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NaNo 2014 – Complete

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!

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?

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! 🙂

Camp NaNo – complete

Another Camp NaNo has come to an end. My goal this month was to finish draft 3 of Tilt Your Head and Smile, my NA novel about a young woman who graduates college, can’t find a job, and struggles to figure out what she wants to do with her life.

Slightly before four o’clock this morning, I wrote the last sentence of the manuscript. I was four hours late finishing, but I still finished before I went to bed, so I’m counting this as a win. Here are some statistics:

Word Count: 105,897
Chapters: 25
Hours Spent Writing:48.5
Average Words per Chapter: 4,236
Average Words per Hour: 2,183

Now, the hours spent writing number is only the time spent actively writing, not the time I spent staring at the screen doing nothing or reading Twitter or playing stupid Facebook games. But I’m still happy with what I accomplished this month. This is the first NaNo I’ve done in grad school when I actually had a bunch of homework to do, so I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t have enough time to write. I’m glad to say that my fears were unfounded. Of course, it helps that I only had school for half the month – although it was an intense half a month.

This morning was the first day in a long time that I didn’t wake up feeling like I was supposed to be doing something. It was nice, but now I’m just sort of sitting on the couch wondering what I’m supposed to be doing. I’ll probably end up spending the day reading. I’ve started reading a non-fiction book that I feel will help me plan the next book I’ll be working on – my political dystopian novel.

Right now, my plan is to spend the month preparing for the next draft of Alone (the aforementioned dystopia). I’m not sure what I’ll do after that. I have three different novels that I want to edit (not counting the one I just finished). I also have several other novels that I’ve never actually managed to finish. I guess I’ll just take this one step at a time and see what I want to do after I figure out Alone.

Anyone else participate in Camp NaNo? If so, how’d you do? If not, did you accomplish anything else fun this past month?

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.

Camp NaNo update: Going nowhere fast

So I’ve realized we’re about to finish the first week of Camp NaNo, and I haven’t updated this blog once. It’s time to fix that. First, some stats:

Current word count: 31,509
Average word count per day: 5,252

That’s not bad considering the fact that I didn’t write at all on Friday because I was finishing up a major project that accounts for 20 percent of my grade in my online class and the fact that I only got an hour of writing done on the fourth of July because I was out of the house with friends all day. I’ve finished through chapter 5 in my outline, although one of the chapters is going to be broken up, as it’s about 11k all by itself, which is a bit ridiculous. If I split that into two chapters, my average chapter length is the same as my daily word count, 5252. That’s still a bit longer than my chapters usually are, but maybe that’s just the way this manuscript is going to go, because I actually think most of my chapters are about that long even when I’m not finding the average.

As a reminder, this month I’m writing yet another draft of my NA novel TILT YOUR HEAD AND SMILE. I first wrote this novel for NaNo 2011. I wrote the first 50k, changed the format halfway through, and wrote another 50k, bringing my total up to 100k for that draft. Then I rewrote it for JanNoWriMo, and that draft was again 100k. I got about halfway through editing that one and rewriting parts of it when I decided to work on something else.

That was all before I realized that New Adult was a thing. I was calling my novel literary fiction. Now I’m calling it contemporary NA. I changed the plot around some. I added a romantic subplot. The romance really is just one of the subplots, though, so I don’t feel too bad about adding it. And April is now going to be learning more about herself than she was in the last several drafts, so I’m excited about this version. I’m still going to have to do major revisions when I’m done with this draft (because I tend to ramble just as much in my drafts as I do in my blog posts), but I’m excited because I think I might finally have the basic plot of this one figured out.

Of course, part of the problem I’m noticing with this draft is that I’m 31k into it and only just finished chapter 5 out of 26. If I continue at this pace, this story is going to be like 137k, which is just a tad too long (read: way too long) for a NA novel. I’m starting to think my goal of 80k was a bit too low. Still, I remember this happening the first time I wrote this, too. I think I just need to get into my groove and it will figure itself out. Or I’ll just end up cutting thousands of words when I revise. I usually end up doing that, too.

