Week Two Update | NaNoWriMo 2016

week2updatenano

Sorry it’s a day late, but we are now well into two weeks of NaNoWriMo 2016 and it is time for another progress report. Before I get any further, I’m going to start by saying this past week was a complete and utter failure. I never quite made the comeback that I was hoping for after an abysmal weekend of writing. So this week is not going to have much progress reporting but more tips I’m hoping will help me get my groove back.

Progress Thus Far

What I’ve Written

I started week two of NaNoWriMo with my protagonist arriving in a new place where she would undergo transformation in the story. So I was able to write the scenes where she is introduced to the location and the new characters already there, which was fun but I required I tread carefully. So realizing I could not just word sprint my way through this part, I became intimidated by the document and threw myself into reading and research this past week. Here’s my embarrassing progress graph.

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But I haven’t lost hope that I can still turn this around. This weekend is the beginning of Thanksgiving Break so I am going to start treating writing like my job. I’m going to try to write at least 1,667 words every morning and beyond until I’m all caught up. In fact, I’m hoping to reach 50,000 words before break is over so I’m planning to do a lot of writing.

I’m at the beginning of Act II in my story, so exciting things are going to begin happening. I already have the next four chapters loosely outlined so I literally just need to sit my butt down and write them. I think the hardest bit is facing the unknown and needing to make important story choices. So what I’ve learned this week really speak to the problems I’ve been facing.

What I’ve Learned

As this past week was a struggle for me, these tips are ones I aim to follow the rest of the month and probably beyond as I attempt to finish this novel by the end of the year.

  1. Even on days I’ve overwhelmed with school or work, I need make sure to spend at least 10–30 minutes looking at my story and adding words wherever I can or notes. Even if it’s not specifically writing words that contribute to the manuscript, it’s valuable to spend time looking at your draft every day and thinking about your story so that you keep your interest piqued so that you’re ecstatic when you finally have a bunch of time to write.
  2. Keep a list of scenes I can use for word sprints, and alternatively for those I might want to go back after word sprints to add in more carefully later. I’ve been word sprinting with my writing buddy Sara at least twice a week this November and the past two times we’ve talked I’ve not been able to throw myself into sprinting as well because I wasn’t at parts of the story where I felt comfortable writing just anything. So I want to get better at saving scenes specifically for frenzied writing.

Next on the Blog

On Friday morning I leave for Thanksgiving Break, so I will be home with my parents for nine days! Once vacation is over there will only be three days left of NaNoWriMo, so naturally I’m hoping to reach 50K words next week. I’m not sure how that’s going to happen with so many other things I want to do next week, but I’m dedicated so that’s got to mean something. You can expect a new post tomorrow and then this week’s Week In Review on Sunday.

Thank you for reading!
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Week One Update | NaNoWriMo 2016

week1nano

Hello and welcome back to my blog to my blog for another NaNoWriMo update! It’s now been a week since NaNoWriMo started on November 1st (see my What I’m Writing), so I have lots to share. I added bits and insights to this post throughout the weeks as they came to me so I’ve had to shave this post down into something coherent! I hope you enjoy ^_^

Progress Thus Far

What I’ve Written

As I mentioned in my post last week, I started writing my story from the very beginning. Strangely enough, I’ve managed to stick to writing chronologically and have just started Act II (new world, fun & games) part of my novel, if you’re familiar with the Three Act Structure. At the time of drafting this post (Wednesday ~1 p.m.) I have not yet started writing for the day and I’m at 13,362 words! I’ve managed to keep up with where I should be each day, with the exception of day 7 and it will haunt my dreams forever.

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I had hoped to get a much bigger head start on my word count over the first week of NaNoWriMo, but it’s been all I can do to keep myself writing a little bit each day so as not to fall behind. School has not actually been too stressful, but I’ve struggled at times with the scope and direction of my story. I started with a very loose major outline but I’m not certain how closely I’ll stick with it by the end. I feel like each day the world become bigger and new characters come in who threaten to topple everything. It’s fun, but I’ve been trying to write carefully so that I hit the major beats and make notes of the little things that could become important later.

What I’ve Learned

I had a few major revelations very quickly at the start of the month about how I write.

