Actually Finishing Something July — Week #4

18 August 2012

This post is so late that the title contrasts oddly with the mid-August date. A few of you may not know this, but during the month of July, Katie challenged anyone who is writing-inclined to actually finish something during the summer, specifically July. We were allowed to set a personal goal for ourselves — it didn't have to be large — but our purpose was to buckle down, persevere, and meet that goal. It was a splendid adventure, and I would like to thank Katie for giving me the initiative to start my book, Rifles in the South Field. Though I did not reach my word count goal of 20,000 words, I still completed the hardest step: the beginning. And for me, that is enough.

the final questions

Were you able to reach and finish your July writing goal?

Not quite. But I did crack through that imposing layer of ice that always shells the beginning of a story, and I feel that alone was enough to make this endeavor successful for me.

If you did not fully complete your goal, were you able to make progress in your project? 

Yes, quite a bit. Though not all of it is written out in an orderly, chronological fashion, I have a great deal of inspiration for little plot twists shelved away in the murky depths of my writing notebooks.

What was the most difficult part of finishing something this July?

Sticking to the task at hand. Distraction can come easily to me, especially in the form of the Internet, and Pinterest alone can cause your writing time to sift through your fingers.

Did you maintain a writing schedule? How often did you write to meet your goal? Did you write into the wee hours of the morning, or wake up extra early to write?

I had hoped to wake early each morning to write, but the majority of my scribblings ended up being pounded out at night. Late at night, my mind will come alive with voices and stories and friends as dear to me as any in the real world (brownie points to anyone who can named that movie quote ;)).

List the three musical tracks that most inspired your writing this July. Tell us why they inspired you and how they fit with your story.

The entire film score for The Patriot. It sounds rather cliche, since both my book and the aforementioned film take place during the American Revolution, but it could practically be the soundtrack for Rifles.

"Safe & Sound" by Taylor Swift and the Civil Wars. This song perfectly describes the relationship between Susannah and her father. "Don't you dare look out your window, darlin' / Everything's on fire / The war outside our door keeps raging on . . ."

"Home" by Dara McLean. I danced to this song in a recital last year, and the lyrics could so easily apply to Susannah. After her father leaves, the combination of her missing him and the weight of her new duties threatens to crush her. This song is her plea, and the answer that gives her the strength to go on.

As you wrote, did you come across any component of your story that  surprised you? Plot-twists, Grand-New-Ideas!, new characters?

A new character named Kenneth rather pushed himself into my story. Right now he is keeping his identity hidden — he won't even reveal his last name! — but he's mysterious, and the little I know about him is vastly interesting. I can sense an adventure right at my fingertips, and excited butterflies are already coming to my stomach at the thought of discovering his history and motives.

Choose and share your three favorite pieces of descriptive writing you penned for the challenge.

A young girl — a woman, really — stood less than a few yards away, a rifle held awkwardly in her lily-white hands. She eyed him suspiciously, and the green in her eyes held all the defiance of a kitten that has been cornered by a large dog. She took in the wounds, the torn and dirty blouse, the musket lying nearby, but still she did not speak.

He was alone, and he knew not where he was. He could not move, and yet he felt no pain. The sky seemed to be made of black velvet, and it enveloped him in an embrace that had no sharp edges.

Her skin, barely more than gossamer over bones, did little to conceal the hot blood pulsing through her veins at that moment.

Share the meanest, most unfeeling line said by one of your characters from your July writing.

“I have made my decision, daughter. It is final. Do not beg me to change my mind, for you will only meet with disappointment.”
— Mr. Dixon

Pick one of your favorite characters from your July writing. Describe his/her wardrobe. Share how this character would dress is he/she were living in the year 2012 (or, if your character already dwells in the 2000's, describe how he/she would dress if he/she lived in the time period of your choice).

Leonard Williams is one of those characters who is entirely foppish and ridiculous (but not like Percy Blakeney. That manner of foppishness is acceptable). From the top of his powdered wig to the shining buckles on his black shoes, when it comes to this gentleman's wardrobe, his mantra appears to be "the more frills, the better." If you want proof, just take a look at one of his cravats. Placing Leonard in the twenty-first century would have rather dastardly affects; think skinny jeans, tennis shoes that defy normal proportions, and other flashy clothing of this manner. In other words, horrific. I'll spare you the gruesome details.

Pick your all-time favorite bit of July writing and share it with us. Tell us why the passage is your favorite.

He saw [the man] falling, the British infantryman raising his loaded rifle. Sunlight glinted off the steel barrel, concealing the next action from his eyes. He only felt the urge to move, and before his more practical side could object, he was throwing himself between the older man and that mocking rifle. The shot rang in his ears, and the bloody world around him shattered into bits, leaving nothing but an empty black abyss.
Rifles in the South Field

What I love about this scene is how spontaneously it came to me. My pen was practically on the heels of the idea, and the words seemed to spill onto the page before they had the chance to go through my head. At the time, I didn't even realize what a pivotal moment it would be and how it would affect the rest of the book. I just wrote . . . and this is what resulted.

Bonus Question! What was your favorite part of the Actually Finishing Something July Challenge?

Getting the initiative to start a new story, and riding the roller coaster of plotting. It has been a challenging and exciting experience, very difficult at times, but ultimately rewarding. I can't say I loved every minute of it, but at the end, I was glad I had accepted the challenge. It was a month well spent.

3 epistles:

  1. Ooh, that quote's from Little Women (1994)!
    I'm dying to read more of Rifles-- it sound so intriguing! A Revolution-era novel that takes place at a country plantation (correct, yes?) is so different than your normal run-of-the-mill story that takes place in Boston or Philadelphia right in the thick of things. Puts it in a new perspective, you know. I'm really looking forward to reading this if you get it published!

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  2. Lizzy, you're remarkable. The way you lace words together so beautifully is a feat to die for. ;) Now you've given me the urge to go and attempt the same!

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  3. Elizabeth Rose, your writing is spectacular! This was wonderful - your snippets are CHARMING! I also would love to read Rifles! :-)

    -Patience

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"Gracious words are like a honeycomb; sweetness to the soul and health to the body." —Proverbs 16:24

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