Category Archives: outlining

Testing New Outlining Techniques

As I’ve already mentioned (and as most of you probably already know), this month I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo. My official goal is 75k, though my real goal was however many words it takes for me to finish my novel. If that’s more, I’ll write more. If it’s less, I’ll write less. I just want to finish this draft.

It’s now 8:30 pm, which means I still have plenty of writing time left before the day is over. I’ve written 36,994 words so far, and I’ve just finished chapter 11 out of 20. I had set another goal to have this novel finished by July 15, and it looks like I’m going to manage that just fine. I haven’t read back over anything that I’ve written yet, but I already know that this is my best draft so far. I’m taking more time with this draft than I have with others, and I’ve planned it a lot more than I had before.

Which brings me to the main thing I wanted to talk about today: my new way of outlining.

I mentioned already in my last post, my outline for this novel was really long – 12,494 words to be precise. My outlines are usually shorter than that, but I was attempting to write a phase outline for the first time. For those of you who don’t know what that is (and are too lazy/don’t want to click the link), that’s basically where you outline everything that happens in your novel, including bits of dialogue. So far, I’ve been averaging 6.1 words for every 1 word in the original outline, with chapters ranging from 3.5 to 12.0 novel-words per outline-word. If it keeps going at this rate, I’m looking at 75k for this novel, which is the number I was aiming for. So that works out nicely.

So far, I’m really liking this way of outline. I’ve actually sort of combined the phase outline method with the snowflake method. I start with a random list of scenes, which I then try to get in order (see my post on outlining with note cards for more details). After I’ve split them into scenes, I group them by chapter and then write a summary for each chapter, going into more detail. Then I take that outline and turn it into a phase outline.

Like I said, I’m enjoying this method. Most of the time I love planning novels but have a harder time writing the novel because it never turns out like the novel I pictured in my head. This way lets me plan the whole thing, which I find so much easier than actually writing it, so that when I go to write the actual novel, it’s just a matter of fleshing out the phases. I can still change things as I write – in fact, I’ve added lots of conversations and descriptions and mini-scenes that I never thought of while outlining – but I still have that outline that keeps me from getting stuck.

Obviously this way of writing and outlining isn’t for everyone. A lot of people find that outlining sucks the joy out of writing for them, so those types of people would probably find the method described here as crazy. Obviously, such people should not attempt it. 🙂 But if you’re like me, and you like planning things, you might want to consider giving this a shot if you don’t already have a method that works for you.

Like always, I’d love to hear more about your writing/outlining process (if you have one)! Are you participating in Camp? If so, how are you doing?

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NaNo Goals – 2013

NaNoWriMo starts in less than 27 hours. Part of me is really excited to start writing again, and the other part of me is terrified that I’m not ready. I should probably be working on another outline right now, but I’ve reached that point where I just feel all prepped out. I used to get the same way before tests. I’d make study guides, but then I’d get tired of pretending to study and just say “Screw it – whatever happens, happens.” That’s pretty much where I am right now.

Before this thing actually starts, I suppose I should share my goals for this month. I’ve posted these on the NaNo forums, but it can’t hurt to post them here. More accountability is always good, right?

• 50k Day One
• 75k opening weekend
• 100k by end of week 1
• 250k by end of month (dream goal of 300k)
• Finish at least 3 novels (5 if necessary to reach word count goal):

  • Degeneration – Contemporary YA
  • The Story of Em – NA Romance
  • The Whole Truth – Literary YA
  • Trail Magic (formerly 2,000 Miles) – Contemporary NA
  • Imprisoned Lightning – Contemporary YA

• Another 50k weekend
• Write at least 2k every day (preferably 5k)

That looks like a lot, but I think I can handle it. As you might remember, last year I got to 243k, wrote 2 novels, one novella, finished a third novel, started a fourth, and wrote a bunch of short stories. I’m hoping my projects will be longer this time so I won’t have to deal with short stories. Also, I’m pleased to say that I’ve gotten every school assignment out of the way – EXCEPT for the lesson plans that I need to write once a week for my student teaching experience. I’m still going to be spending two days a week at a high school. Plus I have two Thanksgivings to do to and several things on that second Saturday of the month. Other than, though, I’m completely free.

