Daily Writing Check-in: October 16, 2017

Words/Time: 1002 words

I started freewriting using a card in my Writer Emergency Pack, and it went on a while. In fact, out of the 3 questions the card asked, I didn’t even get through #1 in 45 minutes and 1002 words. The card discussed relationships between characters, even characters who are strangers, and set forth the challenge of picturing your hero on a date with each of the major characters in the story. While I’m not sure my story has an easily defined “hero,” I made do. That required 4 date scenarios. I got partway through #3. It was fun, though, so I’ll finish it tomorrow. I suppose it may not be helping me outline my NaNoNovel, but it’s nice to just write again.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

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A Monday Moment: Vin Begins

I had just started this series of “Monday Moment” posts a few months before I disappeared for a while, and I want to start doing them again. Because revision work (or in my case right now, planning work) isn’t usually as fun for me as the actual writing, I want to try to do writing practice more often too. So then every Monday, I will post a piece of writing practice from the previous week (or a little further back if necessary).

I won’t revise any of this, except for a spell-check. They’ll probably rarely be longer than 500 words. The prompt, if I used one and if I choose to include it, will be at the bottom. And I can’t even call them all stories, because there’s not always a beginning and end. Usually it’s just a moment in time.

This first one is very related to my NaNoPrep. This is a bit of writing I did with no prompt, as I first tried to delve into the mind of the protagonist of my possible NaNoNovel. It’s very short, but so much about Vin and the plot of his book came out from this writing:


My dad was a hard man. He expected perfection from both me and my mom. The older I got, the more I realized that he was anything but perfect, but my mom always said he was embarrassed by his mistakes, and that’s why he wanted more from me. He was doing me a favor.

I thought Cleric would be the only path that would allow me to be what I thought he wanted—good, righteous, perfect. I had already enrolled at the Academy when my dad died during a Madness run. I felt so much relief at his death that it flooded me with guilt. What kind of monster was I?

I turned to my mom for…not comfort, exactly. Absolution? Reciprocity? She was almost a shell of her former self. She acted like nothing was different—never grieved, barely even talked about his death. At one time I wondered if she was fully aware he had died. She went on with normal life, except something was just different about her. Any spark my dad had left her with was gone.

Tips for NaNoPrep

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In 2015, I wrote a series of posts about NaNoWriMo, covering things like tips for prep time, tips for November, help in the actual prep work, and even some of my favorite writing tools.

The problem now is that, though those things are all still helpful and relevant, there’s not a lot to add to them. I have picked up a few extra tips since then, sure, but those things I wrote about 2 years ago are still some of the most helpful advice I could give.

I could just reblog those posts throughout the month, but I don’t like that idea. Instead, I’m going to pick some of my favorite tips and share them in a few, boiled-down posts, while also suggesting that anyone who is interested in learning more visit the page where I’ve listed all of those posts from 2015.

1. Start writing now.
Take the next 2 1/2 weeks to learn what works best for you, so that by November, you know how to make the most of your writing time. Do you require absolute silence? If yes, when can you find that? Is your ideal time late at night when others are asleep? During your lunch break? First thing in the morning?

It doesn’t have to be the amount of time you will need to write 1667 words each day in November, but find maybe 15-20 minutes when you can sit down and write. For planners, work on the plot, characters, outline, or whatever you’re doing. For pantsers who are doing absolutely no planning before November 1, you can still make time every day to free write in anticipation of daily writing in November. In fact, free writing can be a great use of your time whether you’re a planner, a pantser, or somewhere in between.

Try to write every day, which is a good habit to have even outside of NaNo, but also keep in mind that if you can’t get to it one day, it’s not the end of the world. Just remember that if you’re like most of us, the longer you let yourself stay away, the less likely it is that you’ll keep the habit you’ve developed.

2. Find your space.
In a similar vein as figuring what when you work best, it can also be good to know in advance where and how you work best. Do you need a comfy spot? Maybe you work better at a desk or table with a straight-backed chair.  Where can you go to have the solitude you need? Or do you prefer some noise? Give coffitivity.com a try for a steady coffee shop background noise available anywhere you happen to be. Sometimes a little noise is good, but too much (people in the room, or even music with lyrics) can be bad.

Use your planning time to try out different locations and environments and see what works best. Do some work with pen/pencil and paper and some with a computer. Do you enjoy the tactile feel of writing by hand? Do you prefer the speed that typing can provide? This is the time to find out!

3. Gather your NaNo necessities.
Whether this includes consumables, physical tools, or making sure your laptop is set up and ready to use, make sure you know what you want to have handy for NaNoWriMo now, and procure as much of it as you can. When November starts, you don’t want to find yourself lacking.

