Monthly Archives: June 2014

Camp NaNo: July 2014 Edition

I’ve been putting off writing this post for a few days. I hoped it I waited long enough I would miraculously think of something more interesting to say than my usual pre-NaNo posts. Then I realized that Camp NaNo starts in less than three hours and that if I was going to write this post at all, I’d better hurry up and do it now.

So, yeah, here I am, posting.

For those of you who don’t know, Camp NaNo is a spin-off of National Novel Writing Month, only in the summer. People can sign up for cabins, and you can choose your own writing goal. The lowest is 10,000 (I believe), and I’m not sure what the highest is. If you’ve ever wanted to do NaNo but wanted to do a separate goal, you should definitely consider Camp! (Or, you know, do NaNo and just not care that you don’t hit 50k.)

My official goal for this session of Camp is 75,000 words – or however many words I need to finish my novel. I’m writing draft 3 of DEGENERATION, my YA contemporary novel featuring Madison Carter, a high school senior trying to survive a family get-together with people she hasn’t seen in more than five years. I finished my outline a few days ago. It’s 14 pages and about 12,500 words long. I’ve never written an outline this long, but I’m hoping it will help me write a decent draft this time.

Normally the goal is to write the novel in a month. I’m aiming for two weeks. There are several reasons for this, which all sort of work together. Since this is my third time writing this novel (fifth if you count the two screenplays I wrote for Script Frenzy), I pretty much know what’s happening. There aren’t a lot of surprises, even though I am adding several scenes. The main reason I’m rewriting this one instead of just editing it is because it’s the writing that I don’t really like. Most of the plot was okay the first several times. Plus, I wrote a phase outline this time, which is basically just a condensed novel, so I shouldn’t have to wait and think of what to write next. It should all flow together.

Then there’s the fact that my boyfriend will be out of state for the first two weeks of Camp, and I’d figure I’d use that time to my advantage. We usually end up spending hours watching Netflix (I’ve finally started watching Dr. Who!), and I don’t get that much accomplished. Now I’m not going to turn on the TV at all. Just me and my computer. And, okay, sure, I’ll still have plenty of distractions online (2048, Twitter, NaNo forums, cabins, and chat…), but I’ll have at least two fewer distractions, and that’s what I’m choosing to focus on.

Since he’ll be gone for two weeks, I’ve decided that my goal is to have my novel finished by the time he gets back. I have another novel I’ve been planning for the past few days. The idea came to me while watching Sports Night, and it hasn’t left me alone since then. I’m still working on getting to know the characters, and I only have a few vague scenes in my head, but I’m still excited about it. I’m hoping to have enough figured out by mid-July to start writing something.

I’ve also just learned about a website called MyWriteClub, where you can track your progress in writing/editing and have others follow along and cheer on your accomplishments and stuff like that. I’m quixotic_hope over there, as well, so if you’d like to add me, you can do so here after you sign up!

Here on the east coast, there’s now just over two hours until Camp starts. Are you joining in? What are you working on if you are?

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Adventures in Note Carding

As some of you may know, I’ve been planning my Camp NaNo project. I’ve written this story four times before, twice as a screenplay and twice as a novel, and I think I’ve finally learned what I’m doing. I’m taking the planning process more seriously this time, and I’ve decided to try a new way of planning. I’ve always heard other people talk about note cards, but I’ve never really used them myself. I didn’t think I was a note card person. I didn’t want to waste all those note cards when I could just write the same information on a piece of paper. I’m happy to say, though, that I’ve finally figured out what the thrill is.

1. Create Note Cards.
This was easy if time-consuming. As I was reading through the original drafts, I created a note card for every scene or part of a scene that I wanted to keep. If I wasn’t sure I was going to keep the scene exactly as it was, I broke it into smaller parts. I also created note cards for scenes I wanted to include, even if I didn’t know where I wanted to put them yet.

2. General Sorting.
I divided all my note cards into three piles: beginning, middle, and end. This was particularly easy for this novel, as it’s basically split into three parts: before they go to New York, while they’re at New York, and after they leave.

3. Outline Main Events and Sort Cards.
The middle part of this novel takes place over six days. I jotted down a quick list of what was happening each day, what the main event was. Then I created a second, slightly longer outline, where I wrote down all the main scenes I knew I had to include. Then I took the note cards that corresponded to each of those scenes, and I spread them out on the table, keeping each day separate. I also sorted the before trip/after trip cards, which was the easiest part, as I already know what will happen there.

4. Sort the Rest of the Cards.
Once I had the major events down, I went back and put the rest of the cards in order. This took a bit more work, as a lot of these events were smaller, and they could theoretically have gone several places. I had to really stop and think about what was happening each day and try to find the most logical place for them. I took frequent breaks to discuss the plot with my boyfriend, and he offered suggestions. Eventually, I found a place for each card, and I created new cards for the scenes I came up with while I was moving things around.

5. Sort Cards by Chapters.
After I put the cards in order by place in the book (before, days 1-6, after), I split each section into chapters. This might change later, but for now I’m happy with what I have. As of right now, I have 23 chapter, 4 before they see their family, 16 while they’re in New York, and 3 after they leave.

I’m excited about my note card collection. Normally I just have a brief outline, and I generally end up forgetting scenes that I wanted to add until after I write the novel, and then it’s hard for me to go back and add it in later. This way, I can actually make sure everything has a place, so when I create the outline, I’ll have a better reminder of everything. It’s still too early to say for sure, but I’m fairly confident that I’ve found a new way to plan.

