Lessons From My Works-In-Progress #5: Down in Flame

Lessons From My Works-In-Progress is an ongoing blog series about various writing projects I’m working on. All projects featured have at least one completed draft and are of novella or novel length. Previous installments can be found here.

(I’ve gotten really, really behind on doing these posts even though they’re fun to write? Oops.)

Up until now, I’ve been doing these posts in the order of writing the featured WIPs, which means this month’s should be about TAD2. But I’m going to skip it, at present, for a couple of reasons: I don’t want to bore you with talking about it too much, and also it’s hard to write about its lessons when it’s still a very active project.

So instead, I’m skipping ahead to one of my first-ever Camp NaNo projects, Down in Flame.

Down in Flame

What it’s about: 
After an evacuation throws them on the same train out of the city, Acelynn finds herself teaming up with a stranger to find out what’s going on in their city.

Two drafts completed.

I’d attempted Camp NaNo in its first session in 2011…and it was a failure. But when they announced Camp would be returning in 2012, I knew I wanted to give it another try. I spent about a month preparing.  Initially, I thought Down in Flame was going to be a dystopian, but it actually took the turn toward futuristic fantasy—cementing the subgenre as one of my favorites in which to experiment.

What I learned:
  • Switching tenses for narrators. When writing TAD and its sequels, I’d been switching between first- and third-person narrators, but only in past tense. With DiF, I switched tense and person (Acelynn was first/present; Shade was third/past). I’m not sure if it will change when I eventually tackle the third draft, but it was a fun way to try out a new writing style.
  • To step outside my writing comfort zone. Until this point, most of my writing stuck to low-fantasy. In switching to futuristic fantasy, I could feature different technologies (HOVERCARS) than what is usually in fantasy.
  • Writing a large cast with a lot of interaction. Most of my WIPs feature smaller casts who are around each other for most of the story or larger casts in different locations, but DiF featured about a dozen characters that appeared frequently in the book—and often in the same places.
  • Intricate pre-writing worldbuilding. This was the first time I’d crafted most of the worldbuilding before I started the first draft.

Meet the Characters:

  • Seventeen.
  • Curious.
  • Likes to investigate things.
  • Not sure what she wants to be yet.

  • Nineteen.
  • Resourceful.
  • Likes loud music.
  • Trying to avoid his old life.

What are some of your favorite lessons from your works-in-progress?


  1. I like these posts. Hmmm... Probably need to do something similar with all of my WIPs. It seems to be a good exercise to get an idea of where each project is as well as what I must work on. My lessons: 1) actually finish the first draft all the way through, even if it is absolutely atrocious, and THEN begin editing. 2) Work on plotting. . . I've always struggled with having a good, not too cliche plot. . .

    Thanks for sharing, girl!

    1. I'm so glad you like them! They're fun to write, I've just kept missing them. For a while. Oops! But it is fun to look over projects and see how they've changed!

      Those are neat lessons! It's SO tempting to edit while drafting. I have to be really careful about that sometimes. And PLOTTING. It's a challenge, but it's also really fun to see what elements you can toss together and change up!

      Wishing you all the best with your writing! :)

  2. Also, I love the simplistic design!

  3. I love these posts and Down In Flame sounds like such a cool novel! I've never tried using different tenses for different characters, it sounds like a fun exercise if nothing else. I always love trying out new genres, it's fun and I always feel like I learn something new. And futuristic fantasy is something I want to write again soon! I've only done it once but it's so much fun.
    I think the WIP I learned most from was the first time I switched genres, going from having only ever written fantasy to contemporary taught me a lot and that was also the novel where I really figured out how to write an actual plot arc, during copious amounts of rewrites. XD

    1. Thanks!

      Switching up tenses was pretty fun! DiF was (and still is) one of those experimental projects that I try not to overthink because it was just to try something different. I do want to work on the third draft in the semi-near future though! Hopefully.

      There's just so much you can do in futuristic fantasy! It makes a great writing playground. :) Fantasy to contemporary is a huge switch but experimenting with different genres is such a neat way to grow as a writer and learn new things.


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