4. Involve other senses.
I touched on sound above, so we’ll start there. Some people create a playlist for every story. I’ve read about people who will find music that matches the theme of their story, make a playlist from it (even if just on YouTube), and listen to it all month. Then, when November is over and they want to go back later and either finish the novel or revise it, they can listen to that music again, and it will put them right back in the mood.

Whatever your taste in music is, an alternative to creating an audio scene for your story is creating an olfactory scene. Scent memory is said to be very powerful. Go to the store and smell all the candles or all the scented wax (if you have or are willing to buy the wax melter to go with it). Think of your story, what it’s about, where it’s set, who the main character(s) is/are. Is it a romance? Maybe something flowery or sensual. Is it set in a tropical location? Something with coconut or tropical fruit, perhaps. There are outdoor scents if your story involves a lot of forest or other outdoor scenes. Not every story lends itself easily to a scent, but pick something that smells right and have it burning/melting near you while you write all month. Then later, you may just be able to immerse yourself back into the book by activating that scent again.

Check out this post for some NaNo-related music, comic strips, and even a musical!

5. The midnight sprint.
NaNoWriMo begins at midnight on November 1. That falls in the middle of the week this year, but if you’re the kind who stays up late, or can make an exception for one night, you can start writing right at midnight and get some words under your belt before going to bed. It’s purely a mental trick, getting a jump start on the day’s word count, but many people love to do the midnight sprint.

When November looms closer, I will post tips about the writing itself, and how to survive–and even thrive–during NaNoWriMo. If you’re don’t want to wait, by all means, here’s the link again to the series of posts I made 2 years ago, from which I’ll probably be stealing some those tips.

What about you? How are you preparing for NaNoWriMo? If you’ve done this all before, do you have any tips on how to get ready?

Beautiful Books 2017

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If you don’t know what “Beautiful Books” is, click the above picture to find out! It’s a wonderful place, and if you’re a writer, it might just inspire you.

1. What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
It has been a long time coming. The inspiration (which feels more like necessity than inspiration) came from the adaptation of some old fanfiction of mine to a new, from-scratch story world. Some of the things that made sense in the fanfiction couldn’t be explained naturally and organically in the closer-to-real-life story world, and so the need for a very powerful, over-arching villain came to be.

I have a vast, intricate plan of up to (so far) 7 books that all take place in the same story world, in a smallish period of time, and with some of the same characters. This story, which encompasses most of the others, was always out there, but I figured it’d be one of the last story arcs in my list that I would get to writing. I think that was simply because I was scared of it. Until I committed to writing this story, and outlined it, gave Vin a real life, I didn’t have to think about what he was actually up to. But the truth is, I should have done this story years ago, because some of the other books hinge on this one, and if something in another story that involves Vin doesn’t actually work in his story, that affects the other book. And what if I’ve published it, and it’s out there now? I’m not really interested in doing the whole ret-con thing.

So that’s why it’s time to write this story this year.

2. Describe what your novel is about!

Vin cover

Novel title: Vin

I haven’t done nearly enough planning yet (just decided to write this 2 days ago), so all of this is subject to change.

First, you should know that this story takes place approximately 2000 years in the future. That part is not subject to change.

The story will show the inner workings of an obsessed man as he tries to become perfect—just like his father always wanted him to be. In his quest for perfection, he stumbles across a way to become incredibly, dangerously, illegally powerful—more powerful than anyone in his country, his region, and presumably, the world.

Then he learns about two men who have joined together to defeat a beast that was thought unbeatable, and he realizes that as he pursues perfection in the form of ultimate power, these self-righteous men might decide to oppose him. He decides that the first thing he must do is find a way to keep that from happening.

A subplot (how sub this plot will be, I don’t know yet) involves a man who had just begun to find happiness in a life tinged with tragedy and loneliness, who suddenly finds that everything he cared about has been stripped away.

3. What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

Vin moodboard

4. Introduce us to each of your characters!
Vin – He’s not trying to take over the world; he only wants to find some peace. His father died before Vin could reach the level of perfection that the older man wanted from his son, but his continued striving quickly reaches the point of obsession.

Naolin – He never expected to find “normal” in his life, but since he did, he certainly hoped to keep it. Now that he’s lost it, the loneliness feels familiar…almost comfortable. But maybe…just maybe, it doesn’t have to last.

Missy – It turns out that being stalked by a madman, who she is just learning had his hand in more events in her life than she could have realized, was just the beginning of her problem. She’s still recovering from a recent upheaval in her life, and the last thing she needs is to have her first love show back up after five years and leave her feeling guilty about moving on with her life.

Drear – He is Naolin’s brother, and the narrator of the book. Though truthfully, he is not present for most of these events, he has compiled interviews, letters, journals, and anything else he can, to find the truth behind these events and to present them to the reader.

