Monday, November 23, 2015

Letting the Story Take the Lead

In October, I made my plans for November. I was going to write book one of this series, and so when I was outlining, I did a vague outline for all three books, a fill in the blank outline for the first two, and a detailed outline for book one.

Then November actually came and I finished book one in fourteen days. I didn’t want to stop the momentum, so I moved onto book two with only a slightly less-than-vague outline to go by. This means that as I’m writing, I have to figure out ways to jump from this plot point to the next. As can be expected, the results have been all over the place.

In the past week, I’ve learned more about the belief system of the world, especially concerning death. Apparently, their limbo is called the Yuchbish, and there’s a dragon in there. It kind of blindsided me, but I decided to see where it went. I still have yet to decide if it’s going to stay, but there’s some good scenes in there.

I think the biggest issue that I have is that I’m never quite sure where to proceed next. Obviously it’s not hindering my word count. I’m currently 50,000 words into book two, and hoping to finish it by the end of the month. But I felt like there was an issue with the end of the book. Obviously, it’s the middle book, so the biggest thing to watch for is that the whole book doesn’t become that sagging middle. Yesterday, while driving to work, I had an epiphany. I wasn’t treating it like its own book. I wasn’t focused on having the action move forward, or to having a climax at the end.

Obviously, if it’s a story worth telling, even if it’s in the middle of the series, it needs to have a clear purpose, as well as a clear climax. Something to give the readers some kind of resolution before moving into the next issue and forward in the overarching plot.

Now that I’ve figured out the climax of the book, as well as the conflict, I’m confident that the story and I are now on the same page. Here’s to seven more days! Hope everyone else is doing well!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

NaNoWriMo Progress

We’re over halfway through November! I can’t believe it. It’s flown like a blur. A very exciting, fun, and energetic blur.

Last Saturday, I finished the first book in this series with 85,000 words. It was exciting, especially since I was at a write-in, with all of my writing friends. They were able to help me celebrate. Since November is still going full force, I started on book 2. Currently, I’m about 22,000 words into that, and I’m hoping to finish by the end of the month.

What I love most about NaNoWriMo is the momentum. There’s a wonderful group of writers, who support me, and who are willing to talk me through any plot hole or writer’s block I have. Last night, we had another write-in, and in the middle of all the writing, there were plenty of conversations about plots, voice, and just about everything else that people needed help with.

NaNoWriMo is a fantastic starting point. It teaches writers how their process is. Do they outline first? Do they just write by the seat of their pants? How do they get through the dreaded middle section? Add to that, if they participate in the group activities, the forums, the write-ins, they’re sure to make at least a few friends who really understand what they’re going through.

Writing is easier when you’re not alone, and I’m so grateful for my writing group. I know I’ll be keeping in touch with them all year, not just in November.

How about the rest of you? How’s November going? 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Reading Through a Writer’s Eyes and Thoughts on Marissa Meyer's Winter

An interesting phenomenon when you spend a great deal of time editing and revising is that you start noticing mistakes. In everything. Especially in books of bestselling writers, because, let’s face it, everyone has a different opinion on art, and what one person likes isn’t necessarily what another person likes. I’ve heard other writers and editors complain about it. The inability to turn it off long enough to enjoy the story.

It’s true, to an extent. This year, I’ve really pushed to improve myself as a writer. I’ve advanced in ways I wouldn’t have imagined in January. I’ve critiqued and revised, even started a new series. I also made a goal to read 52 books this year.

This week, I read Winter, the final book in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. If you haven’t picked up the books, I highly recommend them. I found them last year and blasted through Cinder and Scarlet. Then I had to wait for Cress to come out. I thought that was torture, but then I had to wait for Winter.

I’m a huge fan of Marissa Meyer. I love her writing style, her characters, and her story. I also love the fact that she’s a NaNoWriMo author. Both Cinder and Scarlet were written during NaNoWriMo. If that’s not motivation, I don’t know what is.

