Writing my 1st Whodunit Draft in a College Writing Workshop

Hello Writer Bees!

As some of you may know, my current WIP is a 1920’s murder mystery. But what inspired my first mystery story? When and how was “draft zero” born? Here is the story of how I started writing detective fiction.

A flashback to my college days. Because I was interested in mystery genre, I decided to take a detective fiction course. Super fun elective class. We read all the greats, like Doyle, Poe, Christie, and Spillane.  That same semester, I was also taking a fiction writing class, as one of my degree requirements.  

Here’s how fiction writing workshop worked. My professor charged us to write 2 short stories – any subject, any genre – 10 to 15 pages in length. Each session was dedicated to one student’s creative piece. Together, we’d discuss and critique each other’s work, offering constructive feedback. Picture your peers and fellow writers reading and judging your story, dissecting it in front of you. Needless to say, critique day was a daunting, nerve wracking and incredibly rewarding experience.

My first go around at workshop, I wrote The Tale of a Boy and a Mermaid, which I have posted here on this blog. Next turn up at bat, I wanted to write something out of my wheelhouse, something different.

Inspired by the mysteries I was reading at the time, I decided to try my hand at writing a whodunit. I thought, maybe this critique was the perfect opportunity to test drive this vague idea for a detective character I had. And mind you, none of my peers were writing any close to a murder mystery. As always, I was the oddball out.

With Jabberwock mode engaged, I furiously wrote a murder mystery, finishing the morning of my class. College deadlines, am I right? The story centered around the detective and his aid, Mister G.W. Barnaby and Oscar Fitzgerald, solving a case. Set in a 1920s Broadway theatre, an actress is shot with an assumed prop gun that had real bullets instead of fake ones. A bit cliché, I know. But I enjoyed writing a mystery, crafting suspects and leaving clues. Really did fall in love with the genre. Titling it ‘Murder at the Primdove Theatre’, I submitted the story to be judged by my classmates, biting my nails the whole time.

Surprisingly, they seemed to like the story. Peers pointed out their favorite lines and gushed over how fitting character names were to the time period. And that “Wow, what a plot twist!” moment from readers is priceless. However, I did receive some notes, like the pacing being too fast and not much setting description. Even with the notes of criticism, I was still proud of my little whodunit.

After I graduated, I set my sights on my next big goal; Becoming a published author before I turn 30 years old. Since I couldn’t get these sleuths out of my head, I gave them another case to crack, the Case of the Drowned Mermaid. Some elements from the workshop story carried over into my WIP, like the relationship between suspects. So, I always consider my first try at a whodunit as my ‘draft zero’, the little seed that started it all.

Moral of the story: If there is a time to take a risk with your craft, a writing workshop is the place to do it. Seriously, it’s a good place to experiment, to create freely, and to receive some honest feedback. Don’t be afraid to write outside your comfort zone. You’d be surprised what the outcome will be.

In my case, it was my current mystery WIP.


Hope you found my life story interesting. Do you have a story behind your first draft? Have you ever been involved with a writing workshop or class? Lemme know in the comments.

Stay safe and stay creative. Happy sleuthing!

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

Camp NaNoWriMo – Week Four Update & 1,300 Followers!

Hello Writer Bees!

This was my last week at Camp NaNoWriMo. Here’s how it went.

This was my first time participating in the event and I’m honestly happy I tried it out. Sometimes, we need a challenge like NaNoWriMo to push us to our end goal. I’m definitely a lot closer to that holy grail of a final draft than I was on April 1st. Feeling like I made good progress on my WIP. Camp NaNo helped me stay focused and motivated to work on my story a little everyday. With some more editing, It’ll be ready to read through the draft in its entirety.

Also, my devious plans for May of Mystery are finished. I’m super excited. Already dusting off my detective hat. For those new to the blog, May of Mystery is an entire month dedicated to mystery fiction. All prompts and posts will be mystery themed. Now that a posting schedule is in place for May, I’m all set to talk about all things mystery. Hope you all stick around and enjoy. And happy sleuthing!

