Eve of NaNoWriMo

If someone were to ask me if I was ready for NaNoWriMo, I would say no. It doesn’t matter if this was my first time or ten times. I don’t think I would ever be ready to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I’ve done before in the past but it hasn’t been easy. My spare time goes to typing up the daily goal and if I’m lucky, I’ll have enough time in the day to relax before going to bed and getting ready for the next day and all the responsibilities that require my attention.

Thinking back to all my previous attempts of NaNoWriMo (including Camp NaNoWriMo), I have never really written a novel. Not really. I’ve written 50,000 words towards an idea that I really wanted to develop. It’s not a novel until I go in there and try to salvage whatever I can from it. Sometimes, I have to start from scratch. Even though I plan to write the second installation of the Half-Blood series, I won’t be writing a novel. In those 50,000 words, I’m going to try to write something that I can salvage at the end of it all.

While I have experience in writing 50k words in a month, there are some tips that I’ve come to learn that work for me.

  1. Carrying spare paper/notebook. 

I don’t like to limit myself to working on my daily goal only on a computer/laptop. When I get a few moments, I’d like to jot down a couple of sentences here and there. Personally, I like to think about the direction I want the story to go and imagine possible scenes in my head. If end up thinking of a really good scene, I write down a summary of the scene and the key points I want to include just so I won’t forget anything.

2. Time Frame

Choosing a time that I can write is very helpful because I am able to only focus on writing. I’ve never really had to turn my WiFi off but if I had to, I would find an online app that shuts off my internet access until I hit my daily goal. Most importantly, don’t let anyone interrupt your writing time. Once it happens, the ‘golden time’ is subject to change at a moment’s notice. This has happened to me before and I have fallen behind on multiple accounts. Catching up is brutal.

3. Notecards

There are times when I have no idea how the story is going to progress. Writing scenes on notecards have steered me away from writer’s block. I rather have a scene to write than to have nothing. Notecards give me a visual tool to let me rearrange the story as many times as I need without changing anything in the document.

4. Keep Writing

There have been times when I have had no motivation to write. I’ve had to force myself to write. Even if everything made no sense and nothing was coming out like I wanted it to, I kept writing. The goal is to write 50k words. The goal is not to have anything make sense. That comes later. It’s not something you need to worry about now.

5. No Editing

Say no to the voice in your head. Now is the time for creativitity not editing. It’s going to take a few days getting used to it. Even for me but it can be done.

Lastly, for anyone participating in NaNoWriMo, I wish you the best of luck. I’m sure going to need it.

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Consequences and Plot

In my last post, I wrote about consequnces. In this post, I’ll expand on what I mean and what that means going forward with writing the second installment of the Half-Blood series.

I’d like to think that the ending of the first book set up the premise for the second book. Not only did an authority figure die, our heroes were saved – if you consider eternal servitude as saved. Nonetheless, their actions have drastically changed their lives and the lives of many more people. Their actions have consequences and I’m excited to write about those consequences.

Without giving too much away, a successor rises up to uncover the truth of his predecessor’s death and enact revenge if need be. He has a purpose and his investigation interrupts the main character’s lives. Now I have tension and conflict that I can build up through the story. Now, this isn’t the entire plot. This is a subplot that will run through the story.

The true plot of the story is to discover who’s behind a deadly virus infected certain people and finding a cure. For now, that’s what I’m going with. NaNoWriMo will give me the opportunity to play with this idea a bit more. Now, my main characters, Renelle and Alastair have to join forces again but they aren’t on friendly terms.

And all of this comes from all the events of the first book. Renelle saved Alastair and now they both serve the people who wanted to kill Alastair (that’s the shorten version). There’s a lot of bent-up feelings going around.

I plan to start the story by placing the characters in their new words. E.g. Renelle under servitude. The successor looking into his predecessor’s death. The term “domino effect” applies here perfectly. One action leads to an outcome and that to another so it’s all connected. You can’t really pinpoint where it all started. Because of the planning I did beforehand, this is all playing into a larger story arc that spans across the series. This is all leading towards the end.

While I forsee a lot of agony and frustration, I am excited to continue expanding the story and world that I have built.

Writing A Sequel for NaNoWriMo

Tips and thoughts on writing the second installation in a series.

NaNoWriMo is just around the corner and I still haven’t gotten ready for it. I will say that I have decided to work on the second installation of the Half-Blood series simply because the second book needs to be written and I really want to go back to that world. Plus, it helps that I really enjoy making my character’s lives miserable and difficult.

Now, writing a book in a series can be tricky. One piece of advice I read long ago said that the second book needs to be able to stand alone. I took this as meaning that the book has to have its own plot and the story can still work even if someone hadn’t read the first book. K.M. Weiland has a fantastic article about how to write a sequel that’s better than the first.

One of the points the article makes is whether or not there is enough content for a second story. This also includes having new ideas so the second book is entirely different from the first. Without much content to go on or new ideas, writing can be difficult. I often come across this problem when I haven’t developed an idea well enough. Ultimately, that is what it is, an idea.

