The next Step

It’s been a week since NaNoWriMo has ended and life for me is starting to return to its normality. I am no longer pressed for time to write the daily word goal for the day. While it’s a nice break from that hectic tine, part of me misses it. I still write everyday but not the same amount. That’ll be something to work on.

However, it is time to look at what comes next. Clan of Blood needs to be rewritten but I won’t jump into that just yet. Writing that story made me realise that the first book lacked some characterization of a particular character and world building as well. Now, this doesn’t mean that I’ll have to rework the entire book. No, I figured I can go into the story and add a few more stuff to it. Luckily, I still have the 8k word edit I can use so Sarah from LoptandCropt can take a look at my manuscript. Who knows, I might have her take a look at the entire story, not just those 8k words.

Even as I beef up Clan of Ash (the first book), I plan on working on my wattpad story and rewriting Crimson Queen. That story is also on wattpad but it was finished. There are even a couple of short stories I want to write so, I’ll be doing that. While college taught me that short stories weren’t my forte, I’ll write them anyways. They’re stories and stories are meant to be written.

Now, thanks to “winning” NaNoWriMo, I get a couple of goodies. One of those prizes happens to be half off Scrivener, a program used to organise novels for instance. I’ve been eyeing this program for a while but haven’t tried it out. I think now would be the perfect time to get it and take it for a spin. From what I read, I think it will be a good investment. I’m also thinking of getting their own program called Scapple. It basically a brain storming program that works like a spider web. The ideas can connect to each other or not at all.

While I usually brain storm on paper, I feel like trying something new and who knows, this way might just work for me.

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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.