Category Archives: National Novel Writing Month

Conclusion of NaNoWriMo2017

Well, if you haven’t already seen, my project for this National Novel Writing Month was actually a manuscript I’d worked on last year, but now from a different perspective. I go into greater detail about the whys and whats in my previous NaNo post, but the short of it is, the manuscript needed a dual POV to make it work.

I’m glad I forced myself to churn out that creativity. As per usual, the pressure of NaNo helped me get my head in the game and just drive through it. I found myself absolutely loving the second POV, and found further points in the plot that could be expanded or re-framed.

A few differences from other years: the ‘dislike’ of this manuscript popped up sooner and actually continued until the end. Usually I get over it the last week. I think it’s because I’ve been working on this story for a while, and it’s a complex concept dealing with a lot of issues — from environmental themes to colonialism to white saviorism… all with very complicated people (because I can’t seem to write simple people). In all the complexity it’s easy to mess up.

There’s so much potential in this story, but that doesn’t matter if I don’t have the skills and ability to get there. Sooo at the end of the day, I think all my problems came from artistic doubt.

That being said, I still ‘won’ the thing:

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So I shouldn’t complain too much.

Whether or not the words are good is the next problem. But I think only a clear head and some serious beta readers are going to help me solve that. It would also help if the damn manuscript was finished — I haven’t written a solid chunk of the ending, basically because I have no idea how to get from point A to Z with any sort of clarity. Every time I try I end up down another rabbit hole!

I think that there are elements that need to come together in the ending that I haven’t teased out enough in the beginning and middle, so it feels awkward and weird. That being said the manuscript is sitting at 134k words so I’m not sure how much longer I can make this this… But, I can also cut later.

Anyway, back to NaNoWriMo.

As I mentioned before, my last work assignment ended in November, so I ended up suddenly having a lot of free time on my hands this month. So if anyone out there reading this is frustrated because you didn’t ‘finish’ — A) don’t compare yourself to me, I was probably doing a lot less than you, and B) hey now, whatever you wrote is WORTH it. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. NaNo is just a tool to get more words. 50k is pretty arbitrary when you think about it.

I managed to keep good habits, both writing wise and personally getting things done. I’m not sure I really *learned* anything more about myself as a writer, unlike in past years, which is a little disheartening. But it might click later what doesn’t seem obvious now.

But that’s all boring. The point is: more words! Whooo! I’m leaving the manuscript alone throughout December because I need a clear head, but I’m going to really commit to this thing next year. I need it done, so that I can see it whole and then revise for real. I’ve been planning and writing and fiddling with this manuscript for like two years. It’s starting to fester in my brain.

Anyway, that’s the conclusion of what I have here. It was a weird NaNoWriMo for me, guys!

How was yours? Any new insights into yourself or your manuscript?

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NaNoWriMo2017 – Week One

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This year’s National Novel Writing Month just happened to coincide with the first time I’ve been out of work in a while. I work for a temp company, and my assignment ended the last day of October (fun day, having the last day be Halloween!). Until they give me another assignment (or I find another job through applying), I have, uh, some free time.

So, on the one hand, it’s fabulous I suddenly have all this time. Since I’ve been so busy working, writing, taking care of goats and my partners, dealing with depression, etc, etc, it’s been amazing to be able to do things like: clean the house. Actually fold and put away laundry. Write for a few hours, instead of a few minutes. Plan meals. Get a few barn projects completed I’ve been putting off forever. Excetera.

On the other hand, it’s become blatantly obvious to me that I’m somebody who really needs structure. As much as I love setting my own schedule, if I don’t structure myself, I will get nothing done. Maybe it’s depression, maybe it’s just my ADD. Either way, I hear it’s pretty common, so maybe you know what I’m talking about.

So! Over this past week, I instigated a routine. I’ve heard for a while that getting dressed, even though you work from home, helps you be productive. Because clothes that are too comfortable tend to make you relax and not doing anything.

So, the first thing I did last week was put on real clothes. Comfortable ones, but clothes nonetheless. (Sidebar TMI: I hate my bras, so instead of that, I put on a comfortable sports bra. Still supportive, but not constrictive, ya know?)

Secondly, is something that’s probably a little sexist of me. In the past, and on the first day I was officially ‘working from home,’ I starkly remembered: I have really bad dark circles under my eyes (I’ve had them since I was a kid), and when I catch myself in the mirror during the day, all I could think was how tired and sick I looked.

