Prewriting for sequel to Around the Block

If you haven’t read Around the Block, don’t read this.  It’ll spoil the book, and half of the fun is the surprises at the end.

Basically, I’m thinking out loud here, and I don’t want to plan the plot points beyond Act I just yet.  So here are the characters’ breakdowns and goals as Mark approaches his senior year.

Josh–Josh has been caught smoking weed and getting into prescription drugs, so his parents have enrolled him in St. David’s which is the private school that Mark’s father teaches at.  I don’t know how big of a factor he’ll be other than one sub-plot.  I’d like to fit him in more though because I think he was funny.

Mark’s Dad (what is his name? did I give him one?) He’s going to have news that he’s been hired as the head basketball coach at Saint David’s.  This is quite a bonus, and on top of his raise for getting his Master’s + 30, his salary is increasing by around $7000 for the year.

Bates–Mark is done with math since there’s no calculus II.  Bate’s is the girl’s cross country coach, so he’ll have some interaction with Mark on that front.

Lisa Skyler–I’ve changed Lisa’s name to Skyler in the first book too (I can’t have to L names), because she’s going to have a much larger role in the sequel.  You’ll recall she’s the gazelle-like sprinter who was a freshman last year and was one of the three people who were “it” during the tag game.  She got too many people out from her speed and got sent off.  She’s Bates’ niece though.  She’s tall, wiry, a fast runner–though not as dominant at the start of her first cross country season.  She also has a job at the Pond Bridge public library a couple days a week during the summer.  She’s freshly 16, and has a car.

Brian–Brian is in recovery after his failed relationship.  He’s pretty much over Carissa as she’s “grown” over the summer.  He’s decided he liked the part about being sexual active now and is pretty much up for anything.  He’ll even decide that Pond Bridge girls are no longer off limits, especially the younger ones.  He worked a landscaping job over the summer and made a lot of money for a high school senior.  He’s almost 18, so he’s really on a “I’m a man” kick.

Katy–She won’t be very important in this book.  I’m thinking she might be knocked up.

Angel–She’s attending community college and is obviously growing more than Carissa even.  I’d love to put her in a scene or two though for the sake of juxtaposition.

Jefferson–he’s going to be a bit of a paradox on one of the plots.

Leah–Still dating Todd at the beginning of the year.  She wants to go to Cincinnati because of her relationship and fancies herself “over” high school.  She really wants to beat mark out for valedictorian for extra scholarship money.  She’ll be a pretty big role in this book and will come out of her shell a lot more now that Angel doesn’t have all the attention.  She’s learned a thing or two down in Cincinnati.

Mark–Dad gives him the Civic!  He gets a cellphone upgrade too but is paying for it all with tutoring.  He tutors 4 to 5 days a week over the summer and often in the Pond Bridge library (as well as traveling to Perry).  Rich parents love handing their kid over to him at $20-$30 an hour, so he can finally pay for a few things.  Some growing pains affect his running though, so his senior cross-country season isn’t going to start where he left off in track.

(Mild spoilers ahead)




Plots–Obviously with working at the library he’s going to encounter Skyler (not sure I like that name enough) quite a bit.  She seems VERY innocent, even for Mark, so he’s patient with any progress.  However, Brian steps in and takes her out before Mark feels its right.  In return, Mark’s senior year schedule isn’t challenging.  He decides to apply for student ambassador and is chosen over Brian.  Now he and Leah share the tiny office.  This of course sets off a feud between the boys.

After Dad is hired as the basketball coach, he suggests to Mark that he could transfer and play for him his senior year. This idea seems even better now that Josh goes to school there…and Jefferson doesn’t.  Nor any of the other assholes on his team. He’ll get a chance to visit a real school day at some point.

That’s all I want to share for now.  I thought about trying to plan Act I, II, and III, but I think that would limit plots.  I’ve always had a vague idea of where I want the novel to go, and then usually the surprises hit as I’m writing (well, once I got to bed, so I have to get up and find my whiteboard in the dark).  I know what I want the theme of this one to be as well.  Something to the effect of, once high school is over–none of it really mattered.  Sports, dances, tests, etc.  The real world is a much more relevant place.

I’ll keep posting about it on here I guess, and who knows–maybe I can get chapters up and running like last year.


