About five days ago, I posted that I’d hit the 30k mark for Saints at sea, and I was super excited, and over the long weekend, I cranked out another 22k and successfully wrapped up part one! And as always, it was interesting getting here.
Let’s start with this weekend. It was amazing. I’ve really needed this. Last weekend, or the one before, I realized that it was the first time I didn’t have anything scheduled on at least one of my weekend days since early March. And even without anything scheduled, I managed to be busy pretty much all day every day. So, when this long weekend arrived, and my boss let us out early on Friday afternoon, oh man. I had plans for this weekend. And those plans meant that I was not getting out of bed until this morning, on Tuesday.
Saturday was the usual–teaching yoga, grocery shopping, doing laundry, watching a little of Black Sails, and other similar things. It was a pretty busy day, so when nighttime rolled around, I settled in to catch up on Nile Wilson’s vlogs, finish volume two of Valerian, went to bed early because we were supposed to go to Todd Farm in the morning, and woke up to rain. Todd Farm doesn’t happen in bad weather, so though I was up early, I didn’t have anything to do. Sunday was perhaps one of the best days ever. I decided that I wanted to read Bad Call by Stephen Wallenfels in one day, gave myself permission to not write, and spent the entire day either reading or watching Man About Cake (I’m obsessedddd, I can’t stop). Paused around lunchtime to watch the new Worth It because that’s my Sunday jam, paused again before dinner to do an hour of yoga and accomplished, for the first time ever, compass pose. I was super stoked, especially because I’d done my first handstand EVER on Saturday morning, so it was a really good fitness weekend, as well. In the end, I finished Bad Call on Sunday, it was amazing and I can’t wait for you to see my review, stayed up a little late watching Call Me By Your Name (help it was so good), and then it was to bed again. Monday was a writing day. I didn’t have any books that I wanted to start or finish that day, so I took up residence on the couch again and got to work.
(After running, ugh, why do I do this to myself.)
I realized, about 300 words in, that there was zero romance in part one, and that just did not sit well with me. Spoiler: I am a huge romance fan. Like, give me any romcom in the world, and I’ll watch it. Give me one with Chris Evans in it, and I’ll watch it 87 times. My favorite romances are Atonement, Bright Star, and PS I Love You, all ones that’ll shatter your heart. My fanfiction is–you know, I was going to try to think of another word to put here, but explicit is the only one that comes up, and I’m not ashamed. Why? Because my fanfiction is usually a solid 50k (usually more) of plot and steamy romance scenes. (No, I have not read 50 Shades, and no, I will not ever.) While writing the first draft of Pen boys, I definitely put too much romance and not enough magic given that it’s a YA urban fantasy, but like, boys. UGH. I love boys in love so much, it’s my weakness. There was really no reason for there to have been no romance in part one of Saints at sea, either, because when we start, there’s already an established relationship. Not only that, but Henry & Cole have their own private cabin since Henry’s the ship’s doctor. So, like, what am I doing wrong over here, guys? This is bad. I need kissing.
Maggie Stiefvater once talked about how the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy were capital K Kissing books, and that the Raven Cycle series were not. That is definitely true, and I’m only mentioning it because I love that phrase “capital K Kissing books” so freaking much. There’s kissing in TRC, and it’s delightful and makes my heart sing, but it’s, yeah, so definitely not a capital K one, and Shiver makes my bones melt, that’s how gooey it is. It’s great. It’s one of the reasons it’s my favorite book of all time. (YES OF ALL TIME EVEN MORE THAN HARRY POTTER SHUSH)
So. That begs the question. Do I have any capital K Kissing books? Hell yeah. They all are, let’s be realistic. But, they all also aren’t. Okay, the Pen boys might just honestly be a capital K Kissing book, I’m not going to lie. But the Saintsverse novels both are and aren’t. Aren’t because they’re way more full of magic and adventure and foreign worlds, but also are because sometimes there’s an entire chapter of just straight up fluff and I cannot control myself.