I have the first three chapter outlines finished. The fourth one is about three-quarters finished, which is enough to get me almost to the climax. Really, I should be able to figure out what I’m doing by that point. The last novel is the one I’m worried about. I have the basic concept and the characters, and I have my three-act structure planned out. Sadly, that’s about it. I was hoping to have the rest of it figured out by now, but that doesn’t seem to have happened. I kept changing my mind about what was going to happen. What makes for more interesting characters is making the plot suffer, and what made for an interesting plot had rather stereotypical characters.

That said, I’m holding that novel off for the end. Hopefully I can get to 250k with the four mostly planned novels. Imprisoned Lightning is going to be the backup novel. I also have another idea that I got from the OA chat. I have two characters and a basic concept for that one. Plus, there’s always the dystopian series I started last NaNo. I still don’t have that one planned enough, but I could start rewriting it if I had nothing else to write.

I have tomorrow off, so I’m going to spend the day doing laundry and making food for the next few days. I’m then going to sleep most of the afternoon/evening so that I can wake up around 10 or 11 pm and get ready to write at midnight. I’m hoping I can quickly get back to the 3k/hour I was able to write last November and really get 50k Day One off to a good start.

Degeneration is my Day One project. I feel a bit like I’m cheating since I’ve written this story so many times, but I’ve decided to go with it anyway. I wrote it twice as a screenplay and once as a novel, and each draft has taken me one step closer to something I’m proud of. The last draft I wrote for one of the 2012 camp sessions, and it was about 49k. Now I’ve added a whole different subplot and changed her trip from two days to a week. It really is a significant difference. I’m not just rewriting scenes I already wrote – I’m adding like seven chapters that weren’t there before. And I’m not going to be looking at any of the previous drafts while I write, either. It’ll be just me and my outline.

I’ll probably end up doing what I did last year and write a brief post letting you all know how my 50k day went. I feel more prepared than I was last year, but you never know. Here’s a link to the spreadsheet I’ll be using, if anyone wants to keep up with my word count as the day progresses: Quix’s Day One Spreadsheet

I probably won’t post again before NaNo, so good luck to everyone who’s participating! Remember – don’t let anyone else make you feel bad about your goal. You’re only competing with yourself.

Also – don’t call anyone else a cheater just because that person can write more than you can. Hopefully no one following my blog would ever do that, but I felt the need to mention it anyway. Also, just because someone writes faster than you do doesn’t mean that that person’s writing is horrible. We’ve already had people in the Beyond 50k forum tell us that our novels must be utter nonsense, and I’m really not in the mood to deal with that crap already. So, just, yeah – be nice to all the other participants! 🙂

How to outline your novel in 5 “easy” steps

NaNoWriMo starts in 2 weeks. Are you ready?

I’m not. At all. I finally came up with a fifth novel idea, which makes me happy, but I don’t know nearly enough about most of them to actually start writing them. Every time I try to sit down to plan or outline, I end up doing something else instead. Yesterday, I hung out with my friend and fellow Wrimo at a tea shop, thinking I would get work done, and ended up spending most of my time on the NaNo forums and the OA chat. Not really all that productive.

However, I told myself I would be more productive today, and so far I have succeeded. I finally finished my outline (well, one of my outlines) for Degeneration, one of my YA novels. Of course, this is the story I’ve written three other times (twice as a screenplay and once as a novel), so I really should know what I’m doing by now. Still, I added a bunch of plot this time, so this actually will be a complete rewrite. Again. At first I was upset by that, but I think it’s for the best. The last draft I wrote isn’t terrible, but it could be a lot better, and it’s always been easier for me to just rewrite it than to try to fix it.

While I was trying to outline, I started thinking about my outlining process. I love reading about how other people outline their novels, but I realized I never really talk about how I outline. That’s mostly because I never really thought about how I outline. I did that today, though, and I realized others might benefit from my sharing my process. Keep in mind that I am by no means saying that everyone has to outline like this, or that you have to outline at all. Many, many people prefer writing with no outline at all, or just the basic idea of what’s happening. That’s a perfectly acceptable way to write. I can’t do that, as I need structure, but that’s okay. There’s no formula for writing. You just need to find what works for you and do that.

This is what works for me.

Step 1: The General Story Arc
The first step is figuring out what my novel is about and then coming up with a general overview of the plot. For Degeneration, I knew the novel was about a family who gets together for a wedding. So the general story arc looked a bit like this:

MC doesn’t want to go back for the wedding –> MC goes back and deals with family –> Stuff happens.