While I’m working on my current novel, I’ve also been thinking about revision. I’m not a stranger to revision, out of the five novels I’ve written, I’ve probably done an average of 3-5 revisions on each. But as I work on the Orange WIP, I realize that maybe I’m not doing it as effectively as I could. As I researched revision, I found Marissa Meyer’s blog, and she gave an incredibly helpful and detailed summary of how she revises.

One of the things that popped out to me was that in her first revision, she asks what she can do to make things worse for the character. How she can make it less easy.

Knowing that, I read Winter with new eyes. There were moments when I could almost see her going through, thinking, nope, this is too easy. Time to make them suffer.

And suffer they did.

But because I still had my ‘writing goggles’ on while reading, I was able to pick up on those small details that I might not have noticed otherwise. I loved the book, and I was depressed when it was over. But I have a feeling that I’ll be going back to those books over and over again, probably with my kids as well. And when I start revisions, I will be taking Ms. Meyer’s process in mind, making things as physically and mentally difficult as I possibly can for my characters. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

50,000 Words in 7 Days

Last week was a productive week. I was able to use a little extra free time to get an extra word count in. Add that to double up day, a day when NaNoWriMo headquarters challenge everyone to double their word count (and their donations), I was able to reach 50,000 words in just 7 days.

I’m kind of shocked that I did it. It wasn’t easy. There were some days I didn’t even want to write.
Here’s the secret: Do it anyway.

I’ve had a lot of people in our NaNoWriMo group who have said they had a hard time writing, that they have no mojo, no juice. They couldn’t get words written.

With one of the girls, I challenged her to a writing war. Ten minutes of writing to see who can get the most words in. We did it twice, and suddenly, the block she’d had was gone.

The best solution to writer’s block is writing. It sounds odd, but it’s the only solution I’ve seen that actually works.

How are the rest of you doing? Going strong?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Starting out on the Journey

One of the perks of being the ML in our region is that I get to write pep talks for those writing in our region. I love the chance to encourage writers. :) Here's the pep talk that we sent out last week!

It’s week one, which means that we’re still in the beginning of the long stretch. I know that some of you are doing awesome! In fact, our entire region is doing awesome! Compared to last year, we’ve really blown out of the water without our helmets on. I’m amazed by all of your progress.

Whether you feel like you’re moving forward, or whether you feel like you’re not doing as well as you could have – or should, remember, that’s not the point.

We’re on day 5. Day 5 of a lifetime. To be a writer, you don’t write 30 days in November. You write every day for a lifetime.

So why is NaNoWriMo important? Because these are our warm ups, the practice for the actual race. We’re going for a marathon here, not a sprint. Remember that. Everyone starts out at a different pace, and each of us are in different events. Don’t compare yourself to everyone else. We’re here as a team, not competitors. We’re here to cheer one another on. Any success can be counted as our success because we’re in this together.

That’s really the beauty of NaNoWriMo. You’re not alone. There’s going to be someone with more experience, and someone with less. That’s how it works. The best way to learn how to write is to learn and to teach, so don’t be afraid to get out there, know your team members and cheer them on!

And remember, this is just the beginning. If you fall, that means you’re trying! If you pull a muscle, then take a break, stretch it out, and jump back in!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Week 1 Report

I love NaNoWriMo. Can I just say that over and over? NaNoWriMo is the best part of the year. I love the comradery, the groups, and the interactions between writers. It’s never as active as it is during November.

This year has been a little bit different. I spent all of October obsessively, yes, obsessively outlining and planning for this novel. I don’t think I’ve ever been as prepared as I have this year. I knew my characters, their backstories, their fears, and their goals… I even knew how they talked. I had a detailed map drawn, and thanks to a fantastic geography teacher, my map was drawn correctly.
My magic system was detailed, the rules created before writing a single word. The foods they eat, the way they travel.

I was ready.

