Taking Your Novel Slowly

SPRINGTIME (1)

Being already over a week into Camp NaNo, this seems like a rather silly subject to talk about. But I’ve been thinking about it a whole lot more, lately. As always, when any sort of NaNo rolls around, thousands of authors around the world set a goal and then furiously scribble (or type, most probably type) away at their beautiful, messy baby. Going slowly isn’t even a thought. 30 days, 50k words… even with more caffeine than can possibly be healthy there is no way that going slowly is going to make that work.

But then… what are you left with? This past NaNo, I made my goal. I started with a blank sheet of paper and wrote over 50k that month. But then I stopped. I’ve written maybe 5,000 words since last November. And not a single one of those 60,000-something words are going to make it into the finished draft, or even the second. This isn’t just my author insecurity talking –  “oh, my book’s so awful, I hate every word of it…” It’s not that. Because I was careening through my first draft I completely lost my sense of direction, even with an outline. I didn’t take the time to work on my characters – I still don’t know who Clara is, just that she exists (this being a problem because she’s the main, point of view character…), my story world’s all flat and illogical, none of it makes sense. The plot’s garbled. This is all stuff that you could take care of on the first edit, of course, but it’s so totally beyond salvaging that I need to re-write the whole book.

Now compare this to my first novel. My first original novel I was on a horrible, horrible time crunch.  I had to get at least four different, specific scenes to be at least presentable enough to show to others – in under a week. Yeah. I wrote a lot that week, and I actually finished the last excerpt literally two hours before we drove out to the place they were due. But even with that I wrote much, much more slowly. I sat down, visualized the scene in my mind, and typed out what I saw and heard and that first draft – while it’s by far not my best work, is presentable. I’m not embarrassed to show it to any one, where as the first draft of Forgot will never see the light of day.  For For Hailey, that first novel, it’s clean (in the opposite of messy way), it’s clear, and I don’t get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I look at it, despite it’s many plot holes. With I Forgot I feel dread whenever I even contemplate it.

When you take the time to write slowly, or slower than you normally do, your characters sound more like people, more like the people you want them to be. Your themes are developed – it’s super hard to work a theme in if you’re tearing through the draft. You plots tend to have less wholes and are more coherent – especially if you’re pantsing.

 

Now, while I’m saying all this, I’m not arguing for being a perfectionist. Please don’t! You’ll only hurt yourself, and if you refuse to put down anything on paper that’s less than perfect, you will never write a novel. Sometimes words just aren’t coming. Your words will not be perfect when you first set them down. That’s what editing and rewriting is for. But surely there’s a happy medium between obsessive perfectionist and almost nonsense speed writing. Maybe it’s time to slow down, to think a little more when we write.

I want to clarify a bit – all this is from my own experiences. I honestly have no idea how anybody else writes their drafts. I tend to word vomit, but for all I know I’m just saying stuff that’s all common knowledge. But if this helped you in the slightest, or made you think, I’m very glad.

Do you write slowly? Quickly? In between?

End of NaNo // IN OTHER WORDS I WON!

I WON NANOWRIMO

Which is why I have been silent for a week. After the 30k in 9 days I had no words, let alone intelligible words. But I won NaNo. *bounces* This was my third year doing it, but my first year starting with a brand new, original novel, a basic outline, and a blank page. The last two years (won ’14, didn’t make ’15) were both the same fanfiction, one that I had been steadily plugging away at since summer of ’14. I still  haven’t finished that particular one, but it’s taken a bit a back burner. Anyway. The point is, this was my first year with an original novel. Said novel is not quite finished, yet, but I am over half way there and I think I might be able to finish it before 2017.

But, since the above paragraph isn’t much for an entire post, I present to you: Things I Learned With NaNoWriMo 2016.

