On Scrivener, Critique Partners, and that Pesky Inner Editor

Hi guys! Just thought I’d give a semi-update.

It has taken me weeks to get back into writing, mainly because of the mess I left myself with. I was writing out of chronic logical order (which I almost never do). As a result, I was left unsure of what needed to be written, and where to place the chuck of text. This is where Scrivener came it, to help organize my WIP into something that made sense. Now I know exactly what needs to be written, and where it needs to be placed. I’m sure that, at the very least, most of you have heard of Scrivener. Do you use the program? Do you like it? I feel like it’s been a life-saver, and now I’m ready to tackle this WIP.

Currently, I’m at 30k, and I need to write about 30k more. Hopefully, this first draft will be finished by the end of this month. I’m determined. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that I can allow this first draft to suck. It doesn’t have to be perfect. That inner editor, that green monster of jealousy, seems to come out when I feel the most inspired, though. If I can finish this draft, though, June will be spent unleashing that inner editor to mold this WIP into something that I can be proud of.

Currently, I am looking for critique partners to mainly plot with. I’m not ready to share most of my work, but I’m open to exchanging my first few chapters to other writers still trudging through their first (or maybe second or third) draft. Once I finish my draft, and I have something more substantial to share, the real work can begin. A critique partner isn’t my biggest priority, though. I’m just sending the offer out there, because I would love to have someone to exchange with. Just contact me at cannefrye@gmail.com if interested.

Until next time, happy writing!

–Cassie

 

An Update

It’s been over a year since I posted my first expert, so it’s high time I give an update (of some sort).

First, my WIP is now titled Before You Fade (not Second Chances). I think this title will stick, for now, because it more accurately represents the story’s emotional arc.

In addition to a new title, I made some plot adjustments. These changes did not affect the first few pages, but it did affect how I view my characters and their journey. And I am ever grateful to fellow writers who offered their input over sandwich and chips.

Last July, I also subjected my first five pages to critique via the First Five Pages Workshop. I was nervous. I had no idea what changes I would need to make, or if I’d agree to those changes. This workshop was an eye-opener, and it made me write with more purpose. If you want to find a way to make those first few pages stand out, this workshop is a great way to get detailed and honest feedback.

I still have a long way to go before I even consider publishing, but right now, I’m focused on finishing this draft. This story has been on my mind for over a year, and I cannot imagine giving up now.

Until my next update, happy writing!

— Cassie

First Excerpt

So I figured I’d go ahead and show the first few pages in my WIP entitled Second Chances. It’s a contemporary with a mild paranormal element. Hope you enjoy!

My name is not Meredith. That should have been the first clue.

 

“Meredith, time to get up,” my mother repeats. I imagine a hand firmly placed on her hip, her blue eyes staring me down. I moan. “I don’t have time for this!” She exclaims.

 

Without bothering to offer a warning, my mother (whose voice, I realize, is different), pulls back a curtain to let in a rush of light. The light is sharp, with a stinging quality. It’s impossible to keep my eyes closed.

 

So they open.

 

And my immediate thought is: This is not my room.

 

And this woman is not my mother.

 

Apparently, though, the woman doesn’t find my confused expression funny. She pulls off the blankets, believing it is Meredith that’s grabbing for the warmth of her covers.

 

My name is Hana, I want to say. Not Meredith.

 

My throat is paralyzed though. I try to piece together the events of last night—the rain, the lights, the screams—it all fills me with an overwhelming sense of panic and confusion. I spot an adjoining bathroom, and I rush towards it without a word, making sure to close the door behind me.

 

“Meredith, are you okay?” I hear the woman call. I would have corrected her this time. I would have demanded she stop calling me ‘Meredith’, except the image before me leaves me breathless. I am no longer looking at a tall, slender 16-year-old, with blue eyes, and straight blond hair. That girl had confidence. That girl knew who she was and where she was headed. The girl before me is heavier, with frizzy brown hair and light brown eyes. Her skin is slightly tanned, with freckles splattered across the cheeks. Meredith.

 

For a few moments, I don’t believe what I’m seeing. I’m crazy, I’m crazy, this is crazy. But then I remind myself that this bathroom is unfamiliar, and the woman’s voice is unfamiliar. I have no idea when or how I got here, which scares me. I can’t help myself. I feel a pressure rise in my chest, and proceed to let my legs drop by the toilet. Without thought, vomit comes up and I hear the hurling noises fill the room.

“Meredith, honey, are you sick?”

 

“I—I’m fine” I breathe the lie. “Just a stomach bug.”

 

This is more than a simple stomach bug.

 

I can feel, and see, my body tremble. Everything feels so real. I can’t quite shake off the influx of thoughts that threaten to shatter me, but I tell myself perhaps this is a dream. I’ll wake up and find it all terribly funny. Just a dream. My breathing slows at the thought. Dreams had a tendency to feel real. They also had a tendency to be a bit on the weird side. This has to be a dream. Pretty soon, I’ll wake up, image having to live the rest of my life in a different body, and laugh.

