On Sticking With a Story For the Long Haul–a Guest Post by J. Grace Pennington
My friend J. Grace Pennington was recently featured here in a cover reveal for her new book, Implant. Right now she is on a blog tour to celebrate its recent publication, and I’m happy to be able to host her here for you guys today!
When I wrote Implant, I was an unpublished author, still finding my voice and only just learning to finish a first draft. I had yet to seriously edit anything, I had no blog or website, no social media, only a few writing friends. When I published it a few days ago, I had four books under my belt, a decent online following, and a boatload of colleagues who were willing to stick their necks out and help me promote this work.
A lot can happen in a few years.
The first draft was essentially what happens when an overactive imagination and the One Year Adventure Novel writing curriculum give each other a very special hug. I was extremely excited to get the program and I watched through all the video lessons in a matter of days. For me it was more the One Week Adventure Novel. And out of a frenzied burst of outlining and scene writing, the first draft was born.
I’d call it a premature birth, though. I didn’t have any clue how to handle the “boring” parts of the story–making plans, giving long-winded explanations, providing backstory–so I just didn’t. I’d write the parts where things exploded and people died and babies were born and frenemies argued, and then there would be something along the lines of:
Here they make some kind of plan to lure Dagny Dalton somewhere, and they do it and then this next scene happens.
Then deaths and explosions would resume.
Once I picked it up to start editing it about a year ago, though, I had to actually fill in those holes, and I was stumped. I’d rewrite along my merry way until I came to one of those sections, and then I’d just stare at the screen for awhile.
Somewhere between writing the first story and publishing it, I’d learned it’s really not a very good idea to only do the fun parts, because then later you’re left having to do all the boring parts at once, and that is just not a very balanced approach. Continuing with the slightly odd childbearing metaphor, it’s as if you had all the fun and laughs and games and snuggles with your child one year, then all the sleepless nights and screaming and diapers the next. In both writing and life, I’ve found it’s generally better to take the good and the bad all mixed up together. The fun parts give you the extra energy and morale to carry you through the dragging parts.
In the end though, I managed to fill in the holes, smooth out the wrinkles, and get my baby all sent off to college. Now I can sit back and watch it live its own life, make friends, and hopefully impact some people along the way.
They grow up so fast!
J. Grace Pennington has been reading stories as long as she can remember, and writing them almost as long. She is also a prolific medical transcriptionist, amateur musician, chocolate eater, daughter, sister, friend, and laundry folder. She lives in Texas, and if she was part of the Implant society, her role in the rebellion would probably be monitoring current events and
correspondence in the computer center.
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