Tag Archive: novel writing

So it’s almost 2am

…and I have officially crossed into the winner’s circle of NaNo, at 50317 words. And the goofy thing is that I still want to write tonight because I’m about to send a group of characters off on Final Rollicking Action Adventure Sequence, but it’s five til two in the morning and I really do need to be showered and at work in 9 hours.

But I’m done with the wordcount goal for the month and my fingers are typing at light speed and my brain is sort of overdoing everything right now, so I thought I’d reflect on the whole thing for a moment before throwing myself on my pillow.

To my writing buddies and supportive friends: I heart you guys so much it’s craycray. I promise I’ll be around a bit more now that the deadlines have backed off.

The biggest, happiest surprise in all of this NaNoing silliness was that most of the time, this wasn’t as hard as it was last year. I feel a lot more comfortable writing, much more comfortable in particular with dialogue. And writing 2500 words in a day suddenly doesn’t feel like a monumentous, impossible task. Right now it feels like Thursday, and I love that. I love that my brain can reach into itself and AssPull something completely insane when I need to keep going and need something to heighten the tension.

Or at least I love that my brain has been doing that for the last few days, when I realized that all told the story structure is starting to shape up alright but that I’m making everything far, far too easy for Miss Aurora and that I need to work on making her life more difficult. So I started doing that, and I ended up with a scene that has, you know, something like a gesture towards “oh yeah, suspense!” rather than just a bunch of teenage angsting. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some angst way more than is rational, but a book full of nothing but angst would be Twilight would suck. So adding much in the way of suspense will be issue number one when I start editing. Or maybe issue number two, falling in line right after culling redundant conversations.

In other words, I have a metric ton of editing to do, and I’m well, well aware of it.

But first I have to finish this thing. The wordcount goal is done, but the story is not, and I can’t begin editing anything until I know exactly where this thing ends. Then I can piece the structure together better and see what happens.

And part of me would dearly love to have Aurora randomly know karate, but I don’t know if that would fit, and it would just be too convenient for her to have serious martial arts skills. She may have to stick with the week’s worth of self-defense lessons I let her have at one point.

Story and novel aside, I haven’t gotten nearly as much blogging done as I’d like on either blog – here because most of the time I’d rather be writing the novel, and on my beer blog because I haven’t spent as much time trying new beers, much less throwing together some form of coherent thought about what I have consumed. This is also why I’m sitting on a few-day-old review of last week’s homework wine. I’m not really coherent. But that’s normal for me. And given my drinking habits have been normal, my caffeine intake has been only ever so slightly increased (by which I mean I’ve probably had two cups of coffee more this month than I normally do), and my procrastination levels were actually less than they normally are, I’m going to say that this was a rousing success, and that writing doesn’t suck.

I mean, my writing sucks, at least right now. Because it’s unedited.

But. It’s fun.

I can tell I’ve been writing a ton lately because this is getting way wordsy. I’m going to haul my rear end to bed right now and hopefully pass out without the characters screaming at me that I need to get up and work on scene x for a while because they have more to say to each other and ONOES TEH ANGST. But I doubt that’ll happen. They don’t really like leaving me alone.

I’m insane.

NaNo starts in 3-ish days, right? As in 72 hours from now I will be sitting at my laptop, hopefully hammering away at the keys, beginning my 50K wordcount for the month.

So naturally, today seemed like the ideal day to decide for sure and certain to sit on the project I was planning on working on during NaNo, because it took something of a wrong turn and I need to stop and figure out what the right turn is before I can get it to progress any further. Plus it’s almost too cold to write that novel right now. That’s a summertime novel.

So I needed something to write.

I’d had a project going over the summer. Or rather, over the summer I’d outlined and storyboarded and worked on characters and whatnot for a project. And then I started writing said project and the MC (main character for the non-writers) just… didn’t fit. I could see this whole huge story, but the character I had planned on shoving into it steadfastly refused to work with it. She was too logical and even-keeled for what the story needs. The story needs a daydreamer. The MC as I had originally conceived her dismisses daydreams as a giant waste of time. I need an MC who doodles in the margins of her notebooks during class and wants more than anything to do something crazy – like strap fairy wings to her backpack – but is afraid to do anything like that because she doesn’t want all the attention.

To sum up: I’ve completely tossed the roughly 5K worth of writing I had for that project and will be starting over and NaNo-ing it come November. So I will be doing the full challenge as rules state. I still don’t have a name for this project, so it will be “nameless YA Fantasy project” until such time as something pops into my head. I’ve completely revamped the MC (although I’m keeping her name) and I’m flipping POV/tense and all kinds of stuff to see if I can get into her head differently and in a way that works better for the story. And in doing all that, the entire opening I had planned out doesn’t work at all, so I’ve still got to figure out what I’ll be writing about come 71 3/4 hours from now.

