The Half Way Point

Powering through the muddle and losing.

Advertisements

We’re a bit past half through November and let’s not mention the lack of winter in Texas. The important thing to remember is that NaNoWriMo is half way done . . . and that is terrifying.

While I have reached my daily goal since day one, I find my story to be lacking. While I have the overall story planned, all the bits in between aren’t exactly there.

I’ve always been someone who plans some of the story before writing and someone who makes things up along the way. The problem with that is I underestimated the second book in the series. While Clan of Blood is its own book, it’s also part of a larger story. This is why I feel I should have planned out the story a bit more.

Now, there’s no use in regretting what wasn’t done. That’s not going to get me anywhere. It’s definitely a lesson I’ve learned.

As of now, the middle is slowing me down. I’m not bored, not at all, but I don’t know how to continue the main story. The subplots are there but I don’t want to derail the story and focus only on the subplots. Even though I know that subplots should feed into the main story, and I know how the subplots in Clan of Blood connect to everything else, for some reason, I’m having trouble putting it all in words. It’s like I forgot how to use words or something.

While my idea map has helped put everything into a diagram of sorts, I haven’t quite been able to plan ahead. I’m probably making this into a big deal because the editing part of my brain isn’t quite shut off. However, in the long run, it’ll be good for me to be aware that a lot of the story has to change in the edit. Clan of Ash, the first book, went through tons of edits too but unlike that time, there wasn’t a lot of pressure. Now, I feel like there is.

But it’s not like I can quit. I don’t want all that work and effort to go to waste. Plus, I need to write the second book. I love the story and the characters. I’m just afraid that I won’t do them justice. It’s just one of the many fears I have when it comes to writing in general. The idea seems so cool but the execution isn’t all there.

There’s so much doubt but I know I can get through this. I’ve struggled before and pulled through. For the moment, I’ll focus more on the scenes than the story as a whole. I won’t be abandoning the story. I’ll concentrate on the smaller parts that make up the story and try to connect them. Writing this, the ending is becoming a bit clearer. However, I don’t think that I’ll be able to fully finish the story in just 50k words.

As I type this post, the idea of just skipping everything and focusing on the main points seems better and better. If it comes down to it, I might just take that route. Or, I might not. It depends on how far I can go with what I have planned out.

*takes a deep breath* Don’t worry about being perfect. Just write.

Writing the Muddle

We’ve reached the second week of November which also makes it the second week of NaNoWriMo. So far, I have met my daily writing goals every day. I must admit there were times when I was typing up words just to increase my word count when a few words sufficed. Needless to say, Clan of Blood (the current title) is going to have a lot of edits.

Currently, I have written past any scenes that I had planned out before hand. There are two events that I know I can write next. However, I’m not entirely sure what’s going to happen after those two scenes. A part of me feels like I’m dragging this story out because I’m more focused on the word count than the actual plot. Yet, another part reminds me that there’s still plenty of days and words left to finish writing Clan of Blood.

While writing the entire book is my goal for this NaNoWriMo, I’m not going to force myself on this path. I don’t want to restrict myself on adding anything or skipping over a scene because I’m only focusing on the end – that I need to reach the end of the novel by November 30th.

As I write this, I realize that I’m having trouble writing the middle. Or how I’ve heard it referred to ‘the muddle’.  I find the middle hard to write. Maybe it’s because the plot isn’t quite working or I haven’t planned it out correctly. Or maybe it’s got nothing to do with any of that. I’m having trouble mostly because the ending isn’t clear to me just yet. Granted, I haven’t really thought about it and that should be (and is) the next step for me.

However, I’ve written other novels, and with those, I’ve learned a few tricks. I tend to ask myself. ‘How can I make the characters struggle a bit more?’ I can’t make it too easy because otherwise there wouldn’t be interesting. Life is a struggle even on the page.

I also think about how to raise the tension which also comes hand in hand with conflict. With dynamic characters that have opposite goals and/or contradicting view points, having conflict isn’t that difficult. One person wants to use the amulet to seal a demon portal. The other person wants to use the amulet to remove a curse and the amulet only has one usage.

The middle could also be used to add subplots, include obstacles, etc. The one thing that I tend to keep in mind is how to get to the end. I want the scenes in the book to matter. They have to all lead to the end. Even though they may twist and turn, everything must count because what’s the use of adding something if it doesn’t play into the story? Every scene has to move the story forward. Otherwise, the story stops and it doesn’t go anywhere. I like to avoid that at all cost. If I’m not interested in writing and it gets boring for me then why would my readers want to read it? At least, that’s what I think.

And ultimately, it’s a rough draft. It can be a very rough first draft and that’s okay. Things can be changed later, they can be deleted, other things can be added, that’s the beauty (and horror) of editing. Just write. And worry about everything else later.