Next step – creating an outline! (Which I was supposed to do yesterday.)

What about you? Do you use note cards to plan? If not, what do you use?

Book Buying Hiatus

Those who follow me on Twitter might have noticed that I made a promise not to buy any new books or get any more books from the library until I had finished the ones I already had. The reason for this is because I recently bought 13 new books (each of them between $2 and $4), and I had 6 books out from the library, and that seemed a bit ridiculous.

Here’s a really poor quality photo of the books in case anyone’s curious (the punctuation guide at the bottom of the left stack isn’t new):

 

new books

 

Yesterday, I returned the six library books (having read four of them), and I was only supposed to pick up the book that was already on hold. Except I was already there, and there was one other book I really wanted to read, but I couldn’t remember the name of the author, so I decided to walk around and try to find it on my own. I never did, but I did find four other books that I wanted to read. So I already broke my promise, and then I broke it further by coming home and putting two more books on hold at the library.

BUT! This is actually the last time I will do that this summer. The next two months are for reading those library books and the 13 books I recently bought. I actually have so many more books to read beside just those 13, but I’m starting with those.

I’m running out of room on my bookshelves. Actually, that’s a lie. I’m already out of room. I have books stacked on top of and in front of other books. The tops of my bookshelves are covered with books. I have no room for more books, and my mother refuses to let me turn the guest room next door into a library. She’s saying I should start packing books into boxes to save for when I’m able to move out. At first I thought she was crazy, but I’m actually starting to think that might not be such a bad idea.

These are just two of my bookshelves. I have one more white one that's full but doesn't have multiple layers of books.

These are just two of my bookshelves. I have one more white one that’s full but doesn’t have multiple layers of books.

I’ve become one of those people who never throws anything out. My closet doesn’t have any room for more clothes, but I refuse to throw out shirts that I no longer wear, even shirts I’ve never worn. I keep holding onto things because I’ve paid money for them and am hoping I might one day find a way to use them. This might not be a problem if I had my own place and could spread out, but I don’t. I still live with my parents, which means I have to fit all of my stuff in one bedroom, a bedroom I also share with my boyfriend, so he has stuff there, as well. We definitely need to find a way to organize better, and I need to learn how to get rid of stuff I don’t need anymore.

And I need to stop getting more books. There was one time in high school where I finished a book and had nothing else in the house to read, so I had to make an emergency trip to Borders (R.I.P.) to find something to read. While I don’t anticipate getting back to that state anytime soon, I would at least like to have my TBR pile fit on a bookshelf. Which is why I’m actually enforcing my book buying hiatus – or I guess I should call it a book obtaining hiatus.

Who knows? Once I read through all the physical books I might actually get around to reading some of the hundreds that I have on my Nook.

What about you? Are you taking a hiatus from buying anything? Do you have any tips on how to keep your room more organized or de-cluttering your life? If so, please share!

Mid-Year Resolution Check-In

It’s only been a week and a half since my last blog post, so I guess that counts as progress. I wanted to write a post talking about what I’m working on and what my plans are for the summer, but I haven’t quite figured that out yet, at least not to the point where I have anything of interest to mention. That’s why I’ve decided to do a post looking at my goals for this year. I figured this might keep me on track and motivate me to keep going.

1. Learn Dvorak.
I’ve made no progress with this goal so far. Although now that I’ve thought about it, I am going to write the rest of this post using Dvorak. The good news is that I remember where all the letters are. The bad news is that it is taking me forever to type this. Of course, had I practiced this more, I would probably be faster by now.

2. Read 50 books, including the following: 10 classics, 10 New Adult, 10 nonfiction.
So far I have read 26 books. I am well on my way to hitting my overall goal. I’ve read half of the nonfiction, which is also good. I’ve only read 2 New Adult books and 2 classics. Definitely need to work on that.

3. Write 500 for WriYe.
Yeah, this is one goal I wasn’t even sure I would achieve when I made it. So far I’ve written about 22k, and while it’s possible that I might be able to hit 500k, I’m not really sure it’s going to happen.

4. Edit/rewrite Degeneration, For Real This Time, Alone, and Choices.
I’m a little over halfway through another edit of TILT YOUR HEAD AND SMILE, which is oddly not on this list. I have also started making notes in preparation for another edit of DEGENERATION. So…I’m slowly making progress.

5. Rewrite Trail Magic and The Story of Em.
These are more NaNo projects, so I haven’t even started to work on them.

6. Find a critique partner (or more).
This is a hard one. Technically I found two CPs, but I haven’t heard from either in a while. I should probably keep looking. (Along that line – if you write mostly contemporary and are looking for a CP, let me know!)

7. Win NaNo.
It’s not November yet, so this doesn’t really apply.

8. Lose 50 pounds.
I wish. I have lost a couple of pounds, but we’re not even in double digits yet. Still, this goal isn’t completely unrealistic if I actually focus the rest of the year.

9. Graduate and get my teaching certification.
As I’ve already mentioned on this blog (I think), I have graduated. Got my diploma in the mail a few days ago. I don’t have my teaching certificate yet, but they’re working on it.

10. Find a job.
Also has not happened yet, though I do have an interview Wednesday. Hopefully that’ll lead to something good.

So, looking over my goals, it’s clear that I haven’t really made that much progress with most of them. I wish I could say I were more surprised, but I knew that I wasn’t being as productive as I had hoped I would be. I still have six months, though. I can still turn this around.

What about you? Did you set any goals for yourself for this year? If so, how are you doing with them?