Life Doesn't Fit in a File Folder

Showing A Little WIP: A Teeny Excerpt of my Fiction Manuscript

I don’t know if you’ve seen the latest meme being passed around the interwebs, but it’s called Lucky 7, and I was tagged by Shannyn Schroeder and Fabio Bueno to share some writing from my WIP.

Like most things that get passed around, Lucky 7 causes headache, nausea and vomiting has its own set of rules. Here’s what you are supposed to do:

Open your WIP (work in progress) and:

1. Go to page 77

2. Go to line 7 on that page

3. Copy the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs as they are written.

4. Tag 7 authors who are also have Works in Progress.

I’m petrified but here I go:

Adina locked the bathroom door and climbed into the bathtub with the telephone. She laid down as flat as she could and tried to make herself invisible. Her fingers shook. She didn’t know what to do. It never occurred to her to call the police. She didn’t know the number, and 911 service wasn’t available in 1977. As Adina stuck her fingers into the round holes and dialed Jodi’s digits, she cursed her family’s rotary phones.

Adina waited one hundred years in that bathtub. The tap dripped 264 times. Time enough for an ocean to smooth a stone. Time enough for moss to grow on tree trunks. When Jodi finally answered, Adina whispered into the mouthpiece. “There are people in my house!”

“Why are you whispering?” Jodi shouted in Adina’s ear. “I can’t hear you.”

Adina’s lungs felt too small in her chest. “We’re being robbed! And I’m in the house!” Adina felt something inside her telling her to run, but she felt an equal and opposite force demanding that she remain perfectly still.

“Omigosh!” Jodi was whispering now. “Deen, can you get out?”

Adina pressed her back against the white porcelain tub. She strained to figure out the whereabouts of the intruders. They sounded far away, but she couldn’t be sure. Adina heard laughter, so she knew there were a few of them. She heard silverware clanking. It could’ve been her father banging around, preparing to eat his evening orange, meticulously pulling apart each section and reading the newspaper. Except it wasn’t.

They’re in the kitchen, Adina reasoned. And while her brain wanted to make a run for it, her body was paralyzed.

My feelings right now can best be summed up in a line from a song by Gloria Gaynor. “At first I was afraid, I was petrified…” Because it’s scary to put your baby out into the world. Especially when he’s not yet ready for prime time.

The 7 authors I’d like to tag are:

  1. El Farris
  2. Deb Bryan
  3. Leanne Shirtliffe
  4. Catie Rhodes
  5. Kathy Owen
  6. Gene Lempp
  7. Ellie Ann Soderstrom

So, um, like… what do you think? And what can you get from 7 paragraphs?

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61 thoughts on “Showing A Little WIP: A Teeny Excerpt of my Fiction Manuscript

  1. Love it! Should’ve guessed you’d have a scene set in the bathtub, you know, without water. 😉

    I’m a little scared to do this. And to give you an idea of how legalistic my mind can be, these are the things that run through it:
    -Is it page 77 when in manuscript form?
    -Is it page 77 in paperback or trade format?
    (I write in Scrivener. It may give me too many options).

    Love ya, Renzay!

  2. You know I have to be the d-bag fun-sponge who makes the Donna Summer/Gloria Gaynor correction… cause that’s what I do;-)

      1. I am assuming you are just busting my spheres with the “Even though you might not know what that is” comment, so I’ll let that one slide. And I’d be happy to.

  3. Love the excerpt, Renee. Gripping, good tension.

    You’re the 5th or 6th person to tag me for this (yes, I lost count) and all I can say is my WIP isn’t on page 77 yet – which gives me time, right? *grins* Thanks, always appreciated 🙂

  4. You took the plunge! Good, because your excerpt rocks!
    We can see the tone of your novel in just those paragraphs. I’m intrigued about how Adina end up in 1977. I agree with Lisha: “Time enough for an ocean to smooth a stone.” is an evocative image.
    You have nothing to be afraid of; great job!

