Thinking About the Writing
A bit late on getting my writing blog part of NaNo kicked off, but I feel really good about this project so I’m not too mad at myself. Yesterday was a crazy day. Capital One, my bank, had a system wide outage that meant I couldn’t access my checking accounts or paycheck for nearly six hours yesterday, so that was crazy. And it was a Friday, so as a teacher, that meant my nerves were frayed to begin with.
But I wrote a scene before the homeroom bell and then another one before I went out with my nieces for the night. They’re at great ages — 9 and 7 and still think I walk on water. We went to my school’s high school drama performance of Edgar Allan Poe short stories, and they had a great time. But I had to pick them up and drive back to my town so I spent about two hours on the road altogether. A bit tired today, but looking forward to digging into more of this year’s project.
Where Broken Girl Came From and Why It Took So Long
I’m really excited to be starting For the Broken Girl. It’s one of the projects I’ve had on the back burner almost since I started writing again. One of my favorite things to do is to peruse the Category Archive of my Story Status post over at Crimson Glass. It’s interesting to see what projects have actually come to fruition since I started writing again and redesigned CG. It looks like the first time I posted about it was July 2014. That’s five years!
At that point, I had a lot of on my plate. I had written Shadows and A Few Words Too Many, and had just started The Best Thing. That’s a lot for six months but I was really prolific during my second six months in London. I didn’t want to start a lot of stories at once — that’s something I did a lot in my early fanfiction career. I think I had anywhere from 6-9 stories in progress at all points and I would go weeks without updating.
I was in my early twenties — actually, even younger. Deserving, my first Liason fanfic, was published in July 2002. I had just turned eighteen, and within a year, I had written maybe a hundred stories. A ton of short ficlets, a lot of which was lost in a computer crash during the summer of 2003. I wrote a lot between 2002-03, then a lot from 2006-08, but then I went back to college and left a few stories in the lurch. You can trace my kind of haphazard writing career through the Fiction Graveyard which represents nearly every story I abandoned or rewrote.
What I like to do now is plan my stories and write them all before I post them. When I first started writing, I definitely still believed in the “buffer zone” of maybe five chapters. I managed to get through A Few Words that way because that story, for whatever reason, just poured out of me and I could stop writing. But The Best Thing took two years to write. I started posting it in May 2014 and didn’t finish until February 2016. I also posted in progress for All We Are and Bittersweet. It was Bittersweet that convinced me that waiting until a story was done was better. I made a huge revision in the last twelve chapters — and had I not waited until I finished writing it, that revision wouldn’t have worked nearly as well.
So Mad World, Books 1 and 2, were entirely written before I ever posted them and I hope my readers think that was worth it. I was able to add entire chapters, and in Book 2’s case, I added the Lucky and Kelsey relationship as well. I was able to tweak stories and scenes. I think both of those books are tighter and better for it.
All of that is to say that Broken Girl has mostly been in my head since 2014, but I wasn’t ready to write it. I had a series of scenes in my head, but I couldn’t really visualize the ending or the beginning. I’ve written thousands of words about this story, a lot of different plot sketches. It kept changing in my head, and I never felt quite ready to push it from development into active writing.
That’s changed now. I think I needed to write Mad World and finish The Best Thing first. Both of those stories pushed my writing into deeper, and unfortunately, darker places. And Broken Girl needs that. Looking back at the various times I wrote about Broken Girl in my status posts, I kept talking about how the darker material just needed more time.
This Year’s Project
So now I’ve decided that time has come. What is For the Broken Girl exactly?
It’s of rewrite of the drug addiction storyline with more of a focus on Elizabeth, and less of a sympathetic view towards Lucky. I mostly like how 2006 unfolded — it’s one of my favorite years of GH writing with Scrubs, CarJax, Dillon & Lulu, etc. There’s a lot of good here and I love the buildup of the Liason friendship. I also really liked Sonny/Emily. Not the couple, but the story. What that story did for Jason, what it did for Sonny, and the catalyst it served for Jason and Elizabeth to reconnect. You don’t get the August 2006 blackout without the Sonny/Emily story.
I think Sonny/Emily/Jason story is what the network and writers wanted Jason/Courtney/Sonny to be, but that was always going to be a mistake. Jason/Courtney had their fans, but by and large, most fans have forgotten that story and that couple. Sonny and Courtney weren’t close, and Jason/Courtney’s relationship came from nowhere. Instead of writing the more believable rebound relationship turning into love, they made Jason/Courtney star-crossed lovers within two months, and for those us watching who had loved Courtney/AJ and Jason/Elizabeth, it felt like whiplash.
But Sonny and Emily? Jason’s reaction? That made sense to me. Jason adores Emily. She is absolutely the one person I believe Jason would go crazy to protect. He loved his sister. And he’s watched Sonny destroy woman after woman, driving them madness and breakdowns. You can love a person as a friend and still believe they are damaging to others. I adored the Sonny/Emily/Jason story. Plus — it gave us an in to rebuild that magical Liason connection that had gone dormant during 2005. We had only seen flashes of it in 2003 and 2004, but in 2006 it came back and a lot of us fell in love all over again.
But Broken Girl isn’t really super concerned with Sonny and the breakdown. That’s going to happen in the background. I’ve written the Sonny mental illness story in The Best Thing, and I can’t write anything better. I’ve said what I needed to say, particularly during this 2003-06 timeline. I don’t want Sonny and the mob to be the focus in Broken Girl. I want it to be Elizabeth’s story.
I don’t have a lot of concerns with writing the story, but maybe there’s a few with the reception of the story. I hated the Jason/Sam break up in 2006 because the writers never give Jason believable outs with his romances. His final breakup with Courtney? Ultimately, she couldn’t handle his life. He walked away from Sam and Liz over the danger. The last time Jason broke up with a woman and it made sense was Robin. That’s twenty years ago now.
I think if you want to break up Jason and Sam and have it come from character, that’s a better way to go. People in love don’t fall out of love, but they stop being able to be together. I think you can write Jason and Sam as being in love in 2006 but not being good for each other anymore. They were lonely people in 2004 when they started dating, but I think you can use the quarantine as a reset. Sam lost her brother and her entire identity. The show didn’t go far enough in showing how this could have her questioning herself and really forcing her to do more.
2006-08 Sam is my favorite. She reminded me of early Carly — she’s so vulnerable, so damaged that she plasters over the fragile spots in her psyche by going on the offensive. By destroying others before they can destroy hers. Taking power so they don’t feel powerless. Sam did that with sleeping with Ric as revenge, going after Lucky, etc. They wimped out, but Sam was really interesting then.
But this isn’t Sam’s story either. I don’t want it to be Jason and Sam’s story — I want their relationship to be a subplot that influences Jason and pushes Elizabeth’s story. Liason reconnects as his relationship with Sam begins to fall apart — that’s what happened on the show but I want it to be less about Manny Ruiz and the mob and more about the people.
All of that means I have to write a Jason/Sam relationship in Book 1 that falls apart. I have to write a Lucky/Elizabeth relationship that falls apart. And I’m not always sure my audience is interested in reading about Jason and Elizabeth with other people while just being friends. That’s always a concern. But I really want to stretch myself with Broken Girl, so I’m shelving those concerns and moving forward.
Day 1 went well, despite the outside crap in my life. I wrote two scenes and hit 1,923 words. That’s a decent first day. I’m hoping to double that today and give myself a buffer against bad days and the wisdom teeth I’m having out this coming Thursday. I’ll be back tomorrow with an update.