  1. I need writing sprints. I feel like all year I’ve procrastinated on writing because I wanted to be so prepared that I’d write a near perfect first draft. I’ve since realized it’s just not possible. There’s too much to juggle in a good story to keep track of everything that I want my story to have. So I’ve truly embraced the writing sprints to help me get the words I can out and have been making notes along the way of the things I’ll want to fix in future editing sweeps.
  2. My pacing is terrible. I don’t remember ever thinking this about my writing before but it was made immediately clear to me in the first 5,000 words I wrote this month. I’m not too worried about it right now, because I know it’s more important to have the important things written down than to have them well laid out. But it’s one of those funny things I’ve become aware of this quickly and is something I look legitimately forward to working on in my revisions.

I’m having a great time writing right now and I honestly can’t remember the last time I enjoyed it. I’ve not had any self-doubts or undue self-pressure yet, so I’ve felt secure to write and know that everything will most likely turn out okay in the end and it will be fun to see these words evolve as I continue to work on this story. I’m hoping to keep this outlook for the rest of the month and beyond!

Next on the Blog

I feel like the NaNoWriMo honeymoon period is over, but I’m still motivated and having fun with my story every day. In case you missed it and are interested, I wrote a blog post about my thoughts on the outcome of the U.S. Presidential Election 2016 today. I also had a big blog name change,  you may have noticed or seen in that announcement post yesterday. I’m hoping to have another post up this weekend, but I’m not sure what just yet so I’ll keep you on your toes.

Thank you for reading!
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What I’m Writing for NaNoWriMo ’16

whatiwritenano

Happy November!

We are now in the midst of NaNoWriMo writing season and since it’s been a while since I updated you on my story, I thought I’d do that now at the beginning of the month as opposed to at the end. As you may recall, I outlined my novel in September, but I remember even then doubting the ending I’d devised and knew I’d have to change it if I wanted to stick to my outline this November. That did end up happening and I started NaNoWriMo with a loose outline.

My Novel

I am writing the YA fantasy/steampunk set in an 1920s-esque alternative universe; it’s basically novel that you may have heard me talk about all year if you’ve been following me on this blog since January. My story has been inspired by many of my favorite fantasy novels and movies. I’ve also taken much inspiration from my German literature & ideas class which is centered on German literature and culture from 1890–1950 (roughly), which you may be aware was fairly tumultuous period of world history.

I don’t think the final first draft will be completed in 50,000 words so I’m hoping I’ll be able to finish it over Thanksgiving Break which this year is November 19th–27th. Although in my wildest dreams I imagine this novel being the first of a prospective series, I’ve decided to start treating it like a standalone novel. So I’m going to spend the rest of the year after NaNoWriMo polishing it up, then hopefully I’ll be able to find some beta readers to tell me what they think so I can edit a bit more before I decide if I really want to query it at all or maybe even turn it into an interactive narrative…

Progress Thus Far

I think that if I succeed at NaNoWriMo this year, it will be completed owed to strong start so I decided to prioritize writing this first week of November before I get insanely busy with end of the semester assignments. I technically started writing on Halloween, just because I figured it was close enough and I also figured I may not write much this weekend because my parents come up for my mom’s birthday. So I woke up November 1st with 1,043 words in my pocket! And I set off with a goal to write 5,000 words every day from Tuesday–Friday.

On Halloween I got so much done, including my major assignments for this week! So the only things I need to do this week are to attend class Wednesday and a TA workshop on Friday. So if I don’t take advantage of this beginning of the month momentum, I would be terribly silly!

So if all goes to according to plan, I will be at 20,000 words by November 5th! I’m so excited to make this a reality.

Yesterday I decided to sit down before I started writing and make an outline for the parts of my story that I wanted to write that day. It worked splendidly and have decided to do the same every day and each time I sit down to write. I feel so much more happy with what I write when I have a direction and know that it’s all leading up to something important to the story as as whole.

I hadn’t really expected this, but I’ve actually been writing my story chronologically for the most part, meaning I started at the beginning. I hadn’t been too excited by former beginnings of this novel, so I was surprised I felt drawn to this part of the story right off the bat. So it will be interesting to see in a week’s time in my next NaNoWriMo progress post if I’m still writing in chronological order.

