The Half Way Point

Powering through the muddle and losing.

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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.

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.

Catching Up

Well, I’m officially behind work count but it’s only by 300 words. I didn’t exactly plan to be behind it just that I play Dungeons and Dragons on Fridays (well most Fridays anyways) and, unfortunately, after that four hour campaign, I was too tired to finish writing. 

Overall, Blue Moon still has a lot of work on it. The beginning is going to change yet again. I don’t need to type up anything new. At this point it is all about rearrange scenes. I won’t do that as of right now because I don’t want that to me my main focus. For now, I need to be writing and not worrying about how the story is going to start.

I have typed up a brief summaries of my scenes. That way, I’ll have them “in sight” and I don’t have to go back through the document to find them. I was thinking of using note cards to jot the scenes down so I would be able to rearrange them “physically”. Or maybe if I had a program or a website where I could do that – that could also work. So if anyone knows of a good website or program for a storyboard that let’s me rearrange scenes then let me know. I’ll be looking into that sort of stuff.

The story with my sister is going well. It’s a work in progress because at this point, I’m making things up. It’s all been pull out of thin air. My sister hasn’t complained about it so that’s good. Our plot for that story is holding strong. It’s all “according to plan” so to speak.  

Rewrite- How to?

Having trouble editing your story?

Finishing a manuscript is one of the greatest accomplishments you can achieve. It’s tough work starting from scratch and typing up the last word but the rewards are great. However, sometimes, well, most of the times, it doesn’t end there. Next, comes editing and for the most part, this also includes rewriting some scenes, entire chapters, or maybe even the entire story.

There are many ways to edit a manuscript and there are many different ways it can be done depending on the writer. However, the most important part is to let the manuscript sit for a while before actually starting to edit it. If the story is still ‘fresh’ in your mind then you won’t be able to notice anything wrong with it. The time away from the manuscript depends on the person.

I liked to find a few close friends/beta readers and ask them to read my manuscript. Not only do I take some time off but it also gives me something to wait on e.g. critiques/comments. It’s also during this time that I like to look over my characters and notes. I’m not looking to change anything but I do think about the ways in which I wrote my characters and if I brought them to life on the page. I also tend to replay key scenes in my head and re-imagine them. What would happen if I change this particular line of dialogue? Or what if I make my character do this instead?

Although I keep repeating myself I will always say that no one method of editing is wrong or right. One way may work better for one person than another.

It’s also a good idea, I found, to convert your manuscript into a .pdf file and read it like a book. You can’t edit and it forces you to read your story without being able to change anything. I typically do this during my waiting time, looking specifically for sentences that don’t really make sense or could use improvement and for small typos. Usually when I read my manuscript I can get a hint of what is missing but they aren’t set in stone until I get back some comments. Usually, my suspicions are correct and some comments point out things that need improvements.

Taking critiques comes with a grain of salt. Some people might respond differently to your writing and that’s okay. Ultimately, it’s your choice as a writer that counts. If the plot is lacking, you usually have to rewrite the entire story but even then that’s nothing to feel dishearten about. I have rewritten one manuscript five times, from scratch, and though it has taken over five years to make it feel right,  it’s the best possible version that it could be. Scenes can be written and so can dialogue.

As long as you’re willing to make changes and abandon some things then rewriting will be easier. Accept the fact that it won’t be easy to begin with and go from there.