NaNoWriMo Day 8: Spinning the Wheels

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Writing 2019

Nothing like being a week into NaNoWriMo and feeling mostly like a failure. It’s not really productive to feel that way but I do. I’ve never been great at November NaNoWriMo — I think the last year I actually won it with a brand new project was five years ago. The only other time I managed it was working on Bittersweet, and even then I didn’t finish it.

For some reason, I’ve been better at writing in the summer. But that’s not a productive attitude either. This was a rough week personally. It was a short week at school which meant the students were particularly annoying. I learned I was being moved out of the long-term job a week early to move to a new long-term job — which is great news. Except now I’m stressing out about learning a new curriculum and meeting another 70-80 new students in the middle of a crazy month.

Add to all of that Broken Girl doesn’t seem to want to be written — or that I’m just not feeling up to it. And I don’t know why. I think it’s similar to the problems I had writing Mad World last year — I had a huge barrier getting past the chapters where Brooke was raped and then committed suicide. Book 2 was such a dark, twisty book for me to write that it took some time for me to get through it.

Fool Me Twice was supposed to be my break from that. A complicated book that didn’t delve into dark things like that. It’s a soap opera plot with memory mapping and identical twins. It was supposed to give me a break. But it wasn’t working. And I wanted to do a fresh project for November. Maybe I should have stuck with FMT.

But that’s also not a productive thought. I didn’t stick with it and I’ve switched Broken Girl in the schedule. And I need to write this story. I’ve had it in my head for five years. It needs to be written. Maybe I just don’t feel confident in my ability to write a story about domestic abuse. Maybe I don’t feel ready.

This is the story of Elizabeth’s deteriorating marriage — but it’s falling apart because of Lucky’s growing dependence on drugs and his anger towards her, his lack of love towards Cameron. He’s an emotional abuser that’s going to tip over into physical abuse. And I need to write scenes where Elizabeth takes the abuse and believes, in some ways, she deserves it. This is the story they flirted with in 2006, but they never pushed Lucky as far as I think he could have gone. He did become physically abusive and he stayed emotionally abusive for pretty much the rest of the time Lucky and Liz were a couple. It’s hard for me to write this version of Lucky sometimes because I used to love this character. Lucky and Liz were my first OTP and it took a long time to let go of them.

But I think I just need to acknowledge my issues and then work on getting over them. I put a lot of pressure of myself to make the first version of the scene the best version — it’s a hard habit to break that goes back to the days when I posted every chapter as I wrote it. I know I can go back and rewrite. I’ve done that for Mad World and Bittersweet. I know it works. I know I’m happier with this process. I just haven’t really learned to forgive myself and be kind to myself as I write the first draft.

But as my favorite author, Nora Roberts, always says: You can’t fix a blank page. She also talks about not getting writer’s block. Writing is her job, and plumbers don’t get plumber’s block right? I can’t quite match that attitude, but it’s a healthy one. It’s easy to say writer’s block is the problem. It makes it sound like an exterior problem. Not an interior one. But I’m not blocked. I know what I want to write. I’m just worried that I write will be crap. Nothing new there.

Time to stop whining and get back on track.


NaNoWriMo Day 5: The Reset

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series NaNoWriMo 2019

I didn’t do a lot of writing yesterday, but that’s okay. I did some important thinking about the story and how I want it to unfold. I don’t want the Sonny/Emily story to take over, to take focus away from Elizabeth. It needs to happen because it motivates things later on in her story, but it’s not important. It doesn’t have to happen on screen, so to speak. It has to happen in the background.

So I rewrote my outline for the first chapters, tweaking them so that Elizabeth is the central focus. I changed her inciting incident which means I have to readjust the rest of my Central Narrative Conflict’s anchor scenes.

So basically, here is how the way I understand the anchor scenes and how I put them into action into soap opera fanfiction (info is taken as notes from How Story Works and Lani Diane Rich’s podcasts).