 On the Blog

I do not want my blog writing to interfere with my novel writing this month, so I’m going to be trying to restrain myself to weekly update posts. I also hope to be able to read and get other things done this month so I may also be blogging about things not related to writing, but hopefully not to the extent that it becomes a distraction from writing! I am also planning to relaunch my BookTube channel (you may have seen a post that wasn’t ready to go up this past weekend *facepalm*), so I may also have writing videos up on YouTube.

Next on the blog, you will hopefully be able to see my thoughts on Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, the short story anthology I read two weekends ago. I haven’t dedicated a blog post to a single book in a long time so I’m excited to give it another shot soon. Until then…

Thank you for reading!
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3 Tips for NaNoWriMo ’16

tape3tipsHappy Halloween!

I hope you find yourself having a little more fun than I am on this little holiday. I have a class tonight that I will need to attend, but before that I actually plan to have an early “Pre-NaNoWriMo Kick-Off Party” with my writing buddy between 4:30 p.m. when she gets home from work and 6:50 p.m. which is literally the latest I can wait before I need to dash off to class. We plan to do writing sprints over Skype and basically just get a headstart on NaNoWriMo because we’re old-timers now and can’t stay up till midnight to start writing. (Well, I could. But I won’t want to!)

I’m so excited she’s decided to participate this year, even though she’s more on the revising side of writing right now. We’re going to try to Skype every Tuesday, Thursday, and one weekend day each week and be accountable to ourselves to reach our respective goals.

As I’ve been horrible about blogging this past month, I did want to make sure to do a little post that hopefully you will find helpful if you’ve decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. If you haven’t heard of it, basically the goal is to write 50,000 words by the end of the month (here’s a LINK to the official website where you can learn more and make an account, and/or ADD ME as a buddy). It’s not to late to decide to participate if you haven’t already! It’s low risk (no one will publicly shame you if you don’t win) and offers high rewards (in the form of a novel draft).

I’ve managed to condense my most important tips for surviving and winning NaNoWriMo into three points listed below. (I also provide a bonus tip for finding inspiration down below).

1. Plan Ahead and Be Flexible

Writing 50,000 words in one month may be a massive undertaking if you are not in the regular habit of writing. I’ve found the more you practice, the faster you will become. But there’s still a learning curve as you figure out how to get yourself in the writing mindset, by which I mean the mindset you need to be in see your world and characters and know where you want to take them. For me this usually involves reacquainting myself with what I’ve written previously or my story notes. I don’t have the luxury of thinking about my story all day, so I personally need to account for time spent warming up to write when I sit down to write.

Most of us don’t have all day to think about and write our stories. You, like me, may be a student or have full-time job you can’t afford to lose or even be a parent. Life becomes a juggling act during NaNoWriMo, so I recommend that you make lists or do whatever equivalent to that to make sure you don’t let any of your other commitments fall slack or by the wayside. I have personally have a calendar with major deadlines and trips so that I can visualize the month. And every week, actually more like everyday, I make time to write a to-do list of all the homework and chores I want to get done. I don’t always get everything on my to-do list done, but I often plan ahead so that there’s time later for tasks that can flow onto the next day. So remember to plan ahead and be flexible.

2. Know Where You Want to Go (Plot-Wise)

Whether you are a plotter or a pantser, I think anyone who’s serious about writing can only benefit by knowing where a scene or the whole story more broadly speaking needs to end up. I used to be a big-time panster, so I would plot a little as I went but never feel the need to stick strictly to my plans. The only real guide in my head, if you can call it a guide, was a basic idea of when a plot turn needed to happen. I don’t really recommend this method if you want to write something good, something that might one day be publishable.

Instead I would recommend having at least 5–7 major scenes planned for your story (or whatever makes sense for the size of story you’re shooting for). Because if you have these scenes in mind then you’re major task is then just to figure out how to best connect them, and that might be a good guide which still allows you to discover the story along the way (à la pantser). Along the same lines, having at least the vaguest idea of where a scene needs to go before you start writing each day could also help keep your story from spiraling out of control.

