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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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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3 Tips on Finding Your Blogging Niche (Repost)

Hello Writer bugs!

Want to start a blog? Don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place. When you are just starting out, it can be hard to choose a blogging niche. You can pretty much create a blog about any topic. From dogs to donuts to drawing, the sky’s the limit. How do you find the right blogging niche for you? Check out some of these tips!

Write What You Love

Choose a topic you are genuinely interested in about, that you can talk forever about. Your passion will shine through your content. And by expressing what you love, you will find a community of others with the same passion and goals. Trust me, you can find a blog on just about every subject, from movies to making bird houses. If it’s “your thing”, write about that. Don’t pick a subject because it seems “profitable” or “popular”, or your voice will sound forced and eventually, you will lose interest. Blogging can be a fun, enjoyable experience if you pick a topic you care about.

Need to jog your brain a bit? Try these…

  • Write a list of your likes, your interests and your hobbies. What occupies your time?
  • Consider subjects you are knowledgeable about. What’s your area of expertise?
  • Think about the people and businesses you look up to or the websites and blogs you visit often.

Want to know the real test of a good blogging niche? Brainstorm some potential articles ideas. It could be 10, it could be 50. If you can think of possible posts about your topic, you may have found your subject matter.

For me, I love creative writing. I have a Bachelors in English, I’ve been writing stories for years. Although I’m not a published author yet, my heart is in every post. When I was deciding what to blog about, writing was the obvious choice for me. I wanted to help other writers while sharing my experience. And at first, I didn’t think anyone would be interested in what I had to say. And now, I have over 700 amazing followers.

Write from the heart and your audience will find you.

Narrow Down Your Niche

Finding your blogging niche is like a balancing act. If the topic is too broad, you will face a tremendous amount of competition. Also, you may be lost in a ocean of other blogs with similar subject matter. On the other side of the coin, if the topic is too specific, your blog may not gain traction. With a focus that is too narrow, you will have some difficulty creating content and will hit the wall, running out of post ideas.

For example, let’s say you wanted to start a blog on cooking. That’s great, however, this is a very general idea. How many blogs about cooking are out there? A million? Pear it down. Instead of cooking, think ‘vegan baking’ or ‘all things pizza’. See what I mean? Choose a blogging niche wide enough to write many posts about but specific enough to have you stand out from the crowd.

And I understand the temptation to write about multiple topics. People have many interests. However, this ideal works better for magazine publications than blog sites. A blog with different subjects may come off as unfocused and frankly, unprofessional. Think of it like this, I love tacos and cats and bike riding. Should I combine all three of my interests into one blog? Seems a bit scattered. Probably not the best idea. Could I have three separate blogs dedicated to those interests? Absolutely.

I’ll give you a real world example, from my freelancer writer days. My first internship was writing for a blog centered around the Disney theme parks. From travel tips to restaurant spotlights to the rides, there was a lot to write about. Yet it all stayed under the same umbrella. All the content had a common theme, a common vibe. When you find your blogging niche, make sure you find the focus of the subject.

Do the Research

The real question is, is your blogging niche profitable and will it actually earn views? That’s a tough one. No one can guarantee how much money a blog can make. It’s a shot in the dark and fortune favors the brave.

When you have plans for blog monetization, you need a blog topic that has a potential market. Search for businesses, brands and products that relate to the subject matter. By doing a little research, you can better prepare your blog for affiliate marketing. Let’s use that ‘vegan baking’ idea from before. I have a (hypothetical) blog about vegan baking. If I wanted to dip my toe into affiliate marketing, the blog could advertise products like cooking utensils, cookbooks and even vegan snacks. I could also spotlight services or classes on vegan baking.

Now, how will you know your blogging niche will earn views? Another shot in the dark. With the help of a little research, you can gain some clarity on what folks are searching for. Test out terms pertaining to your topic to see the average views and searches on certain sites. Vary the wording so you find the best results. For the Lady Jabberwocky blog, not only would I search the term ‘writing’, I can try other phrases like ‘creative writing’ or ‘fiction writing’ or ‘writing tips‘ as well. Try Google Trends, it’s a tool that can come in handy when choosing a niche.