 

Only now I don’t feel like laughing. I feel a collection of tears brim and blur my vision. At least, this way, I can’t see my reflection properly and I can image it was just a fluke, a momentary lapse in sanity where my brain saw something that wasn’t true, something that wasn’t there. I then lift up a strand of hair and bring it in front of my face for inspection. It’s curly. And brown.

 

“Mother” knocks on the door again. “Maybe you should stay home then. Get some rest?” That’s not a bad idea, I think.

 

“Yeah…maybe…”

 

And then it hits me: where is my body?

 

“I think I’ll need to stay home today.” I say it with more conviction.

 

There’s a pause, a void that I fill by listening to my breath. In and Out. Then “mother” hesitantly responds.

 

“Alright, then. I’ll try and schedule an appointment with the doctor this afternoon.”

 

“NO!” I yell. “I mean, I—I don’t think it’ll be necessary.” The last thing I need is to be scrutinized by a know-it-all physician. How was I to explain that my name is not Meredith, that this isn’t my body? I would probably be considered insane and carted off the to the nearest asylum for evaluation. And if there was one thing I knew, it was that I was quite sane (thank you very much).

 

Another pause, and honestly, I’m glad for the silence. When “mother” says “okay”, and I her footsteps fade, I relish in the moment to recollect my thoughts.

 

One: I am not in my body.

 

Two: This is not my home.

 

Three: I need to find out what happened last night, what happened to my body.

 

It’s crazy, I know. A part of me refuses to accept the first two facts, but how can I not when the evidence surrounds me? Something isn’t right. I need answers. I need to know what happened, and I need to know more about the life I now inhabit. I let out a breath and turn on the water. The sound of it running is soothing, and I gather the liquid in my cupped hands and splash it on my face. The water keeps running. I look up at the mirror once more, hoping to be mistaken, but the same brown-haired girl is looking back. No illusion. It feels strange, trapped in a body that isn’t mine.

 

I feel my stomach twist, as if I’m rejecting this new life, and body, I’m suddenly inhabiting. For a few seconds I hover, waiting for more bile to come. Nothing does. So I take an empty glass by the sink, fill it with water, and rinse out my mouth. I gargle, spit, and repeat.

 

Then I turn off the faucet and leave the room. I can still taste the vomit in my mouth. Maybe some juice will help.

 

As I make my way out of the room, I take note of the plain white walls, the family portraits in the hallways, and the utter simplicity of the room I left behind—a desk, a bed, a bookshelf, and a few stuff animals. No posters hanging on the wall, no huge stereo, and no personal TV (a luxury I am not sure I’ll be able live without). I’m on the second floor of the home, I realize, when the hallway leads me to a set of stairs. I head down, lured by the sound of the TV blasting. The stairs lead to the living room where a man, who I presume to be my –no, Meredith’s—father is sitting in the armchair, watching news. He looks up at me and furrows his brow. “You mother said you were sick…”

 

I nod. In a way, you could say I was sick.

 

 

 

The Beginning: Journey of a Nurse-Writer

Hi! My name is Cassie (Anne Frye). I guess I should begin by saying that I am a nurse, first and foremost. I always knew I wanted to go into a ‘medical’ profession. First it was a Veterinarian, until I changed my mind. I wanted to work with people, and so I chose nursing. I’m also half Korean by my mother, I can play the piano, I’m an only child, and I hate peas. Ew.

I also happen to be 22 and a love of classic movies and classic literature (i.e. Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, Roman Holiday, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, To Kill a Mockingbird)

So what does this have to do with writing? I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I enjoyed reading, and I enjoyed coming up with my own stories. In middle school, I attempted to write, but without success. I’d get bored, and I’d move one to something else more interesting (be it school, friends, a book, or another story idea). Then I met a real-life person who had the perseverance to not just write, but stick with a story for > 300 pages. She inspired me, and so I sought out to write my own novel.

It’s a horrible story. Filled with cliches and cardboard characters. It probably won’t ever see the light of day again.

Then I wrote another story, and discovered FictionPress. I received feedback, and continued writing for the rest of high school. Then I graduated, and college happened. I lacked inspiration, and I lacked time. This lead to four years of nothing.

Only recently have I had the time, and motivation, to write a story I truly care about. I don’t want to just write a horrible first draft. I want to write a story that I can be proud of, a story that I might one day publish, and that will take time and hours upon hours of revisions. I’ve also been fortunate enough to discover the Young Adult genre, and all it has to offer. I’ve read so much lately, and I’ve been burning with the desire to write something of my own.

I am now armed with a really unique idea, so we’ll see what comes of it. My goal is to have a rough draft by April, so I can spend my summer editing, revising, and rewriting. Wish me luck. And, I wish all you writers out there good luck as well.

Happy writing,

Cassie