Tag Archives: nanowrimo

On track…so far

Quick update via my phone as I’m not connecting my laptop to the wife – too distracting!
November 1 was yesterday, in order to achieve 50,000 words by 30 November you need to average 1667 words per day. Last night I got 1780 before I really had to go to bed. Time to get moving on today’s target.
Sending inspirational vibes out to all participating in NaNoWriMo  (National Novel Writing Month) – it can be done!

There’s something to this planning thing….

So the dreaded planning stage has actually proved helpful. I was talking to a school mum the other day and she mentioned a book she had recently read, she said it had a fantastic premise but really had nowhere to go after that, she’d enjoyed the read but the flaw stood out.

I thought the rest of the day and realised that was exactly the problem I had with the story I had planned for November, and was also (one of the many) reason I was struggling so with the planning. There really was no plot at all.

I sat at the computer on Wednesday, totally stumped. What was I going to write? There were four days until November started and I honestly thought I was going to have to skip it this year. But I really didn’t want to. So I read the paper online, panicked, almost called BMan to appeal for help.

And then bam. A news story that I read and said – what if? – what happened after that? why? And a character name popped into my head, and another one. There needs to be 3, of course, him, he needs to be there too. I stream of conscious wrote the idea out – there was story, there was conflict, there was crisis points, there were 3 characters that are different from each other but have similar roots to the dramas in their lives.

I started planning, yes I did. I started with the character sketches from the Snowflake method  I added in a category to establish the inner, interpersonal and physical conflict needed for each character. One was easy, one took a bit, I was making him far too nice, once I roughed him up a bit it was easier. But last night the third had me stumped, I had the same problem as the previous story idea, a great reason for her, a great set up but no depth, I couldn’t see her. I would have realised this far too late if I hadn’t been doing the planning exercise, she just would have been a weak character and would have frustrated me no end.

It was late (it’s always late, so sorry BMan, Novembers are a challenge for you too!) and so I decided to call it a night. Hopped in the shower, the story running all through my brain. And then it came to me, how to solve the 3rd character’s problems and the realisation she doesn’t need a crisis point, hers starts the manuscript, the rest of her story arc is getting past the drama. I had to go back to the computer and quickly type it out before I forgot it all . The world needs some sort of shower proof computing system, I often solve writing problems in the shower!

So 3 characters: Helen’s crisis starts the novel and then we see her deal with the fall out, realise what she thought she wanted was actually her worst nightmare, and start to rebuild her life. Evie’s crisis comes in the middle, forced into finally making decisions, her life that she hated is forced into change and she gradually starts to build a new life. Walt’s crisis comes right at the end. His life is on a gradual decline throughout the story until his crisis point.

There’s still time to do some more planning. I know I need a couple of minor characters, I know I need an ex boyfriend, a best friend, a husband and a son but they are shadowy at the moment, none of them have names yet.

But it’s better, I stand a chance of getting something half decent out of it now!

I may do a flash fiction from one of the side stories as a warm up, bring on Sunday November 1!

 

Oooh look something shiny

Just stop it – focus for crying out loud! I know I hate to plan, everyone knows it. But it’s November on Sunday, today is Wednesday, this story wont get written unless there’s some sort of plan.

I am brilliant at procrastination, how good is Adele’s new song? listening to it now, awesome. See what I did there? That was actually what was happening in my brain as I typed – I am far too easily distracted when faced with a task I don’t really want to do. Last night I spent far too long looking up name generators…

But I do want to write the story, I really do. And I know deep down if I do this planning before I write it the process will be easier. I know I can ignore some of the details of the plan, I won’t feel bound by the outline. But what I will have already embedded in the draft will be a kind of three act structure, characters with internal and external conflict, character development arcs, basically all the stuff I am trying to include in my rewrites of other manuscripts.

So quit it Bel, quit procrastinating. No this post does NOT need a picture, you don’t need to spend 20 minutes searching for creative commons pics. Spend 20 mins on the Snowflake method and get that plan going – you don’t have many days left! Okay, finding and getting the widget working only took 6 minutes – I’m going now, really I am….

 

What’s in a name? Quite a lot actually

Titles – I struggle with titles, for short stories, blog posts, manuscripts. There’s an art to it. I was a journo for a whole bunch of years, on small newspapers with correspondingly small staff. This meant that I was journo, editor, subby, proofreader, chief cook and bottle washer. The most difficult task I had (other than trying to take down classified ads when that fab staff member was at lunch) was headline writing and photo captions!

I have found that unless I come up with a title in the early days of the manuscript, I will struggle to find one and be ultimately unhappy with the one I have. My 2009 nanowrimo project (which I have decided to workshop at the writing course starting soon) I am happy with ‘This is no holiday’ works really well for the story that unfolds and also the initial predicament of the protagonist. My project from this year – not so much. I have a working title ‘Under the carpet’ which I really don’t like, it only reflects the very first hook of the story, it doesn’t mirror the ensuing story in any way shape or form.

My other manuscript that needs a major rewrite is called ‘Chapters’ – this works beautifully and I love it, I just need to finish the flippin story!

I just read a blog post by Joanne Harris (Author of ‘Chocolat‘ and many more) and she lists the 10 book title cliches that wax and wane in popularity – check it out and let me know what you think.

The two titles of mine that I like fall into two of these cliches – is that a good or a bad thing? I don’t really know. Chapters is cliche #1 The One-Word, Multi-Syllable Punch although she suggests its more common in your action and horror genres (not really what my story is about.

