And the NaNoWriMo Results…

At the beginning of last month, I set out to write a novel–50,000 words of one,  anyway–in 30 days.

And… I was going to do this one sheet of paper at a time, in hopes of a cleaner draft and ultimately, an easier revision. (I’m always looking for an easier revision.)

I was behind from day one.

Obviously, write longhand and then type is not the best strategy for speedy drafting. And that really wasn’t the point.

At the end of the month, I had roughly 14,000 words. That’s not great, and it’s not even average for me. (I usually wind up closer to thirty or forty thousand words in a month, and I aim a little higher than that in a good year.)

I was also blogging–mostly unrelated–and that would add a few thousand more words. Haven’t counted. And there’s the short story I wrote for the Advent Calendar this year. Oh. And I never really got away from the revision I was working on before I started Nano.

So, I started on November 1st with ONE piece of paper on a clipboard and a pencil.

And I started writing the ONE scene that was lodged in my mind.

And then, what?

Well, I found a few more scenes over the course of a month, but I never really got into the story. It never started to feel like one of my stories, and I never really started having fun with it.

Maybe I was a little afraid of this one. It’s the kind of thing that has to be done really well. Otherwise… it would fall off the edges, and either turn into a sermon or a farce.

So… what I learned from NaNoWriMo 2016

  • writing longhand DOES produce cleaner drafts BUT in my case, at least, the reduction in speed adds up to a reduction in passion. I’m not sure which part of that is going to be useful in the future.
  • I may be better off to write as a NaNo Rebel, and work on whatever I already have in the works.
  • Even if something sounds more efficient, it may not be the best path for me.
  • I still need to get out there and be a part of the community, even when things aren’t going well. I started tanking in word count, and withdrew. I didn’t do a lot of the social things on the Nano Site that I would have liked to.

For next year… I’m not really sure what the goal should be, but I’m probably going to keep working on whatever I’m working on when it gets here. I’ll also focus more on the community building aspect of it.

So, what about you? Lessons learned? Strategies for next year?

And In NaNo Novel News…

My main character has just eloped. With a fairly brilliant physicist. Who knows less about his own family history than she does. (His dead, non-English speaking grandmother told her all about it.) I don’t have the faintest idea what that has to do with anything. At any rate, they’re married, Vegas-style, and he’s in their hotel room on their wedding night, offering her an annulment.

They are not getting an annulment.

What I have right now is a series of fragments. I don’t understand exactly how they go together, and the only thing keeping me from quitting is ONE mysterious character who’s dug in his heels.

I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. Maybe it didn’t have enough time to gel before I started in on it. Maybe I’m intimidated by the whole topic. Who knows?

Anyway, I have to track down more fragments, and get in some more words.

Wish me luck.

Plotting and Planning

I can’t really think of anything to write, right now.

Okay. That’s a lie. I can think of things to write, but I’ve decided to grant myself a cooling off and thinking break, instead. I’m at a place where there’s just so much stuff in my head, and it’s all jumping around.

So, let’s talk about my plans for the next couple of months, instead.

I have the Insecure Writers’ Support Group coming up on December 7th. And apparently, the question of the month is about 5 year career plans for writers. They’ve also announced the upcoming guests on the IWSG page, and I’m pretty excited to hear from them.

I have the Independent Bookworm’s Advent calendar. Must have a story for that in… oh, yeah. Less than a week. If you’re interested in getting a short story in your e-mail every day leading up to Christmas, that’s what this is. And we’re including some kind of “extra” surprise. You can sign up to get the stories at the link above.

I’m also working on pulling together a coherent approach to the A-to-Z Challenge in April. I’d like to put out some short stories, but I still don’t know how many of them. I’m starting with one day a week, and then I’ll move up to two, and so forth, as I gain content. I’m still looking for the right theme to go with them. If you want to join me for another path to writer insanity, link above.

And then, there’s all the treading water I’m doing for NaNoWriMo. I may have to break down and include blog entries, if the story I’m working on doesn’t gain some traction, soon.

