Category Archives: choices

Zombie novella – draft 2 – complete!

I finally finished the second draft of my zombie novella, CHOICES. I added 6,756 words to this draft, and the total word count still dropped from 30,531 words to 23,586 words. I’d be more upset by this if this didn’t happen every time I tried to work on a second draft. Some people’s word counts increase with the second draft. Mine always seems to decrease.

As a reminder, this is the novel that I wrote for the first day of NaNo. I’ve never written about zombies before, and I never see myself writing about them again, but it was actually fun writing this one. This was the least amount of preparation I’ve done for a novel. I knew the characters’ names, and I knew the overall plot line. That was it. I had a lot of fun learning about the characters as I went.

I meant to finish this draft in February. Then I was separated from my computer for the last few days of the month, and that didn’t happen. I finished it today instead. I’m quite pleased with how this draft worked out. It flows better. The chapter lengths are a bit more consistent. These chapters mostly range from 2k to 3k. In the last draft, one of the chapters was 12k.

My next step with this one is to show it to my sister and see what she thinks. She normally doesn’t care about the stuff that I write, but she was really excited for me to finish this one.

Before this moment, I hadn’t really given a lot of thought to what I was going to work on for my March project. Last year, I had all of my months planned out before the year even started, and then I didn’t follow through with any of those plans. This time I’m just making it up as I go along. I had been hoping to start working on my new novel this month, but I’m nowhere near ready to work on that yet. Hopefully I’ll be ready to work on that for Camp NaNoWriMo next month, assuming I actually participate in that.

What I’m going to do instead is work on the second draft of DEGENERATION. This is the novel that I originally wrote as a screenplay during my very first Script Frenzy. I wrote the second draft of the screenplay for the final Script Frenzy, too. Then I wrote the first draft for Camp NaNo last June. I was half happy with what I wrote last year, but I feel like there was a bit of the story that I was missing. Most of the story took place over three days in this draft. I’m thinking that it will be a week in the second draft. I’ve been thinking of ways to improve it ever since I finished the first draft, and I’m looking forward to writing the second draft.

Zombie novella off to a good start

For those who don’t know, my February writing project is the zombie novella I wrote for Day One of NaNoWriMo – Choices. It was supposed to be 50k and ended up being 30k instead. I wasn’t thrilled with the length, but I think it works for this story. It doesn’t need to be longer. It probably would be if I went back and added in a bunch of stuff, but I don’t see that happening. There is a very simple plot to this story, and most of the action comes not from the zombies but by learning about the characters, and trying to drag out the story to fit some minimum word count would just be stupid.

This story came about based on a dare that my region sent out for NaNo. There’s a game that (I believe) one of the MLs came up with called “Make it Sadder,” due to his love of writing depressing literary fiction. Last October, as everyone was scrambling to plan (or not) for NaNo, someone came up with the idea of “A man goes to the grocery store. Make it sadder.”

I don’t normally use the dares that my region sends out, as I usually have enough ideas to work with on my own, but this one caught my attention. I had already been thinking of zombies lately, and this idea mixed with zombies perfectly. A man goes to the store because they ran out of food during the zombie apocalypse. How could I make that sadder?

Marcus, the main character, came to me fairly quickly. Usually my characters introduce me to them a little bit at a time, but he was much more forward. He told me that he was a college graduate with no real career prospects who was trying to take care of his wife and baby daughter. He lived with his friends from college, a group of nerds who managed to survive longer than everyone else they knew.

This is a zombie story, yes, but the zombies aren’t really the main focus of the story. I would compare this novella to Courtney Summers’ This is Not a Test in that way. The characters have their own issues and secrets outside of the zombie problem, and those issues are the main focus of the story.

I’m a bit late to the zombie party, I know, but this story wouldn’t let go of me. For a novella that I wrote in 24 hours, it’s actually quite good. Obviously it’s not perfect – there are so many inconsistencies with some of the characters that it’s probably easier to just delete several sections than to try to fix them. There were thousands of typos. I need to rearrange a few scenes and provide more information in others. I definitely need to add more description, as there’s not enough even for me, and I usually hate description.

But I still like it. I like the characters. The inconsistencies that I mentioned aren’t that crucial to the plot. They definitely need to be fixed, of course, but once I delete a bit of text, it won’t be that hard to fix. I finished the new outline on Friday, and most of the scenes are going to stay in the same order. I can only think of a few scenes that I need to completely rewrite or add. For the most part I just need to clean up the text and fix the typos and inconsistencies. I don’t need to completely trash the whole thing, or even half of it. This is definitely an exciting moment for me.

I just finished fixing the first chapter of the novella. There are six chapters total. The second chapter is the one that is going to require a lot of fixing, as I have almost no description at all, and I’ve decided to reveal one of the major plot points later, so I need to fix that. I’m looking forward to it, though. I’m hoping to finish the second draft this week. Of course, I also just got six new books from the library, so I might be a bit distracted. I’m going to try to find a healthy balance between reading and writing, though.

NaNo Wrap-up

I meant to write this yesterday, but I ended up going to the regional TGIO party and helping my boyfriend’s family set up Christmas decorations and stuff of that nature, so I didn’t really get around to it. So, here we are. December. For the first time, I’m actually glad that NaNo’s finished. I sort of lost interest in writing during the last few days of the month. I learned about this Pitch Wars contest, and since November 26, I’ve been more interested in editing one of my manuscripts to prepare it for that contest than I have been about writing more first drafts. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Now for some numbers from the past month.