Number one – I cannot write romance for the life of me.
You see, the original conception of this particular story was of a romance. The idea wasn’t even mine. A friend and I came up with it together, and she was super excite about the romantic potentiality. So, for her, I tried to write it as a romance. That didn’t quite work out. It probably didn’t help that on my outline this particular part of the book was labled as “Clara and Patrick are cute together”. Thankfully, neither the plot nor anything else is dependent on the romance bit of it. The old maxim shall most likely hold true here: Once burned, twice cautious.

Number two – I love to tell stories.
Hang on, you might be thinking, you’ve clearly been writing for a while, why would you only now just realize this? It’s true, I should probably have figured this out years ago. But this past year I’ve started wondering why I write. What’s the point? I was resistant to the idea of sitting down at my computer and typing. But now… I realized, halfway through the month, that I love to tell stories. That’s why I write. I love the story, I love making the stories in my head come alive on paper.

Number three – to pray over my stories.
It’s something I’ve been seeing a lot of ever since I joined the OYAN facebook group. People talking about praying over their stories, praying about their stories… pretty much prayer and story being put together. I had honestly never thought about it. I’ve always been really bad about remembering to pray and ask for help, but half way through NaNo, while I had writer’s block and nothing seemed to be going right, I remembered something someone had said months ago about praying over their story, and I did. Everything went so much more smoothly. I got in the habit of actually writing out my prayer in my document every day before I started writing and… honestly, this is one of those things that I don’t know how to describe. It’s ineffable, but in a quiet way.

Number four – sleep deprivation is a real thing.
You see stuff about it, posts on tumblr and other places, but yeah, surprisingly enough, it is a very, very real thing. To the point of literally falling asleep in the middle of a conversation. Don’t get 5 hours of sleep every night for 30 days. 10/10 do not recommend.

And that’s it. Four things I have learned through this NaNo. If you did NaNo, how did it go? Was there anything new that you learned?

NaNoWriMo // Week Three

Over half way there, guys.

Image result for panicking gif

This was a pretty much no writing week. Literally nothing happened. Except I did get really behind on school work and watched a lot of Celtic Thunder videos… And I refuse to believe that the last had anything to do with the first…

ALSO I SAW FANTASTIC BEASTS AND IT WAS AMAZING AND EVERYTHING WAS BEAUTIFUL. Seriously, it was so cool. I want to go back and see it in 3D.

Image result for fantastic beasts and where to find them gifs

Image result for fantastic beasts and where to find them gifs

Image result for fantastic beasts and where to find them gifs

Related imageImage result for fantastic beasts and where to find them gifs

Alright, so the last wasn’t actually from the movie. But it’s appropriate. Anyway, I shall stop fangirling now.

So, like I said at the beginning of the post, I haven’t actually written much this week, the grand total being 1, 862. And most of that was written today. I am currently at 22,605 words, and have 27,395 to go. In nine days. The next week should be interesting. Hopefully I shall make up a lot over Thanksgiving break.

Speaking of Thanksgiving… HAPPY EARLY THANKSGIVING!

Okay, since there’s not much to say in terms of word count, and the majority of this post has until now been taken up by gifs, I think I shall use the remainder to finally tell you what on earth I’m actually writing, and maybe share some snippets (if I can find any that are actually readable without much editing).

Clara has no memories. Well, not exactly. She can remember everything quite clearly… so long as it happened after May 17th. From May 16th back, everything is blank. Her family tells her it’s because of a nasty fall, and she accepts that. Then, one day, she bumps into a stranger in the park, a stranger who calls her by a different name. 
Clara is introduced to a whole world living under the city she calls home. A world of people who live out their lives in secret, all because they worship someone called “God”. A world of people who seem to know who Clara is.
Will she willingly forget them, willingly go back to her comfortable existence above ground? Or will she stay and remember? And if she stays… what happens then?

Not the greatest summary, I’m afraid, but it suits the purpose. Basically, it’s Christian Dystopian.

Now for the completely unedited snippets.