3. Set Aside “You” Time

Writing is supposed to be fun, so you don’t want to end up hating it or life in general by the end of the month because you’ve burned out. Balance your time for writing with time for other things, like homework, chores, and exercise. You may find yourself actually wanting to do homework and chores when you’re supposed to be writing, and vice versa so as long as you’re being productive and remember to balance everything out by the end of the day or week, you shouldn’t need to feel guilty while working on anything.

Exercise can be really good for stimulating your mind as well as your body, so I strongly recommend it, even if it’s not something you regularly do. It’s not that hard to add some leisurely walks to your daily routine, and you may even find walking around might give you some new story ideas. If you’re like me and don’t like to feel like you’re working out, I recommend something like Pokémon Go to distract you. Audiobooks are also a great idea if you find you’re reading suffering during NaNoWriMo. In addition to being good for you, exercise may also make you feel better about yourself so I can’t recommend it highly enough.

For Inspiration

Other than reading or immersing myself in other forms of storytelling (i.e. TV or film), I often feel most inspired when I find writing advice and tips from other writers. Don’t let yourself spend too much time searching for stuff by your favorite author, especially if you’ve never done this before, but I would say if you’re feeling low and wondering if you have what it takes, spend some time looking to the words of wisdom on writing process from other writers who are doing what you want to do.

If you’ve read (and liked) the Lunar Chronicles, Marissa Meyer’s 9 Steps from Idea to Finished series might be of interest to you. V.E. Schwab also often blogs about writing and I enjoy reading her honest posts as she works on her novels.

Thank you for reading!
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Plotting for Multiple Character Arcs | #AmWriting

writinghead710In my last #amwriting post (I Am A Weary World-Builder), I had just finished plotting the entire novel from MC’s perspective. But I’ve quickly realized that there are three other characters with separate agendas whose actions during the same novel span will be important to know just as thoroughly so that when they appear at pivotal plot points they’re actions don’t just seem to come out of nowhere.

These characters include my MC’s mysterious frenemy with whom she makes a deal, a female mentor whose motivations are ambiguous, and her grandfather who she learns is a part of a conspiracy she didn’t know existed.

I was quite intimidated about how to go about doing this plotting. I had plotted the MC’s story in 27 notecards that comprised the manuscript in the Scrivener doc where I’d decided to keep everything, so I didn’t immediately know how to integrate the other plot lines into it. Inspiration hit as I realized I could make a table in Word with 27 rows for each chapter and four columns to designate each of the different characters’ journeys. Looking at my MC’s storyline, I could mark where the side characters appear in her story and then fill in the blanks in their individual storylines!

New Developments

From this new plotting I’ve been working on, I’ve learned a few new things about the world. I’ve also been inspired by my recent reading for my German Literature & Ideas class in which I’ve read All Quiet on the Western Front and some historical accounts that explain Germany’s behavior during WWI. Note: My novel is not historical fiction, but I’m taking inspiration from the societal tensions of real European history around WWI & WWII for the world conflict my alternative-universe-steampunk fantasy.

I’ve also made some potentially final decisions about the novel’s form! I’ve long imagined having each chapter start with a poem or fictional excerpt of a folk tale or historical commentary on the events of the story as if the story (or the novel) is itself narrative account of history in the world. Kind of like what Erika Johansen does in The Queen of the Tearling. But I’ve also struggled with what perspective to write in.

I want this book and series to be really engaging and for readers to put themselves in the place of the protagonist (which is generally done by writing in the 1st person POV), but I also want to be able to give as full a picture of the story as possible by showing what other characters are also up to. I know I don’t want to write from the 1st person for multiple characters, so the only option I appear to have is to write from the 3rd person limited POV of multiple characters. Limited so that I can dive into their thoughts and readers are able to have that closeness of understanding the characters.

After making this decision I realized that I might want to add the villain’s perspective, which is a bit of a terrifying prospect as I’ve not read any fantasy recently that closely depicts the villain’s activity. I think it’s unpopular because it can take away some of the surprise in sneak attacks on the MCs.

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I think I do not think I will directly dive into the head of the villain though, I think I will narrate about them through the eyes of a subordinate, because if I am thinking about my book as a piece of fantastical historical fiction, then the villain probably would not have a say in the way they are portrayed in history. (“History is written by the victors.”)