Total number of words written: 243,374

That’s not the 250k that I was aiming for, but it’s still 20k more than I wrote last year, so I’m still pleased with it. At least it’s an improvement. And I know that I could have reached my goal if I hadn’t gotten distracted those last couple of days. And if I had prepared more ahead of time. I had planned on working on three novels. I was going to write drafts one of Alone and For Real This Time, both of which I thought about be about 100k. Then I was going to finish up draft one of Let Go for 50k weekend. I wrote about 45k of it for Camp NaNo, and I wasn’t even halfway through with what I was going to write for it, so it seemed like a good plan.

The only problem with my plan was that none of those novels turned out as long as I thought they were going to be. I’ve never written short novels before, but this time I ended up doing just that. I think they’re going to get longer during the second drafts, as I’m sure there are things that sounded good on paper but didn’t end up working in actuality. The fact remains, however, that even after I added another novella for my Day One project, I still didn’t hit my goal. But let’s focus on what I actually did manage to write:

Choices – 30,531
For Real This Time – 72,000
Alone – 70,000
Let Go – 35,000 (total novel 79,970)
Together (sequel to Alone) – 23,199
Other (short stories and new novel attempts) – 12,644

So I now have 3 finished novel drafts, 1 finished novella draft, 2 complete short stories, 1 incomplete draft, and 3 more novel/short story attempts that ultimately went nowhere. Still, I’m pretty happy with what I did manage to write. True, I should have finished Together, but I really didn’t think that I would get that far. Alone was just supposed to be one book originally. Then I realized that there was too much going on to be just one book, so I broke it into two books. I didn’t really think that I would get to book two, so I didn’t really plan it out much. I have a general idea of what the plot is, but I didn’t break it down into chapters like I had with book one, so I had trouble trying to write it. I don’t need to have every line of dialogue planned out before I write, but it’s helpful for me to have more than just the overall storyline.

Still, I’m quite pleased with most of what I wrote. Choices was my Day One project. It didn’t quite make 50,000 words, but I still managed to write the whole thing in a day, and that makes me happy. I still like the storyline, just maybe not the exact words that I wrote. I’m still glad that I wrote it, and I definitely learned some things about that story that I wouldn’t have if I had planned it out ahead of time. In fact, the title of that story was taken from a few scenes that I thought of at four o’clock in the morning, when I was half asleep, and it tied the entire story together. So I’m actually pretty happy with that one.

I’m also happy with the other novels that I finished. I like the short stories that I wrote. I’m not so happy with the stuff that I wrote during that last week, but I kept writing, and that’s what matters. I wrote more this month than I ever have in a month before, and I’m going to try to focus on that instead of the 6.7k that I didn’t write that would have taken me to my goal. This has still been a great month for writing. There wasn’t a single day that I didn’t write, so I’m happy with that. And now for some other numbers:

Most words written in a single day: 30,531 (Day 1)
Least words written in a single day: 1,468 (Day 29)
Average words written per day: 8,112
Most words written in an hour: 4,306
Number of days it took me to hit 50k: 4

Those are good numbers. I’m going to be happy with those. I hit 50k two days sooner than I did last year. I completed 50k weekend two years in a row. I wrote more words in a single day than I did last year. I managed to write 4k an hour twice. I managed to write some first drafts that I actually like. I mean, sure, they need major editing, but I might not have to completely rewrite them all. Of course, I thought that last year and I ended up rewriting that one, but I’m hoping that’s not the case this year. Of course, I guess I’ll find that out when I read over my other drafts. 🙂

Day 1 Recap

As many of you probably know, I was attempting to write all 50,000 words required to win NaNoWriMo yesterday. I failed. I was doing really well for the first four hours. By 4, I had written 10k. Then I napped for 15-30 minutes, woke up, and wrote some more. Up until about 7:30, I was on track to win.

And then I took a nap.

That was really my downfall. See, I meant to sleep for an hour. I somehow managed to sleep for four. I woke up around 11:45 and just lost motivation. I spent a lot of time staring at the screen, thinking of how stupid my novel was. I guess that was to be expected. I had hit the week 2 word counts, which is when most people start to question their novels. I had hoped that I was writing fast enough to avoid that, but it seems that’s not the case. Week 2 catches up to you whenever you’re hitting it. Even if it’s noon on day one.

I tried to get back on track after that. I really did. But then I had to go pick up my mother because her car broke down, and I lost half an hour of writing time. That half an hour shouldn’t have mattered, but it did. I found it hard to concentrate after that. I started to spend more time in the Atlanta and Overachiever chatrooms. I watched two episodes of Masterchef Australia. I caught up on some of my forum reading. I just did not want to go back to that novel.

I eventually managed to finish the “novel,” which I put in quotes because it was only 30,531 words. That’s a great amount of words to write in one day – more than I’ve ever managed to write before. But it’s a crappy amount for a novel, which is all right because it was kind of a crappy novel. I really like the beginning of it, but it sort of went downhill after a while. I thought that I was being clever, writing a novel that I didn’t really care about for 50k day. I thought it would help if I wasn’t as emotionally invested, since I wouldn’t care if it was horrible.

As it turns out, that was horrible logic. True, I didn’t care as much if I wrote something I knew was horrible, but I also didn’t care if I wrote anything at all after a while. Perhaps if I had written one of the novels I cared about, I could have written more. That is what I’m taking away from this. Next year, if I attempt this again (which I will unless I have other responsibilities that day), I will make sure I’m writing a novel I care about – and a novel that should last way more than 50k. For the curious – I was working on the zombie novel, which is now titled Choices even though I don’t think anyone except maybe my boyfriend will ever read it. 🙂

I still had a lot of fun. I know a lot of people who actually did hit 50k. I know even more who didn’t hit it but still wrote more words than they’d ever managed to write before. I have three newbies in my region, and two of them managed to write more than the daily goal. I’m so proud. This year’s NaNo is going to be awesome.

And now, if you’ll excuse me – I really should get back to writing. 😀