Monday, September 13, 2010

Guest Blogging Monday: Jill Wheeler and Wow aka World of Warcraft

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!!!


Lisa Gail Green said...

That was a great guest blog!! Yes, haven't we all experienced that learning curve? I think the best thing to do - the thing that brings us closer to success - is to keep writing. Don't give up, learn more, write more, and repeat!

J.S. Wood said...

Awesome guest blog! Thanks so much for joining us :-)

I love to read stories like this because I think it's where we've all been at some point, and for those still in search of an agent; it gives encouragement.

Krista Ashe said...

I love your honesty, Jill, about your first novel and novels, lol. That's totally how I feel about my YAUF and how extremely far it has come,lol, from it's first inception. But you're so right that you have to do the lather, rinse, repeat kinda mantra, lol.

And WoW sounds so cool, but at the same time, I'm so afraid I would become hooked!!! I'm not one for balance.

And I'll have the sparkly pic put up when I get home this evening....we unfortunately block personal email, so I couldn't upload it! RAWRR! LOL

anjohnston said...

Jill, awesome post. Sadly, I know EXACTLY what you are talking about... my drug of choice was Guild Wars & Aion but it plays pretty much the same way. Great comparison. I'm happy to read that you are pleased with the outcome of Slide. I look forward to seeing it on bookshelves near me!

Shayda Bakhshi said...

Yay, Jill! I love your post--I tried to play WOW a few years back, and blamed my lack of success on the ancientness of my computer, but we all know it was just raw n00b inexperience.

Same with all those writing projects I never finished when I was younger--I felt so lost at sea that the words just kind of drowned me.

You're so right, though--sometimes, even when you plug away at something, if you just flat-out have no idea what you're doing, you end up with something a little less than awesome. (READ: My lovely trunk novel!)

But knowledge and practice make [almost] perfect, and now I'm totally pumped about jumping back into SPITFIRE!

Meadow said...

Wonderful comparison! I played WoW for years and there really is a huge difference in questing to level and actually enjoying everything that's been put into the game, like the characters and the lore. Beautiful job!


Stina Lindenblatt said...

Love this guest post! Thanks Jill. Yes, you got to love those great beta readers. I'll trust you about the agent apart. :D

Jamie B said...

Thanks for blogging w/us Jill! It's funny to go back and look at first mss and cringe. Poor J.S. Wood read mine recently. :P

Jamie Grey said...

Great post, Jill! I loved WOW and totally love the analogy to writing! Thanks for sharing!

Allie Sanders said...

Wow, you just managed to wrap my husband's obsession in with mine. Very impressive.

On a more serious note: thank you for this interview. I've been trying to explain to people for the past few years the joys, terrors, and wonder of NaNoWriMo. I use it for an excuse to write (and because it's the only time of the year my husband will leave me alone to write. Apparently that makes sense to him). I've had to explain that writing 50k does not mean you have written a novel. It isn't just words strug together, it's an experience, it's creating a world and lives. Sure, NaNoWriMo is a great place to start but it isn't all there is. It's learning, building, knowing when to leave well enough alone and when to hit delete. This was a good post. I hope new writers find it because it was helpful.