NaNoWriMo Approaches

It’s that time of year again. The time when I decide whether or not to take up the November writing challenge. I did it last year, won and have spent ever since trying to make my effort into something readable. I’m still working on it and its grown to over 90,000 words as I try to get it to a suitable ending.

In the past, I’ve always struggled to start or got bogged down in the middle somewhere. Lost focus or lost interest or just found that time had overtaken me and then it was difficult to get started again. I’ve been lucky to be able to use Scrivener to break it up into manageable chunks and lately I’ve started using Ulysses, which does the same but in a different way. In fact, I’m writing this in Ulysses as it allows me to post straight into WordPress and onto my blog. Easy.

I need to make up my mind shortly though as that will give me time to research and plan during October. Although I’m pretty sure that things will be busy for me in that month so as you can see. I’m a long way from deciding as we head towards the end of September. Have to wait and see I suppose.

If I abandon my 90,000+ word project for a couple of months whilst I indulge myself on NaNoWriMo will I ever start it again? On the other hand, if I do that and then come back to it will reading it again guide me to a suitable ending? Dilemma – I’ll let you know.

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61,000 and Counting

The novel, started during NaNoWriMo, continues to keep me writing and as the story unfolds I am loving it. I’ve begun waking every morning, filled with new ideas and a strong desire to jump on the laptop and just write. This is the first novel I’ve started, and over the years I’ve started a few, which isn’t drying up but continues to flow. I stumbled a little in the middle of the month and one day, in particular, it was very hard to write anything at all. It was like my brain just couldn’t make it to where I wanted to be. So I skipped that part and wrote further down the line and then, suddenly, it came to me and I wrote some scenes which joined everything together.

I don’t need to maintain the pace of before but, strangely enough, I am. I would like to get the first draft done before Christmas and then I can relax and enjoy the festivities but it really doesn’t matter if I don’t. The main thing is to finish it, put it away for a couple of months, come back to it and read it with fresh eyes.

Since winning in NaNo, I’ve gone back already and added scenes which will become apparent later in the story. Luckily Scrivener allows that to be done really easily. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be, with this amount of word count, working in a single Word or Libre Office document. Scrivener is the best money I have ever spent on writing software.

So it’s onward and upward

NaNoWriMo First Week

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Well after commencing writing last Sunday morning I’ve written almost 18,000 words so I’m pretty pleased with that. I’ve averaged about 2,500 words per day, lifting me above the minimum 1,667 target. This gives me some breathing space, should I need it. The story is going pretty well too, although I am confident of getting my 50,000 words before the end of November I don’t think the novel’s first draft will be completed as my characters seem to have a lot to say at the moment. They are currently establishing their true personalities, one of the most exciting parts of writing, for me. It’s when they begin to speak and act for themselves and the two dimensional character sketches take on a life and become three dimensional.

I’ve often wondered if it’s the same for other writers. Do they know exactly what will happen in their story or are they like me, having an idea which is subject to change as the plot and characters begin to take shape. Did Thomas Hardy know exactly what would happen to Tess before he began writing his classic or did she tell him what to write? Most of us will never write a best seller, in fact, lots of prospective best sellers never get from the authors hands and are never seen by anyone except the writer themselves. For me, as I’ve said many times before, it’s about the writing process. The immersion in something which takes over and writes the twists and turns itself. Having said that if there are any agents or publishers out there that want to offer me a book deal I’d be willing to share my work with them 🙂

Happy writing and good luck as the month progresses to all other NaNoWriMo’s.

Happy NaNoWriMo Eve

 

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Well tomorrow is the start of 2015 NaNoWriMo and all the preparations are done. We just have to wait for the green light to glow and we can begin writing. I’ve just realised how unprepared I am. I’ve been developing character profiles, plot scenarios and conflict ideas all month. I know exactly how to start it, who will be involved in the first scenes, where those scenes will take place. In fact, this time I’ve done the most preparation I have ever done but it still doesn’t seem to be enough. I know from previous experience the enormity of the task ahead and that has just become clear to me.

I’m having that moment of self doubt. That will I, won’t I feeling, that can undermine confidence and destroy any chance before I start. I won’t let it because I’m stubborn. I’ve always been like that. I gave up smoking after over thirty years of consuming up to forty cigarettes a day. I gave them up ‘cold turkey’. I just stopped because I won’t let things beat me. That was over twenty years ago and I’ve never had, or wanted, a cigarette since.