Snippet One

The waitress blinked, and looked a little confused, but then smiled and went on her way. I snatched my backpack up from the floor, almost spilling everything out again because I forgot to zip it closed. This corrected, I made my way out of the café. The sun was setting, and it was almost dark. The streets were practically deserted. The houses cast long shadows on the pavement, and dark shapes seemed to lurk in the corners.
My feet hitting the pavement sounded incredibly loud in the silence of a town closing down. A door shut, the sound, while quite, coming out like a… a… a firecracker. I jumped, and walked quickly towards the sub.

Snippet Two

The dim golden light cast the page of my paper in a warm hue, glinting slightly at the still-wet ink trails. My nose traveled closer and closer to the paper as my head drooped. With a start I yanked it up and rubbed at my blurry eyes. A barely perceptible pressure in my temple now came to the fore and I rubbed the skin with my inky palm. The tip of my pen snagged on my hair and I yanked it out irritably. I leaned my head back against the back of the chair and closed my eyes to rest them. Just for a second, just a moment, I’ll open them, I’ll get back to work…

The next thing I knew I was blinking in the sunlight streaming in the window. I jumped up from my chair, my book spilling out of my lap and the pen inking an unsightly line across the page. In a panic, I searched for the clock. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw it. It was only 8. No one else was even up yet.

Then the panic returned. My train would be leaving! I snatched the half-finished essay from where it lay and shoved it in my backpack, along with the book and the outline for the next essay that I had to write. The pen followed this, and another book. I shoved the black Holy Bible under the couch cushions, paused, and pulled it out again and shoved it into my bag, in a separate pocket. I crammed my socked feet into my shoes without bothering to tie them, dashed to the kitchen,grabbed a slice of bread and a hard boiled egg, and was out the door as my father came down the stairs.

Once at the sub entrance I stood waiting in the long line, juggling bookbag, toast, and unpealed egg. With a great deal of effort I managed to peal the egg into the trash can standing near by. The line moved, I was on the train.

Finally seated, I was faced with the unappetizing prospect of whole hard boiled and and white bread. Untoasted. Wrinkling my nose I forced it down, licking my lips to try and alleviate my parched mouth. It didn’t work.

Snippet Three

The best friend in question had wandered over to the coffee maker sitting on the counter and pressed a button on it.

“You’re in luck,” he told me as he did this. “Someone’s left some in here, all we have to do is heat it up.” He flashed me a grin. Despite myself, I found my lips quirked up into a smile answering him. If anything, his grin got wider.

“Alright,” he said. “I’m going to run up and get the family. I won’t be very long, make yourself at home.” With that he was gone, back up the hall.

I sat at the kitchen table, the noise of the coffee maker bubbling the only sound in the room. It felt good to sit, and the chair wasn’t uncomfortable, either.

The photos on the wall caught my eye, and I stood up to get a closer look. There was a small boy with Patrick’s face giving a tall woman a hug. Five children with their arms around their shoulders laughing at the camera. A man and a woman kissing each other rather passionately. And, there, the last one.

I froze. It was Patrick and…

At that moment there was a thundering on the stairs and a family, with Patrick at the head, piled into the room. All stopped short in the kitchen doorway, those behind them slamming to a stop. I was surprised that they didn’t fall over. They stared at me as if they had seen a ghost.

And that’s that. I shall now vanish into the mists and try to get some sleep. Goodnight!

Has anyone else seen Fantastic Beasts yet? What did you think? Also, if you randomly found my novel on a bookstore or library shelf, would you pick it up and read it?

 

NaNoWriMo // Week Two

It’s Tuesdaaaaay! And that means… I’m a day late because I was lazy and didn’t want to write. Yeah. Anyway…

It’s week two of NaNoWriMo! I have to say… this second week didn’t go very well. I got rather far behind (currently I have 5k to catch up, and that’ll be more tomorrow since I’m not writing tonight), not to mention schoolwork’s kinda been sliding as well. So hopefully I can make everything writing-wise back up on Thursday and Friday. Not that I have much hope for Friday, since FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM IS COMING OUT AND I’LL BE TOO EXCITED TO DO ANYTHING BUT FANGIRL and yeah.

