The time has come for part 2 of the Know the Novel link-up for this year! Now that we’re a good chunk of the way through November, let’s talk about how Lightning and Thunder are going and what I expect moving forward.
If you missed part 1, check it out here!
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1. How’s the writing going overall?
Decently well! I got to the end of Lightning‘s first draft on November 2nd, then went back over the following few workdays to fill in some bracketed scenes I’d left undone. There was a bit of a delay after that while my copy of Structuring Your Novel* was on loan (which was good for my blog progress and getting more of my non-fiction book written!), but I got that back this past Wednesday and on Thursday I started my Thunder outline! I’m hoping to at least have that outline finished–if not start drafting Thunder–by the end of the month, but we’ll see how that goes once holiday plans factor in.
2. What’s been the most fun aspect about writing this novel so far?
Is it bad to say “finishing”? XD It was super exciting to hit the finish line on a novel after so long in editing, publishing, and resting stages. (All of those stages were wonderful in their own right, and needed, but it’s also nice to return to drafting in earnest.) And I’ve really enjoyed seeing my alpha readers‘ feedback and all the things they pick up on that I wove in by accident, lol.
3. What do you think of your characters at this point? Who’s your favorite to write about?
Hm. Good question. I still like Nyla; she’s still probably the most consistently easy to write, so that’s nice, lol. Rhys gained some interest in the last few chapters of Lightning, and I’m hoping I can hold onto that in Thunder. Alaric and Ash are both tough, in different ways, and Alaric tends to be a little… melodramatic, which I’ll need to work on when I go back and edit. XD Erika is still Erika; not an especially good person, but her snark is fun and frequently makes me snort when I read it back.
There will be a couple more characters popping up regularly in Thunder, but they’re surprises so I can’t really talk about them. That said, they both have a lot of potential to be really fun and I hope I’m able to actually write them well.
4. Has your novel surprised you in any way?
I wasn’t entirely sure where a couple of the characters would end up at the end of Lightning, and the answer that arose for that question was a surprise to me. But, again, spoilers. ;P
5. Have you come across any problem areas?
Rhys was a challenge for a little while. She was boring, and I was having trouble making her character and her part of the story interesting, but I think I finally resolved that somewhat.
Now I have the challenge before me of outlining Thunder and giving it a functional, compelling arc and ending. I know basically where I want the story to end, but I’m a little nervous about working out the details. We’ll see how it goes, I suppose!
6. What’s been your biggest victory with writing this novel at this point?
Again, I think finishing the first draft of Lightning takes the cake, lol. And I’m pretty happy with the motivations I’ve given each of the characters for Thunder, and how smoothly they worked themselves out.
7. If you were transported into your novel and became any one of the characters, which one do you think you’d be? Would you take any different actions than they have?
In most ways, Rhys would be the obvious choice, except I dislike math and I would not want to be an accountant, lol. So if I were Rhys, I just wouldn’t be in the story at all; I’d go back to my family and their horse ranch and keep the horses and the barn clean.
If that’s too much of a cop-out, then I think I’d be Nyla. I’m not sure if I’d do anything differently. I might take a page out of Erika’s book and pay closer attention to the layout of everything, after a certain point, and I probably wouldn’t pursue one of the relationships she does for the sake of their escape plan. Beyond that, I’m not sure how we would or wouldn’t differ.
8. Give us the first sentence or paragraph then 2 (or 3!) more favorite snippets!
Here’s a little more than a paragraph from the beginning…
When Ash came to get me, I was already expecting him. He knocked more to alert me of his entry than anything before opening the door in his crisp Grantech uniform and telling me what I already knew.
“Good morning, Erika. I’m here to let you know that your powers have failed to manifest and you’re to be cut from the program.”
Killed. I was going to be killed.
A snippet from Nyla’s POV:
The automatic doors swung open before us and we stepped to one of three black cars hovering at the sidewalk. The locks clicked when Ash grabbed the driver’s door handle. Erika took shotgun and I slid into the back, belting myself into a bench that felt just like my backpack—sleek to the point of discomfort.