I actually had a bit more planned for the end, but I don’t want to give anything away. 🙂 So, yeah, that’s basically what I started out with. Not a lot, but it helps if I know what I’m working toward.

Step 2: The 3-Act Structure
Next I break my idea down a bit further. I’ve always thought of novels in terms of 3 acts, probably because the first book I read about how to write was actually the book Screenplay. That book talked a lot about four main points in the screenplay:

  • The first 10 pages (Where is the character before the action starts?)
  •  The inciting incident (What sets the story in motion?) – Also called plot point 1
  •  Plot point 2 – also called the climax
  •  The resolution – what happens after the action has calmed down?

This structure has actually worked well for me when it comes to planning novels. The first 10 pages translates to the first 3 chapters, which is generally when you’re supposed to have introduced the main character and what s/he wants most. By the end of chapter 3, we should have come across the “inciting incident” that pushes the character forward. In my case, the first 3 chapters show my MC before she leaves for the wedding, and by the end of chapter 3 she’s learned that she definitely has to go.

Step 3: The List of Events
By this point, I have the very basics of the novel planned. I know what I want the story to be about. Now I make a list of all the events that I know I want to happen in the novel. They don’t have to be connected or in order. This doesn’t have to be a complete list of everything that will happen, but the more I can come up with, the better off I’ll be. For Degeneration, I made a list of all the different things I wanted the characters to fight about, as well as different things they would do while they were back in their hometown. I also mentioned possible suplots and how they might change as the story progressed.

Once I have the list as complete as I can, I go back and put all the events in chronological order, or at least as close to that as I can. Sometimes I simply separate them into “Beginning,” “Middle,” and “End.” Sometimes I have the novel broken into months. For Degeneration, I had everything split into the following categories:

  •  Before
  •  Day 1
  •  Day 2
  •  Day 3
  •  Day 4
  •  Day 5
  •  After

Step 4: The Chapter List
Once I have the list of events, I go back and separate those events by chapter. Depending on how I broke up the list, this can be easy or complicated. For this novel, it wasn’t that difficult, as most of the days could be split into 2 chapters fairly easily. This is actually what I finished this morning for Degeneration. According to my outline, the novel will be 15 chapters. I’m thinking each chapter will probably be 4-5k long, which means that my novel should be about 70-75k, which is a good length for a YA novel.

This type of outline is the bare minimum I like to have before I can start writing a novel. I am going to work on getting all of my November novels to this point before I move on to the last part of the outlining process.

Step 5: The Scene List
This is where I take the list of scenes for each chapter and actually figure out scenes. For the first chapter of Degeneration, I have “Introduce MC, school project, and the fact that she’s trying to pick a college.” Now I have to go back and actually plan out the scene. How am I going to introduce those topics? How can I make sure that everything flows together? If there are any bits of dialogue I know I want to include, I try to find a way to fit it in – at the very least I write it down so I don’t forget it later.

So, yeah, that’s how I outline. Like I said, I’ve gotten to step 4 with Degeneration. My chapter list is a little over 4 pages long and about 1900 words. I’m hoping to move on to step 5 before NaNo starts, but I worst case scenario, I can just work with what I have.

What about you? Are you doing NaNo? How do you outline – or are you more of a pantser?

Camp NaNo Update #2

I’m really bad at writing Camp NaNo updates. Part of my problem is that I want to wait until I’m done writing for the day to write them, but then I don’t finish writing until right before I collapse into bed, and that’s not really the best time to write a blog post. Since it’s been like a week and a half since my last update, though, I figure it’s probably best if I actually pull it together long enough to write this.

This past weekend (Friday afternoon until Monday afternoon), I was on vacation with my parents, my boyfriend, and my sister and her boyfriend. We rented a house on a lake, and we spent most of the time swimming and playing games. It was a lot of fun but not very conducive to writing. I had one good night of writing while everyone else was playing ping pong downstairs, but I still only managed to write 5,884 words the entire weekend.

Monday I drove back for my last class of the summer semester. I had a debate and a huge project due. I ended up getting an A on both assignments, and I learned that I passed the English GACE (the test that I needed to pass in order to get my teaching certification). I decided to spend the night relaxing and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer with my boyfriend. Not a productive evening, but it was fun.

