Lessons From Lexie #3
Since I posted my tenth chapter last week, I thought this would be a good time to check in and do another Lesson.
I am weary.
It’s not like I expected this to be easy, but I did think posting and promoting a chapter a week wouldn’t take over my life. Well, it has. Part of this—a large part—is because I have so many other aspects of story in addition to the chapter. I’d hoped to just have one day a week dedicated to Lex, but she seems to spill over into each day. I get these wild hair ideas—like having the actress playing Lex on her Instagram act out an SNL sketch I wrote for Lexie (she’s going to be hosting SNL this Saturday—stay tuned!). Stuff like this takes time.
Unless you’re a perfectionist, I would recommend not doing something like this. Multiplatform storytelling is not for the faint of heart. I’m a big details girl, so it’s hard for me to let things slide. This is especially true of the actual chapters. I go over and over them, even after my betas have vetted them. I knew I’d be putting out my first draft (not of the chapters, of the story as a whole), but I hadn’t anticipated how frustrating that would be for me. Not because of the quality of writing per se (but also: wow it’s hard not to keep going back and polishing), but because part of how I write is by the seat of my pants. I plot, but I like to follow my characters where they go. Usually, this is a very freeing experience as I begin crafting a novel. In a normal novel, I know I can always go back if a certain thread isn’t working. Not so here.
I should state here that the reader won’t be aware of any of this. The story is working perfectly fine and, as of right now, I’m totally happy with where it’s going. But I’m a afraid of a misstep and, of course I’ll have one. It will be hard for me to keep writing the book given circumstances that I know will change once I get to revise the whole thing for traditional publishing. I hate wasting time and I worry that this would, indeed, waste a lot of time. Alas, this is the nature of the beast.
One really great thing is that since I’m working on such a tight schedule, I’m noticing that I’m getting much better at noticing when something’s not in voice. I’ll immediately be like—nope, she wouldn’t use that word or nope, this isn’t the voice or tone of the story.
Another even huger thing is that I’m very keenly aware of the work each chapter is doing in the whole overall story. If the chapter is reading like a placeholder, I’ll see it. Usually, I don’t notice that until I’m further in the novel or even not until later drafts. Often, someone else—my beta readers or my editor—will be the one to point out that a particular scene or chapter isn’t serving the story. Now, I’m starting to see that while writing the scene. I feel like I’m working in concentrate, getting both the work and the lessons in these intense one-chapter doses.
Right now, it’s hard not being able to have the time to really play and explore. I have to deliver every single Wednesday and I worry that might hurt the story. But maybe not. I’m writing this story at the pace Lex is living her life, so maybe the narrative is actually benefitting from this approach. Maybe working like crazy is more authentic to Lexie and her experiences.
I’m still loving the project. My readership is going up and that’s super exciting. I was really proud of passing the tenth chapter mark. It’s already been a very intense, unique journey. I have to say that starting in on chapter eleven, I’m already avoiding mistakes I would have made. I’m not dragging anything out—there’s no time and, besides, all it takes is one boring chapter for a reader to lose interest.
That’s another thing: the pressure to deliver high stakes every chapter. Usually there are quiet chapters in a novel, which aids in creating a nice pace and making sure you’re covering both the emotional and plot arc. Here, I have to deliver both high plot stakes and high emotional stakes every time. I think this is overall a good thing because this novel is anything but quiet. I do worry, though, about not having the chance to go deep enough with Lexie and her relationships, so I’m working on being very conscious of that as I move forward.
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