So I broke down, and put on just a little makeup in the morning. Nothing complicated at all, just eyeliner and cover-up under my eyes to take away from the dark circles.

Is that terrible? I feel like it’s terrible, but I don’t care. Because I definitely noticed a change. I didn’t feel gross when I looked in the mirror, despite the fact that I know my reaction comes from an unrealistic standard of beauty pushed on women from capitalism and the media. I felt good about myself. Which set me up well for getting what was needed done that day.

After a week of this, I’ve come to realize that doing a household chore that’s not related to writing (bringing it back to the whole point of this post), helps spurn the writing productivity. Maybe it’s because it gives me time to think over what I want to write that day, I’m not sure.

Maybe, however, it’s because my most productive writing times seem to be late morning and late afternoon. I used to be a night owl, no doubt about it. But somewhere between working so much and life, that’s been changing for a while (I can barely think straight after 10pm… I’m becoming old!). This last week I found the word-churn happens around 11 until 1, then there’s a lull, and it picks up again a few hours later.

Anyway, the point is, I think I found a routine that will work for the time being.

Something else that happened, though I’m not sure if it’s an actual pattern or just a coincidence, is that I was much more productive at the beginning of the week versus latter in the week. I think I’m going to test that out going forward, and make myself go write at a coffee shop or something to see if a change is what’s needed there.

ANYWAY. That’s a lot of personal technical stuff to be talking about here in this blog post. Let’s get to the fun part: the writing.

As I have mentioned before, I’m working on a New Adult cyberpunk-ish that’s exploring environmentalism and the relationship between developed and developing countries (or really… oppressed and oppressor). It’s also got quite a bit of romance and philosophy and all sorts of fun science-based ecology.

If you stalk me all on social media you might have seen me relaying some frustration with colonialism tropes, trying to be different, and REALLY trying to get away from the “white savior” tropes. On a basic level, I think I’ve got the concept down. For the minutia though… the first doubt-hurdle of NaNo has appeared.

It’s really easy to fall into what’s ‘comfortable’ in interactions between characters. Especially in a romance, which is pretty heavy in this book simply because of the themes. (The female MC wields ‘fertility’ power. She realizes how much her gifts could help said oppressed society, and tries to help the future leader of this society while rather falling for him.)

Right off the bat I have a problem because writing ‘incoming White Person falls in love with Indigenous Character and saves them’ has been written about a million times, and can be pretty offensive. Simply because it takes agency away from the ‘oppressed’ society and centers the ‘white savior.’ Somewhere along the line I’ve started wanting to flip ‘white saviorism’ on it’s head and center the marginalized voice in this circumstance.

I thought I wasn’t writing that, but the more I get into this story, the more I have to yank myself out of that trap. To start with, based off of lovely advice from CPs, I’ve changed this into a dual POV that had both the ‘outsider’ and the ‘insider’ as voices. With dual POV, it’s not just the ‘outsider’ that had a voice. It’s de-centered her narrative some. (That’s what I’m writing for NaNo this year: fulfilling the second POV to balance the narrative.)

The second thing I’m doing to avoid this trap, is that the ‘outsider,’ with her magic gifts, is not going to be the main person spearheading the ‘saving’ and revolution of the ‘oppressed’ people. They’re doing that all on their own, but she, trying to be an ally, is going to help them, because she has a gift that could really help. (In that, I’m trying to explore what it actually means to be an ally, to write a story where the ‘invader’ isn’t the ‘hero’ per se.)

I wrote a draft last NaNoWriMo, and this year, I’m diving it into again with the different POV. Now that I’ve dove into it again, with a lot more information on tropes, it’s the little details keep catching me up. Just in the interactions of the main characters, it’s too easy to slip into themes of all the other stories I’ve read before without being different and avoiding bad stereotypes.

At the same time, I want them to feel natural. I’d like to think I’m pretty good at the slow burn, and some of that comes from just letting it flow. But can I trust my instincts on so much of this, when ‘instincts’ often come from a place of seeing the same tropes repeated?

*bites nails endlessly*

Unfortunately (and fortunately), this is NaNowriMo, so you don’t get time to become paralyzed over things. Well, mostly. I freaked for a bit there. I did my best at making their relationship what it is at the very beginning, and all I can do now is edit later.

