Unsure

Unsure

This is going to be a quick post as I haven’t got a lot of time this evening. But I just wanted to share with you a little about what’s been on my mind today.

As with many of my thoughts it’s to do with my writing and how it’s going.  To update you, I’m about to send my upcoming novel Reunion of the Heart to my proofreader. Once I have it back from her, I’ll start making the final preparations to publish it – hopefully by the end of the summer.

But it’s not Reunion of the Heart I’m stressing over – well not much anyway! 😉  It’s actually my new WIP, as yet untitled.  I’ve shared bits of it on WIPpet Wednesday; you can read this week’s excerpt here.

What I’m unsure about is the fact that it’s about a teacher (it’s a romance), a young woman, who works in a secondary school (11-16 yr olds), but I don’t know a huge amount about secondary schools in the 21st century – I haven’t been at a secondary school for the best part of 20 years.  I’m kind of feeling that I may be out of my depth.  I just don’t know enough about, for example, how technology is used in schools nowadays.  I’m sure it’s light years away from when I was there.

Also, although I’ve planned quite a lot for this story (I am DEFINITELY a plotter not a pantser!!), I feel that it’s still not clear in my head the way it should go in the middle.  I know the beginning and the end, I even know part of the middle, but it’s the in between scenes I’m trying to create now which are wearing me down.

So I was wondering… what do you guys do when you’re in a similar position to me?  Do you keep going and plugging away at it?  Or do you think ‘I’ll stop and do something else, or go back to the drawing board’?  And have you ever been writing something where you’re unsure you know enough about it?  If so, what do you do?

It’s  a lot of questions, I know.  But as always your thoughts are welcome. 🙂

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19 thoughts on “Unsure

  1. I would take some time to find a teacher and ask if you can talk to them about middle school. Maybe even send an email to a principal with an explanation of your purpose or a suggestion on how to get the information.

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    • Actually my parents are retired teachers. But my mum didn’t really teach in a secondary school and when I asked her some questions she couldn’t help me with much. My dad taught slightly older (16-18) so I could maybe ask him, but again he may not know the precise answer to my questions.

      But thank you for your suggestion, that’s helpful. I could maybe see if I could talk to someone who’s still working as a teacher. 🙂

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      • They might even known someone you can talk to. Former coworkers whose kids went into teaching. All I remember from my substitute days is that there’s a big focus on liability and making sure you don’t end up in a position where a student can make a scandal. Needless to say I didn’t like the environment.

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    • Sounds like our schools. Here in the UK we live in a very litigious society and kids often have the upper hand now. Laws have been passed – ostensibly to increase kids’ rights – which make it very easy for, say, a pupil to accuse a teacher of abuse, even if they’ve only touched them gently. It sounds crazy, but it happens. I’m not surprised you didn’t like the environment – I know I wouldn’t.

      Thanks so much for the advice. It’s always helpful! 🙂

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  2. Once you’ve completed a first draft, you should give it to a beta reader who also has knowledge of secondary school or schools in general. You’d be surprised how many are out there. Or work out which things you need to find out in particular and then research those parts. You don’t want to be researching unnecessarily, after all.

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    • Hi Cassandra, thanks for your comment, good to have your thoughts. That sounds like a good idea about a beta reader with experience of schools. And you’re right about research. I definitely need to focus on what I need to know.

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  3. I also second the suggestion to ask a teacher, especially because of the changing technology needs and the use of computers in class and cyberbullying issues. So much has changed in the last ten years.

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  4. You ask several great question, Elaine. 🙂 I’ve been there. For me, I just focused on finishing the first draft then I ran by a few Reslife beta readers to make sure stuff was accurate. If I start thinking about the research aspect too early it kills my creativity, which slows down my writing.

    The other thought that came to me reading your post, would you consider setting the story during the time you were in school? That would allow you to keep it the same, and it may feel more natural. This of course may change the genre a bit but it would still be romance. Personally, when I read contemporary books set in high school/ secondary, the author uses the setting in a very basic way. It’s like they kinda stick to the details that don’t change over time.

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    • Hi Chloe thanks for your thoughts. I’ve decided to follow your advice and set the story 20 years ago to when I was at secondary school. I haven’t written too much and the changes should be quite easy to make it believable for 20 years ago. So thank you!

      I don’t want to be doing too much research anyway, I’m never really that great at it anyway and generally rely on the web. I’ll keep you posted with my progress. Hope your writing’s going well too. 🙂

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      • Yay!! Happy to help! I think it will be more intriguing setting the time back. I read a YA recently set in the 80s and found it so awesome.

        And the writing is going as well as it can with all the packing I have to do for the move. I’m eager to get settled into my new home. 🙂

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  5. For the school question – do you have any teachers for neighbors? I’m not sure about the UK, but here in the States, there are often news reports conducted in classrooms. One station even has Teacher of the Week, and they interview students and the winning teacher in their class. Those could be good ways to find out some basics, quickly, and you could make a more detailed research list later, if need be.

    I’m fortunate in that my kids have, thus far in their lives, existed free of the school system.

    As for being stuck with scenes, I’ve been there. It got better when I went through the exercises in Rock Your Plot. They really helped me to figure out what I thought needed to happen in each scene, and things were easy to shift and adapt when the characters inevitably took over.

    It also doesn’t hurt to remember that the first draft is the first….and liable to change! =)

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    • Actually Shanjeniah, my parents are both retired teachers lol. But neither of them taught secondary (11 to 16 yr olds) much so couldn’t be a lot of help. But as I commented to Chloe above, I’ve decided to set it 20 yrs ago when I was at secondary school as it requires less research into the use of social media and technology etc.!! And of course I know more about what school life was like back then, compared with today where I know very little!

      And you’re absolutely right – it is the first draft and I must remember that. 🙂

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