Writing Thin

Hey! Fellow white writers! Just a reminder! Diversity is good! Write characters that don’t look like you! It’s healthy! But! Don’t! Write! BIPOC’s! Stories! Just! Don’t!

Also, don’t try to prettify human suffering. Just a thought.

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Seriously tho, can we not?

Anyway, those of you who are still here, welcome to another week in the life of a struggling writer. This struggling writer, anyway. And, lord, has it been a struggle. As it turns out, deciding mid-draft that your WIP needs a major developmental revision is not something that can be taken care of in a week. My mental pendulum keeps swinging from “excited and energized” to “I’m a terrible writer, all my ideas are laughably banal, and I’m just going to give up on this whole writing thing in general, don’t at me.”

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A visul recap of my week.

I’m caught between the idea that my creative well is running dry and I need to take a break and refill it, and the little voice in my head that continually reminds me I took all of December off, I’ve barely done anything creative this month, I keep making excuses not to write. 

I’m gonna figure it out. Eventually. I’m gonna strike a balance, and this will get written. Maybe even in my lifetime.

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My list of revisions.

Anyway, one of the things I’m definitely going to have to figure out if I am going to get this book done is how to stop writing so damned thin.

I imagine many writers might say that writing thin is a good problem to have, and I believe that is true for a lot of people. For me, however, it’s a bane. As I’ve mentioned before, I started writing when I was 11, and though I started in original fiction by 13 I had been roped into the magical world of fanfiction. Now, my path is my path, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I learned more than you’d think about craft, but one thing I left behind in those years was the ability to describe literally anything.

I relied on the fact that any readers would already be familiar with the characters and setting, and almost everything I wrote was entirely based on interactions. Conversations, conflict, sex. It was easy.

Now I’m kicking myself, because I find myself falling into that pattern even now that I know I have to set the stage myself.

I just did a read through of my second draft. One of the things I realized is that a major character has only ever been described (once) as “tall.” That’s it. That’s all you know about her. Another character, equally important, hasn’t been physically described at all. Most of my cast are little more than floating, talking heads.

Don’t get me started on worldbuilding. Again. I hate it. I mean, I love it, but, actually, I hate it. I have a perfect image in my head of what my world is, but when it comes to the text of the novel I don’t feel compelled in any way to describe it. “What purpose would mentioning the scenery of the countryside serve?” I ask myself. “Does my made up historical context really have any bearing on this scene?” or “Why slow down the pace and ruin the tension just to remind the reader there is a fully fleshed out world beyond this conversation?”

Most of that is thanks to a piece of writing advice I took and surgically grafted onto my heart, and that is: good storytelling is often about good secret keeping. Don’t give away what you can hold onto until the moment is right. And that is the philosophy I have carried into my fantasy stories: don’t info dump when you can sprinkle in the details as needed.

And, honestly, I still think that is really sound advice, but, in rereading this second draft, I think I may have lost sight of what is too much to hold back. The draft reads like I’m being greedy with my world, or that I’ve forgotten that the readers don’t know what I know. I rush from plot point to plot point without adding critical context, because I already know the background of X and Y characters’ relationship with each other, or where A and B locations are on the map.

At DFWCon I had the chance to sit down with an agent and kind of talk shop (I wasn’t ready to pitch yet, obviously, but I still wanted to get some insight). We got into a discussion about word counts for debut authors, and after hearing that I had just finished a first draft, he asked my word count. 105k, I told him. That’s really good for a debut fantasy, he said. Right in the butter zone. I wish I could have been pleased about that, but I knew, deep in my bones, that the only reason I kept it that low was because the draft wasn’t really complete. I had left so many details on the floor, details that would be inexcusable to leave out of a polished manuscript.

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Or, writing, as the case may be.

Going into draft 3, I know this is something I’m going to have to be serious about fixing. I need to learn how to take my time and properly build a world that readers will want to crawl into. I need to figure out how the keep the flow going without leaving important information out in the cold. I’ve got to teach myself that it’s okay to do those things, even if it means a 300k word draft.

