The more time I spend writing, the more I learn about myself as a writer and what works for me. I’ve been working on the first draft of Fool Me Twice since August 18, a little under a month. In that time, I’ve written about 25,000 words. I had around 5k when I started based on the sample first chapter I wrote for the poll. That’s actually pretty good considering I started a new full-time job and I’ve been sick a bit.
But for this story, the linear way I usually approach my drafts hasn’t worked as well. I haven’t really gotten into the groove, turning out 4k without blinking (that’s how both books of Mad World were mostly completed in July Camp NaNoWriMo projects). But I sit down every day, pick at least once scene to write no matter where it is in the story and get a first draft done. My progress is maybe slower than I like, but every scene brings me closer to a finished draft.
I’m not really sure why that works for me right now. Typically, I prefer to straight forward because writing my scenes in chronological order allows me to build tension and explore characters and subplots. If something comes up in a scene that I need to add scenes for or change another one, I can make a quick synopsis note in Scrivener and keep it in mind when I get to the next one.
When I first started seriously trying to write in high school, one of the books I found in the library was The Weekened Novelist by Robert J. Ray, first published in 1993. I would have checked it out in 1996 or 1997. That method asked you to spend a weekend working on your key scenes — like inciting incident, turning point, climax, etc. That method has literally never really worked for me, but I’ve always found it interesting.
A lot of writing advice suggests you at least identify these scenes, whether you do it in discovery, drafting, or revision. I generally write extensive plot sketches and then create blank Scriv documents for every scene I think I’ll need. I always make a list of my seven anchor scenes (vocabulary learned from the incredible Lani Diane Rich and her How Story Works podcast) to at least make sure my pacing is structured well.
But that’s a hard approach to bring to soap opera fanfiction which, at least the way I write it, is hard to write beginning, middle, and ends for. Soap operas are designed to continue. Even a story that has a climax is supposed to do double duty and launch the next storyline for that character. I also almost always write more ensemble-based stories. Yes, Jason and Elizabeth tend to lead the stories but that’s because, A, that’s the fanbase where I found my audience so I’m kind of constrained by that, and B, I think these are characters and a couple that would do very well leading stories on GH.
So Fool Me Twice is a bit of a departure from my work up to date. It’s similar to Damaged, in that I’m really trying to write several leads and weave together complex storylines. Even in Mad World which has characters we’re following like Ned, Lucky, Taggert, Sonny, Carly, and the teens, it’s still very much Jason and Elizabeth’s story. And probably–it’s more Elizabeth’s story.
But FMT is supposed to be Jason, Drew, Sam, and Elizabeth’s story. The reaction of this group of four people to Jason’s return, and the fallout of their complicated relationships. I’m weaving together strands of relationships where all of these people have been in each other’s lives, loved one another, hurt one another–and doing all the couple options justice. Even as a Liason fan who is intending for this to be endgame Liason, I want to do the Jason and Sam relationship more justice. I want to write a more realistic Drew and Sam. And I even want to have a more nuanced Drew and Elizabeth, post-reveal.
I’m also juggling those relationships with everything else that SHOULD have come with the reveal. I still have Kim and Oscar, but I’ve changed the nature of their relationship to Drew. Kim and Drew were married in 2012 when he went missing–Drew raised Oscar from birth. That makes, IMO, a more fraught story for Kim to walk into. I also want to write a better version of what happens when Franco lies to Elizabeth over and over again and is emotionally abusive (which he is, but the show decides to ignore). I want to have an Elizabeth who is actually the heart and soul of General, and not saying the same lines over and over again.
It’s three main storylines and seven subplots. And I’m almost sure I’ve bitten off too much. I may not meet my October 31 finish drafting date. But every day, I write another scene. And hope I can get closer to finding the right approach to really start banking word.s