Friday Five: What my WIP is teaching me…

So, I’m somewhere around half-way through draft one of my WIP, Where Poppies Bloom. It’s been a learning experience, to say the least. It’s the third full-length YA novel I’ve tackled, and for whatever reason, everything that worked for me while writing the first two is NOT working for me this time around. It’s a learning experience, and a definite labor of love. Here’s what I’ve picked up at this stage of the game.

1) I’m a romance writer, through and through. WIP’s original outline started out with very little romance, and even that didn’t come until the end. It was so not working for me. I’ve made some adjustments. Now, my two main characters realize their feelings for each other earlier, and it’s so much more fun to sit down and spend my afternoon working on their relationship with them. I’m inspired again. *whew!*

2) I’m an unapologetic lover of adverbs. Yeah, I know. Don’t use them, it’s amateur, they’re a crutch, blah, blah… Whatever. I dig them AND I use them. Of course, many are edited out at a later stage of the game, but in the first draft I drop them in without inhibition. Why? Because they’re easy. They say what I want to say quickly, and I can revise later if I need to. They help set a mood. And I think adverbs–when used thoughtfully–are capable of making a YA voice just a little more authentic.

3) I’m capable of writing scenes out-of-order. Who would have thought?! Oh, my last manuscript was so easy. Seriously… effortless as far as getting the words down on paper. I outlined scene by scene, then I wrote that sucker, scene by scene. There was no jumping ahead, no backtracking. This WIP… not so much. It’s a struggle. Like pulling teeth some days. So I skip around. I write what I’m feeling, what I can’t get out of my head. Then I go back fifty pages and stick in a new scene that just randomly popped into my head. And it’s okay! (I have to keep reminding my OCD of this.) Writing fiction is like putting the pieces of a puzzle together. (And this.) The manuscript will survive! (And this.) After all, that’s what revisions are for, right? Smoothing it all out, plugging holes, and shining it up.

4) Speaking of revisions, I love them so much more than writing the first draft. Yep. It’s true. It’s HARD getting the story down on paper. I’d so much rather make something that already exists pretty. I love to edit. I love to revise. I can’t wait until I get to that phase.  

5) Setting is really important, and fun to create! I’ve created a whole town for Where Poppies Bloom. It’s called Bell Cove. It’s on the Oregon coast. And it’s beautiful. Most importantly, it plays a big part in the story, much like a character. All these events that take place? They can only happen in Bell Cove. It’s quaint and touristy and quiet. I sort of want to live there someday. And this house that my main character is living in? It’s spooky and historical and in the midst of a remodel. Awesome. And the beach? Well, I didn’t create the beach, but it’s lovely and sort of symbolic and it’s really fun to write the scenes that take place there.  

So yes, WIP is giving me fits, but she’s fun and I’m learning, and that’s why I keep going back for more. What about you? What has your WIP taught you lately?


6 thoughts on “Friday Five: What my WIP is teaching me…

  1. Heather says:

    I’m learning a lot of the same things about myself with METIS. Those contemporaries just pour out of us, but heaven forbid we throw in a sci-fi/paranormal element!! I’m also writing out of order. Day 1 – First chapter. Day 2 – Last chapter. Yep. I figure they’ll meet somewhere in the middle someday. I hope.

    I can’t wait to read POPPIES when it’s done!!

    • katyupperman says:

      I’m envious that you already know your final scene! I have a vague idea of how POPPIES will end, but it’s so not clear in my head yet. I’m super curious about Metis… I know it’ll be amazing!

  2. Amie Kaufman says:

    That’s a lot of insight, especially when you haven’t finished yet! It sounds like it’ll make for a much stronger first draft. My WIP’s been teaching me to keep an eye on my own impatience–sometimes my pacing suffers because I’m excited to get to a particular part. Perhaps I need to try writing out of order!

    • katyupperman says:

      That’s exactly why I started going out of order, Amie! I had these really cool scenes in my head, but they were farther along in the story. I’m sure I’ll have to go back and adjust them once I catch up, but hey, now I’m not rushing to get to them.

  3. katharine says:

    Love this– I also like to skip around, but right now I’m having more trouble with the editing than I did with the first draft.

    I guess my WIP has taught me that if I want something to be good, I have to work at it more than I thought I would.

    • katyupperman says:

      Do you edit as you go, Katharine, or go back when you finish draft one? I try to edit as I go, then it’s not quite so overwhelming when I do my first big read through after completing the first draft. And yes… writing is so much more work than I ever would have imagined… it’s rewarding though!

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