End Note

I am still working on the plot lines of characters I mention at the beginning of this post, but I’ve not decided on all the characters from whose POVs I will be writing. I like the idea of actually integrating some of the action in the plot lines of the side characters into the novel as a whole, but perhaps not directly through their eyes. So that’s something I’ll probably decide and shift as I write.

I’m also beginning to think I may not be writing the first draft of this novel directly into the Scrivener document, but using it more after the fact to organize the story as I’m editing and adding more details. Does anyone else feel a need to do this? I just feel like there’s something inflexible about the way sections of text in Scrivener are separated that make it harder to write freely.

Next week I will be posting my October writing plans in the form of a Pre-NaNoWriMo Goals checklist inspired by Ely’s “Pre-NaNoWriMo Goals | 2016 Edition“! I feel like I’m really close to being able to write and can’t wait to have no excuses to start. I can’t believe it’s almost October! I’m sure I’ll encounter new problems and roadblocks as I write (which I’ll talk about in these blog posts obviously), but I feel like I’m ready for them!

Thank you for reading!
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I Am a Weary World-Builder | #AmWriting

writinghead710

As I mentioned in last week’s post (Before I Start Writing | #AmWriting), the most work I need to do at this point is world-building. I know that most people have no problem doing this and, in fact, find this the most exciting part of pre-writing. I personally struggle a bit with this, I think because as I imagine stories I do so within a blend of worlds that I’ve experienced in other people’s works. Does anyone else do this?

As I really want for the world to be able to inform the writing as I work on my first draft, I’m prioritizing world-building at the moment. The first thing I did was open a new Scrivener project so that everything could be in one place, so I’ll start there.

Scrivener Binder

At the very top of the binder is my Seven-Point Plot Structure summary that kicked off this new writing project. Right below that is a page with my Series Trajectory. I really want Hollow Combs to be the first in a six-book series, so I have a general idea of what will happen to my protagonist in subsequent books. I find it handy because it reminds me of the direction I ultimately want for certain characters’ futures as I’m writing so I remember what can and can’t (or shouldn’t) happen.

Then I have my Manuscript which is divided into three folders for the three acts of my story (which I’m using as a loose framework right now). My aim is that I’ll be able to plot the story a bit more than I have already before I finally start writing, so I’ll have nine chapters within each folder and 27 total. I think in the final draft I’ll actually have more than that though.

Magic System

The thing I most needed to work on was the magic system for my story. I knew I wanted magic to be commonplace and to have a growing societal tension around its use, but I didn’t know much more than that. I don’t really want to go into all the details of it, but I will say that there are differing school of thought on magical practice within the world. And anyone can do magic, but some are better predisposed to become great at it. But I don’t see this magical necessarily existing within people, but being more science-like.

My protagonist is special in that her relationship with magic is different. She is not exactly more powerful than others, but she can do things that others can’t because of a secret that will be discovered possibly later in the series. The antogonist becomes who she is because she abuses and corrupts the natural order of magic.

 End Note

For next time, I’m hoping to get more into the finer details of how magic training works and how my protagonist will learn it in this book. Then I think more about who my side characters will be in this story because my protagonist will need to interact with others and make allies. I also want to think about how I can responsibly depict diversity in this novel. It’s been a big topic of discussion on social media recently and I want to do my part, even if my story is in a more traditional fantasy vein.

Even though I’m 100% hispanic, I think I’ve always pictured all my characters as white. I don’t know what to think about it. Maybe it’s because of the white-washed culture and history I’ve grown up and feel most comfortable within as I’m fairly light-skinned. So I want to see if there’s anything I can do that promotes a different cultural influence in the landscape, and perhaps in the magic as well, without it feeling like tokenism or appropriation.

Thank you for reading!
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Before I Start Writing | #AmWriting

writinghead710

As I explained in my last post (News After a Long Drought | #AmWriting), I have finally established the main gist of my novel’s storyline. But that doesn’t mean I’m ready to start writing just yet. I’ve long been a pantser when it comes to writing, doing next to no planning and just hoping that I end up with something coherent by the end. And while that freedom can be fun, I’m at a point in my life where I really want to write something good. So I’m loathe to start writing until I know much more details about the world and my characters, so that there’s not inconsistencies as I’m writing from forgetting important, defining details.