Act One is your set up. You introduce the world. In soap opera fanfiction, this is also important because you need to situate the viewer in the time you’ve chosen to rewrite. I’ve picked March 2006 as my beginning point, thirteen years ago. I have to refresh the viewer on what was happening back then, but I also have some freedom to set my own universe. I can change the chronology — for example, Manny Ruiz was hired before the quarantine but I’ve moved that to post-quarantine. I compressed the amount of time they spent on Sam finding out Alexis is her mother because the search for that answer isn’t important. It’s how Sam deals with that information and how it ripples into her universe.

So in my Act 1, I have to create the universe of my particular story and introduce the characters that are going to be important — particularly my protagonist and my antagonist. Act 1 has two anchor scenes. The inciting incident and the first turning point (also called the acceptance of trouble). 

The inciting incident is the protagonist being confronted with the conflict and acknowledging that it exists. Broken Girl is the story of Elizabeth’s marriage — the deterioration not only of the relationship in the present, but also breaking down Elizabeth’s lies to herself about it. So the inciting incident has to have acknowledging that something is wrong. That it’s not about Lucky still recovering from the back injury during the train accident or the virus. She could wait those out, but she needs to see there’s something rotting at the core.

In the second anchor scene of Act 1, the protagonist needs to engage in the conflict. I don’t think it has to be a positive way — but that she acknowledges it and then decides to do something about it. And that’s another pacing problem — I had my original turning point as something else — something related to the Manny subplot and that’s not the right place for it. Elizabeth has to decide something about her marriage — whether it’s to stick it out, try to change what’s broken, or even just to ignore it. But she has to make an active choice.

After that, we go into Act 2 which is usually the longest. There’s a mid point (the view of the conflict has to completely change), then the no way but through (she has to make another active choice to do something about the conflict) which is the turn to Act 3 where we have the final 3 anchor scenes: the dark moment (she keeps going though all is lost), the climax (who is going to win the Central Narrative Conflict?), and then the resolution: how has the world changed?

These seven scenes have to completely revolve Elizabeth and her conflict. Otherwise the story doesn’t resonate as well and the pacing doesn’t work. There are subplots — the carnival shooting, Manny Ruiz, Sam’s surgery — all things that happened in 2006 but with a twist. These plots all influence her story, but they can’t be the things driving her story. She has to be at the wheel.

So I’ve rewritten the outline for the first few chapters and I’ll be digging into them today. I feel really good about this shift and I’m excited to get into it.


NaNoWriMo Day 4: Beginnings are Annoying

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series NaNoWriMo 2019

I am terrible at starting a story. I always have to rewrite the first few scenes, no matter what I do. I think Bittersweet had like eight different opening scenes before I finally settled on one I liked. Mad World had four different drafts. The Best Thing had a different opening scene — I am terrible at starting a story. It usually takes me a few chapters to get going, but every once in a while — I just…I have to stop.

I’ve written a little over 8k so far, 2000 more than I need for Day 4 and I mostly like it. But I feel like I’m missing something. Things are going the way I planned it, but I feel like it’s empty so far if that makes sense. Like I haven’t dug deep enough. I want Sonny/Emily to be a catalyst, a jumping off point, but to be honest — I think I’m wrong for that. Because it’s not the inciting incident for my story.

One of my favorite podcasts is How Story Works from Chipperish Media and Lani Diane Rich, and one of the most useful pieces of story advice I’ve ever come across is the seven anchor scenes. When I’m struggling with pacing and the movement of a story, I always stop and reassess — what are my anchor scenes? What is my central narrative conflict? That was the problem with Fool Me Twice. Despite having about 50k written for that, I hadn’t really sorted out what I was doing.

I know the Central Narrative Conflict for Broken Girl. But maybe my inciting incident isn’t the right one. I have to stop and think — what is my CNC and what really kicks it off? How can I get to that scene quick enough?

