Camp NaNoWriMo 2017 Update #2

Sometimes, things just don’t go the way I planned them.

Last week, I finished reading The Night Circus.  It was glorious.  I loved it so much that I went and purchased the hardcover copy the next day.  This post is not about The Night Circus but if you want to read all about my love of it, you can do so here.

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My point is that sometimes you read a book that comes together so perfectly, it makes you go back and reflect on your own work.  The Night Circus did that for me, and I spent several hours that day thinking about my current draft.  You know what?

Pantsing is fun, but it doesn’t create a good story.  Not for me.  My initial plot of “Angry witch lady captures little girl with a wild imagination and her older brother has to go to the dream world to save her” is a really raw beginning of a plot outline, but it’s not a story.  It’s not something I would pick up at a bookstore, so why would anyone else?

As a result of these musings, I’ve begun again.  I know the world.  I know my characters.  I know one of the subplots… and now I am learning more.  Other than my daily writing, here’s what I’ve done this week to strengthen my story:

  • Separated the tale out into 5 POVs.  Each one has its own folder, and I switch between POVs to tell what each character was doing at the same time.  This has resulted in 3 really solid chapters, 2 that could be refined, and 1 that isn’t probably going to be used but was really good character motive and behind-the-scenes story development for me to remember later.
  • Left notes on chapters.  This is a new option for me, since previously I’ve written in MS Word (bleh) or Novlr… Ulysses is a great resource for a writer with a scattered mind.  I have a few thousand words in background notes and future plot thoughts, as well as research discoveries.  Yes!
  • Asked for perspective.  My best friends have an eight-year-old daughter who I’m loosely basing one of my MCs on.  She’s a bright, imaginative girl and loves to read.  She has a great imagination.  Despite the fact that Lucy Brown has been in my head for five years, I’m 28 and it’s not easy to get in the mind of an 8-year-old.  That was a long time ago.  Fortunately, my friends’ daughter was more than happy to offer some perspective, and she gave me some answers I wasn’t expecting.  Also she wants a copy of the book someday.  Which gives me a goal publication timeline… 4-8 years from now when she’s old enough to read it and her mother won’t kill me!

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I think it’s really good to be able to step back from something I’ve spent a lot of time and effort on, be able to look at it objectively, and be able to say “This isn’t working”.  It’s hard, it sucks, but I’m excited to move forward taking a different path.

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Also there’s no way in the world this will be finished by the end of July.

I am Not Immune to the NaNoBug (but I Have to Wear Bugspray)

I love NaNoWriMo.

I love the deadline, and the knowledge of winning.  I always win, you see.  But I simply can’t do it anymore.  Ah, NaNo.  We had five glorious years together and produced eight delightful “books”.

But yet, that’s the problem. “Books” not books.  Because what I write for NaNoWriMo comes from the sputtering of “two thousand words, two thousand words”.  It’s not quality.  Quite often, it’s rambling.  It’s the very worst of “I don’t know where I’m going with this, but hey look, words!!!“.

NaNoWriMo has its perks.  It forced me to put down stories that had been bouncing around in my head for ages.  Absolutely Mad, for one.  My Wonderland tale had been in my head for several years, but never made it to paper.  Oh, I have others still trapped in there: a tales about Greek gods sentenced to a mortal life, an Egyptian demi-goddess trying to prevent a genocide.  An apocalyptic tale about a girl who could astral project.  A story of two time travelers that is so insanely outlined it’s intimidating.  Not to mention: three more books for Sparky Jones, at least another for Ariella Masterson, and Princess Jessica and her crew are nowhere near done.  Oh!  And there’s a sequel for Lucy Brown shoved up there as well.

None of this means anything to anyone but me.  Why?  Because rewrites.

I wouldn’t dream of sending any of my stories to an agent, or even self-publishing them, because of horrendous typos, gigantic plot holes, and inconsistencies galore.  I need to delve back into each and every one of the stories and do it again, but better.  I’ve done this a couple times – with Fate and Strange – and all I’ve learned is, “it’s  better, but not good enough.”  Fate is too big for its britches and Strange has too many inconsistencies and I’ve been told that frankly, Ariella isn’t particularly likable.  So there’s work to be done still.

How can I start a new project when my others lay abandoned?

So thanks for the memories, NaNoWriMo, but for the time being, I’m afraid I must wash my hands of you.

(Good luck to all you NaNo-ers out there!  Knock ’em dead!)