It’s time for me to report how writing is going via the Beautiful Books link-up, hosted by Cait and Sky. Remember, I’m not doing NaNoWriMo, so this is totally from the perspective of writing a novel as a slow, steady (and edited! :P) process – and also because of my studies, I have barely time to write 1K a week. You can see my thoughts on plotting Under the Carrington in last month’s Beautiful Books.
Be honest: how is your writing going?
Not well. I’ve been so bogged down with academic work that I barely have time to think about my writing, let alone access the ports that allow freely done prose. Easy to see why I never do November WriMo.
What’s your first sentence/paragraph?
The world hazed, hummed and wobbled, and Jess let out a giggle.
“What is this? I love it. More!”
“What? No. God, you’re hardly good taste.”
A shape swerved into the girl behind the bar. She had blue hair and, as Jess had come to learn during the night, a dry wit.
The girl rolled her eyes. “It’s a Snakebite. Blackcurrant syrup, cider, beer.”
“Simple,” Jess found herself chirruping. Her hand had gestured into the air before she’d really thought about doing so.
Something endearing came from being a stranger amongst the many faces of people who’d been here for years; Jess wore the term ‘Fresher’ like she wore the Wellington Freshers royal blue t-shirt.
Do you have a book cover, and/or pictures that reflect your book?
I have a concept for a book cover, which is based on one of my favourite/pivotal scenes in the book – plus, it’s got that cutesy stereotype of the couple almost kissing on the front cover. Yeah, that cutesy appeal. Here are some other pictures that provide visual inspiration:
Carrington building hypothetically
Lincoln College [Oxford] could look like Wellington College
What is it with yellow umbrellas? I ought change mine…
Do you have pictures of each of your characters? If not, describe them for us! (Be as descriptive as you can.)
Thinking about it, Laurie kind of looks like Darren Criss. Yeahhh, Blaine Potter 😉
I’m not sure what Jess looks like. I don’t really like writing brown-haired people because I have trouble varying my descriptions. Aidelle had the archetypal chocolate or mud brown, which is a lot richer than any of the other brown-haired people I’ve written. I may sound silly that I don’t have much more than brown-hair-blue-grey-eyes, but I don’t think I need to. Jess isn’t exceptionally pretty, nor is she exceptionally not-pretty. This is one Google-image that could represent her.
And, before you crow, whilst the Main Characters are white, there are a few People of Colour amongst their friends. For starters, I have a girl of Indian descent who is a lesbian. That counts for two, right? (I’m kidding!)
What scene are you most excited to write?
You know what? I really just can’t wait ’til the Christmas holidays when I can just write without worrying that I’m causing myself to fail by doing my craft. I’m staying with my corridor for an extra week after lectures finish (for starters – I’m paying for that bedroom; I might as well make use of the space), so I’ll hopefully be able to crank out some serious K. I’ve got the bare bones of a few crucial scenes down, so I’m excited to be filling them out, particularly ones like Laurie being all corridor-rep and arrogant and Jess sneaking out to meet one of her art society friends.
Share a snippet or a scene that you really enjoyed writing.
I do this weekly in my weekly summary with other Catholics, so I don’t want to repeat myself, but I’ll add a bit more of the caving scene, where Jess and Laurie discuss alternate history as they scale into a cave somewhere in Cheddar (probably. Details to come when I can be bothered to research. And not cheese, you non-UK people, Cheddar, the town in Somerset, England.) This is also one of the pivotal scenes in the non-romance side of the plot, as Laurie is about to make a suggestion that his mother help Jess’ father with his failing business.
Below, Jess fumbled about, her coat ruffling in the cavern’s stillness. The cold stench of green mould and saturated porous faces wafted over him, dousing what remained of his initial fear.
“Do you think we would still exist, if the world had ended up different, like a parallel-universe thing?” she asked.
Her torch clicked and its beam illustrated their dangle to the cavern floor. One clue-pack was concealed in the midst of a clump of rocks, visible only from the top.
Laurie concentrated on the solid ground, and began threading his ropes through thumb-and-finger grip.
“Yeah,” he said. “I believe we will always have come into being because of fate and social history. The actions change, but the figures remain the same.”
Her boots clinked onto the rocky ground.