Because that’s what revision is for.


That’s all from me this week. I hope you enjoyed Captain Kirk coming along for the ride with us. Next week I hope to discuss The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang, which I’ve been reading this month. Which means I need to close up and get it finished. Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few!

Kerry Share

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Writing for Yourself

Alright yall let’s get it out of the way first: on July 15th I got whammied with some major financial issues that triggered my depression in a bad way. I won’t go into it too much (you can read my previous post about how my depression affects my creativity here) but I’m back-ish now after a difficult two months. Thanks for understanding!


Manuscript News

The big thing to come out of my hiatus is that I realized I didn’t give my WIP, Border Towns, enough time to rest between drafts one and two. When I started feeling the itch to write come back, it was always directed at other ideas. I felt disconnected from Border Towns, though, to be fair, I had the same sensation the last time I took a big mental health break from it.

But, I’ve given it some thought, and what with November right around the corner and all, I decided that I’m gonna let Border Towns breathe while I work on a new idea for NaNoWriMo.

Which brings us to…


The Weekly Struggle

I’ve had my 2019 NaNo project picked out since last year. I decided early that it would not be the Border Towns sequel, even though I have one planned, instead opting for something completely new. This particular idea has been percolating, like all my stories do, for a few years now, and since it is a standalone, self-contained novel, I won’t feel the pressure I do with Border Towns to continue laboring over it once it’s complete.

As I was doing some pre-outlining work last week, my momentum was arrested by the realization that… well, this thing has TRUNK NOVEL written all over it. I realized that I just didn’t see a point in it, not in the plot itself nor in the actual act of writing it. I couldn’t imagine an agent being grabbed by the premise, I couldn’t fathom selling it, traditionally or self-pub, and all in all it kind of felt like a waste of my time. After all, the whole point of me doing this writing thing was to make a career out of it, right?

I’ve been doing creative writing since before I can remember. When I was 10 I started writing awful self-insert Dragon Ball Z fanfiction (no, seriously) without even knowing what fanfic was. When I was 14 I discovered The Pit (you know the one) and found that the thing I had been doing the last several years actually had an audience if one cared to seek it out. I’ve written millions of words of fanfiction, most of it terrible, some of it good enough to inspire me, when I was in my early twenties, to maybe think about taking a stab at original fiction. It took nearly a decade to finally finish a first draft of something original.

So… something in me chafed at the idea of spending time, precious, precious time, on what would, in my mind, essentially be original fanfiction. Something that no one would read or care about. Something boring or bad (or both) that would only ever serve as practice. At that point why should I care enough to write it?

Well, the simple answer is, because I want to. The idea might be lackluster, the storyline might not be able to carry it’s own weight. It might never go anywhere but into the stack of used notebooks in my closet, to be pulled out in another ten years and cringed at. I’m ashamed to say it took me a few days to get over myself and realize: what in the hell is wrong with that? I know I need space from the WIP I am pinning my hopes on, if I ever want it to be good enough to pin my hopes on. I know I want to stay creative and get some more novels under my belt, because that’s what real writers do isn’t it?

As much as I want to profit off my creativity (I mean, don’t we all?), it’s the not reason I’m creative. I’m allowed to write something just for practice, just to keep my proverbial muscles loose, just for the joy of writing.

After the labor (of love) that the last year of Border Towns has been, I really needed that reminder.

(Compounding all this is the SUDDEN URGENT NEED I had on Monday to write a contemporary romance, when WE ALL KNOW GOOD AND WELL that I am a high fantasy writer. But that’s an entire blog post in and of itself. Maybe next week.)


What I’m Reading This Week

I’m not actually reading anything yet, but on Friday I picked up both Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri and City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty. Border Towns is lightly influenced by the Middle East and I wanted to read some fantasy more heavily in that vein. Problem is… I don’t know where to start! Tomorrow begins a mini-staycation and I’ll have loads of time to read for a change. Which should I try first?


That’s all from me this week. I look forward to returning to a regular posting schedule, especially as we get into my favorite part of the year: PREPTOBER! Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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