Another Book by Yours Truly

There is something mental about not having a working title for a story. Some writers are all chill about it, but I cannot function until I have one. I spent ages agonizing over the right one for this novel. All the ‘Writer this’ cliches were taken. Well, almost all of them. I present to you The Writer’s Game.

Even though the first draft is complete, I have no idea what The Game is. Though I think it may be navigating the many, many plotholes I have left in my wake.

It currently comes up at around 63k words; very short, less than half the length of The Good Adventurers.


I wish I could capture and bottle up the ultimate pantsing potion that I had when I was writing The Good Adventurers. I had no idea what was coming next; making up the last half off the top of my head as I went along. I was lucky that the result was any good, but I had a novel at the end.

Then I heard about character arcs. And plot structure. And other things which are good, but which I wish I could forget about when it comes to writing an actual draft. Because The Writer’s Game came pretty close to driving me batty. I counted the times I tried to write a complete first draft, and lost track at around ten. Some of them were as long as 20k words.

I turned into a perfectionist. Everywhere I turned I read ‘Your first draft should be terrible. Just write it.’ But I could not. There were problems I had to work through. I knew that the story would be most powerful in a contemporary setting, but I was coming off an Edwardian high and terrified of writing That Homeschooler Novel.

I beat that fear and I could write, but the story would not click, and I was not happy with it. Then I found my jumping off point. And I began to experiment with POV. From third to first, to double first. But dual first person point of view is held in low regard, so I ditched that and went back to third. Finally I settled on first.

I never had an epiphany over my block, but I did participate in NaNoWriMo.  And I read James Scott Bell’s Revision and Self-Editing for Publication. (I plan to review it, but for now I will say that I absolutely recommend it.) And for my second draft I think I will take Sybil’s voice and revert to third. I am more familiar with it.

But I tell you all this to explain: I am all for throwing up your first draft onto paper. If you can. But do allow yourself grace to find the niche where your story belongs. You can always go and change it later, but if you’re already in the right spot it will not merely be written–it will flourish. You will be more excited and happier about it. Remember too, that perfectionism is a monster that will destroy creativity if you aren’t careful. Balance it.

And now for staying with me through that jumble, I reward you with more jumbles.

 The Writer’s Game

Writer's Game Moodboard
The Writer’s Game moodboard. (All pictures found on Pinterest.)

 First impressions at a library are not as ideal as they seem.  

 In a world of hateful rules and perfect role models, Sybil Lewis would rather hide in a corner and write fantasy.  

Born to a trust fund in a town bearing his name, Robert Watson has had to fight nonetheless, every inch of the way for his education, constantly threatened by a fragile state of health.

A student and a writer.  Both have secrets which are bound to be discovered. What happens at the library begins to change them both forever. 

Sybil embodies the changes in words, but the resulting book is lost irretrievably. When it turns up again, in the strangest of places, shamelessly plagiarized and published under an anonymous signature, Sybil sets out on a quest to find the miscreant.

It’s young adult meets new adult. Literally. A young adult meets a new adult. Lots of confusion and feels ensue, and it’s very confused in a tenth first draft state, but I will share with you a few snippets.

   Robert looked up. “Pardon?”

“Nothing!” I shook my head vigorously.

Robert laid down his pen. “I’m—”

“Robert. I know.” I bit my lip. Ugh. How rude! (Could this get much worse?) I should have just gotten up while he wasn’t looking. Now he thought I wanted to chat. I released my lip. “I’m—”

“Sybil. I know.”

I wonder what else he knows.” I said to myself. “Doesn’t he go to college somewhere?

“I go to Yale. I’m home on account of the storm.”

My eyes must have been enormous. “Did I say that—out loud?”

“Yes, you did. Was I eavesdropping? So sorry.” The corner of Robert’s thin mouth turned up and something akin to amusement glittered in his ferrety eyes.

–From The Writer’s Game, by Lydia Carns

   I was rather enjoying this cross-examination. Emmett was growing wondrously uneasy. Just as I opened my mouth to continue, he slammed down his glass so hard it cracked and lifted his shaking finger at me.

“Look here, Sybil Lewis!”

–From The Writer’s Game, by Lydia Carns

 “You intimidate me. In the nicest sort of way, of course!”

There you go. I could have kicked myself for how stupid it sounded. Intimidated in a nice way? What was I thinking? He didn’t reply, though, so I had time to reformulate my thoughts.

“Okay, try this on for size. If the Watson family were bears, Margaret would be a teddy bear and you would be a Grizzly.”

Not much better, even if it made more sense. I wouldn’t blame him for laughing if he had, but he sat on the banister and looked thoughtful.

–From The Writer’s Game, by Lydia Carns


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