5. How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)
Things like this, for one thing. Until 2 days ago, I still didn’t know what I was going to write. When I started thinking about doing this story, I wasn’t sold right away. I had some free time while waiting for a meeting to start at work, and decided to delve a little into the mind of one of the primary characters (Vin) to see if I could come up with motives for what he ultimately does, other than, “Because he has to.”

By the time I had finished that mere 500-word exercise, I had his main motivation (his dad driving him to be perfect). But it’s still a very shallow understanding of this man who, most likely, will drive the plot.

So I’ve filled out this questionnaire in the hopes of discovering more about this story. I’ll do free writing with Vin and the overall story in mind. I will possibly answer other question lists like this one, even if I do end up skipping some questions because they just don’t make sense for my character(s).

Even though we’re only 3 weeks away from November 1st, I’m still very much in the discovery period of this story, which is not where I need to be when NaNo starts. But I will do freewriting and brainstorming, fill out my timeline, and just…discover.

And then sometime during the last week of October, I’ll make an outline.

6. What are you most looking forward to about this novel?
I am most looking forward to being able to work with Naolin again. He’s far too important of a character in my mind to have been in only one book so far.

7. List 3 things about your novel’s setting.
Graveyards, underground lair, city streets

8. What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?
His goal is to reach perfection, and one single little girl stands in his way, albeit indirectly.

9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
It doesn’t take long before “perfection” morphs into “power.” He then has to do away with any threats to his power, a goal that he is still able to justify. But by the end of the story, his obsession has turned into a pure hatred for his nemesis, and then the only thing he cares about is destroying her life.

10. What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?
There’s a major good vs. evil theme in my story. It is going to be a dark book in many ways. I want readers to feel shocked, amazed, maybe even confused?  (I’m really not good with themes, whether in my own writing or in others’.)


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 11, 2017

Words/Time: Just over an hour working on NaNoPrep

I have officially settled on what to write for NaNoWriMo this year. I posted the mood board for it yesterday, but I still have a lot of the discovery phase to work through before I’m ready for November. I have never thought much in depth about this story idea.

After finally looking into what this “Beautiful Books” thing is that I’ve seen so many times, I realized learning what it was couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. For those who don’t know, you can find out here.

I answered the questions as a way of learning more about this story, and about the main character, and boy did it help (that’s what I did for my hour of work today). I will post more about that tomorrow though. Yesterday, I mentioned that, along with the mood board, I created a cover for my novel. I don’t normally do that. Only once before in my 7 previous years of participating in NaNoWriMo have I made a cover, and it was just a close-up picture of a forge.

I always assumed covers had to be complicated and fancy, but I got smarter. Here is the NaNoCover for my 2017 NaNoNovel, “Vin.”

Vin cover.png


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 10, 2017

Words/Time: 104 words written and 1 hour, 27 minutes worked

I finished the little bit of writing about a possible primary character for a possible NaNoNovel, because I didn’t want to leave it hanging.

Then I decided to try my hand at making a mood board of sorts. I’ve never done anything like this before, outside of designing the icon for my story blog and, in a similar vein, the working cover for “Pithea.” I am not much for visual arts overall. But I thought it would help to solidify this story as what I wanted to write for NaNo, and it did. So I spent almost an hour and a half finding pictures, and then building this fancy layout. I also created a cover for the NaNo site, which I’ll post more about tomorrow. Again, I’m not much of a visual creator, so keep that in mind. It’s more about the themes, moods, and actions this board brings about:

Vin moodboard


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 9, 2017

Words/Time: 78 words written.

And no amount of NaNoPrep, and I’m not even bothered by it. It puts me below par in my goal for this month, but it just wasn’t going to happen tonight. This is my first time trying to get back to a writing habit for a year and a half, and the family situation and bedtime rituals are different than they were that long ago. My biggest obstacle from now on is going to be just getting to my writing time. However, since I’m a night owl, I will probably do some prep work after midnight, and count it for tomorrow. Maybe that’s how my whole NaNo will go too.

Last night I had a sudden idea about what I might write for NaNo, and it’s not one of the options I laid out for myself a few days ago. But it might just be what I need to write next, so my writing today was while I was waiting for a work meeting to start, as I decided to delve into the mind of one of the primary characters of that story. (So I guess it was a little bit of prep work! It’s going on the goal tracker!)


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 8, 2017

Words/Time: 330 words of free writing, followed by 14 minutes of NaNoPrep work.

A few days ago I read a post on a site I have really come to like, and the author had given a word list as a way to inspire some writing. I’ve been wanting to do some free writing alongside my NaNoPrep since I returned to writing a few days ago, but haven’t had a chance to go and dig out my various ways to begin free writing. Word lists have always been a favorite type of writing prompt for me, and today was no exception.