When I wrote the first book, I didn’t plan to write a series. However, as I revised the first draft and the second draft, and even the third draft, that is when I began to make the world deeper and richer with lore. I can’t really say how it all came together. All I can say is that when I thought of the ending to the series it made perfect sense. I won’t include any spoilers but I can say that I began to think of what needed to happen to get to that ending. As I developed this idea, new content sprung up. I knew I needed to leave some loose-ends in the first story.

Granted, having a story bible really helped out because that way, I could keep track of all the little tidbits of information that I could expand upon at a later time. It did take some planning on my part. I doubt I could add such complexity to the plot without planning it out first.

Another point the article makes: what are the consequences? Loose-ends are rarely tied in a perfect bow. Personally, I find a story more interesting if they are questions left, and as long as they are answered in the second book or down the line, that is fine by me. Since I left loose-ends in the first book and didn’t quite explain too much on something, it left me with the opportunity to expand on it in this book. Plus, thanks to the events of the first book, there are a lot of consequences and domino effects that I have to work with. The one thing I like to keep in mind is that an action has a reaction and that can be said for anything.

Lastly, let’s not forget character arcs. By the end of the first book, one of my main characters, Alastair, has gone through a change but that’s not the end of his character arc. Renelle, my other main characters, also undergo changes but it hasn’t come full circle just yet. Of course, I still have to do a lot to do for other character’s and their arcs.

However, when it has been all said and done, if the first book doesn’t get picked up then writing the second installment could be seen as a waste of time and effort. With this in mind, maybe writing another book is the better idea but even so, I feel that the Half-Blood series needs to be written. It’s begging to be told which is why I will continue to write the series even if it takes a while for the story to be picked up or even if it never does. Luckily for me, I have plenty of novel ideas I can work with.

 

NaNoWriMo Approaches and a Few Updates

There’s only a week and a half left before NaNoWriMo and I still haven’t started planning and plotting out my story yet. Before, I wanted to write the second installation of the Half-Blood series (I’m trying to publish the first one) but now, I’m not so sure. Mostly it’s because I have another story I’m working on and continuing to work on that one through November seems like a really good idea. Then again, knowing myself, I’ll probably be working on two stories at a time.

I have a problem. I want to do too much at a time. That’s my flaw as a writer. And you know what they say, the first step is to realize you have a problem. Saying that I will focus on the second installation of the Half-Blood series. Luckily for me, I do have some part of the book planned out and I know where the book is headed. Granted, I don’t know how it’s going to end but  – actually, as I type this I just figured out how the second book is going to end – it shouldn’t be a problem. Am I going to say what it is? No. I am not. That scene can change and I don’t want to be restrained to only one possibility.

On another note, there are a few exciting things that have happened. Well, one isn’t entirely exciting. I got another response to a query I sent out . . . my manuscript was rejected. I’m not exactly discouraged but I can’t help but question my ability as a writer. I’m not the greatest and I strive to improve because that’s all I can do.

All I have to do is keep finding other agents and go back to my manuscript. Sure, I thought about the possibility that I might have to abandon this story and query something else. Yet, I want to be stubborn and continue to send out queries.

I’ve been working with Sarah Pesce and I’ve gotten really helpful comments on the first twenty pages of my manuscript. I still have those 8k words to send her and maybe I’ll even have her take a look at the entire manuscript. There are possibilities. At this point, all I have to do is keep pushing forward and hope for the best.

Writing Admiration

While rewriting a portion of Crimson Queen, I came to a realization that the relationship between the main character and her deceased father wasn’t good enough. Sure, I had some flashback moments added before said point, but it was only at that moment when it really hit me. The relationship between the two is the reason that the main character won’t escape even though she’s on death row. She can’t abandon the people her father protected and yet, looking back at the previous chapters, I didn’t get that feeling between the two.

I might need another set of eyes on this but, for the most part, I think it is safe to say that their relationship needs work. My main character, Lucinda,  admires her father but I’m afraid I might have not shown enough. It’s one of those things that I just have to go back and add more information to but, at the same time,  I’m not sure if that will be enough.

Yesterday, I took to the web to try and find some tips about how to go about doing this but it seemed like I didn’t get anywhere. All I came across was sample letters of how to write a letter of admiration. However, it wasn’t as unfruitful as I thought it would be. One thing I notice about the letters was that they contained examples of deeds/actions.

That’s something I could take to my writing. It’ll need to be casual, has to flow well with what I want to write. Plus, the flashbacks are short so they need to be concise but informative. Of course, this is a draft so there is always room for improvement. Heck, I might receive a ray of inspiration and write a perfect flashback. I’m not counting on this but it might happen.

In the meantime, I’ll keep writing the story and move forward with my realization. At least, I notice this issue early on so I can keep that in mind while I write.

On a sidenote, the free editing services I got is turning out well. I’m waiting for Sarah to get back to me with the first 20 pages of my manuscript. She provides this service for all new, potential clients. After this, we’re going to move forward with my 8k words.

I’ll keep you guys posted. Until next time,

Kassandra