Sunday, November 15, 2009

NaNoWriMo Week 2 Wrap-Up + An Excerpt...

I've had an erratic second week. Due to the craziness of my school schedule, I was only able to write every other day--but oh man! I literally wrote about 3,000 words every time I could sit down to write. Now that my other main character's in the picture, some of the scenes seen to come a lot more easily, which I suppose is a good thing. I'm having a blast working on the dialogue between the two MCs. I really like the two of them. Still don't like my MC's family (darn stupid trying to write three-dimensional parents and siblings! gahh!) but whatever, I'm not going to worry TOO much about that at the moment.

I'm surprised that, at 24,000 words into the story, the plot still hasn't even picked up. I intended for this story to be a middle-grade novel...but that's looking unlikely right now. I might have to rethink a few key characteristics about the characters in the revision (like, uh, their AGE). This week I'm hoping that I'll manage to get them to have their key, plot-turning conversation, and make my MC start school, where she'll face.... well, that's another post for another day.

Now, I usually dislike showing my first-draft work to anyone, but as many people seem to be making exceptions for NaNo, and because I know you're all so ridiculously curious to see how my fiction writing is compared to my blog-post writing *scoffs*, here is a short scene, the second conversation that my two MCs, 12-year-old Darcy and 14-year-old Danny, have together.

And yes, I'm aware that I probably haven't really told you what the synopsis of my WIP is. That's because I'm really bad at writing short, scintillating summaries, and I am definitely not going to post my 10-page synopsis, because, uh, that would defeat the purpose, if you guys know what's going to happen before the book even gets revised and maybe goes on into the great big (and scary) world of publishing! *blinks innocently*

Alright, enough procrastinating, Steph. Here goes nothing... my really rough draft of one scene...:

The next morning, I finally clean up the last of the junk that’s on the floor of my room, and after lunch, I tell Mom that I’m heading out. Only I’m not going too far. I do a couple laps around the neighborhood, just so that my muscles won’t fall into disuse, and I end up in front of the Windchime House—Danny’s house. Thanks to some heavy clouds, it’s cooler than usual, and a mild breeze blows through my hair. My palms tingle as I nervously walk up to their front porch.

I don’t hear a sound from within. Guess Danny doesn’t practice at the same time every day. Is he still somewhere inside his house, though? He told me yesterday that he didn’t go out, but I find that hard to believe. Since when can kids be cooped up 24/7 like that? I leap off the porch and walk around the house, whistling softly.

The living room window that was open yesterday is closed. Disappointment stabs my heart. I was looking forward to talking to someone friendly so much, and now what happens? I slump onto the grass and fight back a pout. This just shows me that I shouldn’t want something too bad: when they don’t come true, it sucks more than usual.

“So you’re squatting on my land now?”

I bounce up so quickly that a passing observer would think I just got electrocuted. I jerk my head around, trying to see where the voice is coming from.

A soft laugh from above me makes me look up. A window on the second floor is open, and a pale-skinned, dark-haired boy is leaning out of it, looking down at me.

It’s Danny. I’m seeing him in natural light. My jaw drops.

“Don’t you—can’t you—get back inside!” I shout.

“What?” For a second he looks confused. His shoulders tense, but then he relaxes and smiles.

“Don’t get so wound up, Darcy,” he says. “Do you see the sun anywhere?”

Actually, now that he mentions it, I don’t. I tilt my head way, way back and stare up into a silver sky.

“It’s only the sun that’s irritating on my skin,” Danny explains. “I like cloudy days.”

“I don’t,” I mutter. Cloudy and rainy days make me listless. I just want to stay in bed all day and not move—very unusual for me.

“Why’s that?” Danny says, and I jump. How did he hear me from twenty feet up? Must be those musician ears.

“They’re boring. No sun. No excitement. No reason for going outside and moving,” I say. “Oh, shoot. Was that insensitive of me?”

“You don’t have to shout. I can hear you perfectly fine.”

I frown. I only raised my voice a little. “Fine,” I say. “Is this better?”

Danny nods; his wild dark hair moves in all different directions.

“Perfect,” he says, grinning. “And now please talk some more.”

“Well, what do you want me to talk about? I already feel stupid about bringing up the sun thing. You must miss it a lot, and here I am blabbing on and on about how I hate cloudy days.”

“I don’t even remember what the sun feels like anymore.”

“That’s terrible. No one should have to feel that way.”

I’m a little doubtful of the fact that he wants me to pretend like I’m having a conversation with him right next to me, when he’s really two stories up in the air. This is going to take some getting used to.

I can see Danny shrug. I shake my shoulders out a little too; they’re beginning to hurt from me craning my neck back to look at him.

“Do we have to continue talking like this?” I ask.