Last night I started being productive again. I wrote 7,893 words, which I feel is a good start on making up for the words I didn’t write this weekend. I have nothing to do for the next month, so I’m definitely going to be putting my all into writing. Well, writing and reading, because I have 3 library books out right now and 2 books that I promised people I would read and review. So, yeah, lots of reading to do, too. I’m definitely looking forward to the next few weeks. 🙂

For those who don’t know, here are my current stats for Tilt Your Head and Smile:

Total Words: 70,104
Average Words per Day: 4,382
Total Chapters: 13
Average Words per Chapter: 5,842

At this rate, TYHAS will be about 135k – a bit much for a contemporary/literary NA novel. Of course, my novels tend to get shorter with edits, so that’s comforting. I have this problem where I’m always afraid that I’m leaving out important information. I guess I have this other habit of trying to skip scenes that are too hard for me to write, and I end up taking the easy way out and wind up staring at my “finished” manuscript, which isn’t really finished at all. In an order to fight that, I try to force myself to write everything, even stuff that should really just be summarized, and that’s how I end up with super long novels. That’s also why draft 2 tends to be shorter.

I am starting to work on a different method of outlining, though. I still have my original outline, which is about 6,100 words long and is broken up into chapters and details what happens with each different plot line in that chapter. I tried to put those in order within each chapter, but some chapters need a lot of switching around/breaking up/combining in other ways. This is all fine with me, as it seems to be working for now.

But now what I’m doing is going back through and outlining each chapter more specifically right before I write it. In the past, I’ve just gone through and made my notes a bit more detailed. Now, though, I’m also going through and trying to figure out which parts need to be actual scenes and which could just be summaries. I just started doing this last night, but it definitely helped me finish that last chapter faster – but in a way that still made sense.

Step 1: Create an Outline

I have this problem where I can only seem to concentrate on one thing at a time. For the past few weeks, that has mainly switched between reading vegan blogs and books and playing Borderlands. Neither is all that conducive to writing, and I was really hoping to use April to get back on track with my writing.

What I’m going to do is try using Borderlands as a reward for writing. I participated in one #writeclub sprint on Friday, and I wrote about 780 words in half an hour. That’s nowhere near what I was able to write for NaNo, but that’s pretty good considering I had no real idea what I was writing. That said, I definitely learned during that 30 minutes that I need an outline of some sort. I already have a feeling I need to completely rewrite that opening, and it’s just going to get worse from there.

My goal for tonight and tomorrow is to come up with at least a basic outline. I’ve been waiting for the story to come to me, but I think I need to be a bit more active now. I figured out the backstory for Annelise, and I have a general idea of where the plot is going to go. Now I just need to figure out what the main scenes will be for each state that she travels through. No Borderlands until I come up with an outline. That’s the plan, and I’m sticking to it!

Finally making progress

Okay, it’s only taken me a week and a half, but I’ve finally finished the outline for draft 2 of For Real This Time. This seems to be a recurring theme with me: I write a novel, think that this is going to be the time that the first draft is really good, print out the novel, make a bunch of comments and edits, and then go back and decide to just start over anyway. Although, I am happy to say that there are some scenes that I will be keeping. That’s a big step for me. Usually I just toss the whole thing and then rewrite the scenes that I mostly like. Granted, I haven’t started writing yet, so it’s still possible that that could happen, but I’m going to try to be optimistic right now. Plus, there really were quite a few scenes from the first draft that I liked.

The first draft was 17 chapters long, and we didn’t even see the love interest until chapter 9. Draft 2 will be 21 chapters, and we mention the love interest briefly in chapter one and meet him in chapter 6. That’s still a bit later than I would have liked, but the story is more set up for the introduction now. I’ve also spaced out some of the events. The first draft was horrible in terms of pacing. I liked the beginning, where we got to know Maggie and what she wanted most out of life, but after that, the novel sort of lost it. The middle section took up a lot of time and attention, but not a lot really happened. One minute she’s meeting Parker for the first time, and the next minute the summer’s over and the story is wrapping up. It was horrible, and there were a lot of loose ends and events that didn’t really make sense, or events that were alluded to but never actually happened, even though they should have. This version will be a lot better, as I believe I’ve fixed most of those problems.