I’ve just hit ‘Act Two’ (for lack of a better word) in the novel. The first act is messy, just starting to get them to understand each other before I ruin everything, and a little dark. Act Two may be my favorite intellectually because because it’s a huge learning curve for the female protagonist, where she really starts to learn about the people around her and what she could do to help. She starts realizing — the restlessness she’s been struggling with in her previous life has an answer, and it’s here, where she can do the most good.

But it’s a minefield. How do I write from the perspective of the ‘white savior’ without de-centering the perspective of the people who really matter — the indigenous to the region she’s wanting to help?

(I don’t have an answer to that, I’m still working on it)

I actually wrote all of that last NaNoWriMo, so it’s kind of a moot point (editing, editing, editing…) but I am writing from the other POV during this time, which means that I can really start to explore everything that I’m worried about.

*cue paralysis*

This act centers around my female MC escaping and trying to get home. Unfortunately, she had to avoid all sorts of danger from all sides, and my male MC is trying to a) track her down, but b) keep her from harm.

In this, there’s a lot of focus on her. But I can’t make it all about her and her discovery, even though that’s what she’s doing for herself right now, because colonialist trope problems. But, that’s where they are naturally. However, my two protagonists also don’t have contact with each other in Act 2, which means I can really get into the differences of their perspectives and talk about these issues I’m worried about.

I could argue, that in Act 3, it centers a lot more back upon the ‘Indigenous’ voices and how she can assist but doesn’t take over their fight for revolution. So maybe Act 2 doesn’t need to be the make or break. At the same time, since I’m writing from this different POV, I want to give an alternate to ‘white person discovers new culture etc etc etc’ narrative that can shine a light on everything I’m trying to say.

*crickets*

Yeah, I’m worried about it too. The best I’ve got so far is to talk about themes of what ‘white person invaders’ really looks like from the inside, the reactions and otherwise, and try to poke at that whole complicated issue. Can I do this well enough? I’m not sure. (Lord knows I’ll need to hire as many sensitivity readers as I can get my hands on.)

In my heart of hearts, though, I’m worried that the real issue is not the minutia of the story but the concept itself. I’m worried that the very core of the story is flawed for what I’m trying to do. It’s still a story about an invader coming to an indigenous culture and trying to ‘help’ it… it’s still has a romance across this whole complex situation… it still deals with a power imbalance between two civilizations that I probably don’t understand the nuance of.

At the core, I am trying to write about the relationship between societies like this, with environmentalism as its focus. With what I’ve learned about the pitfalls of this, I’m trying to write a story of a ‘good’ ally with an alternative to the normal stories we’ve seen. Am I fudging the problems of writing this while not completely turning it on it’s head? I’m not sure. I can justify my decisions in why elements exist in this story, but I’m not sure I have the talent to do it well enough.

So that’s what I’ve been struggling with during Week One of NaNoWriMo.

After all of this worry and negativity though — writing from the second POV, Zavier’s POV, has been amazing. I love writing him. I probably like him as a character better than my original main character. And I feel like, if I do this right, I can really do something wonderful with this story.

Right now, though, I just need to hammer out these words. Most of these things are issues I’m going to have to figure out during editing, because I’ve already settled on what my core story is going to look like. NaNoWriMo is not the time for redoing everything! And maybe I’ll gain some more insight as I continue writing on how to solve some of this…

ANYWAY. That’s a really long post! How is everyone else feeling this NaNoWriMo?


AWAKEDRAGON: NaNoWriMo 2017

Well then, NaNoWriMo starts in two days. I did my typical ‘I know what I’m doing!’ and then panicked waffling about a week ahead of time. I’m actually going to be working on the same project I worked on last year: only from a different perspective.

Thanks to lovely brainstorming partners, I’ve got a handle on some of the critical flaws I’ve been struggling with. Unfortunately, that means some deep rewrites, because some of the flaws were built into the structure of the story itself.

Now. I’m not completely throwing out the first draft. I’m going to turn this book dual POV, with two voices to carry the story. Since this story is a bit of a commentary on how ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ countries interact with each other, it really needs a perspective on both sides to balance the story and make it worth something.

Well, I’m definitely feeling like I haven’t outlined enough information, or discovered enough about this character’s voice to be writing 1667 words a day. Which leads to my last minute panicked waffling about what to work on.