“Sorry,” Danny says. “One, I don’t think we’ve ever had a guest over in our house before, and so the house is a literal pig-sty. And two, I don’t know if my parents even allow guests over.”

“That’s so weird.” I have to look down to stretch out my neck, and I continue to talk while I pace in circles below Danny’s window. “Are your parents really controlling? Some people say that mine are, but they’re pretty laid back for Asian parents, I think. At least, that’s the impression I get from my friends back home. I used to live in Philly, you know. Sorry—Philadelphia for you Southerners. I just moved here ten days ago.”

If anyone walks into Danny’s backyard just now, or if someone looks through the kitchen window in my house, they will see a crazy Asian girl seemingly talking to herself. How embarrassing.

“Nah, they’re not really controlling,” Danny says. “I think they’re just not really sure how to deal with someone like me.”

“What, someone with a sun allergy?”

“That’s part of it.”

“Why would that be hard?” I say as I continue pacing. “Just stay out of the sun, but still be able to invite friends over. Or maybe you can carry an umbrella with you when you go out! Will that work?”

Danny laughs. “I’ve never tried it,” he admits, “but maybe one day I will. Tell me about Philadelphia—or, er, Philly, I guess, as you crazy Northerners call it.”

So I do. I tell him about the narrow, crowded streets of West Philly, the way the townhouses all looked the same as you looked down one street, then another. I tell him about playing pickup soccer and basketball and roller hockey in the empty lots and alleys of my old neighborhood. I tell him about public transportation, about how you can get on a trolley that brings you over the Schuylkill River and into the real city of Philadelphia itself, and how you can get off at various parts of the city and feel like you’re in a different world each time. You can get off at Rittenhouse Square and windowshop at the posh luxury stores along Walnut, pass an afternoon away in the three-story Barnes & Noble. Or you can ride the line into the eastern part of the city, among Independence Hall and old buildings that have been around since the yellow fever epidemic of 1793.

I tell him about the quaint art shops in Old City, buying full meals at silver carts lined up on every block, making fun of the khaki-wearing officers who patrol Independence Hall, holding our breaths as the stinky carriage-ride horses for tourists drive by, waving at silly people from Minnesota or Oregon or Arizona who ride the Duck Tour and quack at us with their free yellow quackers. I remember the country flags flapping in strong breezes down Franklin Parkway.

Talking about my old home makes me a little homesick, but I wave the feeling away, telling myself that I am telling Danny these things because he might never have the chance to see them for himself, and that is a real pity. I talk until my voice is hoarse and I realize with a start that the cloudy-day shadows in Danny’s backyard have changed. I shiver, stutter, cough, and my monologue comes to a halt. I look up.

Danny is leaning on the windowsill with his elbows, his hand propping his head up. He has a faraway look in his eyes, and even though my throat is burning, I don’t want to make a sound, not wanting to disturb the peaceful and wistful expression on his face.

“Thank you, Darcy,” he says, so quietly I can hardly hear him. “I really loved hearing about Philadel—Philly. I hope I can go there one day.” And then his eyes seem to return to the present, and he looks down at me and smiles. Warmth rushes through my limbs as I smile back. Danny slides his window closed, and I go back to my house and drink about two gallons of water straight from the tap while my mom looks on bemusedly.

“Busy day?” she says. “Or did you suddenly realize that when the doctors say 64 floral ounces of day, they actually mean it?”

I roll my eyes and refill my glass. “I talked a lot with a new friend today,” I say.


  1. homg I absolutely adore this excerpt! =D lol, your wordcount is putting me to shame... *is stuck at 14000 for nanowrimo* Anyhow, good luck with the writing for the rest of the month! =D

  2. Wow Steph, this is so great, especially for a first draft-mine never look this clean or make so much sense. And YES for the Philly mention! I get soooo excited when novels take place in Philly -more points for mentioning WaWa! Great job!

  3. Wow ... I just LOVE this. ('Course, anything set in Philly would get my attention :) ... but besides that, this is really good.)

    You're putting me to shame with my NaNo word counts, too. I'm only at 15,362 as of tonight. Not so good.

    Keep writing, and keep posting excerpts as you're comfortable in sharing them with us. I want to read more.

  4. Terrific excerpt and super job at word count. Keep it up, you are going somewhere good with this.

  5. The excpert is so neat and well-written. God how could you write so fast and still managed to deliver such a lovely story? I'm jealous of your skills.

  6. This is wonderful! I want to read mooooooooooorrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeee!!And your main protag is Asian, yay diversity in MG/YA! The writing is excellent, and this first scene makes me so curious to read what happens next. Can't wait to read the next part (whether on your blog or in an actual book!)


Hello! I'm so excited to read what you have to say. Due to high amounts of spam, I'm forced to disabled anonymous comments for the time being. Sorry for any inconvenience this causes, and I hope you can understand and still appreciate the content here!


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