One of the problems with my writing is that it’s usually very one-dimensional. I always love my main characters and want to see them grow and learn, but I don’t always write the most interesting ways for them to get what they want. I think that’s why I usually gravitate toward literary fiction – there’s still a plot with those novels, of course, but it’s less of a factor. In literary fiction, you’re allowed to have a character sit in a chair for hours, reflecting on life, and have that be the only thing that happens in that chapter. The same can’t be said for books in any other genre. You actually have to balance a bunch of different storylines, and that’s not something I have a lot of practice in, I’m afraid.

When I was in middle school and early high school, I wrote a lot of Harry Potter fan fiction. I actually wrote several of them that had plots that were at least semi-interesting. And then I started to write romantic fan fiction, and my stories lost something. I would focus on the romantic aspect and ignore everything else. I would have Harry’s friends turn against him because it was easier to write the story without having to worry about including them. I think that’s the main reason that the last book I read, The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden, reminds me so much of fan fiction – because it’s really only about the romance. There are side characters who show up and talk to the main characters, sure, and Callie and Kayden both have issues in their past/present to overcome, but the majority of the novel is focused on their relationship, and that’s exactly like my fan fiction used to be.

I think that’s why it took me so long to do this outline: there were so many different threads to keep track of. There was the main storyline of Maggie’s quest to lose weight. There was her friendship with Parker, which she hopes will become something more. There are her best friends. There’s drama with her parents and her extended family. There are the people at school and in her neighborhood who were mean to her. Some of those are more important than others, of course, but they all had to be included, and that was more work than I’m used to. It’s good work, of course. I’m happy to do it, and now that I’ve finally figure out what I’m doing, it’s fun. I know that this is what it takes to be a successful writer who’s happy with her work. It just took a bit longer than I was expecting.

I have 10 novels that I want to work on this year – the five that I want to edit, the four that I want to finish, and a new one that came to me the other day that I can’t get out of my head. I’m hoping to work on one each month, with the extra two months as sort of a cushion in case I don’t make it. Since this month’s novel is obviously For Real This Time, I should really get around to rewriting it now that I’m done with the outline. One chapter a day for the rest of the month, and I should be able to finish this, especially since I am keeping some of what I already have written.

Now what?

NaNo 2012 starts in less than four days – about three days and ten hours to be more precise. I’m excited and nervous at the same time. Of course, that’s usual for this time of year. The closer we get to November, the more I freak out. No matter how many times I do NaNo, no matter how many words I’ve written in the past, I still get nervous at the start of the month. I think the fact that I’m going to for such a high word count just adds to the stress. Don’t get me wrong – I’m still looking forward to NaNo, and I love aiming for a high word count – I just also freak out a little right before it starts. Once the month actually begins, I’ll feel much better.

In the mean time, I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to do with my time. For the first time this month, I understand the rest of you who have had your outlines written for weeks. I have outlined both of my main projects for this month. I also have half-completed outlines for the sequel to one of those projects and the novel that I’ll probably be working on for 50k weekend. I suppose I can finish up those outlines, but the one won’t really take that much time (as it’s just a matter of writing down what I already planned in my head) and the other one I don’t really want to plan too much (because I want to try pantsing a novel for once).

In other news, I decided to get a new keyboard. After the carpal tunnel scare (which may or may not still be true – I really should go back to the doctor soon), I’ve decided to try to be nicer to my wrists. I’m working on learning Dvorak. I’m up to 20-30 wpm most of the time. I’m probably going to stick with Qwerty, at least for the first day of NaNo, but I might try to write more in Dvorak later in the month. No matter what, the new ergonomic keyboard I got should help. I signed up for a 6 month trial of Amazon Prime, so I saved 48 percent of the cost and got free 2-day shipping, so it should be here Tuesday. I also got colorful Dvorak stickers to put on it that will help me learn Dvorak.

Our regional kickoff party is tonight. My boyfriend and I are going down early to try to save seats. I’m excited. It’ll be fun to see a bunch of the veteran Wrimos again. November really is the best time of the year. It’s the one time of the year when I actually leave my house and voluntarily interact with other people. 🙂

I still have over 3 hours until the kickoff party. I will probably spend that time in the NaNoLanta chatroom and cruising the NaNo forums, as that’s basically all I do now. Oh, I suppose I could do my last reading for class, too. But that would be less fun. 🙂

My NaNoWriMo Goal – and an explanation

I’ve been debating whether or not to write this post for a while. I hinted at my goal for NaNo in the last post, but I wasn’t sure if I should go further. Some people get discouraged if they see others are writing more than they are, and I would never want to discourage anyone. That said, this is my blog, and I don’t feel like I should have to hide or be ashamed of my word count goal on my own blog.