So, Uhm… My Novel is About…

I’m supposed to be drawing a get well card for a friend of mine who just had surgery. (Open heart, triple bypass. Haven’t seen him yet, ’cause no coughing on the heart patients, but I hear he looks much better.) It’s going to be a picture of a rat’s ass, because he’s usually saying things about people not giving a rat’s ass. So… well, come on! Someone has to give the man a rat’s ass. And they don’t actually make rat’s ass shaped balloons. I Googled.

I am also supposed to be writing a couple thousand words for NaNoWriMo. I’m a little behind. Not impossibly behind, but didn’t get my head start, well and truly distracted by current events, and not exactly sure where my story is going behind.

Someone I work with–a civilian, people–asked me if I was still writing. (Yeah. Writers quit all the time, don’t we? *smirks*) And if I was working on the same thing I was working on the last time he asked. (Probably four years ago?) And then, he asked me what this one was.

It’s a science fiction novel about a family who are quantum-ly entangled with the victims of Hiroshima.

Don’t you love the look on non-writers’ faces when you say things like that?

I didn’t even get to the part with Dostoyevsky.

Epiphanies in Fiction Writing

I took a step back, yesterday. Something somewhere between serenely seeking objectivity about my novel and abject despair.

Today, I have solutions. Or, at least progress.

I figured out who the dead kid in my novel is. I actually didn’t know that question was bothering me, until the answer showed up today. So, that’s one more cornerstone than I had yesterday, and a novel title in the bargain. I like knowing what my book is called.

I also came to the conclusion that my main character’s love interest comes from a family who emigrated much more recently than I had previously thought. That changes more than you’d think, and ties him in with the history behind the novel. Which he wasn’t, before. He was just sorta… floating there.

Well, in my defense, he was floating there being really good looking.

Okay. I admit that’s probably not exactly a story function.

He was a place holder, and now, he’s a real character. With history and a family, and secrets. **Pop** All because I backtracked a little.

Other than that, I am currently observing National Fun With Medical Tech Month. The best way to make a device completely foolproof? Be sure the device automatically scrambles itself, so the fool won’t have anything left to do.

One Week Into NaNoWriMo

As of right now, I am writing at roughly half the speed it would take to have 50,000 words on November 30. Part of that is that I haven’t been feeling well, and some family things have come up. Part of it is that I’m writing longhand, which well, it takes longer than typing, and it’s been a while since I wrote anything of any length longhand, so I’m consistently overestimating how many words are on that piece of paper.

I’m right about five thousand words.

The good news is that writing on ONE piece of paper at a time has forced me to focus on the scene that I’m writing, and not jump all over my outline. (If I had one.)

The process is working.

What I have is a lot smoother and more complete than what I would wind up with typing.

The problem is, there’s also a whole lot less of it.

I feel like I’m missing something, right now. I feel like I’m not sinking into the layers of the story the way I would with a little more scene hopping. I have a couple–maybe three really good, really thorough scenes, but I don’t have a grasp on the big picture the way I usually do.

The story is taking longer to start feeling like one of “My” stories than it usually would. I don’t have a sense of most of the characters, and I still haven’t found that one, central relationship–you know, the weird and freaky one–that would catch my muse’s imagination. In fact, I think I have fewer characters, in general.

So, Day six, and the process is working, and not working. I think I’m writing better, and definitely cleaner… but being quite honest… I’m losing interest.

Links and Last Minute NaNo Prep

I have some links to share, because new stuff seems to be popping up every time I turn around, right now.

This year, Holly Lisle is sponsoring a team for NaNoWriMo. You can find the introductions thread on the Nano Forums here. If you’re already a Holly student, there are also threads on the Holly’s Writing Classes.com Website, https://hollyswritingclasses.com/forum/index.php?threads/nanowrimo-is-live.5856/. And if you aren’t one of her students, she does offer a free flash-fiction course. Sign up here, and you’re into all of the NaNo related forums.  Heck, you might like it and turn into a permanent resident.

PLUS… This year, Holly is also hosting an online writing room. If you want to be notified of where the room will be, and when sign up for the links at Holly’s blog.