This is no holiday falls into cliche #4 The Whimsical, Rather Over-Long Title That Tells Most of the Plot. The best example of this that I have recently read was The 100 year old man who climbed out the window by Jonas Jonasson – now there’s a lot of characters to fit on a spine!

Ahh, routine, welcome back!

School returned late last week after the long Christmas break and Little Man was squeezed into last year’s uniform some lunchbox fodder hastily arranged and off he went, happy as a clam.

And that means my work hours return to a more stable pattern and my free time for writing returns – huzzah!

draft 2With only a few weeks until my Writers Victoria course Refine Your Novel starts I need to do some serious work on my first draft. It has some pretty big issues that I know about, some flat secondary characters, a sister that disappears for half the novel, some additional tension that needs a ramp up, a backstory that kind of exists but needs more integrating.

So last night I popped online and uploaded my nanowrimo draft to Officeworks. Their little worker bees toiled away and this morning I went into the store and collected a printed out copy of my draft – it’s a hefty tome and soon to be covered in scribble marks methinks! Yes, these draftpics are of the actual manuscript – felt a bit guilty printing single sided, but those blank pages will get messy.

Thanks sabrakay for the kick in the pants that was your WIP Progress post, it may have seemed simple to you, but motivated me! .

Beautifying the beast

Excited!A Happy New Year present to me! I’m am so excited, I have booked in to take part in this fantastic course at Writers Victoria and I am bursting to get started!

Those long suffering of you will perhaps remember Iong, long ago I attended a First Draft Post Mortem series at Writers Victoria, run by the fantastic Toni Jordan (I wrote about it here). I LOVED it, and yet didn’t take full advantage of it as I hadn’t completed the manuscript I was workshopping. When I finished my Nanowrimo project in November I looked around and found Toni was once again running a series in 2015 – Refine Your Novel.

And I had this…well I want to say shiny new manuscript, but I have this grotty, misshapen beast of a manuscript that is just waiting for a blowtorch and some plastic surgery.

It was meant to be. Yippee!

 

Maybe there’s something to this

night circusI have spent a little time floating around writer’s twitter and blog pages today, yes you could call it procrastination. And I stumbled across Erin Morgenstern’s blog page – she wrote the fantastic The Night Circus and what did I discover – she did nanowrimo!

It amazed me to see that someone of that level of literary fame (she was one of 4 speakers at Margaret Atwood’s 75th birthday for crying out loud) does nano. What’s even better. Her novel, that wonderful, best selling novel, started out as a nano novel! Wow! Mind. Blown.

And now the real work begins

Winner-2014-Web-BannerWell I am quite chuffed that I managed to complete the 50,000 words in November. I gotta say I remember it being easier in 2009, although that may just the be rosy coloured glasses I’m wearing five years down the track.

And you know what, I’m pretty happy with what I produced. I haven’t read it yet so who knows if it’s really any good, there’s bits I know I need to develop, but overall, it’s a pretty good yarn.

I doubt I could have completed it on schedule without my weekend writing retreat at Cimarron – I knocked out more than 10,000 words in that weekend alone. At one point I had written half the word count in 20 days, leaving me just 10 days for the remaining half, it was looking dire.

I know I lost the sister at one point, she was important early on and then disappeared for like a third of the book, I hate when that happens in books I read. I also introduced a mother type figure, and I think my MC (main character) needs one in there, but I really didn’t flesh her out or give her very much to do. I can also ramp up the tension with another encounter with a grieving French mother.

But you know what, I’ve let it sit for almost a week now, and you know what keeps happening. The characters, they keep asking me to work it out, to finish creating them. I keep thinking about it.

The fabulousness that is Chuck Wendig who pours forth no holes barred writerly advice on his terrible minds blog had this to say (most of his excerpts would normally need the NSFW warning, but this is surprisingly expletive free):

Take some time away from the story. Just walk away. Cool and calm like an action hero strolling out of an exploding building. Hide it. Forget it. It’s not a thing that happened. It was a fever dream, poorly-remembered. And here’s where your brain will do insidious things because the brain is an insidious organ –

If you keep thinking about it even though you know you’re not supposed to? Then maybe you have something there. If you put it away and the memory of the thing slides through your fingers like so much dream-sand, hey, that’s okay, too. Maybe this one isn’t the one.

But if it is? Then it’s time to get to work. And the work always begins up here –

*taps center of forehead, which squeaks open on a rusty hinge so a squirrel can poke out, chitter at you, steal your bagel and coffee, then return to its nest inside the skull*

And so here I am, opening the file up again, and reading it, my first aim I think is to do a general typo fix and good god that sentence is ridiculous edit. Once I’ve actually read the whole thing I’m hoping I’ll have a better idea of what actually needs proper wrangling.

Yippee!

Final word count for the book, all written in November: 50,324. Phew!

 

You know you’re obsessed when….

image

The view out my train Window

You know you’re obsessed with making a word count target when you have an unanticipated hour long train journey and spend the entire trip typing a scene on your smart phone and then emailing it to yourself. Nanowrimo 5 days to go and 12,000 words needed!

Ask and you shall receive – kinda

Okay blog friends, I have a teeny update for you, for two of you in particular.

Beck – I’ve included a cooking class in my manuscript I’m writing now. It reflects the class we did, but in no way reflects the way I felt about the class – you know how much I loved it.

Anthony Lee Collins – I included an introspective shower scene and managed not to make it a cheats was of flashback back story, I hope 🙂 maybe one day I’ll get you to beta read the manuscript for me…

That is all for now, as you were.