And the problem is that Sonny/Emily motivates Jason, it motivates the Liason connection, but it doesn’t do a lot to motivate Elizabeth. And this is her story. She is my protagonist, and Jason is a minor sub-protagonist/supporting character. Sonny/Emily is Jason’s inciting incident for the Manny Ruiz and Sam subplots. It has very little to do with Elizabeth.

My entire first chapter is about Sonny/Emily. It’s everything finding out the news, the blow-up it causes. It centers Sonny/Emily and Jason as the story, not Elizabeth.  And that’s not going to work.

It’s not a big deal — I can still use a lot of it, and it’s all staying in as part of the NaNo draft because all the words count. But I need to think about how to make Elizabeth the center of the story since she’s the protagonist.


NaNoWriMo 2019: Day 2: Tracing Broken Girl’s Origins

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series NaNoWriMo 2019

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.

So Far

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.


The Writing Process

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


Figuring Out How To Recharge

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Writing 2019

Last summer, when I wrote 77,000 words of Mad World in three weeks, I was also working on the Summer Reading project — I read about 25 books at the same time. I think that’s probably not a coincidence.

My plan when I finished my coursework a few weeks ago was to get right into writing but then I got derailed — I caught a cold, then a sinus infection, and then this week, I had a stomach virus. It’s like all the illnesses that my immune system suppressed during the final weeks of the semester hit at once. Plus, I had to double my work hours to make enough money to get through the summer with. With all of that, I haven’t been able to finish cleaning out my room from the end of the semester and ugh–my computer is starting to fail.

Anyway. I have been writing — two chapters of Mad World and plot sketches for Signs of Life are coming along nicely. I’m having trouble nailing down an ending for Signs and how far I want to go with certain aspects, but I’m hoping to finalize at least a preliminary outline so I can put into development. I really want a more low-key story to write along with Mad World to give my psyche a break.

I’m also going to make reading more of a priority. I’ve really fallen apart on this so far this year. I don’t know if it’s the books I’m read or the stressful semester, but it’s just been really hard to lose myself in a good book. Still, I did manage 5 books and almost 8000 words in May, so that’s not nothing.

I’m still leaning towards June 30 as my deadline for Mad World to be finished. At the end of this week, I’ll know whether or not that’s realistic.


First Week of Writing

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Writing 2019

I’m not going to number this by days any more because I’m not entirely sure I need to check in daily.  So, starting Monday, I really applied myself to making room in my schedule every day for some kind of writing. This week I wrote about 6000 words for Mad World, finishing Chapter 28 and getting halfway through Chapter 29 as well as working on the outlines and discovery drafts of For the Broken Girl, the next project.

One of the reasons I decided to work on Broken Girl is just a matter of convenience. Last week, I started going back to work as a substitute an extra day or two week. Throughout the semester, I only did maybe one or two days a week and since the beginning of May, I’ve been going 2-3 days. Last week, I decided to make sure it’s at least three days if possible.

But working more over the next few weeks before the school year lets out means I have to manage my expectations. Book 2 is really demanding on my energy and it’s just not something I can write a lot of during my work day, even on breaks and or lunch. So I decided to do some peripheral writing — working on plot breakdowns, cleaning up my files and sorting through all the mess my documents fell into during graduate school, and then working on Book 2 either at night or on my days off.

So far this week, that worked out pretty well and I feel good about this new approach. My goal is really to set good expectations for myself, and there are only about 2-3 weeks left in which I can get decent sub jobs.

Hoping to get to a flash fiction post tonight!


Day 1: Short Delay

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Writing 2019

So a lot of things kept me from writing every day last week.  I got sick and then my computer decided it would literally not open any programs. I could click on the shortcut as much as I wanted to and nada. I spent three days backing up and resetting my entire computer. Oy. Now I have to reinstall everything. It’s a giant pain.

