Category Archives: NaNoWriMo
I’ve been horrible about updating this blog. I’m going to try to do better in the new year, but in order for that to happen, I actually have to have something interesting to write about. (Hopefully my life will be more interesting in January.)
The interesting news I have now is that I have won my first NaNo with a full-time job. And I didn’t only win – I also wrote 150,000 words! I hit 150k yesterday, and my total so far is 151, 713. My plan is finish this novel and then probably stop, as I’m really close to being done, but we’ll see how much time I have over the next few days.
I wrote more words last year (500k), but I think this year was the hardest mentally. There was a good while there when I didn’t think I’d be able to hit 50k at all, and then a longer time when I thought I would never get close to even 100k, let alone 150k. I hated the novel I had planned on writing because I didn’t plan it well enough. The first 50k I wrote was mostly random short stories and two sad, pathetic attempts at other novels. It took me over a week before I finally came up with a new idea. This one I didn’t plan at all, so this is my first attempt at completely pantsing a novel. It has actually been a lot of fun, and the words flowed a lot more easily with this one than they ever have before.
I also hit a new milestone – 3k in 30 minutes! I actually ended up doing 4131 words in 42 minutes. If I hadn’t been hanging out with friends who really wanted food, I would have kept going, and I probably would have gotten my first 6k hour. My hands weren’t even hurting! The good news is that even though I didn’t hit it this time, I now know that a 6k hour is possible for me, so I have my next goal in mind!
It’s been about a week and a half since NaNo ended, which means it’s been about a week and a half since I updated my blog. I wish I could say that the reason I’ve been so neglectful is that I’ve been super productive, but the truth is that I’ve been lazy. I’ve watched a lot of TV with my parents and boyfriend to make up for the time I didn’t spend with them in November. I’ve been playing video games (mostly Fable: The Lost Chapters). I read a book.
And all that was fun, but now I’m ready to start being more productive. As some of you might recall, back in October I said that I was going to start editing Tilt Your Head and Smile, my contemporary NA that I’ve written at least three times. Although somehow it’s now labeled as Draft 5. But anyway – that’s what I was going to do before I decided to do NaNo, so that’s what I’ve gone back to. I’ll do a post on how I edit soon, but for now I’ll just say that I’ve created a spreadsheet and have already gone through the first four chapters, and I mostly like what I have. I’m a bit unclear about the relevancy of some of the stuff, but I’ll wait to make big changes until after I’ve gone through the whole thing.
I have to say, it feels good to be doing something again. I’ve spent a lot of time lately feeling sort of lost and confused. This always happens to me after NaNo is over. I keep checking the forums, but there’s not really much there to hold my interest. I keep trying to find something fun to do online, some new article to read or something, but nothing catches my eye. But instead of just editing or getting off the computer, I end up just sitting there, being bored. It’s incredibly stupid, but it generally takes me at least a week to break out of this phase. At least I’ve moved on now.
Of course, one other thing I should be doing is catching up on all of the book reviews that I should have written this year but didn’t. I read those 24 books for my YA lit class (and even read a few more than were required), but I didn’t write reviews for most of them because I was reading so fast and kept putting them off. And then I didn’t write them in October because I was trying to use that time to prepare for NaNo.
I thought about how to best deal with the lack of book reviews, and I’ve finally decided what I’m going to do. Rather than post the 16 book reviews here and flood your inboxes (because you are following my blog, right?) with posts about books, I’m just going to post them to GoodReads and then link them here in one post so you know when they’re up (if you care – which you totally should). From now on, I’ll be better about writing the reviews as I finish the books so I don’t get behind.
So that’s what I’ve been up to since NaNo ended. What have you been up to? Still writing? Editing? Doing something completely unrelated?
So, today is the last day of November. That means NaNoWriMo is coming to an end. For some of you, maybe it’s already over. Or maybe you have most of the day left. Here on the east coast of the US, we have about 9.5 hours left as of this writing. But I’m not writing anymore.
Because I am done.
Total words written: 500,005
Total novels completed: 4
- Degeneration – 46k
- The Story of Em – 185k
- The Whole Truth – 98k
- Trail Magic – 96k
The rest was random scenes. I wrote 4k of fan fiction, 5k of a novel that I ended up not finishing, a 2k short story about Halloween candy, a 2k poem, and the rest was random scenes involving characters from other novels. Sort of deleted scenes and stuff. Or scenes from their lives after their books were finished.
And now for the goal list:
• 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)
○ The Story of Em
○ The Whole Truth
○ Trail Magic (formerly 2,000 Miles)
○ Imprisoned Lightning
• Another 50k weekend
• Write at least 2k every day (preferably 5k)
I am happy to say that I accomplished every single one of those goals. Some of them I blew out of the water – like “another 50k weekend.” Turns out that 500k equals 50k every 3 days. So every weekend was 50k weekend! Also, 250k by the end of the month. I hit that on the 15th and then went on to double it. I never thought I would be able to do that! I also wrote at least 3k every day, including the days when I had eight hours of school AND three hours of grad school.
