The Official November Plan

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Since I’m not following wordcount goals this NaNoWriMo, I thought I should explain what my goals are. That way you can all keep me honest!

Essentially, I have 16 major scenes/plot points to hit before Thieves is done. Therefore, I must complete one scene/plot point every 2 days (at least). Since earlier means fresher, I’ve got 2 that I have to finish in the first 3 days so I can fit them all in.

I bought a big(ish) whiteboard/corkboard to keep track of all of this, and make sure my goals are right in front of my face.

Here it is: (btw, don’t try to read the cards if you don’t want spoilers!)

So far, I’m on track! Yay! And incidentally, just under the Nano official wordcount goal, so who knows – maybe I will hit 50,000!

In other news, this has been a week of organization. There are whiteboards everywhere :). I even got a little crafty and did my jewelry too:

They’re just wooden cross-stitch frames, with lace pulled over the inner hoop. That way I could hang my earrings and pins directly on the lace. I had to glue cork to the inner hoop in order to attach my bracelets and necklaces with pushpins. Simple, and hopefully more usable than my previous stack of little cases.

And last, in case you see me around in the next month, I’ve got a walking boot on.

Turns out I’ve been walking on my feet too much. Or something. So now I’ve got to wear this boot thing and not walk around so much, at least until it heals. Ugh. Though on the good side, maybe boredom will force me to be more productive on the Nano front… especially since I’ve also canceled my Netflix for the month.

This NaNo

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I have officially decided that I will be participating in NaNoWriMothis year! And I’ve also decided exactly what I’ll be writing.

If you’ve been around since last year, you’ll know that last November I won NaNoWriMo (wrote a 50000 word novel in a month). As I mentioned in my Post-NaNo Report, I learned a few things, primarily that the crazy, slapdash, get-the-words-out pace of NaNo is not the most effective writing method for me. All I did was create 50,000 words of incomprehensible disaster. I wasn’t certain at the time that I would be participating again.

But there are some reasons that draw me back to NaNo this year. It is fun to be part of such an effort along with so many other amazing people. And there is something about a crazy public goal that brings out my competitive determined side. And let’s face it – writing is usually a pretty lonely endeavor. NaNo is anything but.

So I’m going for it again this year, though I’m not starting an entirely new story. My goal is to finish Thieves. Whether it takes 50,000 words or 20,000 words, if I finish the story I will consider this year’s NaNo a success.

My problem with writing too fast is that it takes me a while to develop a story to the point I can write it. Without the percolating time, anything I try to do turns into more of a hot mess than usual. The benefit of finishing Thieves is that I’ve been developing it for nearly a year. This past weekend I finished developing and outlining the second half of the story. I’ll be able to focus on just writing it from here on. Or that’s the plan. We’ll see how it turns out 🙂

If you write, have written, or want to write “someday,” then I hope you’ll pick up your pen this November and join in. It’s a super fun and super valuable effort. And there’s never going to be a better or worse time than right now.

Outlining for Fun and Profit (or not)

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I managed to outline my current novel! Yay!

I’ve never managed this before. Granted, it is a pretty shallow outline, very superficial. It only hits the biggest points. I’ll still need to fill in an enormous amount as I write. There are several places that say “Niabi learns something, which leads her to do such-and-such.” I’m not exaggerating, this is verbatim.

But I can trace the most important events of the three main storylines, and that makes me feel better about the whole project. I was having trouble managing the complexity of the plot before – likely contributing to how little progress I was making.

I’m making more progress now, thank goodness. So I’m pretty happy to have a dim light to brighten the path.

I doubt I will ever be a super heavy outliner. It just isn’t natural to me, but I do see the benefits of it. I’ve read the books and done some of the exercises. I understand the basics of plotting and story structure. But it turns out I just don’t see stories like that. It is a struggle to untangle other people’s stories, and even harder to see my own like that.

I’d rather think of an event or situation and follow my character’s reaction to it until that makes something else happen. I can always tell when I hit on how my character would feel or what she would do. It all clicks and I know it is right. I think that’s why I write in fits and starts – I need pondering time.

And interestingly enough, just like I need that pondering time before I sit down to write a scene, I couldn’t force the outline either. To me, outlining was a task of organization – if I can just state what I need, I can think of what to fill the gap with. Logical, defined, nice and neat. But not so.

Writing the outline still required getting into the heads of my characters, only on that slightly higher level that has, until now, developed naturally from the consistent choices and behavior of my characters. In other words, I had to figure out what larger picture would develop from the interplay of the characters before I wrote those interactions. I guess some people, outlining people, must look at it the other way – the big picture comes easily, and then they worry about what small situations can add up to that big picture.

Even a glimpse of that higher level took a long time to form in my head and on paper, which must be why I won’t ever be a natural outliner. I’ll struggle with it and I’ll benefit from the work, because in order to write the complex stories I like, I’ll need to keep practicing my outline skills. But I don’t think I’ll have a really good view of my story before it is written. And that’s OK, because I get a thrill from pantsing it, and I’m not afraid of rewriting!

Next Novel Begun!

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Just a quick update for you all.  I have officially begun writing my next novel, and have settled on a working title.

Thieves of Moirai

Niabi lives on the brink of death, cheating those who cheat society, playing the snitch as payment for her own crimes.  But when she begins to find dead bodies, she finds herself on the very real trail of those most dangerous of legends: The Thieves of Moirai.

Super excited to start this one, hopefully that will translate into an awesome book.  Same deal as with King’s Mark – watch the progress bars to the right, I’ll be updating them as I make my way through the project.

Wish me luck!

Next Steps

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I have spent this entire weekend trying to polish up my last 3.5 chapters for review. My critique group isn’t meeting for another two weeks, so I do have a week to get the first half up to scratch… but I really want to start my next draft. But reworking is taking longer than normal. This week, I blame West Wing, George R. R. Martin, and my new-found skill in jam-making (spiced plum is amazing, and tomorrow I embark on ginger-grapefruit. Holy cow, I’m awesome). Ah well, it WILL be done!

And then I will start draft #2. As you may have noticed, I have added a second progress bar to track my progress on draft #2. For those of you who have agreed to be my beta readers, that little bar will be ticking down the moments until I’ll send the whole darn thing out to you.

Here’s the plan:

1. Finish polishing the ending and send it out to my critique group.

2. Define what I need to concentrate on in my next draft, go through previous critiques and pull out what I will change, what I need to clarify, and what I’m going to ignore.

3. Accomplish said changes and clarifications. Cut a little, add a lot. (I hope this will go more quickly than the transition from rough outline draft to first draft, since I do much better once the words are on the page. I want to finish this by the end of August. Wish me luck!)

4. Send draft #2 out to my beta readers (if you want to be a beta reader and haven’t spoken with me, let me know! I have a list 🙂 While my beta readers read, I’ll research, get advice, and generally work on my pitch. I want to prepare as much as possible for the process that comes after the writing part so I don’t end up stalled or rejected just because I was ignorant.

5. Get comments from beta readers, do a final polish (hopefully there won’t be many big changes) and start looking for an agent. I want to be doing this by October.

All in all, it seems more and more possible. I get good reviews from my critique group (lots to fix, but still overall positive), even when I look at my stuff and deem it crap. I finished it without getting bored and dropping it (I am incredibly proud of that). I have a plan for the immediate future. Not bad for a first attempt at a book!

Even if it never gets published (there’s still a very good chance of that), I’m still going to feel good about it. I’ll keep on keepin’ on, because I really do love the act of creation. And let’s face it; the ‘muses’ are not easily ignored!

But how thrilling would it be to see something I wrote on a bookshelf somewhere?