But, the great thing about NaNoWriMo is you can use it to force you to write words even if you’re not prepared for them, to just GET IT OUT and ignore the inner editor. And I think that’s what I need to kick myself into writing this. Because there’s so much to worry and think about when it comes to this story that I’m getting paralyzed by it. NaNoWriMo has done great things in the past for me in just getting words down. Editing can come later.

Which is a funny thing for me to say, because editing scares the crap out of me and I feel like my rewrites are never intensive enough. BUT. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, because I need to buckle down and decide on something, and here I am.

I should have turned this into an experiment on making a storyboard to help me know what I’m doing, but alas, that hasn’t happened either. I keep seeing everybody’s pretty storyboards for their NaNo projects and they’re so cool!

There are two days left before it begins, but it’s very doubtful I’ll have time to build something. I have a rough outline of the plot, based off of my previous draft, but there are still some big yawning holes. Writing from another perspective made her the sole perspective and focus, and now he needs to be able to do the same. Theoretically it shouldn’t that difficult, because he has a huge part to play in the original draft. But he needs to be different enough and have enough of his own agency that I’m worried. There’s a lot of behind the scenes material I still need to create.

Needless to say November will be its usual blend of fun and stress. In the past it’s always worked best for me to work on a new project versus one I’ve been writing for a while, but I’m hoping the perspective/characterization will be new enough that it’ll work. November has always worked to jump start my creativity, and I definitely need a little bit of a boost. I’ve been editing and picking apart marketing schemes for so long I would really like to feel the spark again.

Either way, I’m wishing everyone who’s participating this year the best of luck and the most amazing time churning out your words!

Any comments? Anxieties? How ya feeling about the approacheth NaNo?


Swiss Cheese Manuscript

Well my NaNoWriMo manuscript looks like swiss cheese right now with all of the holes in it. No, not plot holes – literal holes in the… plot.

(Okay, ‘plot holes’ is misleading. I’m talking about holes in the linear A-Z structure of getting from beginning to end. Holes in the… what else would you call it? GAH)

Whatever, the point is, the manuscript isn’t finished. There’s a decent chunk in the middle and the ending stretch is riddled with them — and I haven’t actually written the ending either.

Pfff – did you think it would be done, at only 50k words? No way, that’s like, half done in my world.

*cough* Anyway…

I started with 6610 words and ended up writing 62k. Sooo… the book is almost 79k words right now. I’ll probably add 10k more. (I’m repeating myself from my last blog post — moving on)

really don’t want to work on this manuscript anymore. What is wrong with me? I’m right at the finish line — the exciting part, it’s all coming together — and instead I’m daydreaming about other stuff. And, my main character for my INITIUM series is throwing images of naked men into my consciousness she’s so annoyed I’ve been ignoring her.

(Don’t ask… because I don’t even really know what she’s talking about yet)

Which is actually pretty awesome, because I’d been feeling a little drained from writing that series. This has been a great break. I think I scared my characters into talking to me again.

Now, I have one last thing I need to finish, a fun short story project that needs to be done mid-December… then it’ll be back to torturing Fairian and Daimyn. I’ve been mulling over this book three problem, and I’ve got some devious ideas…

But back to the point of this blog post. My November project needs some work before it’s even a real draft yet. I think I know what’s bugging me — I’m not used to writing in third person, and my main character isn’t compelling enough — but I’m going to let it sit for a little while. I need to do some research and devise a better game plan. This manuscript is definitely a lot more craft and less… intuitiveness. It’s good practice for me, but not something I’m quite used to.

NaNoWriMo is great for getting the words out — but they’re not always the best of words.

I hope you all had a great create NaNoWriMo 2016. And if you didn’t get to 50k — whatever. You still wrote, you got a little farther in your novel. That’s an accomplishment. We’re all proud of you.


Surprise!

I wrote 52,000 words in 23 days. As of now, I’ve written 59k in 27 days, and that’s not with what I will write today. This is definitely the most I’ve ever written for NaNo! It comes as a surprise, considering how much I disliked this manuscript about two weeks ago.

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I hit a stride… as my last blog post can attest… and I’ve hit the final stretch, which always comes easier. I’ve actually left a few major holes in the middle-end of the manuscript, difficult areas that need more research or more patience and time than I have right now.

My hope is that I will be able to get to the ending scene by the 30th — but even if I don’t, I’ll continue on into December. I won’t be able to write quite as intensively on this manuscript due to other projects arising, but I want to get a draft done by 2017 — then I’ll leave it and come back it when I’m ready to start overhauling all this craziness.