But today, I’m mostly feeling better and my computer is back on its way to decent health. It’s almost six years old, and I really need it to last at least another year before I can invest in a new one. I’ve been working on a few things. I’m working on the basic outline for Kismet, the chapter breakdown of Mad World, Book 2, and the timeline for For The Broken Girl.

There’s a few minor details I’m still working out for Book 2, mostly because I’m taking on a couple of more stories. I know some readers were probably a little worried when I said Book 2 would be more of an ensemble but there’s actually nothing that’s happening in Book 2 that I didn’t already introduce in Book 1. The PCPD, the Quartermaines, and the teens were all in there. I even introduced the serial rapist storyline in that book.

What makes Book 2 more of an ensemble than Book 1 is the central narrative. In Book 1, it’s Carly’s kidnapping. I showed how that effected the people in Port Charles: the police, her family, and those on the periphery. Because Jason and Elizabeth were so crucial to the search and resolution, and it was Elizabeth’s story, she and Jason seemed like the central narrative.  Book 2 still has a lot to do with them. They’re in every chapter. They’re just not going to drive the story the way they did in Book 1. It’s going to be fine, I promise 😛

I’ve written Chapters 20-27 already and my goal this week is to get through Chapter 30, which will get me 30% of the way through the planned chapters. If everything goes the way I want it to, I’m hoping to be finished Book 2 by the end of June.  I feel like giving myself six weeks to write 20 chapters is a realistic deadline. If I get into a groove, writing a chapter a day, I could be done in three weeks but I think it’s better if I give myself more time.

I’ll check back in tomorrow, hopefully with some good news 🙂



Day 0: Back To Writing

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Writing 2019

On Monday, May 13, I officially completed the course work for my graduate degree, which means for the first time since I started writing again 2014, I’m not studying for anything. I started writing again while in London, studying for my masters. Then I was studying math for my Praxis, and then I was studying for my teaching certification and second master’s degree. I’m free.

I also don’t have a job lined up for next year so far, so it looks like I’ll be substituting. For the next three and a half months, I have nothing pulling on my time. I still work as a substitute now but I’m not trying to study during the day and rushing to a second job at night. I’m just…completely free.

So I’m going back to writing full-time basically which makes me incredibly happy. I have so many projects I want to work on, and a few I know my readers are looking forward to.  I’m going to blog about it the way I did NaNoWriMo last November because I felt like that really helped to keep me focused.

I haven’t quite decided what project I want to start first. I have a few that I’m looking at — Counting Stars, For the Broken Girl, and of course the next installment of Mad World. I was looking back at Counting Stars and while there’s material in there I really like, I think I’m going to end up sticking with my conclusion then: I like the plot but it needs to be more than a simple Liason story. I need to open up the world to make the character motivations work. It’s still on my list of things I want to tackle, but there’s just a lot that needs to happen first.

I finished the breakdown for Mad World Book 2, so that’s probably going to happen first, but I’m concerned with the fact that the two projects I’ve picked to focus on first are extremely emotionally draining and I wonder if maybe I want to have a back up project to play with in my spare time that’s less than demanding. That’s kind of how I got through The Best Thing — I worked on All We Are in the background, which took less emotional labor if that makes sense.

So I think I want to pick two projects — one longer novel and then one shorter, more fun story. I’m looking at my development list. Kismet or These Small Hours are probably good candidates, but neither of them are outlined or developed enough. I don’t know. I’m still playing with this idea and maybe the second story is something I haven’t really thought through yet. I’m excited to get back into writing though.


Nanowrimo November 2018: Day 28

This entry is part 14 of 14 in the series NaNoWriMo

So Nanowrimo was a bust this year. I managed around 24,000 words but, honestly, none of it is all that great, and the story is going in the discard pile for me. I’m going to try to figure out why this didn’t work out and what I learned in this process so I can avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

Development Hell

Counting Stars is a story idea that I’ve been playing around with for a long time. If I go back into the archives of my story status posts at Crimson Glass, it first showed up on my radar around March 2014. This means I’ve literally been thinking about this idea as long as I’ve been back writing.

