Writing Notes: March 5, 2022 – Unintentional Ghosts

Current Project Progress
Beet Down Revision: 1st scene
MM (Editing): Page 269 of 328

As you can see, I finally finished updating all of my too-small covers! And I think most of them look better than the originals, if I do say so myself. I can’t tell you how good it feels to have that little project behind me.

It was another weird, not-so-much writing week. And I spent more time than I thought I would floundering about trying to start my revisions, because I have all these layers I want to add, and thanks to a writing workshop I took last year, I know…how it needs to look when it’s done, but I was a bit overwhelmed with trying to figure out where/how to start.

– I deleted a whole scene, then put it back.
– Deleted a couple of paragraphs, then put them back.
– Realized that I hadn’t set this short story anywhere specific, and that even I didn’t have a clue what any of the characters actually looked like.


It wasn’t until I actually tried to start *adding depth* to the story – layering in description and setting (using what I learned in last year’s Depth in Writing workshop and this year’s Masterclass in World Building), that I realized something ridiculously annoying:

I had no idea where the story was happening, or what the characters actually looked like. *headdesk*

It was a severe moment of blinding (and painful) clarity – when I’m writing “off the cuff”, as it were, the story itself (the plot) and what’s going on inside the characters heads are the most important things to me. Where they are and what they look like take a backseat in my mind to the actual “what’s happening and how are the characters reacting to it”. And that is at least one of the reasons my stories haven’t had depth to this point. I generally have the filling, but not the wrapper. And without the wrapper, the filling doesn’t always stick together like it should. Dammit.

With that light-bulb moment, I had to go back and “create wrappers” for my characters, as well as decide where the story would take place. I prefer to write in fictional settings (because I’m lazy and I’d rather make stuff up than do research), so I decided to set it in one of the two fictional Montana towns I’ve been developing over the past couple of years. Meadowlark, which I created for a couple of other stories that are still in draft, is the perfect setting with the proper resources and topography for this particular plot, so that’s where this story will happen.

As for the character “wrappers”…because I’ve already written these characters, I had to think about how they act and react and their relationships/familial histories before I could decide on things like hair color, style, body shape, and clothing preferences.

For those of you silently screaming, “How could you not already know that?!”, I do sort of have a foggy idea of what characters look like when I’m writing, of course, but once I start writing and get into their heads, it really doesn’t matter much to me, because I’m personally more interested in their thoughts and feelings towards things. So it’s a matter of perspective and focus…I am the same way with real people. I’m not generally all that concerned with the packaging, I just want to know how people think and what processes/filters they use to formulate actions/reactions/philosophies of life.

So while I do understand that in writing, the whole package is very important, when I’m drafting I tend to just…write what comes to mind, and that’s naturally going to be filtered through my own perspective. I will be trying to change that a bit going forward, so I can write more rounded/complete characters and settings from the start.

Anyways, once I figured that out, I could finally start my revisions, but the week was pretty well over, so I’m still working on the first scene. Hopefully that was the last little piece I needed, and I can really make some good progress with the actual revision itself next week.

Recommended Resource
This week’s recommended writing resource is The Creative Penn. If you aren’t yet familiar with Joanna Penn, you should go check her out posthaste. She is a wealth of knowledge in all things writerly, and she recently decided to rewrite her first three books. She has a podcast all about it, and she puts the transcripts on her site, so you can read rather than listen if you prefer (I normally do with these, since they’re long). Check it out, and follow her on your preferred social media channel.

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