Bottom line; If you know what potential readers are looking for, you can gear your content towards that target.


For all my fellow bloggers out there, how did you choose your blogging niche? What other topics did you consider? And if you are thinking about starting a blog or just starting out, what do you want to know about blogging? I might write a post about it. Talk to me in the comments, I love to here from you.

Stay safe and keep writing!

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

What Do YOU Want to See on My Blog?

Hello Writer Bees!

Happy New Year everyone! Wishing you all nothing but positive vibes and creative energy in 2022. Hope you had a wonderful holiday. Mine was lovely, got to spend it with family. Unfortunately, New York has been hit with another surge of COVID. We’re pretty much on lockdown again. I’ve been working from home the past few weeks, which I don’t mind. Reminds me of my freelancing days.

To start off the new year, I want to hear from you guys. My purpose for this blog has always been to support and encourage other writers in their creative pursuits. So, I want to know what you want to see on this blog. Seriously, writer bees, if there’s a topic you want me to talk about, I’m open to ideas and happy to help. Somes things to ponder include….

  • What do you want to learn more about in fiction writing or blog writing?
  • What are your writer struggles? What skills do you want to improve on in your own writing?
  • What do you want to know about me and my writing journey? Ask me anything!

Talk to me in the comments. Sorry, this first post is short and sweet. Life on my end has been hectic. But, I promise, I’ll try to ring in the new year as best as I can. Thank you for all the love and support.

Stay safe and stay creative.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky


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Receiving the Top Writing Blog Award from QueryLetter!

Hello Writer Bees!

So, something amazing happened. Lady Jabberwocky received an award.

The incredibly kind folks at QueryLetter.com honored me with the Top Writing Blog Award. Apparently, I’m a phenomenal resource for writers. Their words, not mine. Truly, I’m touched. Blogging isn’t always easy. I have my down days. Sometimes, I feel like I’m not doing enough for the Writing Community. Not helping enough. Not creating the best content possible. Sometimes, I feel like I’m not fulfilling a purpose.

This recognition means so much. You have no idea. I only hope I can live up to such high praise. I wanted to share this bit of good news with you all. In times like these, good news is a gift. I want to thank every single reader sticking around all this time. You are well appreciated. Seriously, this blog would not be here without you guys and your support.

Keep an eye out for this little gem floating around the blog.

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Stay safe and stay creative!

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky

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NaNoWriMo 2021: Week Four Update

Hello Writer Bees!

Hope you all are staying creative and staying safe during National Novel Writing Month.

Sorry for the late post. Between Thanksgiving and holiday shopping and family and friends, it’s been a bit hectic. Could they have planned National Novel Writing Month in any other month? Preferably one with less holidays. Still, us writers rise to the challenge. Hats off to all the fantastic writers out there putting their hearts into their creative endeavors, even in this holiday madness.

So, here’s an interesting thing I discovered while editing this week. This week, I focused on the clues of my murder mystery WIP. Frankly, I worried about being too obvious in the evidence. I want to leave breadcrumbs for readers (and detectives) to find, not loaves of bread. I want the grand finale to be grand and unexpected. Can’t be too easy or too hard to solve this mystery. During this editing process, I’m being mindful of when and how evidence is revealed in the story. I’ve been trimming away the more obvious hints from suspect interviews. That’s been my main focus in this final week of NaNoWriMo.

Maybe, over the weekend, I’ll doing some writing sprints. Maybe some editing sprints too, if that’s a thing. I’m looking forward to working on this story well into December. This experience got me motivated to write and to edit. I really do feel like I’ve made progress on my WIP. Guess that’s the point of NaNoWriMo.

Hope everyone had a happy holiday and a happy National Novel Writing Month. And remember, no matter how many words you wrote this month, no matter what you worked on, celebrate yourself. No matter what, any amount of progress is a success in my book.


How’s your NaNoWriMo journey? Did you complete your goals? Talk to me in the comments.

Stay safe and stay creative.

—Lady Jabberwocky

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