… it’s going to need some serious overhauling. For one, I keep finding myself flipping between limited and omniscient third person. And my MC has a bunch of problems. And I need to be sure…

Yeah. You know what I mean.

How’s everyone else doing?? Still fighting the need to voraciously edit?


#NaNoWriMo Update: I hate my novel?

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So a few days ago I wrote a rant about how much I hate my current #NaNoWriMo project. I can’t remember if I’ve hated projects before for NaNo — and I don’t have time to go back through blog posts and find out — but I’m pretty sure I’ve disliked or been disinterested in them before.

Anyway, this is what I wrote:

I don’t remember hating a manuscript as much as I hate mine right now.

My main character is kind of a bitch. Beyond that, she’s kind of boring. She also doesn’t have enough agency or drive, beyond the whatever monologue in her head. Sure, there’s supposed to be a big character arc (if I can do it right) but nobody is going to read to that point anyway if they can’t connect with her at all in the first chapter.

My world is also boring. I mean, come on. Enough of the western civilization-esque crap that’s been written over and over again. Why can’t I write something original? Why can’t I write something really poignant and fresh and part of a culture we don’t really know much about or something?

My stakes are also crap. I’m really good at making my characters comfy in their situations and finding safe places to hang out for moments in time. UGH.

Then there are my tropes. Oh Lord, the tropes. Every time I’m like — I’m going to this! And then — wait… it’s turned into that instead (which had been done a million times already, of course).

I suppose all of this would be okay if I trusted my ability to edit afterwards. I’m really good at line editing — but developmental editing I struggle with, a lot. Once I’ve written something, the box has been created, and I somehow get myself stuck within it. That’s why I usually end up editing and writing at the same time, because I can really think through what I’m writing and make sure I’m happy with when it gets ‘on the page.’ But with intense, fast writing like NaNoWriMo, I cannot think much about problems or situations that arise in the moment because I just have to keep writing.

I have done a lot more plotting this time around, but not enough to deal with everything that arises (does anyone, really?). So I’m spitting out words and new exciting things are evolving and some more disappointing things are developing, and I’m feeling… like I don’t know what I’m doing.

This may be partly having to do with some poignant writing advice I’ve absorbed lately (and feeling overwhelmed by), which is another blog post all together (upcoming).

But either way. Is anyone else having these doubts and problems? We’re halfway done with NaNoWriMo. How are you feeling about your manuscript now?

… and then something weird happened. Here, let me show you the results of this ‘weird thing’ that happened:

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That’s SEVEN DAYS AHEAD on my word count.

*cue shock and blank staring*

I’ve never done this before. Somewhere in all my insecurity I hit this weird plateau and just starting writing. It helped that I had several hours blocked away to write, and hit an interesting part, and suddenly my characters were talking to me, and I got excited about the current way my story is going.

I can feel the little doubt demons in the back of my head going — yeah, you’re going to regret doing this later because it’s too much like ____ trope.

And… somehow I’m ignoring them. I’m just writing my little trying-to-be-a-plotter-actually-a-pantser butt off and rather enjoying the ride.

But seriously — how is everyone else doing? Are the doubt demons kicking your butt? Are you hating/post-hating your manuscript?

 


NaNoWriMo Update: Tough First week

I knew this NaNoWriMo was going to be a little different, mostly because of how busy I am compared to the previous years I participated. But it was a real struggle to keep up with word counts!

Most of this can be attributed to the lack of real time I had (thus the lateness of this blog post). Between working and goats and building a house, there isn’t a lot of time lying around.

I started getting into a groove and making progress when I began writing during my breaks at work. Even if it was on my ten minute breaks, I could get out a few hundred words if I really focused. That helped a lot — probably because it got me in the mindset and routine of really using any time I had.

Also, I was really struggling with my main character and writing in third person limited. This is the first time I’ve written something long in third person limited. I’m used to first person’s ability to get right up in the character’s thoughts, and felt really distanced from my main character. Also, maybe because of that or maybe because I’m writing a bit of a selfish character… I didn’t like my main character much until lately.

But the plot — and her development as a character — has picked up a lot more lately, and that’s been helping with churning out the daily word counts.

 

So while I lagged behind the first week, I seem to be getting my groove the second week. I had Thursday off as well, which really helped me catch up. Since then I’ve been staying above the needed word goal for each day.

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I hope everyone’s first two weeks of NaNoWriMo have been going well!