And now for some stats. Because numbers are fun:
• Most words in an hour: 5,026
• Most words in 10 minutes: 1001
• Most words in a day: 50,001 (Day One)
• Least words in a day: 3,018 (Day Five)
• Average words per day: 16,667
If anyone wants to see the breakdown of words written by novel, here’s my original spreadsheet:
Original spreadsheet 2013
And here is the spreadsheet I created when I realized I was increasing my goal:
New spreadsheet 2013
I have to say, as glad as I am that I came back for NaNo this year, I’m really glad the month is over. That was a lot of work, and I’m really looking forward to just relaxing and reading and playing video games and pretty much doing everything else that I haven’t been able to do this month. 🙂
What about you? Did you hit your goals for the month? Are you still writing? Are you glad the month is (almost) over? Or do you wish you still had a few more days?
This is just going to be a quick post since I should really be writing.
Yesterday marked the end of week 2 of NaNoWriMo. Yesterday, I also finished my second novel. Here are the stats for anyone who’s curious:
Book 1: Degeneration (YA Contemporary) – about 46k
Random fan fiction – about 4k
Book 2: The Story of Em (NA Romance) – about 185k
Total word count: 235,311
The Story of Em is way too long. I know. I was hoping for 75k, and it sort of got away from me. I will need to cut a lot in the rewrite, but I’m still mostly happy with it. Two of the minor characters became much more important to the plot, and I never would have figured that out if I hadn’t given myself permission to ramble a bit.
If I can hit 250k by the end of tonight, I will still be on pace for 500k for the month, which is my new unofficial goal. The official goal is 400k. I’ve been keeping pace for 500k, but I’m not really sure I can keep this up. I’m going to try as long as I can, though!
Today, I’m starting a third book: The Whole Truth, which is also contemporary YA. This is my football player novel, which I’m a bit worried about. I’m still not entirely sure I like one part of the ending, but I’ll worry about that later. I might change it when I get to it, or I might not. Haven’t decided yet.
So, yeah, that’s how my month is going so far. I’m having a lot of fun. I also learned that I do really well with 10 minute sprints. I used to hate them, but now I’ve found they’re useful for when I’m not quite sure I have enough planned for a longer war. I’ve been doing an hour of 10 minute wars – 10 writing, 5 break – and it seems to be working well right now. Maybe I’ll try that again today.
For anyone who didn’t see it on Twitter yesterday – I HIT 50,000 WORDS IN A DAY!!!
I wanted to sleep the whole evening before, but I ended up sleeping from 1-6 pm on Oct. 31. Then I started at midnight and pretty much did not stop writing until 10:18 pm, when I hit 50,001 – about 15 minutes after Sushi beat me to it. I was really hoping I could beat her to it, but she has done this twice before, so I really should have known better.
If you check out the hashtags #50kkillmenow and #50kdayone, you can see all the other awesome people who wrote 50k in a day – or at least came really close to it!
For those who are interested, here is my spreadsheet for yesterday:
And for anyone who would like a reminder of how I failed last year:
My fingers felt like they were broken by the end of the day. My back was killing me. My forearms were numb. And my novel ended at 46k. I was worried I wasn’t going to finish. So I started writing some intentionally horrible fan fiction with a drunk narrator. Not by best writing, of course, but it was cracking me up while I wrote it, so I’ll go with it.
I had a lot of fun racing to 50k yesterday. My arms and back and everything feel better this morning. That said, I’m not sure I’ll ever attempt 50k day again. I wanted to see if I could do it, and I have. But I will definitely be there to cheer on anyone else who wants to attempt this in the future! 🙂
And just remember – no matter what you wrote yesterday, you should be proud of yourself!
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! 🙂
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:
- Day 1
- Day 2
- Day 3
- Day 4
- Day 5
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?
For those of you who have known me for a while, you know that I usually do NaNoWriMo in November. You might also remember that I had a rather difficult month last NaNo. I wrote 242k, but my heart wasn’t really in it. If you go through the archives for all the November 2012 posts, you’ll see that I wrote a lot about all the hate directed at Overachievers – people who aim to write more than 50,000 words in November. I felt alienated from my region and most of the people on the forums, and it just really got me down. The competition wasn’t fun anymore.
