NaNoWriMo: Side Effects and Warnings

One of my favorite things about NaNoWriMo is the fact that the word counter doesn’t just tell you how many words you have, it tells you how many words per day you need to finish on time, and just exactly how long it will take you to finish your 50,000 words, if you keep going at your current rate. I’ve been writing long hand, and updating at a rate of 100 words per day (Just to keep track of the fact that I have been writing every day) which means that at a hundred words per day, I should be finishing my 50k novel by March. Of 2019.

Now, that sounds a whole lot different than I should finish by the end of November, or even I should finish by early next year.

But it’s still an estimated finish date, and you know what? Most people never finish their novels.

I might be a whole lot less smug, if I were doing nano with seven screaming children and eking out every last second of my day, but really… 2019 isn’t all that bad.

The other thing that NaNo is doing for me, is forcing my mind to take a break, and with that comes a new perspective on my revision. The scene I’m revising now has two characters that I’m removing.

Right now, I feel like I’m making progress on the revision. I also have characters arguing–just a little–over the fact that she’s a cannibal in my fabulous sci-fi novel.

NaNoWriMo Day 4: Plot, and Other Missing Items

So, now that I’ve finally managed to make my characters somewhat interesting (to me, anyhow) they probably ought to be doing something. Other than ruminating on the pros and cons of killing and eating their mates.

And naturally, they have a very minimal space in which to do it. It’s a colony ship. With a 5 person crew. More or less. And no, you don’t want to ask. It’s a straightforward journey. The goal is to get from point a to point b, and start a colony, when they get there.

All I have to do is fill in the 20,000 light years between point A and point B with something other than middle-aged angst, and preferably still have some kind of a cast when I get there.

Did I mention that one of my characters tends to devour her mates?

And as far as other things not showing up?

Well, the package that was supposed to have my fine NaNoWriMo quality sample of Artemisium Absinthium arrived. And as it turns out, all of the nice, sensible things are there. I have gloves. And a couple cases of highly nutritious (read vitamin-enhanced) protein shakes to get me through Nano.

And… oh, yeah. No Artemisium.

I have complained to the powers that be, and have been given an arrival date somewhere in the realm of mid-Nano for the replacement.

No. Not a moment sooner.

As it turns out, Amazon does not particularly care if I’m eaten alive by intestinal worms.

(No, I don’t actually have intestinal worms, but I would most certainly be devoured alive by the time the wormwood shows up to vanquish them, if I did.)

From now on, I’m buying my drugs on the street corner from some guy named Roach like a normal person.

(I assume that street-style drug dealers have a solid grasp of 20th century American poetry.)

The Question That Clicks

The last couple of days, I’ve been writing nanowrimo word count. Something along the lines of I’m going to write a novel now, because that’s what we do in November. And I ran out of plot that I knew–of course–about a scene and a half into writing my novel. Because, well… pantser here.

So, you run out of novel, and then, you keep writing, because at some point, you expect something to fall into place and turn into a novel. I mean… if you’re writing a novel, there’s got to be a novel, right?

I finally found the thread I should have been tugging on all along.

And here it is, short and sweet, for anybody else who has been suffering along with me.

The super-secret novel-writing miracle we’re all looking for.

Are you sure your characters are human?

As it turns out, quite a few of mine are not.

NanoWrimo Day Two

I’m still writing by hand, and I think I’m getting much smoother copy than I usually am at this stage of the game. At the moment, I’m just sticking in place holder counts. 100 words per day, and that means I get my consecutive days of writing badges, but I don’t actually have to type anything, yet. It would be nice to have enough pages typed at some point that I know–fairly closely–how many of my handwritten words go on a page of my notebook. A hundred words off could wind up being a nasty surprise at the end of the month.

Right now, I’m writing the thing in 1st person. I don’t know why. It’s been years since I wrote anything in first person, and furthermore, I don’t know much about that narrator. She’s an engineer. Smart. Female…. And… Uhm… well, at the moment, that’s about it.

This one is much more clearly science fiction than the last one. The story would not exist without the science, or if it did, it would turn out to be a completely different version of the story.

So, to recap. I don’t know anything about the narrator. I don’t know much about the other characters, including by the way, which one of them is the “main” character, if it turns out to be someone other than my narrator. And I don’t really have that much of a plot.

Also, they’re all drifting in space.

So, yup.

It’s definitely NaNoWriMo.

Some years, the thing just clicks, and I wind up with 50,000 words and a solid start.

And some years, I have to keep digging to figure out there’s really not a pony in all this manure.

I haven’t worked on this one long enough to know which one it’s going to be.

IWSG: NaNoWriMo Day One

Insecure Writers' Support Group logo

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

November 1 question – Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?

The awesome co-hosts for the November 1 posting of the IWSG are Tonja Drecker, Diane Burton, MJ Fifield, and Rebecca Douglass!

Today’s question was whether I usually finish my nanowrimo quota or  not. And the answer is… it depends. I’m not always ready for a new project at the exact moment the clock strikes midnight on November first. This year, I think I’m about as prepared as I ever am. I have an idea that’s been percolating for a few months, and a few characters I’m crazy about. This time, I expect to have 50,000 words by the end of the month.

Sometimes, though, Nanowrimo hits at the wrong moment in my creative cycle, and my attention is split between the last project I was working on and the brand new one. I didn’t finish my project last year. Not in November, and not later on. In fact, I’m not even sure I remember what it was.