 

NaNoWriMo – Skipping Scenes

Day three and 5k words down, 45k to go. For some reason, it’s getting harder and harder to write those 1,600 or so words each day. It probably has to do with the fact that I don’t usually write the same amount of words each day. I guess it doesn’t help that I’m still working on rewriting Crimson Queen through the month of November or that I’m updating my Wattpad story on a weekly basis. I seem to have put too much on my plate. What can I say? I’m an overachiever at times.

I almost want to count my word count of those stories but I won’t. Personally, I think that would be cheating on my part. It’s just this mentality that I have where all 50k words must be part of one story as oppose to other projects. It’s just my way of thinking. For better or worse, I’m going to keep doing this until I can’t anymore.

Today, however, I will say that I was surprised by my story. Let me explain. As I struggled to continue the story from where I stop yesterday, a different and unrelated scene came to my head. It had nothing to do with the main story. I still don’t know if I’ll include it in the final draft but I’m not worried about that. I just knew that my mind wasn’t as exhausted after a long work week as I thought it would be and proved to me that there were still some creative juices up there. I put these creative juices to good use.

Writing a story doesn’t have to be linear. It is okay to skip around or take a break from the main story. When a story becomes painful to write and pulling out air is the next stage, something has to change. I’ve had this happened to me many times. I’ve gotten so stressed out about continuing the story that I don’t give myself a chance to take a deep breath and step back. Today, however, it was different.

For the second half of my daily writing goal, I typed up an emotionally charged scene between my two main characters. My fingers flew across the keyboard and my wrists started to hurt but I didn’t stop. This scene was important to me and my characters. I had to put it on ‘paper’ before I forgot. While the story didn’t progress much, I got to try an extra seven hundred words just for writing an unplanned scene. The words just poured out of me and I didn’t care if it related to the main story or not. I was skipping scenes and that was fine.

If writing unplanned scenes is something that gets me to write and discover my characters and more of my plot then so be it because eventually, those scenes can link together to become a cohesive story.  Some scenes may not be used but at least I wrote something. I gave the writer and creator inside me an opportunity to create and step away from the story that had started to ‘bog’ me down.

It works with writer’s block too. You’re not sure how the story will progress so why not put your characters in another situation, in another scene, and see what happens? It doesn’t even have to be part of the story. Not really. What if they would have done something completely different at the beginning of the story? Where would they be now? How would the rest of the story work out? Not only do you get distance from the current story and give your mind a break, but it might just help get those creative juices flowing again.

You’re still writing. You’re using those characters and world. Nothing has changed. Not really. It almost feels like writing fanfiction. Almost.

In the end, different methods work for different people. One way may work better for one person than another. It’s all a matter of how you write. Will I be using these extra words towards my daily word count? Yes I will.

NaNoWriMo – the Story so Far

Follow my progress on NaNoWriMo this month for tips and advice

We’re day two of NaNoWriMo and so far, I’m on schedule. A couple of times yesterday I found myself wondering if I was describing a library ‘the correct way’. Now, I have no clue what ‘the correct way’ is but that’s what I thought. I had to perfectly describe my main character’s workplace. It didn’t take me long to realize that I needed to stop overthinking those sentences. The point of NaNoWriMo is to write. I haven’t found anywhere that says those 50k words have to be the best words in existence.

When I realized this, I left a comment on the document; ‘take a look at this later’ and kept writing. It was as simple as that even though it felt like the hardest thing I had to do. I have put this into practice before – leaving a comment to myself – in other works and, for some reason, it bugged me that I had to for this one. Maybe I’m overthinking this because I want my novel for NaNoWriMo to be perfect, but I know that deep down, these 50k words aren’t going to be perfect. I know that and it’s still hard to keep that in mind.

The one thing that has been working for me is the notecards that I wrote up to help me figure out my plot and where I want the story to go. I haven’t planned everything out yet and I’ll do that gradually. However, I don’t want to be solely focused on one way of writing this novel. I want to allow the story to take unexpected turns because if everything is predictable and ‘on one path’, it’s not fun to write anymore. I like to discover new things in my story that I didn’t know before. Plus, sometimes, it’s good to make things up as you go along. You never know what might work.

One thing to keep in mind is to let the characters lead the way. It follows along the lines of ‘what would this character do in this situation?’. In the first drafts, my characters aren’t always developed enough but that’s okay for me. I often tend to develop my character during the very first draft. There are instances when, even though a character isn’t developed, I can tell when a character isn’t acting quite right. In my first draft of Clan of Ash (book 1 of the Half-Blood series), I went through this with my main character.

When I rewrote that draft, I had to take out an entire scene because I knew that this wasn’t how my character would act. Did I know that from the start? No. However, I knew that this wasn’t how I wanted my character to be. Once I figured that out, developing her further was easier. I had an idea of what the character isn’t like and from there, I started to figure out her personality.

Nothing is going to be perfect at the start. At least, it won’t for me. I have a process and it works for me because of all the trials and errors I’ve had along the way. Especially for NaNoWriMo. It is trial and error. It’s a way to discover what works and doesn’t work. In the end, I’m doing what I love and I’m having fun. That’s all that matters. Having fun writing.

 

 

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.