Before I go any further, though, please let me make a few things clear.

1. I have a lot of free time in November.
I’m not kidding. A lot of free time. My last week of work for the year is next week (the joys of having a seasonal job). I only have class two days a week. Including time spent driving too and from class, plus the time spent in class, I spend about 8 hours a week in class. I’ve also worked on getting all of my work for these two classes done before November. I still have two papers to write for one of them, but they’re very short (2-3 double spaced), informal papers. My classes are really easy. I also have no kids, no bills to pay, no real commitments to anything. See? I told you I had a lot of free time.

A lot of people don’t have this. Some people are taking five really difficult classes. Some people are working full- or part-time jobs. Some people are doing both. Some people are doing that on top of clubs and activities and raising kids and going to religious services and all that other fun stuff. I’m in awe of you people. Really. I did one Camp NaNo while I was working full time, and I barely hit 50k. I was so tired after work that I rarely ever wrote during the week. I pretty much only wrote on weekends – and that was before I had class and therefore homework to do. I don’t think I would have finished if I had had to do both.

2. My region is extremely supportive.
It’s only halfway through November, and we already have 8 weekly write-ins up on the calendar, plus two special write-ins, and I know of at least two more write-ins that are being planned but haven’t been posted yet. So there is plenty of support and encouragement. We have a regional chat room that is constantly full of people, and those people are often doing word wars. It’s awesome. If anyone wants to hop in the chat room, let me know and I’ll send you a link, as there are a few people in there not from/in Atlanta who are always on. Just be warned that it can get pg-13/r at times, depending on the group of people in there at the moment. 🙂

3. I could only write this much in November – see reasons 1 and 2 above.
I have a hard time getting motivated to write on my own. It’s a huge problem, I know, but it’s true. Any other month, my inner editor takes over, and I have a hard time writing. During November, my inner editor actually shuts up. I think a large part of that is because all the other NaNo participants are so loud it drowns it out. There are so many people involved that it’s hard to let the self-doubt creep up. It’s also harder to back down on your goals, at least for me since I know so many of the participants in my region personally.

Plus there’s the fact that I have all that free time. I don’t have that during other months. I have work other times, and school with assignments that are harder than the ones due in November. Plus I have less work to do in November because I did it in October, so I couldn’t have written this much in October, too, because then I would never have done my homework. Plus there’s all the participants and word wars. Even months when I don’t have work/school, I also don’t have word wars, which means that my inner editor takes over completely. For instance, I failed both Camp NaNos this year. I hit 40k in June and 30k in August (I think – it might not even have been that much). Which brings me to my next point –

4. My first drafts are always horrible, no matter how long it takes me to write them.
Most people write a first draft, wait a while, and then edit it. That doesn’t work for me. I write a first draft, wait a while, throw it out, and rewrite it, and then I edit the rewrite. It’s just the way I work. I think part of why I’ve been having such trouble writing recently is that I’m trying to make the first draft decent, when that’s just not how I write. I was like this with short stories in college, and I’m like that with novels now. The first draft is when I get something down on paper and see how my outline works in actuality. The second draft is where my writing is better and I actually feel good sharing it with people. This is apparently an important part of my writing process that I keep trying to ignore, but I can’t anymore. My first drafts must be written down quickly, before the self-doubt comes back. Then I can take more time with the rewrites and edits.

5. I write literary fiction.
I almost forgot this one, but I feel it’s important. A lot of people write novels filled with action and plot twists and fun things like that. While one of my novels is a dystopia, so it will be more plot-filled than normal, all of my novels have at least an element of lit fic to them, which means that my characters spend a lot of time sitting around, thinking about things. Rambled thinking lends itself well to high word counts, and it’s not even really padding because it fits with the story (well, assuming you do it right, of course. Some ramblings would definitely be off topic.).

Now that that’s out of the way, I will say that my goal this November is 250,000 words. My novels tend to run around 100k, so I’m planning on writing two novels and finishing my Camp NaNo novel from August, which currently sits around 40k and still has a long way to go.