And I think that’s okay. I don’t necessarily think of NaNo as being the whole process. It’s a part of it, maybe, and some years, it’s the part I need at that moment. Other years, I’m into revision or querying, or I’m still writing something else, and the new thing doesn’t take.

Even if I don’t get a new novel out of it, Nano’s a great way to meet people, and get to know other writers. And the support system can’t be beat.

Fighting Off the Last Day of October

Ferris Wheel badge--75 floors in a day.

I have decided it’s not bragging, if they’re small.

So, I’m hitting the end of the month. It’s the day for typing my fingers off trying to get everything I’ve done polished and shiny. I started with a stretch of manuscript to revise, and I have mostly revised it. Getting those scribbles into the computer? Well, that’s another thing.

I don’t suppose you know any publishers who are willing to take manuscripts written on the back of a bank envelope, do you?

Okay. So, I’m cleaning out my purse. Did you know that a page from a legal pad can hit the consistency of a Kleenex, if it’s shoved in the bottom of a purse and pounded for a month? Neither did I, and yet… there it is. Fortunately, most of the rest of my notes have survived fairly intact.

Today is also the day on which I print out all of the scenes that need to be revised in November. (Well, technically, that need to be revised in a week beginning in November. I estimated by weeks, not months.)

And tomorrow, NaNoWriMo begins. Tomorrow is the day I finally get to unwrap my NaNoWriMo notebooks and pens. (And dammit, I’m going to stay on top of the type-ins next month. I’d better. Typing 50,000 words at the end of the month would be overwhelming.)

Wish me luck, and if you want to buddy up, my profile at the NaNoWriMo forum is here.

Shuffling Characters

During my revision, I changed something in my manuscript.

I thought about it before I did it, and I did it, anyway. It’s not the biggest change in the world, but it does impact a few scenes in the future.

Oooh, I’m a time traveler.

There aren’t a lot of scenes I have to fix, but one of my characters needs to be written out of them. **grumble** Well, let’s be honest. He can’t really be there, when he switched sides two chapters back.

Unfortunately, he still has some scenes where he does things that have to get done.

I can’t actually decide whether I’m fixing an inconsistency or changing my mind about how this goes.

Well, never mind. Life goes on without him.

 

Skills I Actually Have

My latest money making scheme? Meet pumpkins with faces. I could do that. Or… I could become my region’s premiere purveyor of adult themed pumpkins. 

Did I mention these suckers are 50 bucks a pop? No wonder the place only had three.

Writers as Farmers

It’s harvest time, here in the beautiful mid-west, and that’s one of my favorite times of year not to be a farmer. Then, again, it’s also nearly NaNoWriMo time, and 9 out of ten farmers polled said that NaNo is their favorite time of the year NOT to be a writer.

Everybody else says it’s exactly the same thing, except with words, instead of corn.

I mean, you spend an entire year growing something, and then, you hope the prices are high when it hits the market, and people are still buying sorghum.

You have a certain money management paradigm, that goes on with that kind of thing. (Well, yes. Actually, a farmer does get paid a couple of times a year.)

And the only people who really understand are the other people who do the same job.

There are other seasonal professions, of course. Most of them run with the harvest, though. If you own a bar, there’s Football season, and then, there’s Oh, shit, how are we going to pay the rent on an empty bar season.

But that here I am, working on one project for a long period of time… well, that’s very farming.

We’ll just hope it isn’t all that long before I get my grain to market.

The Pantser Plots

NaNoWriMo is coming up, and that always brings us back to the subject of Pantsing vs. Plotting. If you know a hardcore plotter, you know they’ve already been up for months, working on their outline, their character profiles, and their world-building. And technically, none of it counts as jumping the gun.

I, on the other hand, am pretty much a pantser. I fling myself in, and start writing with no idea what I’m doing. Or… if you want to be diplomatic, I fly by the seat of my pants. I’m pretty much as hardcore as it gets. I might just have a beginning idea. The last few times I’ve also had some general thought about who lives or dies at the end, and maybe which couples wind up together.

It’s the “Oh, look, a DUCK!” Method of plotting, and while it produces some amazing twists and turns, it also produces an oversized, garbled manuscript.

On the oversized front, there are a few giveaways that you are writing a scene that you don’t need.

  • If the scene is romantic in any way, chances are good you’ll just wind up cutting it. As much fun as these can be to write, there are proportion issues to deal with. Your characters can’t spend the whole manuscript canoodling.
  • If there’s violence in it. Battle scene? Probably overkill. Serial killer strikes again? No. Focus on ONE victim. Maybe two. Any more than that, and you’re going for ultraviolence.
  • Describing any form of technology. I’m really bad about this. Really, really bad. I like technology. I like the details. One of my`characters owns a computer with direct liquid cooling and a series of daisy-chained motherboards, and you’d better believe I know every single teeny-tiny spec.
  • Any other hobby or interest that has recently heated up. (Yes, atl-atl. Yes, I know. ATL-ATL. And exactly how does that fit in with your Manhattan Socialite on a spaceship?)

So, here I am trying to plot just enough to stay on track and come up with a recognizable first draft.

Keep things organized.

Finish the scenes I start instead of…

Oh, LOOK! A DUCK!