It still sucks

I’ve going over my 6th draft and turning it into my 7th.  I don’t like my sentences.  I have 700 words at the beginning of chapter 3 before I get to the actual scene.  My sentence structure is awful.  This is the part of the book that needs to be the best if it’s ever going to get published.  At what point do I resort to professional editing? (…which can lead to spending thousands.)

Switching over here

I’ve bored everyone to death on the main blog, so I’m reverting back to this one.  I’ve finished chapter 16, so I just need to write/revise from first draft chapters 17-21.  Not a lot of work left in this draft.  Ideally, I’d like to finish it by this time next week.  Then when I get paid, I can buy the $377 course and get to work on that.

Thursday night I have the meeting for the UMSL class.  As summer gets closer (this week kinda felt like it, right?), I’ll weigh my options further.  Well, I have to decide by the 16th to get my full refund.  If I don’t take that class, I’ll probably take one this fall for just 3 hours.  Something easier and less time actually in the classroom.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that I need to make MAJOR changes to what kind of teacher I am.  I’m too available.  I had a kid email me the other night and ask if school was canceled.  Why is he coming to me for that?  Every Sunday night I get multiple emails from kids, usually stuff I’ve already told them about, that just make me start the week bitter and burnt out.  I’ve had the same student email two Sunday nights in a row about retaking a test.  I emailed her last week, “No,” and she sends the same request this week.  It’s great to be close to students, but as another teacher told me, I’m going to burn myself out.  This job cannot become my life.  It’s not healthy.

Good to know…

So I’ve been doing it wrong kinda…a little bit off at least.  My plot structure has been off in the last two drafts I’ve written and now I’m fixing that (hopefully) by reading a book called Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland.  Basically I need to put things into three acts as I use my plot triangle.  I think I did that in my first two novels, but in Crutch and Stalker I’m just all over the place.  That’s okay, better to fix now than after it’s too late.  Well, not now now, but whenever I resume.  I’ve already decided on the novel I’m writing next too.  When do I work on these?  Weekends with crappier weather I guess.

Revision…more revision

I’ve been writing about the progress on my main blog, but since this is just about the book I’ll move it back over here.  I’m through chapter 1, but I seem to have ignored half of the red pen notes I put in–crap.  This is harder than writing it, because it actually has to be good.  I should go back and fix it more.


Am I writing a memoir?

The more of this I revise, the more I realize it’s pretty true-to-life.  I’d say 90% of it happened as I’m writing, so does that make it a memoir?  Do I just adjust it to that and use everyone’s real names in my family?

I’ll sit down with the editor and see what she thinks.  I think part of my revision problem is doing it on a screen.  After years of grading and revising my own work on paper, I think that this modern way isn’t working.  I should run into school and run off the 55 pages (well 110 when I double-space it).

Anyway, I think it’s over halfway revised by me for the first draft (which is basically not much further along than a first draft).

First draft complete!

You know how they show authors in movies put the finishing touches on their novels and they seem to finish on a perfect ending?  That’s how I felt today.  I cried even.  (Although if you’ve read previous entries you’ll note that’s common).

I know it still needs A LOT of revision, but I can start that next week when I get back from Ohio.  For now I have to resist the urge to try and share it with anyone.  Feedback from someone is a gift, but I don’t want to use it before it’s time.  No one likes reading multiple versions of something.  As a teacher it’s one of the most challenging things I do with student drafts.  No one likes to re-read and re-read, so when I get it somewhat presentable, THEN I’ll allow myself to search for feedback.  I still think it’s going to be tough to get any real feedback from friends, so maybe I’ll just hold off completely.

I just did a little research and after digging through some old Facebook emails I found someone who should work.  She’s going to be expensive, but she’s a pro and won’t take months and months and miss a bunch of deadlines.  It’s all a tax write-off as well (yeah!).  She can provide the honest feedback.

I think this book deserves more than my previous ones.  It needs more and luckily it’s shorter than them, so that will help with some of the budget.

Here’s what I’m fighting right now…and it hit just before I started editing my other 3–the doubt.  The voices that every artist hears.  “This isn’t good enough for everyone else.”  They’re wrong.  It is.  It will be.  The voices are just disguised laziness trying to talk me out of all of the work (and money) and time that I’ll need to spend to make this into something.  I’m okay with it.

Either way, I get a one-hour free consultation with the lady whenever I decide the manuscript is ready.  I’m happy to finish the first draft. A lot of people never make it this far.  However, it’s only about 25% of the entire publishing process.  (I’ll celebrate by golfing in 100-degree weather this afternoon).