It’s still a little early to be thinking of the Holidays, but subscriptions for the annual Advent Calendar start now! That’s a free short story from a different author and a special bonus every day leading up to Christmas. Or, you know… Sunday, if you don’t happen to be Christian. (These are short, secular Sci Fi and Fantasy stories.)

For those of you who missed it, the StoryTime Blog Hop was on the 27th, and my story (And links to everyone else’s) are here. Halloween theme, so a lot of scary stories this time.

Other than that, I’m all ready for Nano. I won’t be staying up til midnight to start, but I’ll hit the day early tomorrow.

See you there.

NaNoWriMo Tech

So, the first time I did NaNo, it was on a borrowed computer–something in a basement computer lab–and a thumb drive. One big, long Microsoft Word file, with little bits and pieces added in as the month progressed.

And it worked. That was the first novel I’d ever finished, so that’s a plus.

But it wasn’t terribly well organized. And when I started to revise it… Well… Uhm… I have to say again… it wasn’t well organized. I finally made it through the revision several years later.

I’ve done NaNo on a laptop, and on a desktop, and in YWriter… software specifically for writing novels. YWriter helps with organization, more than anything.

And this year?

I’ve decided to do NaNo on paper.

Not just to be retro, of course. I’m still working on that organization thing. I have just a little bit too much…. Hey, look, a duck!… in me. I am working from the idea that if I write on a piece of paper… on ONE piece of paper… I will wind up with more coherent chunks than I do, if I have say a notebook or a computer at hand.

Montessori style novel-writing. Write ONE topic on ONE piece of Paper. Fill that Piece of Paper, and get another Piece of Paper.

Right now my method seems to be more false starts, and aesthetic fresh sheets of paper than actual writing–at least, until I get some steam.

I am moving toward cleaner drafts.

Or at least, I’m going to succeed in finding another method that doesn’t work!

Either way, it’s something.

Good Taste, Sensitivity, and Writing

I’m fiddling around with the first traces of an idea. Something I might write for NaNoWriMo, if I can work out where the plot starts by then. I’m actually fairly excited about the idea. No, I won’t tell you what it is, but it does seem to have planted itself pretty firmly in my head.

The problem–if I can call it a problem–is that the idea centers around one of Humanity’s tragedies, and then adds a little bit of sci-fi-y, supernatural-y something. It’s the kind of story that needs to be written very, very carefully in order to avoid coming across as either preachy or callous.

I know that from experience. I have my own little corners of history that I’m protective of. Things that happened that resonate with me, that I don’t want touched. And there are certainly plenty of stories I’ve quit reading because they de-emphasized the serious part of the true story.

On the other hand, now and then, there’s a story about those same times that is actually… good enough. Good enough to make people think. Good enough to make them feel.

And I’m debating whether I have the skill to do a “good enough” story or not.

 

Sixteen Days To Full-Scale Panic

Sixteen days til NaNoWriMo, and I still don’t have an idea. Not a plot point, not a character. Not a teeny-tiny play on words to amuse my Muse. (Who is more or less an eighth grade boy, at heart.) Well, fine. I’ll just start with an explosion and work my way up from there.

I haven’t gotten much done with the idea that fluttered through my head as a September/October project, either. Maybe a couple thousand words.

The rule, right now, seems to be that if it’s stressful, it’s going to happen. Head to head with supervisor? Check. (Not sure it makes it a whole lot better that I appear to be winning.) Car problems? Check. Family problems? Double check, and also… Thinking of joining a commune. Or a convent. Or a nudist colony. Something, anyway. Anything on an island. Or a space station. Or an oil rig. Something not here.

This is not a good year for anything but treading water. I’m still working on revising Lepterians. Still working on figuring out exactly what I have there, and how many of it. I’m filling out a plot thread or two, trying to get from Point A to Point B.

And Nano begins in 16 days.

I probably need Nano, this year. Some nice solid goals and a whole lot of peer pressure to keep me from feeling sorry for myself. And I do have peers. A whole team of them.

So, working down the checklist of things that I need to do to get my nano-brain in order. I’m getting pretty close.