out post. And some really great points. I think your contemporary romance sounded pretty darn good!

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  21. Great post! I agree that showing the character's journey and not telling it is very sound advice. And I apologize for being late with my comment. *slinks away, tail between legs*

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  22. Great point about picking up knowledge and wisdom along your journey :)!

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  23. You just reminded of something I forgot to develop in the book I just finished.

    Work from home India

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