But I will figure it out, dammit. Because I won last year and I’d like to win this year, because I’d like to get the wordcount on the novel so that I can convince myself it’s really finish-able. And NaNo, in its greatness, lets me feel like I can finish it, and shuts up my inner editor for a while so that I can just sit back and go.

When things get really hard, I’ll be popping onto Dr. Wicked’s and bitching about it here. Enjoy, people.

Fiction Writing: It is Different

When I started playing around with noveling last year, it was mostly as a way to find a writing outlet that wouldn’t leave me dry-heaving (unlike, say, my dissertation).  It sounded like fun and I had a few ideas, so one night, I sat down and scribbled out a scene, and it was fun.  The next night, I scribbled out another.  And then I read a book or two and came back and read what I’d written.  My thought:  “my writing is crap.”  So I shelved the idea for a while.

And then NaNo happened.  What I mean by this is that someone on a forum I frequent started a thread about NaNoWriMo, which is a challenge that involves writing 50,000 words during the month of November.  50,000 words, as they point out on the NaNo site, is roughly the length of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – a short novel (but an awesome one when well done).  November is thought to be an ideal time for this, being that November being a dismal month and thus conducive to being stuck indoors with a cup of caffeine and a laptop.  My thought: “what the hell.”  So I played around more with the idea I had working on in my head from months earlier, and somehow managed to pull 50,000 words out of my brain during the challenge.  Some of them weren’t awful (as in I think the word “awful” was only used once or twice, meaning then that almost all of the words weren’t awful)(as in it’s late and I’m kinda loopy so bear with me and my terrible, terrible jokes).  And then I scribbled through most of the rest of the novel and had it pretty much almost but not quite completed by March or so.  Maybe April – I forget the exact timeline because life was being loopy at that point. 

When I got to a point where I wasn’t quite sure how to end it, I started reading through it in hopes of figuring out a perfect ending scene.  And it occured to me.  IT SUCKED.  Like, REALLY SUCKED.  Some of the supporting characters were fun but the MC was flat for most of the novel and the central conflict utterly wasn’t a conflict at all (hence my inability to come up with a conclusion – there wasn’t enough to conclude, plot-wise).  Solution:  shelve the thing and get a moar bettar idea.  So I did, chalking the first mess up to “good learning experience,” which it was.  I’m working now on idea two, which is fun and much more planned out and becoming much more well-researched.  And who knows – it may end up being good (it will most likely be better than the first one, anyway).  Of course, it may end up being unworkable at the end as well, but if that happens I’ll move on when I’ve done all I can and try a different idea.  At least this time I have a plot outline, so I know what’s going to happen and I know I won’t end up conclusion-less.

But here’s the thing that happens with fiction writing that never happened in the throes of academia:  characters now spend time in my head arguing with each other.  It feels as though the inside of my head, which used to be mine, is now populated with people who want space on a page somewhere.  And they talk to each other.  If I’m lucky, like I’ve been for a few nights recently, the characters who are talking to each other are the characters I *want* to have talking to each other, and writing feels more like transcription than it does work (or even creation).  If I’m unlucky, no one’s talking to me at all and everything I write that day feels forced (like the two days during which my MC (main character) moped and stared at her shoes and was emphatically not in the mood for adventure).  Those are the days where I know the writing is likely to end up as edit scraps later.

And then there are – albeit rarely – days like today, when a totally new and previously unknown character bangs on my consciousness while I’m otherwise occupied and starts telling me a story about where she came from and what her world is like and what her problems are and it fits absolutely nowhere with anything I’m working on.  I can’t qualify this as lucky, because this character and her story are a complete and total distraction from my current WIP (still Young Adult, but in a totally different world than the one I’ve been working in), but I can’t say I feel it’s unlucky, either, because I think her story is interesting and could be a lot of fun to write down.  I’ve written down roughly 500 words to give myself a reminder for when I can work with it, given it a folder and put it away (I hope – I’m hoping that because I’ve written it down she’ll leave me alone for a while).

A year ago, in the pre-NaNo days, this is not what I expected to have happen.  I didn’t expect strangers to sit in my head and talk to each other, hoping to get my attention.  But it’s fun.  It’s really fun.  And maybe, if I work my ass off, someday someone will publish something, and you all can enter the world in my head.

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