So, without any further ado, here’s this week’s progress.

November 7th // Monday (update)

Words written: 5,095

I wrote 5k in one day again. Without meaning to. I even beat my previous highest word count by 75 words. And got a blog post written. I still feel really good about that day.

November 8th, 9th, & 10th // Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

Words written: 56

And I lost motivation. I wanted to do anything else but open up my word document. I avoided all writing hangouts and the like, trying to get away from the guilt. I failed. But yeah, I didn’t get much written this week. On the plus side I got caught up on schoolwork.

November 11th // Friday

Words written: 2,289

I honestly don’t remember much. I know I worked that day, but then again, I work every Friday, so that’s not saying much. But obviously, I got words written. I do recall that I caught up to where I was supposed to be at that point.

November 12th // Saturday

Words written: 871

Just barely keeping my head above water now. I just managed to break 20k and keep the little words written average bar green.

November 13th // Sunday

Words written: 111

My small word count this day is, for once, not through lack of trying. Sunday was hectic. The little I got was actually eeked out in between watching many children between the ages of 4 and 12 run around and trying to keep some semblance of order. But I got words written!

November 14th & 15th // Monday & Tuesday (today)

Words written: 31

And writer’s block sets in. First time on this book. I’m actually surprised I got this far without it popping up. Surprised and pleased. Anyway, I think I have a way to get past it, but unfortunately it’s going to have to wait on schoolwork being done.

There you go, my rather unproductive week. A grand total of 8, 453. Here’s to hoping that next will be better!

 

NaNoWriMo // Week One

Image result for theoden so it begins gif

NaNoWriMo has begun! This week has probably been one of the best weeks I’ve had, word-and-story-wise, in months, if not years. Even past NaNoWriMos.

November 1st // Tuesday

Words written: 5,020

I participated in Abigayle (The Left-handed Typist)’s 5k1day challenge, and I made it! The word-warring with new friends in the google hangout (now turned NaNo-cabin) for it was amazing. I found many new blogs to stalk and got much words written. *nods*

November 2nd // Wednesday

Words written: 2,443

Not nearly as many as Tuesday, but considering I spent the afternoon working, and most of the morning on school work, I’d say I did fairly well. I word-warred against Jonny (Fishing for Ideas) and won. I am pleased with this fact.

November 3rd // Thursday

Words written: 2,568

I HIT 10K!!! MyWriteClub is amazing. It has a word sprint option where you can write in the site itself with your friends, and each person will have a little bar next to their profile, and you watch as the word counts go up and up and up. It’s amazingly motivating. I have discovered that I can, in fact, write over 1k in 25 minutes.

November 4th // Friday

Words written: 2,087

I don’t remember much writing-wise about Friday. I was enjoying writing my story, but losing a bit of steam. Still managed to break through 2k that day.

November 5th & 6th // Saturday & Sunday

Words written: 58

I officially lost steam on Saturday. Or rather, I was dumb and picked up a new book. And finished critiquing an entire novel. And babysat. And went to church. In fact, the only reason I wrote words at all is because I kinda-sorta-maybe want to get that little “updated word count 30 days in a row” badge on the NaNo site… the past two times I’ve done NaNo I’ve been at a no-wifi youth retreat a few of the days of November, and therefore have never been able to get that badge. I think I might actually make Saturday and Sunday (or at least Sunday), my days of NaNo-rest. Time to read a good book and catch up on stuff I let slide through the week. I know I’m a whole lot more refreshed now because I rested then.

November 7th // Monday (Today)

Words written (so far): 1,826

Word crawls, as I have said before, are amazing. I’m doing the Hamilton one today (here’s a link). I’m not very far into it, and I really want to break 15k before tonight, but neither do I want to leave this blog post for the last minute. I’ll probably say how it went next post.

So that was my first week of NaNo. All in all, I like to think I did fairly well, with a (current) total of 14,002 words and counting. How’s NaNo coming for you?