I hope my goal hasn’t discouraged anyone or made them feel like I thought I was better than them, because that’s not what I want at all. Everyone works a different speeds and in different ways, and this is what works for me. The novel that I have that’s closest to being able to be shared with people was one that I wrote during the first two weeks of NaNo last year. I reread it in December, rewrote it during JanNoWriMo, and was really happy with the second draft. I’m still editing that one, but I only have to rewrite a few chapters, not the whole novel, so I’m happy with it.

Good luck everyone!

17 days until NaNoWriMo!

Less than three weeks until NaNo! I still don’t have complete outlines for either of the novels that I plan on writing, but I have a much better idea of where I want them to go, so that’s something. I’m actually looking forward to working more on the contemporary YA one than the dystopian one. I still really love that idea and want to write it, but I don’t have as much of the plot figured out on that one. I think there’s just so much stuff going on in that one that it’s hard to make it all fit, and there are certain things that I need to figure out before I start writing.

My right wrist is also currently in a brace. I finally went to the doctor, and they think it’s the early stages of carpal tunnel. Not happy about that, especially with NaNo right around the corner. The good news is that they’ve taken me off the camera at work and made me a helper, so I’m not putting new strain on my hand/wrist. I have to go back to the doctor on Oct. 26 – I’m hoping it will have gotten at least a little better by then.

Sundays I’m hosting a write-in at a little coffee shop near campus, and several people have already said they’re planning to attend, so that’s exciting. I’ve also matched up one newbie with a mentor so far. We have five other newbies and twelve other mentors signed up, but I’m waiting to see if any better matches show up first.

As far as school is concerned, I’ve done all of the assignments that I can do at this point. The rest I have to wait for further instruction. Well, at least for one of my classes. The other class involves a bunch of group work, so I have to wait and see what the other members of my group has come up with. It looks like I really will have most of November wide open, which means I will have plenty of time to write. As long as people are in the chatroom having word wars, this should be simple.

Now I just need to finish those outlines!

45.5 days until NaNoWriMo 2012

Holy crap. How did that happen? Two weeks until the NaNo forums are cleaned in preparation for the new year. It’s crazy. I don’t know how the time passed so quickly. What have I been doing with all my time? I was supposed to be working on the first draft of Let Go and finishing the first round of edits for Tilt Your Head and Smile, as well as working on outlining my NaNo project(s) – not to mention all the homework that I want to have done before then.

What have I actually accomplished so far? I’ve managed to stay a week and a half ahead of my classes as far as the homework is concerned. I’ve added about 11k to Let Go. I haven’t even looked at Tilt Your Head and Smile since July. I’ve added some more notes to my main NaNo project, but I’m not really much closer to figuring everything out than I was last month.

On the plus side, I have gotten more writing done this weekend. We left the house yesterday and hung out at the coffee shop down the street. I managed to write about 3k while I was there. I finished chapter 10 and started chapter 11. I’ve only written about 800 words so far today, but I’m a little over the halfway point for chapter 11, and chapter 12 should be really easy to write. I think I just needed to get over that little hurdle with chapter 9 (which was a big turning point for two of the characters). Now I’m feeling better about my novel again and am starting to get more into the NaNo spirit.

I also found out that one of the people I work with knows about NaNo and is planning on doing it this year. That was exciting. Most of the people at work just look at me like I’m crazy when I talk about NaNo. I’m hoping I can encourage her to go to write-ins or at the very least hang out in the NaNoLanta chat room, as that’s really what helps me during November. Because, despite what it looks like on this blog, I really can write a lot when I sit down and focus. I’ve just let myself get too distracted with other things for the past, you know, eight months.

But that’s going to change now. I have 22 chapters left to write for Let Go. I have 17 chapters left to edit for Tilt. I have at least one novel to outline for NaNo, though I would like to have two planned, just in case I actually manage to write as much as I was hoping to this year. I also have all of my big assignments for both classes due throughout the month of November. I’m going to try to do most of those in October, but I can only do so much ahead of time.

My goal for today is to finish writing the next chapter and a half of Let Go and to finish next week’s reading for my Foundations of Education class. I only have one chapter left to read, so it shouldn’t take me too long. Then I should really write my review for The Fault in Our Stars, which I finished a few days ago but haven’t gotten around to reviewing yet.