In this post, I’m sharing the list of things I want to do before I start writing. If you’re a proud & dedicated pantser, you may not gain anything from reading this. But if you’re interested in reforming your writing self, maybe you’ll gain something from reading about one writer’s pre-writing to-do list. My hope is you might read it and find there’s something you’ve never thought about but which might make all the difference in your writing. But this list is as much for me (as I do not know everything yet) as it is for you!

To-Do List

A Working Title

I’ve always had a working title while I drafted in order to keep different my story versions separate. In particular, the story I’ve been trying to write all year has evolved from past story drafts, so I find it really useful to keep it separate from old discarded drafts and the ideas discarded with them. Last night, I think I came up with a good working title, so good I almost don’t want to share it, but I will: Hollow Combs. I won’t explain it, but there you go! I’ll refer to my novel as Hollow Combs from this point forward. ^_^

Plot Diagram

I already have a pretty good idea of what my MC will be doing throughout the course of the novel, having established a seven-point plot structure for her story which is the main story of the novel. But I feel like I need something a lot more visual to look at as I write. It will also be useful when it comes to plotting my antagonist’s and other side characters’ action throughout the story. I’m not yet sure what perspective I want to write my story from, so this diagram will be help me whether or not I stick solely with my MC.

Map

I created a world map earlier this year, but I’ve not stuck to it in my head as I’ve worked on my story in recent months, so I need to see what I might want to tweak. This is also useful for series trajectory plotting, as I can see the places where my MC can go. It gives me boundaries with which I can write.

World-building

This is the biggest thing I need to work on before I start writing. I know enough about my MC’s world as far as it relates to the plot and her conflicts. But I don’t have the concrete details. I think novels with really good world-building have specific words and terms related things that make the world unique. So I want to do that, and do it by referencing history as the world of my story has so far in my head been something of an alternate universe of our world in the early 20th century. So I think it would be a good idea to do some research.

Character Building

All the characters I thus far know will be in the story have evolved as my story’s evolved this year. So I really need to create updated records to which I can refer if I ever lapse as I write in what would make sense for them. This is thing I am the least excited to do, so it might take me a little longer to get organized here. I might actually start writing before I finish these records, but there are a few characters I know I ought to work on.

End Note

Once again, I hope you find this post as useful to read as it was for me to write. This post has literally been my to-do list as I work my way toward finally feeling like I’m ready to write. I’ve written novel drafts in the past during the official NaNoWriMo season and found I had no idea where to go with them next, and I think it’s because I didn’t know what story I wanted to tell. Now I feel like I do, but at the same time, I feel like doing a lot of prep work now will save me a lot more trouble in the future when I’m editing.

I’m planning to do a post on world-building next week, as that is the area that needs the most work. I’ll be working on world-building this week, so next week’s post will be a combination of the things I’ve learned and resources I’ve found helpful. If you have any suggestions, feel free to the leave them in the comments and you’ll likely get a shout-out! ^_^

Thank you for reading!
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News After Another Long Drought | #AmWriting

writinghead710

I think it goes without saying by now that if I’m not doing any writing, I’m not doing any writing-specific posts. But I also feel guilty when there’s a long stretch of radio silence on the topic here, because I’m mostly letting myself down by not working harder to stick with it. Miraculously this morning as I had my breakfast at La Madeleine, I was inspired to look at my old Word document. And, somehow, I now have some progress I think worth sharing!

Over the past few months, I’d felt that I needed to have a really good outline before I could properly begin to write. Up until today, I thought had a pretty strong outline of the first five potential chapters of my story. I still like them even though I now know they are a lot of pretty scenes without much substance. Hopefully I can salvage them after the plot developments of today. But right now I’m not so sure what’s going down with them.

Today, after looking at what I had, I decided that I could go no further until I had the climax of my story. I needed to know where my MC needed to go in order to plot how to get her there. (Sorry if this is obvious, I always forget it though.) One of my biggest pet peeves in bad stories is a directionless MC, and I’ve also known for a while I didn’t know what my MC cared about or how she would be motivated to move the story forward. I think I kind of figured it out now!

