Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Writing "By The Seat of My Pants"

Those of you following my w.i.p. "13 to Life" at Textnovel.com may be wondering what it's like to write an interactive story, try to get it to a clear resolution point and win the popular vote by December 31st.

One word:


I started "13 to Life" on November 24th. I'd just returned from seeing how the UWSP students turned my paper pirate silhouettes into a cool film accompanied by music by Charlie Barnett. It had been a real whirlwind of an experience--fighting a tight deadline for the premiere--but man! Those students were amazingly dedicated (I think that's partly due to a great prof, by the way). Anyhow, I was inspired by the up and coming generation and it made me think back to my time teaching in Florida. My kids there were remarkable, too (even when they doubted it themselves).

Since that moment of genesis "13 to Life" started to emerge in weird starts and stops. The whole time, a good friend of mine (who has several published books under her belt and wants to break into fiction) kept saying, "This is good stuff. It's marketable and clever. Get it off of TextNovel.com." I'm stubborn though. With waaay less time to gain an audience than many top competitors, I decided to push forward.

I made a few promises to myself. 1.) Keep each section short so people can really read at their pace and on their time--whether lunch break or before school. 2.) Post 2 sections a day whenever possible so people can read what they want when they want. 3.) Learn from the Asian phenomenon--test yourself by writing interactively. 4.) Use hooks and hangs in each chapter/section. 5.) Sneak in some literary devices and some educational stuff. 6.) Hit a point of resolution by Dec. 31.

I've done all of that (except #6--hey, I have time) pretty consistently. I admit--I struggle with getting the popular vote. I wasn't the popular kid in school. I DID write the anti-jock editorial (hey, they were coming in to class late every day after doing breakfast and bowling--never even a slap on the wrist) in my school newspaper and DID get called into the office with my fellow editors. And they didn't give me up--so I get loyalty. But my networking skills aren't all that great. I always thought other things were more important.

But I'm in such a hurry to get "13 to Life" to a LOGICAL point of resolution (and not wanting to further clog subscribers' emails--you get updates every time I twitch, evidently) that I'm writing by the seat of my pants. I imagine it, I type it in Word, I check for blaring repetition and misspellings and then I post it. I don't do the editing I'd normally do-- subscribers would drop like flies whenever I tweaked and tightened a sentence. And, going at the pace I am (and having a farmstead, two jobs and the holidays quickly approaching) I can't devote the time I need to a proper edit. So I know that whether I win or not, "13 to Life" has miles to go before it's complete and published.

I appeciate the support all of you have given Pietr, Jessica, Derek, Sarah, Amy and the gang. I hope you continue to support their story as twists emerge and the truth becomes a dangerous thing to know. Pietr has a birthday coming up and the gift he gets isn't one many of you would want...

Keep reading and voting (hey, and write a review or two ;-),


blackalbum20@yahoo.com said...

i was reading your quote "do you trust me jess" and i thought why did pietr move to junction and this is what i came up with:
pietr moves to junction after the "death" of his parents, trying to protect him and his brothers/sisters, from werewolf hunters. one of the hunters is a vampire, who had a grudge towards his parents, and forms a group to hunt them. his parents are not dead but after running from the hunters for 1 year have not been able to find pietr. they survive due to a nice vampire who does not like that the first vampire hunts werewolves due to his idea that they are inferior.
present day: jessica walks home from school to avoid pietr but he follows her home. he catches up to her and they get into an argument about how pietr is suppose to date sarah. in the middle of his response he notices a black (no roof) jeep go by and stops talking. jessica continues to talk to him as he watches the jeep go by with a pale man wearing military glasses driving it. he then resumes talking as it goes around a corner many blocks away. before he can finish this sentence the jeep turns around with loud burning tires and heads back towards them. this is when pietr freaks out and grabs jessica and he runs/drags jessica around a building. and says "do you trust me jess" if she says yes then he brings her to his house and explains that he is a werewolf and to protect her to blow a dog whistle that he gives her and to blow it if she ever sees the pale guy with military glasses again. if she says no then life continues as normal until amy suggests they hang out late (where ever) over that weekend and the whole thing repeats except the pale guy (first vampire) tries to walk up to pietr while amy and sarah go to (do something). he is forced to run from the guy back to his house with jessica (for fear that said guy would use her as a means to get to him) and explains everything repeating the whistle conversation. if i had to chose if jessica says yes or no i would say no because she doesnt want to get close to pietr because of sarah but i leave that option with you. if this ever is used or the book gets published i would like a tiny mention of my contribute. thank you for reading this and keep up the good writing.

Saoirse Redgrave said...

Very cool concept, blackalbum20!

I can say that according to what's rambling around in my head at the moment, there is a "hunting" situation, there is a vampire, there are more canine concepts coming up and there is a military component, but some of it will depend on the polls, too!

I'm glad that line and the current scenario have you thinking (obviously very creatively, too). :-)

Pietr and his family have definitely moved to Junction to escape a tragic circumstance from their past, but part of that past may yet catch up to them... And Jess will have to make a tough choice.

Keep reading and thanks a ton for commenting!

Saoirse Redgrave said...

Oh! And, blackalbum20, I do try to be mindful of folks' contributions if they get used in the story (I've done stuff under my other name that mentions all sorts of people's suggestions).

We'll see how "13 to Life" goes regarding publishing (the industry's frighteningly tight right now, so we're looking seriously at a bunch of options in case we don't win at TextNovel.com).

I really want to be able to hold "13 to Life" in my hands as a real book (and others local to me have said the same thing).

I'm hoping a win at TextNovel.com gets us set up for publishing, but I need to secure that frustrating popular vote (tell your friends to vote for it on Textnovel.com i you like it) and hit my resolution point (AND hope the judges like what I've done).

Guess we'll see...
Again, thanks for stopping in!