If you’re feeling stuck, or want to write something new, try participating in a NaNoWriMo event. It’s a great way to get motivated and meet other talented writers. I highly recommend joining in. More the merrier. I had a great time at camp, even if I was in the editing trenches the whole time. Editing can be a difficult process. But this fun little event helped me trudge through.

My head is spinning from the seemingly endless rewrites and edits. I’m looking forward to taking it easy this weekend with my boyfriend. Play some DnD, watch some Sailor Moon, and eat copious amounts of takeout. A writer’s job isn’t always sunshine and roses. Make sure you take a break when needed, to recharge those beautiful creative juices.

On a side note, something else happened this month. This blog reached 1,300 followers. What!? That’s amazing! Thank you all so much for the love and support and positive writing vibes. You guys keep me writing and keep this blog going.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much.


How are your creative endeavors going? What progress have you made lately? Are you looking forward to May Of Mystery? Talk to me in the comments. As always, I love to hear from you.  

Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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Camp NaNoWriMo – Week Three Update

Hello Writer Bees!

Hope you all are staying safe and staying creative.

Thank you all for the lovely, supportive comments the past few weeks. I really do have the best readers out there. You guys made me feel so much better about my “same name” problem from last week. Maybe I’ll toss my worries away about naming characters and go with my writer gut. Thank you again for all the kind words and positive thoughts.

Life’s been busy this week. All good things, nothing bad. Didn’t have much free time but made do with the time I did have. Only able to get a little editing and writing done during my lunch breaks. Writing wise, I’m filling in tiny gaps and smoothing out transitions. Editing wise, I’m beginning to break down the story into even chapters. Didn’t realize until now that what I considered as chapter had vastly different word counts. Some were too short, some were too long. I’m working on find the goldilocks of things, so each chapter is around the same word count.

I’m still aiming to have a read through of a final draft by the end of Camp NaNoWriMo. I doubt it, but cross your fingers for me anyway. Right now, I’m stuck in a cycle of perpetual editing and writing to no end. Hard to see the end of the tunnel.

Question for the published writers and final drafters out there. How did you go about your final draft before publishing? Was it a lot of tweaking and editing before the plot just grows wings and flies out the nest? How did you know when your story was complete? I’m curious to hear what you have to say.

Aside from editing, my other goal for Camp NaNoWriMo was to plan May of Mystery. All the mystery prompts are scheduled ahead of time. Check that off my to-do list. Every month, I try to post one short story or flash fiction on this blog. Since May is detective themed, I’m playing around with a detective inspired story idea. Already starting the bare bones first draft. Hope you guys like it. If you have any ideas for mystery themed posts, or questions on detective fiction, let me know in the comments.

That’s been my third week at Camp NaNo. Working on both my WIP and on new content. Really looking forward to how my creative endeavors turn out.


How are your creative projects going? How is your Camp NaNoWriMo adventure?  

Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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Camp NaNoWriMo – Week Two Update

Hello Writer Bees!

Whose dish is on the chopping block? Apparently, my mystery WIP.

This week has been a massacre. Spent most of the week trimming unwanted tidbits from my story. Chunks of paragraphs are being considered for removal. When I’m editing, I underline sentences to mark that they will either be moved or cut altogether. Looks much better than a scary red pen scratching words out. And I’m seeing a lot underlined, starting to get a little nervous. Despite some self doubt, I continue to march on and eat my feelings in Chinese takeout.

Someone once gave me the advice to not delete words of the story. Instead, to set them aside in another word document. They called it the ‘graveyard’, a place to store material that could be used in future works. Some smaller plotlines and inconsequential sentences are being moved to the graveyard, for safe keeping. Maybe they aren’t right in this story, but they may be useful in another story.

Writing and editing has its ups and down. Last week, I felt great about my WIP. In good spirits. Felt like my work was decent, at best. This week, however, I asked myself ‘who would read this trash?’. Yes, the creative process may be a rollercoaster. But if you ever feel like I do, please, keep working and just hold on for the ride. It’ll all be worth it in the end, I’m sure.