This is literally the first time all year that I feel rather sure that I might truly have landed upon the outline that will become my first novel. And the best thing is that unlike all the past times I’ve felt I made a breakthrough, this time is not a drastic turn in a different story direction. It’s like I’ve worked out the magic combination of all the main things I wanted my story to have. I’m still kind of dumbfounded about how I managed it.

After this read-a-thon is over, I think I will do a writing post on the Seven-Point Plot Structure which I used to create this new outline. I think it’s something I’ve talked about before, but I’m not sure I ever wrote a comprehensive post about it and explaining how to use it. It’s helped me draft 500-word outline that I can now continue to beef up, perhaps spreading it out to fit the Three-Act Structure, which is something else I believe I’ve mentioned here but can’t be too sure.

Future Plans

One last thing I might note is my hopes for the rest of this year of writing. I’m still hoping to have a first draft complete by the end of the year, but I am also thinking about what I will do for NaNoWriMo. Since I just read Stars Above, I’m really liking the idea of writing short stories relevant to my novel. Last year my old writing advisor Karen recommended I do a collection of short stories for NaNoWriMo, as opposed to a novel. I think this is because it’s a lot easier to sell a short story than a novel. But I can see other benefits to this as well, which I may go into in a separate post next month.

But as far as my novel goes, I think I would like to end the year with a first draft totaling at least 75,000 words. So that’s about 25,000 words September, October, and December (saving November for my short story idea for NaNoWriMo).

It sounds pretty ambitious right now. Especially as my housing situation is still so uncertain and I don’t know how regularly I can begin to write, even knowing what skeleton of my story is. I also still need to work on world-building and developing the magic system of my story before I jump in. I am hoping to start writing soon though, even if it’s all out of order right now.

End Note

Sorry if this is all just an incomprehensible mess! I just knew I wanted to share where I’m at with my story right now. I’m also sorry that I don’t feel comfortable releasing much more information about my story at this time. Once it feels more set in stone, I’m sure I’ll come up with an official summary I can share. I would like to share participating in some writing memes, as well, to release some more story details in a less formal way.

I’m also thinking about what I’d like to do for posts leading up to NaNoWriMo. I have some resources I could share, but I do need to figure out how to do so. It’s something I will thinking about leading up to October. I’d like it to be some sort of series, so my goal is start planning more helpful advice/writing tips posts ahead of time.

Tomorrow morning I will be posting my first Bout of Books 17.0 daily blog which will cover my reading progress and school happenings over the week. As I write this, I have about 1.5 hours until my first class, so I’m about to head to campus! I hope you enjoyed this special update and I can’t wait to have more to share.

Thank you for reading!
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Writing in August ’16

writinghead710

I lost my writing mojo a little bit at the beginning of the month. But I’m slowly getting it back as I read more books that inspire what kind of story I want to write. Two major things are happening this month that I anticipate will be affecting how much work I’m able to do on my story this month and the ones following.

  1. I’m starting my second, and final, year of grad school (counting towards my MA, at least).
  2. I’m starting my new job as a TA!

So needless to say, I will be losing a large chunk of my free time. Luckily, I love my program of study! Especially as I will also need to begin developing my Capstone project this semester, which is the large, cumulative project that EMAC MA students need to complete in order to graduate.

But I still intend to be reading and writing, which is why I intend to look ahead at the beginning of each month and decide what I need to accomplish toward my goal of writing my first novel this year. This month I have only two goals, but I expect they will challenge me nevertheless.

Goals

Settle on plot. This is the first thing I know I must do before I start writing. I’m really close to deciding exactly what I’d like to happen. I just want to be sure I like it enough to stick with it so I don’t have to scrap completely everything in revision. I feel like I need a definitive plan to guide me through the writing, or else I’ll lose motivation or heart in what I’m doing.

Write 15,000 words. I think this is achievable, but still will put a little pressure on me to complete. I’m hoping to be well on my way to completing this goal before I return to Dallas.

End Note

I had meant for this post to come out sooner, but I never quite finished it! So I apologize to anyone who may have read the unfinished version as I do have a reoccurring problem with posts being scheduled, me forgetting about them, and then the posts going up incomplete! It’s a source of perpetual embarrassment.