Why is all of this relevant to the writing I did yesterday?
Because 300 words into a Julian chapter, I realized there had been no romance, and promptly wrote 2600 words of capital K Kissing material. Like. Damn. There was no stopping me whatsoever. I should have listened, though, because every few hundred words, I’d pause and frown a little at the screen, wonder if this was where this chapter was supposed to be going, and keep writing. Originally, I’d planned for Julian’s chapter to have a scene with Sam in it, and for it not to be 100% devoted to his feelings about a certain crew member. It took me all of those 2600 words to realize that I was getting way ahead of myself, that this scene could not happen until way later, possibly not even in this book, and that hello, I already have an established relationship that I can get my fix with, so back the heck off, delete those 2600 words, and start over.
This is not the first time this has happened to me in this book. At the very, very beginning, when I was writing Julian’s first chapter (in his POV, not the prologue one), I wrote a good 1000 words describing this awful event that had befallen the Wolf, finished up the chapter, and realized that that awful event was actually supposed to happen in this book, and don’tcha know, now I have to rewrite the first chapter and fix my outline. I now have a “scenes that don’t have a home” file, and while it’s infuriating, it’s also kind of interesting to see this happening. I’ve never really been one to write things, and then scrap them for later. I usually just let the story flow where it wants, and that’s how I end up with 180k word novels that are just every plot line I could think of shoved into one. But Saints at sea (and, really, Saints 1 & 2, as well) have been different. I’m trying to tell a story here, and there are some things that need to take a backseat until later.
Like capital K Kissing scenes? Girl, the first two chapters of part two are definitely going to be in Henry & Cole’s POVs to make up for the tragedy that is no romance in part one. I miss my boys in love.
After that debacle, though, and Julian’s chapter took on the space that it was originally supposed to take on (the scene with Sam is so much better suited to the story right now), I was able to really kick it into high gear. I knew that I only had a Julian & a Pippa chapter left, and I was pretty sure what I wanted to do in the Pippa chapter, or at least where I wanted it to end, so I put my headphones on, put on a little Lord Huron (their album, Lonesome Dreams, has been on repeat constantly for this novel, as well as literally anything by SYML), and finished part one. Threw some angst in there cos that’s also glaringly missing from part one, and that upsets me, topped it off with a quick week and a half time jump, and now I am ready for part two.
Nah, not yet. I thought about just diving right in to part two today, but I keep feeling like part one is missing things. Romance? Yes. Angst? Double yes. Has this happened to me before in this verse? Uh, actually, yes. I didn’t even realize. After I finished part one of the first Saints, I took a step back and realized that I’d left out all of the emotional bits. It was just story and adventure and go go go. There was nothing making me feel for my characters, which means there was going to be nothing making my readers feel for them, which is bad. Therefore, though part one is done, it’s also not. I’m going to go back, read through it, and fluff it up with all of the feelings. Because, in the end, no matter how good the story is, if you don’t care about the characters, you don’t actually care about the story. Victoria Schwab has been talking about this idea a lot lately, and I 100% agree with her. If you’re not invested in the characters, you’re unlikely to finish the book, and even if you do push through and finish, you’re probably not going to remember it. I want my readers to remember these characters, to cry and gasp and laugh over them. I want them to feel their hurt and their longing and their excitement. I want this to shake you at the core, just a little. And that can’t be done without feelings, so it’s back to my favorite things in the world–capital K Kissing and hurting my characters.
Someday, I’m going to have an answer to why writers enjoy hurting their characters, but it’s not this day. I don’t know why. We just enjoy it. We like breaking them apart so that we can build them back up again. (Hey, maybe that’s part of the answer.)
For now, though, it’s back to work, back to working out and eating well, back to Googling what ships do at night and realizing that dropping anchor in the middle of the ocean is a stupid idea because the ocean is hecka big and wow I should have realized this long before now.