  5. You build the tension really well. I feel like her thought process is very natural.
    I am curious as to your word count for your WIP that is 77 pages. Well, more than. I have a WIP that is 30 pages and 20,000. I am trying to figure out how much more it needs.

    1. I’m at 80K. I think I have about 5K more to go and then all the puzzle pieces will be together. Kind of. And then I’ll need to go back through and add jazz hands and pixie dust. And figure out why she started out in blue and ended up in yellow in the same scene. Ans something about forks. Yeah. You know what I mean, right? So I keep plugging along.

      Having an accountability partner helps so much. El Farris from Running From Hell with El is mine. We trade stuff once a week for feedback and to make sure we are moving forward.

      1. Haha, you can call me Michelle (or skipping stones or skipping or skippy or stoney or steadily – I get called lots of things). I don’t know why I’m so reluctant to just go ahead and put my real name on the blog; plenty of people know my name. I think part of it is that I’ve been skipping stones for a year, and that person has grown a lot in that time. I’m not ready to let her go yet, even if it is just a name. 🙂

  6. This is freakin’ awesome! I want to read more. Put me on your list of potential draft readers. 🙂 Pretty please…

    And because I am a total pop culture nerd, I was going to have to tell you Gloria Gaynor sang that song but then I see you figured that out. 😉

      1. I’m taking the steady and persistent approach to writing. 🙂 I’m 2000 words into draft 1 and I’ve only been working on it a year. LOL

          1. I hear ya. I keep thinking “when taz goes to school…” but I’m not sure that will really make it any easier. I need to just SCHEDULE time each week for it.

  7. I understand the fear! But seriously, your baby is cute. And I’m not just saying that. 😉

    Seriously, you made me want to read more!

    Also, because I happened to read Leanne’s comment when I scrolled down…those who have been tagged should in NO way change the font size to have the lines on page 77 fall to lines you are more willing to share.

    Ahem. 🙂

  8. Hey! It brings back memories of when I was 10 and came home to the house ….burglarized… just some feelings that I felt…. I did not know if they were still in the house so first is fear…shock at what you see… something was wrong…..that pit in your stomach…..frozen….and then you just react….I turned and ran to the neighbors …she can’t….then the feeling of anger and violation…strangers felt they has the right to come into your house, rummage through all your stuff and take whatever they wanted…no regard of what things meant to the people who owned it…..on thing that made me mad….the took pillowcases to carry things out….like couldn’t you bring your own bags you had to take my pillowcases???? Also used the toilet and didn’t flush it…wish we used DNA tests then….violated….someone using your house without your invitation. I think it was 77 too…..we dialed zero back then didn’t we and did we even know there was another choice besides a rotary phone and the slow dial…remember you had to wait for the “wheel” to finish it’s turn before you could do the next number…..frustrating when your trying to go fast…..and loud remember the sound? a scratchy kind of sound as it made it’s way back to one
    Just some memories to share with you having gone through a similar experience but yes I want to read more….who is in the house…why… they find her????? Hurry hurry finish writing xoxo

    1. Jill! Yes yes yes! I have lots of these details in this chapter as it unrolls! Being robbed is the worst, and this scene is taken from some of my own memories of having been robbed. Remember when that was happening so much in our old neighborhood! It was scary!

      I still haven’t figured out how to describe that rotary dial phone sound. That draggy click-click-click that took forever. We could never even imagined speed dial back then. My parents still have one rotary phone, so I’ll have to listen to it agin. I just remember watching the dial spin and that awful click-click-click. Our robbers smeared fluff on the walls and I included a lot of those real details along with some jazz hands and pixie dust. Thank you for those awesome images and memories. Honestly, it stays with me. I don’t like to be home alone at night with the blinds open.

      1. It’s awful isn’t it? We had a lot of burglaries in our neighborhood that one time…I think it was around 300…..I wonder if it was the same people who hit our houses. One of the things they took from our house helped them catch the SOBs… was an antique magnifying glass they found it on a mantle in a drug bust…….
        Youre doing a great job….can’t wait to read the finished product!

