HWSWA: Chat about 5/6ths of Anna Act One

Bob and I talk about Anna and her plot problems.

My questions after this 5/6ths of the first act first draft is done:

Why is all of this happening now?

How does the Anna/Nate relationship affect/echo/contrast with the crime subplot and vice versa?

What happens at the turning points and what do those things mean?

What the hell is this book about? (I usually can’t answer this until I have an entire first draft done, but I always try anyway.)

And then Toni read then first five chapters and pointed out the Elephant in the Plot: Anna has no positive goal which is why I don’t know what the book is about. I said a very bad word and then went back to cogitating.

Also, Happy Halloween! Candy is on sale now.

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10 thoughts on “HWSWA: Chat about 5/6ths of Anna Act One

  1. I shan’t lie, one of my proudest moments I’ve had was pointing out why so many of us end up with “don’t” goals back when you were first working on Nita. And your response was to thank me for sending everyone back to therapy!

    It’s been something I’ve thought of since then as a reminder to choose to do things instead of reacting to things happening.

    Today I was thinking about how differently the Girls in the Basement were sending up Anna stuff in comparison to Nita stuff. From the outside looking in, it’s flowing faster. I hope you’re enjoying this process as much as I am in following it.

    1. I hope you all are enjoying following it. It must be getting pretty boring listening to me obsess about plot.

      1. Not boring at all, Jenny; fascinating! I love watching your creative process. I’m enjoying this very much, just sorry you are frustrated. Or is that an important part of your process for you??

        1. I’m not sure how important it is, but it’s always part of the process.
          I’m enough of a writing wonk that I kind of enjoy taking it apart and putting it back together, but it must sound repetitious as all hell.

          1. Mo Willems said it takes him 9 months to write a picture book because he has to pare out every word and line of drawing that isn’t essential. If he has to cogitate that much over every little squiggle, then this amount of repetition seems benign in comparison.
            And we do ask……We’re Argh. We’d happily read your grocery list if you posted it.

          2. I don’t get bored. I love your commentary and cogitating. It’s funny, but also interesting. I even learn stuff!

  2. This struck me. “She doesn’t even have a problem with her family until Nate moves in.
    So if she walks away from Nate, her problems go away.” Sounds like a lovely emotional dark moment.

  3. I always worry when I read posts in which you are concerned about turning points and beats and word count when you are in the early or middle parts of a creative process. I somehow feel that you haven’t allowed yourself to love your protagonists and to figure out exactly what would make them feel happy and engaged and satisfied with their lives and their worlds.

    It almost feels as if it’s necessary to figure out what the Big Bad (as you and Bob put it) is striving and hoping for because they think THAT thing would make them feel happy ever after, no matter how despicable that might be, and then figure out how to braid their quest together with the protagonist’s path to create all the monkey wrenches you need.

    I really like Anna — love the addition of the collage picture and setting, which frames her and gives the story a feeling of reality for me. I hope you give her a kickass and satisfying future.

    Oh, and do you think the continued existence of the pool and the pool house are holding her back from finding out?

    Just a random thought!

  4. Another entertaining and informative conversation. It’s fun to see how the sausage really gets made. Thanks Jenny and Bob for sharing!

  5. I really enjoyed reading this, thanks! Especially because today was not otherwise a happy day. An ancient spray can exploded in one of our study cupboards. Brown gloop over heaps of stuff and whatever it is, it really really stinks. Even after we’ve wiped it all up, half the house still stinks.

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