In other news, I have a question for you guys. I’ve considered changing the name of two of my characters. As I looked through potential names, I realized a name I really liked is the same name as a notable real person. Then that got me thinking. Is that alright? I mean, I guess this was bound to happen, since I’m using realistic human names. So, I’m opening the floor to you. What do you think of characters that coincidently share a name with a real-life person? How do you go about that? Curious what you all have to say on the matter.

Let’s s see what week three of Camp NaNoWriMo has in store for me. Hope everyone participating in Camp NaNoWriMo is making good progress on their work.

Happy Easter and Passover to anyone celebrating!


How are your creative endeavors coming along? Talk to me in the comments!

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

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Camp NaNoWriMo – Week One Update

Hello Writer Bees!

Hope all your creative endeavors are going well. This month, I’ll be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo and focusing on editing my mystery WIP. Here’s how my first week at Camp NaNoWriMo went.

Feels like a strong start. Editing has been going well and I’ve cut many unnecessary sentences out. Something I love about mystery stories is that, when you read it a second time, you find these little details that end up being important clues as the sleuth narrows down suspects. Like the author was leaving these tiny breadcrumbs this whole time. Finding the balance being obscure and obvious hints can be tricky, but It’s fun to leave those subtle hints for readers to discover. In my opinion, a great mystery should be a puzzle for the detective and the audience to unravel.

Maybe it’s TMI, but let’s say Aunt Flo visited on April 1st. The humor of the universe is not lost on me. However, I put that hormonal rage into working on the – hopefully dramatic- conclusion, when the culprit is caught and confesses to murder. Who ever thought writing a villain monologue could be exciting and help with cramps.

Also, one of my other goals was to brainstorm for May Of Mystery. For those new to the blog, every year I dedicate the entire month of May to detective fiction. I have one or two ideas for mystery themed posts already. If you guys have any ideas for mystery related posts, or have a question about detective fiction, let me know in the comments. As always, I love to hear from you guys.

Sorry for the short update. Honestly, I want to get back to editing. This is my first time editing a work of fiction this size. I’ve been tweaking and polishing this WIP for so long, and now, I’m finally starting to see it shine.


Are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo? What are you currently working on? Talk to me in the comments!

Stay safe and stay creative.

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

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The Bookworm’s Tag

Hello Writer Bees,

I’m taking a day off today to unwind, catch up on some editing and do a fun tag. Shout out to Gilmo of Flaming Chickens for tagging me in the Bookworm’s tag. Next week will be my first update for Camp NaNoWriMo. Stay tuned for that!

Rules

  1. Thank and link to the blogger who nominated you. Thanks again, Flaming Chickens!
  2. Include the tag graphic in your post (Look up!)
  3. Answer the ten questions the blogger asked (Done!)
  4. Nominate between five and ten bloggers
  5. Ask your nominees ten book-related questions! (Look down! At the bottom!)
  6. Don’t feel bound to these rules
  7. (Most importantly) Have fun!

Questions

What is one character that you understand and empathize with more than others?

What a great question! Also, a tough one. If I have to choose, I’d say Alice from Alice in Wonderland. Her curiosity, her imagination and her adventurous spirit are traits I relate to and emphasize with. And I mean, I am called Lady Jabberwocky, it’s only fitting I’d pick a Wonderland character.

Do you like endings that are left up to you or given to you?

Both. It’s nice when plot lines are tied up in a neat bow and a story ends with a perfect chef’s kiss. On the other hand, I don’t mind endings that are up for interpterion or open to debate. As long as it’s not loose, unsatisfying ending that leaves the reader confused at the end. Those are the worst. Open ended or not, the plot itself should feel complete and finished at the end.

Chronicles of Narnia or Lord of The Rings?

Sorry LoTR fans, I’m choosing Narnia on this one. Can’t resist a wise, talking lion guardian. The world of Narnia is just so fantastical and gorgeous. I love the magical elements; I love the creatures. It’s very fairytalelike. Also, the relationship between the siblings is an interesting dynamic.

What genre is your favorite to write? What is your favorite to read?

I love reading and writing mysteries and detective fiction. I love reading and writing stories of fantasy and magic. Between those two genres, I couldn’t pick a favorite. Shady suspects and sleuths searching for clues are engaging and exciting. Whimsy and magic and supernatural elements are also engaging and exciting. Both genres appeal to me in different ways.

