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.

 

Advertisements

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.

 

 

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.

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.