So I’m determined to start tomorrow and not stop until I’m a winner again. If my computer fails (It shouldn’t as it’s new) I’ll continue on my tablet and if that packs up I’ll do it on my phone or even someone else’s phone. Luckily it’s all saved in the cloud so access from different things are possible.

As I said before I’ve done way more preparation than ever before, on anything. It just doesn’t seem enough. The next few days will tell me if my fears are founded or not.

Good luck to everyone entering, remember to support and encourage your writing buddies and I’m sure we’ll all be winners before December comes rolling in.

Reality Bites

“Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.”
Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

I don’t know about you but no matter how much work I put into planning, plotting and building powerful character profiles, they never really start to take proper form until I’m writing them into the story. Maybe it’s because I’m primarily a pantster and as I write, their personalities grow on the page. Some grow more than others, however, and those who I planned would carry the story sometimes fall by the wayside. Suddenly another person, comes out of the shadows, picks up the baton and heads towards the finish line.

It’s something I need to address in this years NaNoWriMo, otherwise I’m going to end up with 50,000+ words of utter confusion. With my first attempt I literally ‘lost the plot’ around 15,000 words and at almost 18,000 words abandoned the attempt when my word count fell too far behind. I was just writing words and it didn’t flow, which is the equivalent of writers block. My old friend procrastination called to see me and I was lost. The story still sits in my Drop-box folder waiting for me to go back and carry on. I know that it will be one of those projects which will float around my head and heart until I suddenly get the urge to rewrite it. The story is still good but as the characters lost their way the story died. I wasn’t gripped by them so I know that any potential reader wouldn’t be gripped by them either.

So this years preparation is more about my characters themselves. I’m hoping that spending more time living with them will make them real to me, thus make them real to a reader. I have only two main characters so that shouldn’t be too hard, hopefully, maybe. We will have to see. I know the story well enough now and I have a beginning, middle and end. I just need characters to take us there.

Good luck with your prep’ and happy writing.

NaNoWriMo 2015 is a week away!

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Well the countdown proper has now begun. It’s just a week away and preparations go ahead unabated. All over the world thousands of would-be writers, published authors, scribblers and pen pushers are gearing up for Sunday 1st November 2015. Ideas are keeping them awake, plots twist and turn in their heads. Local groups are organising write-in parties in coffee houses and village halls throughout the globe.

The previous times I have entered I’ve always enjoyed the buzz of October and as the start date gets nearer and the intensity increases I get a huge desire to start writing now, straight away. But to do this would be to cheat not only the thousands and thousands of other participants, your writing buddies and most of all, yourself. So plan if you’re a planner, hold some ideas in your mind if you’re a pantster, make notes for research, outline until your fingers hurt, build amazing characters and places real or imagined but don’t race out of the starting gate too quickly.

So hold your horses and when your word count ticks over the 50,000 you’ll feel the satisfaction of, not only being a winner, but that you did it totally within the spirit of NaNoWriMo. Hope it all goes well and good luck to all entrants

NaNoWriMo Preparations

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Well preparations are going well so far. I’ve done character sketches of my main protagonists, complete with photographs of them. Luckily Scrivener allows me to add these, so instead of writing detailed notes about hair and eye colour I can just look at the picture. I searched Google Images for a likeness which fitted what I see in my head and just dragged it into the note. (You don’t need Scrivener to do this, of course).

The next thing I thought about is location. My story is based in London and then on a remote island so I searched Google Earth for the area I envisioned and found places which could work in the story but none had what I really wanted. I did a hand drawn map of the Island, photographed it and dragged into my location research so I can refer back to it during the story. I also included a couple of pictures of London where my hero lives and works. I’ve then researched climate for the time of year as the weather also plays a part in my story.

Next I did some rough time line plotting and building an outline of events although these will change as the writing progresses; they always do. As a pantster I know I’ll go with flow as the writing takes over the story.

I’ve also, unusually, been asked to work for seven days during November, by the company I used to work for, so I need to build that into my daily word count. This was something which scuppered my first attempt, a few years ago. I began by just doing what was necessary but fell badly behind when other things intervened, causing me to abandon that attempt.

How are your preparations going?