That’s one thing I’ve noticed about my writing process: I’m great at adding words to novels, but I rarely actually make progress with those novels. I mean, really, I’m 30k into the novel, and she hasn’t even reached her “to hell with all of this” point that makes her start looking for a real job. This novel takes play between May 2010 and March 2012, and I’ve only just reached the first week of June 2010. And I’m at 30k.

I have problems.

Still, this is a first draft. Well, okay, this is a third draft. But still. It’s a draft. It’s my first time drafting this particular version of this novel. I don’t care if it’s good. I care if it’s done. I’ll make it good later.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some writing to do. 🙂

Character Monday: April Trindles (from TILT YOUR HEAD AND SMILE)

Okay, so, as someone might have noticed, I forgot to do Character Monday last week. I was reminded about it right as I was getting ready to walk out the door to hang out with some Wrimos for Memorial Day, and I didn’t get back until almost 2 in the morning. Instead of rushing to try to post something late, I decided just to skip last week.

Name: April Trindles

Novel: Tilt Your Head and Smile (Contemporary New Adult)

Age: 21

Appearance: About 5’8. Slightly heavy. Brown hair and brown eyes. When she’s going to an interview, she’s dressed in business attire. The further we progress in the novel, the more time she spends in her pajamas.

Background: April’s just graduated from college, and she finds herself moving back in with her parents and younger sister. She’s near her family and boyfriend, but she can’t seem to find a job, and that leads her slowly into depression.

Personality: Not a big risk taker. At all. Goes with the flow. Keeps her feelings to herself so she doesn’t bother anyone. Afraid to admit what she really wants out of life.

Why you should want to read her story: April was told that if she did well in school, she would do well in life. Now she’s learning that that was a big fat lie. Her dropout sister is doing better than she is. She’s in a relationship that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Her parents are sure to be disappointed in her. She’s the only one she knows (besides her father) who can’t find a job. Can she ever figure out what she wants out of life? And if she does, will she have the guts to go for it?

Playlist:
1. Down by Jason Walker
I shot for the sky
I’m stuck on the ground
So why do I try, I know I’m gonna to fall down

2. Shattered (Turn the Car Around) by O.A.R.
How many times can I break till I shatter?
Over the line, can’t define what I’m after
I always turn the car around

3. This is Your Life by Switchfoot
This is your life, are you who you want to be?
This is your life, is it everything you dreamed it would be

4. Downtrodden by Abney Park
I learned each virtue I was told
I worked hard to avoid the mold
But as I saw my life unfold
There was no place for me.

5. I Wish I Could Go Back to College from Avenue Q
I wish I could go back to college.
In college you know who you are.
You sit in the quad and think ‘Oh my god,
I am totally gonna go far’

Want to participate in Character Monday? Just write a post on your own blog and then click on the linky below and share the link to the post so the rest of us can learn about your awesome character!

Finally off to a decent start

Yesterday was the most productive I’ve been all year. I wrote 5,342 words and finally finished chapter 1 of 2,000 Miles. Annelise has decided to hike the Appalachian Trail, and she’s made it to the last shelter in Georgia. She’s also just met her future love interest, though she doesn’t know it yet. She’s also met a couple named Bug and Ladybug. They’re not supposed to be a big part of the novel, but they amuse me, so they might stick around a bit longer.

I wouldn’t have been able to write this much without the help of Julie, who was running the #writeclub sprints last night. You can find out more about #writeclub at both of these posts: post 1, post 2. Basically, though, you sprint for 30 minutes and then break for 15 minutes. It goes on all night. I participated in several of the sprints last night and managed to write about 1k each time I actually participated in the whole 30 minutes – well, except for the first sprint, when I was trying to figure out what I was writing still.

I had a lot of fun last night, and I will be participating in a lot more sprints now. Starting a novel is always the hardest part for me, especially when I have no idea where I want the novel to start. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to start on the trail or with her at home deciding to walk it. I finally found a decent compromise that works well with the direction I hoped to take with this novel. I had a bit of the present and a bit of the past mixed together. I can already think of a scene I probably should have added, but I’m going to try not to go back anymore. I’m just going to write a note to remember the idea and then decide later if it’s still a good idea.

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!

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.