We both are here to have some fun
So let it whip
Those lyrics to the 1982 “post-disco funk” song “Let It Whip” by the Dazz Band are what I hear in my head every time I look at my “WIP” folder icon on my laptop.
Before I go any further in this blog post, let’s just take a look at this Soul Train line video shall we, so we can all hear the same music in our heads anytime a writer mentions “her WIP.”
A writers’ WIP is her Work In Progress. Her current novel, her current non-fiction book, her current screenplay, her literary work that she’s currently writing and making progress toward completing. My recently published novel Love, Texas – Population 2 is not my WIP – because it’s completed! And because that book has been published and I’ve taken a writing break, as of October 2nd, I’ve started my WIP.
The current title of my WIP is Novel 2. Ha! Well, seriously! I just started working on it two weeks ago, so I haven’t even decided yet if it’s going to be a Christian contemporary romance novel or if it will fall into the category of Christian women’s fiction. Although when I last worked on it this past Saturday, I’m about 90% sure the new working title of my WIP will be Bad Sister Good Fireman Romance Novel. If I go with writing a women’s fiction book instead, that working title will be Good Sister Bad Sister. Or … I might even make it a combo novel, with a working title of Sisters With a Subplot of Romance. Tee hee!
As you can see, a WIP is exactly as the name implies – a constant work in progress! This novel will go through so many changes in the next year, it will be like a teen going through outfit changes trying to decide what to wear on her first date.
Make note I said “next year” in the above paragraph. As in, my goal to finish writing Novel 2 is in the time frame of one year. That goal might not seem so crazy for a “normal” writer—but for me, my friends and family are probably laughing their heads off saying, “Good luck with that!” Why? Because Novel 1, a.k.a. Love, Texas – Population 2, took 17 years to write. That’s not a typo! What on earth took me so long, you ask? Read my first blog post Persevere and you’ll find out.
The beginning process for this WIP is different than my last book because my last book I was starting from scratch. For Novel 2, I already have pages of notes on two separate ideas. So, these last two weeks I’ve been reviewing those notes and brainstorming ideas from what I have already.
The first idea, the romance novel, I can take some ideas from several chapters and scenes I deleted from Love, Texas – Population 2. Most of these deletions occurred within the last five years or so, after deciding Love was going to be a Christian romance—whereas in the very beginning Love resembled a novel that could have probably been titled Lust.
The second idea, the sister novel, I have quite a bit of groundwork—that I started on 10 years ago! That’s back when I submitted query letters to several agents and was going to go the “mainstream publisher” route, and of course, Love was quite a different story then. So, thinking at the time I was “done” writing Love, I began work on my next novel.
I made a Word document with the main characters on it, filling in lots of character sketches info and copying/pasting pictures from the Internet of movie stars who looked like how those characters looked in mind, etc. I also made recordings (on my drive to and from work and other places) of scene ideas I wanted to include in this good / bad sister novel. I typed those dictated notes out onto another Word document, and even started forming an outline of the possible order where I would want some of those scenes to go in the book.
Well! You’re probably saying since I have so much sister work done already that I should make Novel 2 the sister book … but, as of right now, I’m saving up most of that good stuff for Novel 3. Some of it I might use for a subplot in the romance novel, and then use the rest of the sister scenes for two different sisters than who it would be about now, so I could change around locations and occupations and whatnot.
This week I’m still going over the notes I already have, still brainstorming—like I said there were a lot of notes! Another part of the WIP process that happens at the same time as this, or at least for this author, is to keep track of all the brainstorming ideas I have and what I do exactly each day by documenting this in four places. I document this daily: on my Google calendar; on a “Did Today” Excel spreadsheet; on a spiral notebook I keep in my purse; and via my BIC emails with my writing accountability partner, cozy mystery author Robin Allen . If you haven’t yet read about BIC, check out my June blog post about it: The BIC Commit.
Another part of the WIP process that is also going on while I’m reading deleted chapters and possible scene ideas is I’m also filling in some spaces on two other documents, an Excel “Characters & Locations” document, and a Word “Outline” document.
The Excel file has tabs for each main character, and those tabs are titled “Profile X (Character’s Name).” The rest of the tabs on the Excel sheet are: Characters, Locations, Cars, Songs, Other. Under each tab, let’s use the Locations tab for example, I’ll put the location name, then next to it a brief description about it, then in parenthesis I’ll put the number of all chapters in which that location is mentioned. Below is an example of what I have for one location, ACC, from my Excel file for Love.
Austin Community College (ACC) – school attended by: Joel’s stepbrother Darren Smith as a freshman in Jan 1987 (4); by Reb from Sept 1989-Aug 1991 (19, 25, 30); by Rebekah and Liza as freshmen in Alg I class on T & TH nights in Jan-May 1990 (25, 26); Reb took journalism ethics and law (Jan-May 95)(34); step aerobics May 95 (35)
The Word document is a template for the Outline of the whole novel, with a limitation of one page per chapter. So, if my novel winds up being 50 chapters long, I will have a 50-page Outline document. I have the Chapter number, name, time frame, and a one or two-line summary of what happens in that chapter at the top of the page. I then have bullet points for a synopsis of specific points that happen in that chapter. At the bottom of the page, I’ll summarize once again “People & Locations” for that chapter. Here’s an example:
Filling out the Excel and Word document will continue through the whole process of writing the novel, of course. The part of the WIP process where I actually start writing the chapters? That comes after I’m done reading all these notes, and then writing out almost all of the outline. No “pantster” business for me!
Once I get to the actual chapter writing part, I will probably post a progress bar widget here on my blog, or as a sidebar on my website or something – to keep you readers “in the loop.” I’ll probably set the widget up for progress related to words, so say 100k words as the goal, and each day I’ll fill in how many words I typed that day so the widget can show a percentage display of completion.
There! Now you know what it means when a writer talks about her WIP. And the next time you hear “WIP” you’ll probably start singing that Dazz Band song in your head, won’t ya?