So I decided to stop. I took all the NaNo stickers off my laptop. I wrote during the first Camp NaNo, but I didn’t join the cabins or post on the website; I just wrote with people on Twitter when they were writing. I tried to get into the cabin thing for the second camp, but it just didn’t work. I didn’t care about NaNo anymore, and I didn’t want to waste my time supporting something that didn’t seem to want me there at all. I still supported the idea of NaNo, but I swore I was never going to participate in another NaNo event again. I actually almost included that in my last post, but it was already getting kind of long, so I figured I’d write about it later.
Then, October 2, the day after I almost posted about how I would never do NaNo again, I got an email announcing the new forums. I don’t know why I looked. It was 6 am, and I had 20 minutes before I had to leave for school. But I looked anyway. I scrolled through the forums. And that’s when I saw it.
Finally, the Overachievers have a forum. A place where you can complain about how you’re having problems hitting 20k in a day, and people won’t criticize you. I was happy when I saw it, but I still didn’t think I would do NaNo. Once the joy of something dies inside me, it’s really hard to get it back. Or so I thought.
And then I started reading the comments. I saw so many people I hadn’t talked to in a year, people who had made me feel better when everyone else made me want to curl up in a corner and never speak to the world again. And I realized that part of me did still care. It wasn’t as much as it had been, but I wasn’t completely indifferent anymore.
And then I set a goal. And then more goals.
A total of 250,000 words.
A 50k day one.
At least one 50k weekend, possibly two.
Four or five novels, depending on how many I need to reach 250k.
I’ve decided that this is going to be my redo for last year. Last year I failed 50k day one (hit 30.5k instead). I failed my goal of 250k (hit 242k instead). This year I’m not going to fail. I’m not going to let other people get me down. I’m going to stay in my nice, safe OA forum. I’m probably going to avoid most regional events, although there are still some people in the region that I like (namely the ones who helped support me last year).
I’ve spent the last five days trying to figure out what to write. I still want to edit Tilt before the month ends. I’m going to rewrite Degeneration as part of NaNo. I have three other novels that I’m trying to outline. I’d really like one more novel as a backup plan, but I’m going to focus on the ones I already have for now.
I’ve already been doing my school work ahead of time, but I’ve doubled my efforts. I’ve done all but one assignment that’s due in November and that I can actually start early. I’ll be busier than I was last year, but I’m still hopeful that I can get this all done.
Title: 17 & Gone (GoodReads)
Author: Nova Ren Suma
Page Count: 353
Genre: YA Mystery
Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common—they are 17 and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these waking nightmares, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? And… is she next? As Lauren searches for clues, everything begins to unravel, and when a brush with death lands her in the hospital, a shocking truth emerges, changing everything.
With complexity and richness, Nova Ren Suma serves up a beautiful, visual, fresh interpretation of what it means to be lost.
I had high expectations for this book. I recently read Suma’s Imaginary Girls, and I greatly enjoyed that novel. I expected the same level of beautiful and creepy writing that I found in that one. And to an extent I found that. The writing itself was creepy and beautiful. I could clearly see all the girls and the places Lauren went.
Sadly, that’s about the extent of my praise for this book, at least not without getting into spoilers. All I’ll say about the ending (really, the last third of the book, maybe a little more) was that I really liked it, and it mostly made up for the first half of the book. I nearly put the book down after 100 pages, and I have to say that I’m mostly glad I finished it.
That said, this book didn’t suck me in like Suma’s other novel. I felt no connection with Lauren, probably because she doesn’t really have much of a personality at all. We meet Lauren when she meets Abby, and after that she’s obsessed with learning more about these girls and figuring out what they want her to do and how she can stop herself from being like them. Once she meets the girls, I understand why she gets obsessed. The novel wouldn’t work if she weren’t. I still wish, though, that we got to see more of Lauren before she meets the girls. Her friends think she’s acting weird, but we don’t really understand why because we’ve never seen her acting normally.
This is also a novel where not a lot happens. As a lover of literary fiction, you’d think I’d be okay with that. Maybe I’ve been reading contemporary too long. Maybe this one just didn’t do a good job. Maybe I’m just not in the mood for a slow book. Whatever the case, I found myself bored with this book, particularly during that first hundred pages. I kept expecting the girls to talk to her or show her stuff and have her life be inconvenienced by them more than just “oh, I’m late for school.” I did eventually get all of that, but the beginning was a bit slow for me. I didn’t care what happened to Lauren or Abby. I didn’t really care why Lauren could see Abby. Really, after the first thirteen chapters, I took my bookmark out and decided to take it back to the library.
Obviously I had a change of heart. I’m not sure why I decided to give it another shot. The book did get better after that. We met more girls, most of whom I found more interesting than Abby. More things started happening. The novel got more surreal – in a good way. Lauren’s not the world’s most reliable narrator, but that just made things more interesting.
Overall: This books started out slow but got better near the end. I recommend giving this book a chance for yourself.