“How philosophical. What about genealogy?”
Of course. He was assuming the worldview of the successful. But Jess’ father might be out of business – further – in an ulterior universe with no history.
Now that you’re writing, have any of the plot details, or the process itself, turned out different from what you planned or imagined?
The process is a lot slower than I thought it would be, but then I’m not one of those who plans step-by-step. I have an outline and I know where I’m going, but restrictions mean that I can’t write as fluidly as I’d like. Most of the plot is as much as I intend, though I’m still fumbling through who emotes what and when, and where they kiss.
Is there a character or aspect of your plot that’s difficult to write?
Yes. Similar to what I said above. My massive issue (apart from not having the time to write) is getting things to fall in the right place. Because the story is set over the course of an academic year, eight months or so, I have to make sure the chemistry has the right patterns at the right places to make the story realistic and not rushed.
What’s your favourite aspect of this novel so far? Favourite character?
I’m probably gonna hate this later, but one of my favourite aspects of the novel so far is its contemporariness – how usual it feels, and the fact I don’t have to ponder whether a certain act would be something the character would do in reflection of their society. Much.
Have you drawn off of any life experiences or people you know to create your novel and your characters?
Yes, definitely. For starters, seeing as I came up with the concept at the end of my first year of uni, which Jess is starting. I just wanted a New Adult piece that reflects life and the more humble versions of what being in uni is like, rather than the glamorised, sex-booze-money appearance a lot of NA emits. Of course, I couldn’t help a lot of the side-characters having traits like those of people I know, but I’m waiting for the second draft to weed those out. I just want to get this first draft done.
Other life experiences referenced include being an active member of several odd societies, both creative and sporty; trekking to campus and back every day; and stumbling, exhausted, back to my room after a ridiculous night out. Sadly, I never had a roommate like Jess and Meg.
Do you have a playlist or certain song for your novel and/or characters?
I don’t really write to music, especially modern music, so no. Playlists tend to spawn during editing or when I finished the book, because then I start seeing the themes and the patterns.
Let’s have some fun for a moment: imagine you are somehow transported into your book’s world. Which character are you most likely to be found hanging out with?
Despite how uptight Laurie is, he’s actually a pretty relaxed guy when he wants to be – and he has the right amount of sensibility and sprightliness for me to get on with. (It’s always the guys, isn’t it? IRL, I think I prefer the company of men. Oh, shush, you know I didn’t mean that like that.)
I think Ceri and Meg would drive me mad with their constant extroverted energy, and I’d be massively intimidated by Nicola and Russell, who are both at-least-semi-successful graduates. I think I’d probably get along with Jess, to be honest, but we have one of those slow-to-generate friendships because we both wouldn’t have the courage to talk to one another for ages.
How do you keep yourself motivated to finish your daily wordcount? (Pinterest? Internet breaks? Chocolate?)
Bribery with steampunk music. (Well, that’s what I’ve been doing with my essays.) Aside from the fact that I don’t have a daily wordcount, self-worth and self-yay keep me going.
What is your favourite writing quote or piece of writing advice?
A lot of people say that going through the first draft and not editing at all is the best way to progress through, but I can’t do that. I do automatically edit as I type – I leave things in colour as I move on, even when I’m zooming through a first draft.
My favourite piece of writing advice? Relax. Take writing as it comes and not force it. It’s important for writers to work at their own pace sometimes, but it’s also important for books to be written at their own paces.
How does this book make you feel so far? Are you laughing? Crying? Frustrated?
At the moment, I guess frustrated is the word. I just end up starting a piece but not having the time to add more to it. I keep getting pulled off track, and despite having a few chapters that are actually chapters, I’ve not been sticking to the chronology. In terms of the plot, that is pretty frustrating, too. Whilst Laurie’s strict adherence to his self-professed rules and regulations irritates me as a reader, I also have moments where I glare at Jess for being too ostensive and eccentric. She has moments of calm, but she also has frustrating moments where she feels entitled to a world she hasn’t yet worked for.
Sad to think I took this photo almost a year ago.
That’s it for now. 🙂 Hope you enjoyed this month’s detailing of what I’ve been working on. Do check out the rest of the link-up. I, sadly, have very little time to, but I know it’s been packed with NaNo-ers and their projects.