My first note about it was that I had mostly storyboarded (meaning I had laid out the scenes) the plot, and I would probably be writing it in my free time since it wasn’t going to be very long. Then I wrote that it would be going back to outlining because I felt like it would be too superficial.

It remained in what I call “development hell” for four years. That should really tell you something. I have a bunch of projects that have been hanging out there almost as long, but most of them are outlined and I just haven’t gotten to them yet since I spent most of 2016 not writing at all.

Story ideas that I keep outlining, hoping for something to change, usually end up in the discard pile, and that’s where Counting Stars is going to go. Why?

The Story

Let’s look at what the plot was. Here’s the synopsis I posted for the Nanowrimo Poll:

Set in April 2000

When Jason Morgan left Port Charles in January 2000, he left to protect himself from the machinations of ex-lover and current sister-in-law, Carly Quartermaine. He also left to protect Elizabeth Webber, a close friend who saved his life and put her own at risk for their friendship—and because he knew their relationship was changing in ways they weren’t ready for.

Several months after his departure, Elizabeth has tried to keep her secret hoping he would contact her or even come back. But it becomes impossible to hide anymore, and she goes to Sonny Corinthos in hopes of contacting Jason. Sonny, however, and Jason weren’t on great terms when Jason left town, and he’s only heard from his friend a few times. He promises to get in touch as soon as he does hear.

Luke Spencer, worried about Elizabeth, decides to track down Jason on his own and convince him to return. He finds Jason who seems interested in coming back—but then Jason is nowhere to be found when it’s time to return to Port Charles. Has he run away to avoid Elizabeth? Or is something else more sinister preventing his return to Port Charles?

The answer to that question is yes, there is foul play, and it was Nikolas. Nikolas kidnaps Jason, holds him hostage until Luke and Alexis rescue him. Spoiler alert.

The Epic Fail

Okay, let’s talk about why this didn’t work.

I’m not saying the plot itself couldn’t work. I absolutely think that with time and patience, I could have written a story where this plot fits into a larger Cassadine v Spencer war, and I’m not ruling that out. One of my ideas that still sits in the idea pile is rewriting the 2001 Spencer/Cassadine war that didn’t last long because some of the story elements veered too close to the anthrax scare of 2001.

I just don’t want to write it right now. It requires A LOT more time and research than I have right now. That’s from a GH time before Youtube and DVRs so a lot of those episodes I saw once, if that. I don’t know the characters, I don’t know their voices, and it just isn’t something I can do right now.

And that’s honestly why this story doesn’t work. Without a longer buildup, Nikolas’s decision to kidnap Jason feels out of character to me. And I *know* I have readers who do not give a damn about those kinds of things because I’ve read other writers who do completely bonker things with the characters, and people lap it up. That’s not a read, it’s just a fact. For me, I need my characters to be motivated properly, and I would need to do a lot more with Nikolas and the Cassadine side of things.

I also think this kind of story doesn’t work just as a Liason story, which means my audience would be limited. As originally plotted, Jason is basically off screen after the first chapter until the final scenes. I write ensemble stories, but my readership is the Liason fanbase. I know that.

I also didn’t have a great ending for the story. Basically, Jason was going to be set free, work things out, go home to Liz, await the birth of the baby (who I never ended up naming) and Nikolas was going to be left behind in Greece to be let out of the cell by Helena who would show him Lucky (in my version Lucky didn’t come back in the winter of 2000).  That’s just not a satisfying ending to me, but anything else required a lot more outlining.

What I ended up with was a plot bunny that probably should go into a larger story. It’s not just not feasible to stand on its own and be up to standards I hold myself to.

But I learned a lot about what stories I should be putting in the poll. No more crossing my fingers and hoping it will work out. 😛