Today is the inaugral post of our new Monday Guest Blogging segment. We have the lovely Jill Wheeler as our guest blogger. Jill is a YA writer repped by Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary.
The first time I played WoW, I completely lost. I rolled an undead warlock (Azarelia) with blue hair, saggy boobs and spent hours hours wandering around Brill, randomly pushing buttons and hoping that would be enough to kill the giant spiders and wolves that roamed the land. My brother gave me one gold, and I thought I was the richest person in the world. I bought all the crappy green gear from the local merchants, not knowing there was an auction hall with much better stuff for more reasonable prices.
That paragraph probably didn't make sense to you if you've never played WoW, but that's okay because that's how I felt at the time--totally clueless.
I was much the same way the first time I tried NaNoWriMo in 2007. Though I had a pretty good premise in mind(well, a kind of generic premise if you count how many stories are out now with dead protagonists), I had no idea how to begin. My story began with the alarm clock going off and my main character getting ready for school. Yes, you guess it---she looked in the mirror as she got ready, which gave me time to describe her physical appearance.
The book didn't get much better after that. I had no idea how to craft a story, which scenes to skip, how to work in necessary details by slipping them in like medicine with the meat. I skipped around, choosing the best scenes to work on, figuring I'd go back later and bridge the gaps. I wrote endless snore-worthy scenes about characters making sandwiches, one that even my mother couldn't make sense of.
The thing that kept me going, though, was the word count function. Just as WoW addicted me with the constant progression toward the next level, my word count kept building to the magic 50K point. What I didn't know what that, by simply grinding my way to the next level, I was doing very little to develop my skill. In WoW, I was able to reach level 80 simply by repeatedly killing the same pathetic dinosaurs. Similarly with my novel, I was able to reach the 50K point, write a quick ending, and proclaim my done-ness. Whee! I wrote a novel!
Yes, I wrote a novel. And I'd write more novels, very quickly, some that actually kept people turning the pages to find out what happened next. But just because I reached the designated end point didn't mean I was finished. I read articles about revising and learned to print off my stuff, read it aloud, and slash words and paragraphs that didn't sound right.
What I didn't learn was that every story needs to be revised differently. Reading my novel out loud and slashing confusing sentences wouldn't more fully develop character and theme. And it wouldnt' strengthen the mystery element by making sure the clues all built toward a logical but unforseen conclusion.
In WoW, you have to play with a group to get the full experience. Everyone plays a role, whether it's a tank, healter, or DPS. And then, you all descend into the dungeon together, to stand strong against the boss. My beta readers and agent have become my team members in this novel writing business. They point out the weak areas in my manuscript, enabling me to improve my story 1000%. (Thank you, Sarah, and my lovely, lovely beta readers! I love you!)
As I complete my final pass of SLIDE, I envision myself loading my manuscript up with the best, fully enhanced gear I have. The challenge of submission will be the highest level i've reached yet, but I have the faith in my team. Together we can achieve anything.
Thank you so much, Jill, for taking the time to blog with us!!!