I’ve planned before, but this has gone beyond anything I’ve ever done. My Story Bible is bursting with information.

The difference is visible. The first days of the month and I’m already 32,000 words into the novel. My average word count per day is over 6,000.

Once I did all the preparation, this thing has been flowing like I can’t believe. Not only that, I really want to keep writing. It takes a lot of effort to pry myself away from the computer so that I can do the laundry or cook dinner. At this rate, I might finish the entire first book (since my 32,000 is halfway through page 3 of an 11 page outline for the first book), and possibly get the outlines done for the other two books.

So that’s me! Fingers flying, and excited to keep going! How about the rest of you? How are you doing with NaNoWriMo?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Trying Something New

Every year, I try and find a new way to challenge myself as a writer. This year, I wanted to try to write in first person. All of the other books that I’ve written have been in third person, except for the very first draft of Servant of an Empire. The reason I changed to third person was because it felt like every sentence started with the word I. It reminds me of the scene in Princess Diaries where she talks about how many stinkin’ times she uses the word ‘I.’

I was really nervous, especially since all my attempts at practicing it weren’t going so well. But I’d also spent much more time trying to get into my characters’ heads, so that I can really understand how they think, so that I can imitate the way they talk.

So the first day of NaNoWriMo, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. In fact, I was expecting to crash and burn. If not, the best case scenario would be a wooden, I-riddled first draft.

I was pleasantly surprised. Not only was I able to figure out a way to avoid the dreaded ‘I’, but I was also able to make clear and distinct voices. Or rather, Yaru and Nara were able to let their voices flow.

Remember, these are just first drafts, but here’s the difference:

The man huffed, slashing the sword from side to side, almost burying the blade into the wooden crate. If this idiot puts even a nick in the surface, I’d made him eat the Vor through his nostrils. “Not worth it,” he said. His voice was gruff, like sandpaper against stone, and his thick lips sneered down at me.

The parade stops as the monks congregate around the holy links, seeking the word of Gal. I snort. They should know better than to think that Gal would spend any time in this place. With the dust layering every building, and the stench of livestock, if I were a creator, I’d steer clear from this place. I’d probably spend my days floating across the sea’s foam or in the air, tumbling like… I don’t know, some kind of tumbling thing. A bird maybe.

I love both of them, but what I particularly love is how distinct they feel. I know which one is Yaru and which one is Nara. Now I’m excited to see how the rest of it develops.

How about the rest of you? How are your novels coming along?

Monday, November 2, 2015

NaNoWriMo to a Non-Writer

My husband is fantastic. I know I’m bragging, but it’s really true. He has supported my writing in ways I really wouldn’t have expected. Out of the two of us, he’s more afraid of my work getting stolen online. He lets me attend all of the writing classes, seminars and meetings in the area, and even lets me take the car when I need.

He understands my passion, though he doesn’t always feel the same way.

Last night, we were talking about NaNoWriMo. He and a friend went to where my group was having a write-in, and his friend asked him why I was in there with my computer.

Here’s the story as he told it to me.

Husband: Let me explain to you. (Though, in his accent, it sounds more like asplain).

You know how the gringos are weirdos and always have a day for everything? October was breast cancer, a few days ago, they had cat day. 

Friend: No, I didn’t know that.

Husband: Well, they do. Those gringos have a party for everything. Now November has two things. One is for prostate, and that’s Movember. The other is NaNoWriMo, which is National Writing Month.

At this point, I interrupted him, to tell him that it’s National Novel writing month.

Husband: I don’t care. Anyway, Krista and other people try to write 50,000 words in all of November.

Friend: Wow, that’s a lot of words.

Husband: I know. I told you they were weirdos.

So there you have it. If that’s the way that a supportive non-writer looks at NaNoWriMo, then I’m assuming the non-supportive ones thinks we’re raving lunatics. (For those curious, he learned the word weirdo from me.)

How about the rest of you? Do your friends and family understand your crazy November antics?