Then I opened my “Pursuit of Power” outline in Scrivener and started looking at what it would be like to cut out the first 1/4 of the story, so the true plot for this book could get started a lot sooner. I also plan to incorporate a character who’s supposed to be a secondary main character in the story more, so I’ve been toying with the idea of starting the story more from her perspective. I didn’t get real far, because I got to my writing late today, but at least it’s something.

 


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

A Monday Moment: Homecoming

This is part of the scene I worked on a lot of last week. It continues past this, but goes into novel spoilers. Leahna is the secondary main character in “Pursuit of Power.”


After everything that had happened, Leahna could only think of one thing—seeing her dad. She waited until the morning and then went to the house where she had grown up. There was a sign on the door that announced the house would be sold to the highest bidder on a future date. Leahna stared at the sign for a full minute, trying to process it. Her father was moving out of her childhood home.

She tried the door, but it was locked. She knocked, but there was no answer. Though it was a little early for him to be at work, she went to the Academy anyway. There an old friend of the family told her that her father hadn’t been in for months. Leahna asked if the man knew where her father might be, and she was told to try her brother’s house.

After thanking the man and leaving, Leahna felt like she was in some strange dream. Her family’s house was being sold, her father wasn’t working at the job he loved, and he was staying with Ronald? In that moment, the year she had been away felt like ten. It was as if she was returning from being away at war for a long time, finding everything she left behind gone or different.

She ‘ported directly outside her brother’s house in Jaffna. She had only been there a few times, so she felt awkward as she approached the front door. At least there was no sign on this one.

She knocked tentatively, unsure what she could expect to find behind the door. Ronald answered, laughing at something to which Leahna wasn’t privy. As soon as he saw his older sister, his smile froze and his eyes grew wide.

“Leahna!” he said with exuberance. “You’re…here. You’re back.”

“Yes, I suppose I am,” she said, unsure how he even knew she’d gone anywhere.

“Are you…okay? Is everything okay?” he asked uncertainly.

There was no easy answer to that. “Not…exac—”

Her father appeared behind Ronald. As soon as he saw his eldest daughter in the doorway, he pushed past his son and pulled Leahna into his arms. She didn’t know how to react and simply stood still until he stepped back.

Once she could see him better, she realized that this was not the dad she used to know. He looked ten years older, and yet somehow happier.

“Come on in, Leahna, please,” he said. He backed up, and Ronald did likewise. All three of them moved further into the house. Abner led the way to the living room, where a woman was seated. She stood up when she saw who was with Abner and Ronald.

Betany reacted similarly to Ronald, asking Leahna if she was all right.

“I’m well enough,” Leahna said. She was staring at Betany’s stomach, where there was a noticeable protuberance. She looked to her brother for an explanation.

He offered a pained smile and said, “Betany and I are married, and she is five months pregnant.”

“You are going to have a baby?” Leahna asked, looking between her brother and his wife with some confusion. It was wonderful news; she didn’t understand why everyone looked unhappy about it. Even her father wouldn’t look her in the eye. “That’s wonderful, Ronald!”

He raised his eyebrows and let out a relieved chuckle. “It is?”

“Of course it is! Why? Is there something else going on that I do not know about?”

“No, of course not,” Abner said, going to stand next to Betany. “We just didn’t know how you would feel about Ronald and Betany being married while you were gone.”

“I am sad that I missed it, but I…I suppose I did not expect that you would wait your ceremony until I returned. When I left, part of me thought none of you would ever want to see me again after what happened.”

Her father’s face darkened, and Ronald sighed.

“We were probably harsher with you than we should have been after she died.” Ronald glanced over at Betany and added, “We were definitely harsher than we should have been.”

“What about Noelle?” Leahna asked. “Does she still feel such anger toward me?”

“It is difficult to say,” Abner replied. “We don’t see her much these days either.”

Daily Writing Check-in: April 21, 2016

Words/Time:  627 words of free writing, continuing what I started yesterday, a scene showcasing Leahna and her relationship with her family, which is usually pretty strained. It ended up being a lot more involved than I ever expected it to be. Whether I continue it tomorrow or not, I can’t say. I’ll be working for probably around 12 hours tomorrow, so when I come home, I can’t say what state my mind will be in. But having a scene to jump back into is better than starting something from scratch, so who knows.

I’m letting this free writing (which  might actually turn out to be producing scenes that will work very well in the actual novel) ease me back in after my break. I remember that my revision is stalled at needing to figure out how to start the novel (after the prologue) with the narrator, rather than forgetting that he exists. Until I can figure that out, the revision will go nowhere, but at least I’ve got something to do.