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.

 

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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.

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

After the Storm

It’s has taken some time to get used to the aftermath of Harvey. I’m very fortunate to announce that myself and property weren’t damaged/harmed. Unfortunately, I had a few friends who weren’t as fortunate as myself.

Due to the hurricane, a lot of plans have been pushed back. I took this week to adjust some things and I believe I can get back on track. I have a bit of exciting news. Yesterday, I participated in #PitMad – a pitch party on Twitter hosted by Brenda Drake where writers pitch their 140 character pitch for their unpublished manuscript. So far, there hasn’t been any response yet. However, I’m still hopeful and even if this doesn’t work for me, I still plan to send out some query letters. There’s another #PitMad coming up on Dec. 7th and I just might participate in that.

Speaking of queries, I am planning on sending out query letters this upcoming Monday. I want to give #PitMad a chance over the weekend for an agent to like my tweet. If not, well, life goes on and I’ll have more opportunities. Plus, there’s always writing to be done.

After Camp NaNoWriMo

It’s been two weeks since Camp NaNoWriMo has ended.

Final Thoughts?

I was unprepared for the complexity of my story. Even from the beginning, I knew it was going to be complex but I didn’t plan enough for that. Luckily, Camp NaNoWriMo showed me that. Blue Moon is a story that needs to be planned. A beat sheet should, in retrospect, help me write the story better the second time around.

Writing a novel in a month has always taught me something. It has also shown me my limitations and what I need to improve. This time, it was planning and execution. Granted, this was the first draft. The first draft of a book that isn’t even completely written yet. Blue Moon and I have a long way to go before it is ready to shown to the world and I’m okay with that. There’s still a lot for me learn.

On a different note:

I am officially finishing editing and revising my story, Clan of Ash. Now, I’m working on my query letter and searching for agents before sending out queries by September. My summary has to be fixed a bit more and I have to research more agents but I’m close. I’m planning on rereading my novel once more before sending it out. I’m not sure if this is a good idea but I’ll take my chances.

Speaking of reading, I finally got around to reading the books on my kindle. I have a few paperbacks around the house that needed to be read first. Hopefully, I can stop buying books long enough for me to finish reading all the ones I have already. Then again, buying books help authors. The struggle is real.

I’m still working on revising Crimson Queen and Phantom Blade (two stories I have on Wattpad). I have also been working on another story on Wattpad as well. It’s been busy and productive. For now, that’s all I can ask for.