Music when you read/write or no?

I don’t listen to music when I read. For me, it can be a bit distracting. However, when I’m writing, I do listen to music. Sometimes, it’s a soundtrack to a Broadway musical or Disney film. Other times, it’s something light and acoustic, like a Jack Johnson’s Banana Pancakes, a personal favorite.

Pencil and paper or computer?

Normally, I write my WIP on the computer. Hats off to any writer who writes with pen and paper first. When I’m taking notes, or need to jot down a quick sentence, I’ll write on post-it notes. Which means my desk is covered in little sticky notes or random scraps of paper. I’m sure there is a coherent plot/thought in that pile somewhere.

What is your greatest struggle when writing?

So many struggles as I writer. Let me count the ways. Writer’s block. Self-doubt. Writing setting descriptions. Striving for perfection. All of the above, really. Right now, editing has been my biggest challenge. Feel like I’m in a perpetual state of tweaking the story. Polishing characters until they shine. A never-ending editing tunnel.

What is a book you like to re-read over and over (If there is one)?

Actually, once I read a book, I don’t usually read it again. Now that I think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever reread a book. Guess I’m more of a one-and-done kind of person. For the most part, I’m the same way about rewatching movies or T.V. shows too.

Do you prefer reading at home, in the library, or outside?

Well, since we’re still in a global pandemic, I’d say I prefer reading at home. Although, let’s be honest, I wasn’t leaving the house much before COVID anyway. No, I like to read at home, in bed, under a bunch of blankets. Fuzzy socks included. All cozy and comfortable at home, that’s my preferred reading spot.

And finally! Would you like to be nominated for a book tag again if I ever join one?

Yes. Definitely. Absolutely.


My Questions

  • If you could travel to any fiction world, where would you go?
  • What is your preferred genre to write in?
  • Who is your OTP? Your favorite fictional couple/ship?
  • How many books are you currently reading?
  • If you could only recommend one book for someone to read, which book would it be?
  • Have you ever read a graphic novel before?
  • What is your greatest struggle when writing?
  • If you could meet any fictional character in real life, who would it be and why?
  • Who is your favorite author(s)?
  • What is your go-to writing snack?

I’m tagging Jai Lyn, Poetisatinta, and Mythos to do this tag. And anyone else who wants to give it a try. Have fun Writer bees!

Stay safe and stay creative!

— Lady Jabberwocky

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15 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block (Repost for Camp NaNoWriMo)

Hello Writer bees!

(With Camp NaNoWriMo starting next week, some may struggle with writer’s block during this writing challenge. Don’t fret! To help with that, I’m reposting these awesome tips for beating the block. Good luck to everyone participating! – Victoria aka Lady Jabberwocky)

Hope you are are staying safe and writing wonderful work. And if you are feeling stuck with your writing, that’s alright too. Sometimes, it can be hard to get the words on the page. Don’t be discouraged. Writer’s block happens to everyone, myself included.

So today, I’m sharing some tips for beating the block and rekindling inspiration once again.

Be honest and ask yourself, “how do I break out of this funk I’m in?” and “What’s stopping me from writing?” Depending on what you need, there are three courses of action to take. Whatever route you choose, find what works for you.

See the source image

Push to Writing – the need to shake up you writing habits.

  1. Write in some place other from your usual spot. No need to chain yourself to your desk. Write in a different room of your home. Or outside. A new, quiet place.
  2. Freewriting: Write the first things that comes to mind, whatever it may be. Follow where the words take you. On a time crunch? Take a 5 minute writing sprint and write as fast as you can.
  3. Set deadlines and stick to them. Reach for a daily wordcount goal that’s achievable and works with your schedule. Even if it’s only a 100 words a day. You’ll be 100 words closer to your finished draft.
  4. Try writing exercises and prompts. They can be a fun, well-needed challenge for some writers and can get the brain working. But where can you find prompts? I post a Prompt of the Week every Monday. Check them out!
  5. Use a different writing tool. Instead of a keyboard, switch to paper or sticky notes or colorful markers.

Recharge – The need to step back from your writing endeavors.