One of the most important things I’ve learned about myself this year is I gain so much inspiration to write from reading books that I aspire for my own books to one day sit amongst in bookstores. Sometimes, though, reading has the effect of me not writing at all if I can’t put the book down long enough to work on my own stories. So another unofficial goal of mine is find a balance between reading and writing.

I’m currently reading The Golem’s Eye by Jonathan Stroud, book two in The Bartimaeus Trilogy. I’m truly interested, what books are do currently reading as you write?

Thank you for reading!
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Backstory & Plotting Chapters | #AmWriting (07.29.2016)

writinghead710Today has been really productive and as it’s been a long time since I’ve felt this good about where I’m at writing-wise, I’ve decided to do a cheeky little writing post here on the blog. I’ve not properly worked on my story since before my vacation last week, and I was lucky that I didn’t lose the excitement I had then. My biggest motivation behind this great day was my writing pal Sara with whom I Skyped twice today actually!

Sara is visiting her sister in California, which means we now have a two-hour time difference between us and surprisingly it’s worked out in our favor today. We Skyped early enough (her time) that we decided it would not be unreasonable to try and Skype again in four hours time, giving us both some time and a deadline with which to try and be more productive than we had been the last time we spoke.

With my time, I ended up doing a lot of brainstorming of the backstory that would set the events of my novel into action in the form of a lot of summarization. Here are some of the major things I changed and established in the world of my story (please, excuse the vagueness!):

  • I changed my main villain into a woman. This character had been based a little on the Rasputin of Anastasia (1997) and I decided that it would work better for my story’s conflict for her to be female instead. It’s also forced me to reshape the origins of the conflict and think about how to categorize people like her in this world.
  • I developed a compelling backstory between the villain and two mysterious characters who will become significant characters in the future books of this prospective series.
  • I decided to set my novel a year after a thing that happens. So the world of my story in the midst of turmoil now, instead of coming to turmoil as result of my protagonist’s actions in this book. It’s a small change that has given my world a more ominous tone which is quickly established in the first chapter!
  • I’ve reintegrated a favorite character from past drafts of this story. I’ve always loved this character, he might even be my most favorite creation ever, but I’ve worried in the past that he overshadows my protagonist. I’m determined to fit him into this story, however, and I think I’ve found a way that makes him important but still sidelined, at least for this first book.
  • I’ve committed to three secondary characters! A struggle I’ve realized I had this year was that I had trouble envisioning companions for my protagonist, which is necessary for this story to work. Now my protagonist is starting the story with two friends and there’s a new older character who’s an ally that my protagonist will not immediately realize.

After I talked with Sara for the second time, I managed to do a bit more story work before dinner. This time, I prioritized scene development for the first three chapters I’d outlined two weeks ago. I’ve realized that I’ve been intimidated to write with such a loose outline, so it was really helpful to make a bullet-point list of the things I know I need to write in each chapter before moving on. I’m really liking being able to see what each chapter will look like, the types of settings I need to describe and characters to introduce.

I’m not entirely finished developing all the scenes I will need in each chapter. There are still some lingering questions I have about how I want certain key scenes to unfold. I do hope to get close to finished tomorrow so that I can maybe start writing, because there are some things I’m hoping I’ll learn as I write and then I can just adjust my course from there if I need to.

Homework

I won’t be able to Skype with Sara until next Wednesday at the earliest, so I’ve given myself some homework to do each night so I don’t loose interest or motivation in my story. I get so much excitement out of talking about my developments that I’m going to be emailing Sara every night with a progress report. That way she can also hold me accountable and make sure I’m working on this story, even if it’s just a little each day.

If I’m doing really good on time and progress, I might also try and do an #amwriting blog post everyday while I do this. It takes a little while to concisely summarize what my big bullet-point story developments are, but I do find it valuable personally to be able to see at a glance what I’ve accomplished in my writing each day, beyond word or page count.

End Note

Hopefully you’ll see another writing post from me very soon. That’s the plan at least. And with the end of July just around the corner, you should be seeing my July Notes this weekend at the very least because I’ve read so much this month! I think I’ll end with nine books read this month, which is remarkable for me! And since I’ve not reviewed most of these books I’m really excited to reflect on them there.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post and are enjoying your writing as much as I am mine (finally)! See you soon. ^_^

Thank you for reading!
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