“Since you’ve yet to give me a destination.” Ash clicked a few buttons on the navigation panel. “I’ll choose.”
A moment later, the car was zooming over the road toward Upper Newbridge’s shopping district. Alone in the back seat, I stared out the window at blurs of metal and glass and the flash of ad screens. I rarely considered Newbridge a beautiful city, but I supposed it was a “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” scenario. It had its own glitzy, bright sort of beauty. Personally, I only truly saw it at night. Otherwise, it had always seemed plastic—a perfect façade for a city broken inside. Or maybe I only thought that because I tried to build a pretty façade over my own cracks and tears.
Snark from Erika:
“Why do you hate them so much? They’re the reason you’re not dead somewhere from your health issues or some armed mugger on the street.”
I snorted. “Sure. The nation is better off with Grantech at the controls and they’ve only ever been miracle-workers and perfect angels.” Ten steps to the next camera, twenty more after that, then another ten to my door.
“Of course they’re not perfect, but they’ve certainly done a lot of good. Getting criminals off the streets—including GenDevs, creating the technology we all use on a daily basis, vaccines… Rumor is they’re even working on a cure for cancer.”
Oh great. Just another notch in their campaign to brainwash the entire population. I could already see the headlines: “Grantech cures cancer! Get your shot for the low, low price of your firstborn child!”
“You couldn’t pay me enough to take a cancer cure from Grantech. And that’s saying a lot.”
And one more paragraph from Nyla:
My gaze wandered to the bulletin board across from my bed, drifting over the notes and drawings I’d been given by younger GenDevs over the years. There was one from Gilly, who saw a false future in Grantech’s experiments. Another from Caleb, who fought back tears anytime someone mentioned their sister or his. These kids needed hope. They needed to know that Grantech is not the end, that Grantech is not inevitable, that there is something more beyond what Grantech tries to turn us all into: broken soldiers built from the wreckage of children.
There are actually not a lot of spots in Lightning that really stand out to me for sharing snippets. I mostly hold onto individual sentences with this book rather than whole moments or scenes. (Each of these was grabbed based on a sentence I remembered or half-remembered.) I’m not certain if that’s just a difference from book to book or if it’s evidence that Lightning is in desperate need of edits (which is true regardless, lol).
9. Share an interesting tidbit about the writing process so far! (For example: Have you made any hilarious typos? Derailed from your outline? Killed off a character? Changed projects entirely? Anything you want to share!)
A couple of fun facts:
- Lightning is the first novel-length first draft I’ve completed since 2019.
- Thunder will be the first traditional sequel I’ve written (as far as I can find) since 2016. (I’m not counting any of the Dark War Trilogy books since they occur simultaneously rather than following one another chronologically.)
(These facts make the writing process simultaneously exciting and daunting, lol.)
10. Take us on a tour of what a normal writing day for this novel looks like. Where do you write? What time of day? Alone or with others? Is a lot of coffee (or some other drink) consumed? Do you light candles? Play music? Get distracted by social media (*cough, cough*)? Tell all!
I usually write on my living room couch. We set up a whole office/library room in our house, but I gravitate toward the living room because it has so much more natural light. Afternoons and evenings are my usual writing time (mostly afternoons), and there’s usually a story playlist going and either vanilla chai tea or Coca-Cola on the coffee table, lol. Most of my writing occurs during (or is at least instigated by) writing sprints, so I usually manage to stay fairly focused; accountability and virtual company help keep me on task, and if I keep going then it’s with the momentum and focus born from that. It’s more the getting started that’s a challenge if I don’t have a sprinting session to kick me into gear, lol.
There you go! A bit of an update on Lightning, Thunder, and a bit on the state of my writing as a whole with its changing seasons.
If you’ve been working on a writing project this month, how is the process going for you? What has been your biggest win so far? Share in the comments!