  9. Wow. Okay. This is the COOLEST example of tagging I’ve seen so far. What a treat! This excerpt was fantastic – and such a friggin’ tease!!! I WANT MORE. The line about time passing (enough to smooth a stone) was GREAT. I had no doubt, though, about your ability to write a full-length piece. 😉

    And, it made me go through this exercise with my memoir, realizing it needs the level of improvement I suspected, because every page SHOULD be gripping, and yet there are only a few parts of it that I think actually are!

    1. Look at you trying to sneak in here without being noticed. Happy b’day, Julie! I hope your b’day is wonderful and filled with all kinds of guilty pleasures! Oh, and I was just over at Byro’s place and left my 5 Most Manly Guilty Pleasures! Happy B”day! May this be the beginning of a wonderful decade for you!

  10. Renee, you might revise that first sentence a bit since it’s so important to setting this particular scene. The phrase “the bathtub with the telephone,” caused me to visualize a pay phone hanging on the bathtub. Oh oh!

    And I’ve never during my 64 years seen a bathtub large enough to climb into.

    So, to have that first sentence more clearly set the anxiety level of this chilling scene, why not something like…

    “Practically crushing the old black phone in one hand, Adina locked the bathroom door and stepped into the bathtub.”

    Another point: why didn’t it occur to Adina to call the police? With intruders in the house and a phone in hand, it seems to me that the natural move would be to dial 0 and ask the operator to send the cops. If you don’t want cops around and don’t want picky readers like me bitching about this, why not use something like…

    “She didn’t know what to do. Feverish with fear, she didn’t even think to dial a quick 0 to ask the operator to call the police.”

    One more observation… I’m old enough to be Adina’s father (maybe grandfather) and I like oranges, but even at my advanced age with withering physical agility I don’t bang around in preparing to eat an orange! So I’d revise that part as well.

    You’ll excuse me for being picky with these remarks, but at this part in my own writing career I’m more than ever convinced of the importance of a conscious awareness of the implications of every word in every sentence. So I thought to share this hard won realization with you by playing with a few examples.

    I hope you post more of this work in progress. I sure like the overall feel of it. And there are few things in life better than a good creepy story to get the blood moving on a lovely Sunday spring morning. Thank you for that. 🙂

  11. Renee, I’m about to make my third major career change so I can finish out my life writing novels and music and possibly a few screenplays. I have five finished novels, including three that I never tried to publish because I got so disgusted with traditional houses back in the late 80’s when PocketBooks cancelled my third novel a month before it was scheduled to come out.

    With that said, I’m in the process of preparing digital versions of the first two novels while phasing out the online business that’s been keeping me and the old lady (oops, I mean my blushing bride) in rice and beans since 1999.

    It’s scary to be starting a new career and business at the age of 64, but that’s what I’m going to be doing in the next few months with CasaDay Publishing, an online outlet I’ll use to sell my novels in the various digital formats.

    I’m currently revising, updating, and improving the five novels that have been moving from hard drive to hard drive for almost 25 years now. I hesitate to start a new book until I know I can make some money with the already written ones. If that turns out to be the case, I plan to crank out thrillers until I run out of either words or time.

    I’m always happy to hear from you.

    1. Chet! It’s such a good time to be an author! The traditional publishing houses are still there, but there are amazing opportunities for indie authors! Do you follow Kristen Lamb? You should check her out as she writes about how to use social media like blogs and Facebook and Twitter to connect with potential readers.

      I’m excited for you! I know you have been writing all along. It is possible to do well if you produce a quality product and you have developed an audience. Maybe we should chat for real. Soon I will be looking for great beta readers, but it occurs to me that you should know about #MyWANA.

      CasaDay sounds promising. Your own publishing company! Will you help produce newbie authors? If so, I really need to talk to you. 😉 I’ll send you my email address as a private message on Facebook.

      I am “thrilled” that you are finally able to do this.

  12. I think I’ll join in the party. Do you think it’s too late? Renee, this is really full of suspense. I want to know, does she run through the house naked? Bravo on taking that first step and letting the world take a peek at your baby.

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