  1. Take a break! A real one. Relax. And don’t think about your story. A little separation from your WIP is fine. Sometimes, lightbulb moments happen when you least expect. I speak from experience.
  2. Go for a walk. Alone, with music, or with a dog. Walks are great. Socially distanced walks while wearing masks is even better.
  3. Get cozy and curl up with a good book. Fuzzy socks included. Let your mind unwind and dive into a whole new world.
  4. Drink some coffee/tea/alcoholic beverage of choice. And stuff your face with your favorite food. Writing is hard work. Treat yourself to that tub of ice cream or bag of potato chips. I won’t judge.
  5. Sleep it off, or just lounge around. Rest, physically and mentally. There are times when the best ideas can come right before you fall asleep. Keep a notepad on your nightstand ready, in case you need to jot down ideas.
See the source image

Getting motivated and inspired! – the need to get pumped to write again and find inspiration.

  1. Browse through photos; especially images that relate to your story’s genre. Create an aesthetic board featuring images that remind you of your story. If you are writing historical fiction, keep a folder of snapshots from that time period.
  2. Talk it out. Talking to another person, writer or non-writer, about your ideas can get those creative juices flowing. Find someone you feel safe with and who encourages you. Don’t waste your time with people who judge you harshly.
  3. Read some quotes from some famous authors. Gather inspiration from the authors who came before you.
  4. Connect with other writers. The writing community is a fantastic group of creatives. Make friends, chat about WIPs, support each other through those tough times. It’s nice to have someone in your corner, to have that support system.
  5. Be okay with writing trash. Not everything you write will be perfect. And that’s fine, that’s what editing is for. Instead of striving for perfection, strive for the story that future readers can connect with. That’s the real goal, isn’t it?

How do you get through writer’s block? What’s your advice to a writer who is struggling? Let me know if the comments.

Stay safe and keep writing!

— Lady Jabberwocky.

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Off to Camp: Editing Mystery WIP in Camp NaNoWriMo

Hello Writer Bees!

The last few months have been stressful for me. Between office work overload, family stuff and trying to juggle everything, I felt completely burnt out. Think I was letting my feelings and stress build up to an overwhelming size. I needed to take a pause. Last weekend, my boyfriend and I went away for the weekend, for a well needed, long overdue, mental health break. Just to get away from all that stress weighing on my chest. We had a wonderful time despite the cold upstate New York weather. Now I feel way more relaxed, refreshed, and ready to embark on a new adventure: Camp NaNoWriMo.

Over the years, I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month but never Camp NaNoWriMo. This should be interesting. Every week, I’ll share an update on my progress. Stay tuned for that.

Here are some of my writing goals for Camp NaNoWriMo.

Mostly Editing

For those new to my blog, my current WIP is a murder mystery set in 1920’s Coney Island. After rewriting and retweaking for forever, it’s looking like a real final draft. Honestly speaking, this is my first time editing a large work of fiction. Editing is almost more difficult than writing, especially when it’s your own work. Maybe it’s the perfectionist in me, that’s probably why editing is taking longer than it should. During Camp NaNoWriMo, I’d like to spend the month fixing up final touches and ironing out details. Polish this WIP until it shines.

Final Read Through

At the end of Camp NaNo, I want to read through the WIP, from start to finish. That’s my end goal. I’ve been considering printing out the whole thing, so I can scribble down notes, if needed. And to physically just hold my work in my hands. If it’s ready for a final read through, I’d like to try an experience my story as a reader, not as the author. Which sounds impossible. Sometimes, it’s hard to shut off my writer brain when I’m reading for leisure. Anyone else?

Brainstorm Post Ideas for May of Mystery

This is like my side quest for Camp NaNoWriMo. Every year, I dedicate the entire month of May to detective fiction. I call it May of Mystery. All posts will be mystery themed, including the writing prompts. I’d like to brainstorm posts ideas for all the detective lovers out there. If you have any ideas for posts, let me know if the comments. Is there anything you want to know more about writing mysteries? I’m open to suggestions.


Are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo? What are you currently working on? Talk to me in the comments!

Stay safe and stay creative.

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

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