Beautiful Books 2017, NaNo in Progress

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If you don’t know what “Beautiful Books” is, click the above picture to find out!

1. Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?
I have been having a lot of fun writing so far! After a year and a half away from writing, just getting back into my story world and back to these characters has been so much fun. Because of that, my novel isn’t progressing very quickly.

For one thing, this novel takes place after five other plotlines that involve mostly the same characters, and are already either drafted or at least solidly planned. As the story goes on, various events that happened in other stories come up. And one character has been away for over five years, so he wants to know about those events, and the other characters tell him the story. (In some cases, he’s the one who was involved in the story and gets to share with others.)

So at least half of my words so far have been telling these stories. I know for certain that it won’t stay in the story when it’s edited someday, because this book would come after the others, so readers should already know all of this already. It will be redundant. But boy, has it been fun reminiscing with them.

2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?
When my brother went on his first date, he asked me for advice. I’m more than a year younger than him, and had no experience with things like dating, but then, neither did he. It may have been because I’m friends with the girl he was taking out. It may have been because he frankly didn’t have much knowledge about the country outside of his town and the capital city. Or it may have been because he was simply nervous. Either way, I think I helped him come up with quite the wonderful first date.

3. Who’s your current favorite character in your novel?
It’s definitely Naolin. In my last Beautiful Books post, I said the thing I was most looking forward to about writing this was getting to write about Naolin again. And I have loved it.

4. What do you love about your novel so far?
I suppose I already explained that above. I’m coming to the end of stories that they can tell, and will have to really start into the plot. But I think that, after 1.5 years away from writing, this was a great way to start NaNo.

5. Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?
I have so many typos. It’s how I’m able to write so much in the amount of time I do.
But there was this gem: Aeldrim’s face held a look of quizzicality(?) for a brief moment, and then he recognized his once-unit underling.
I realized as I was writing the word “quizzicality” that it wasn’t a word, and I had no idea what word might replace it. So I just typed in the question mark and moved on. I’ll fix it in editing!

I also wrote: “There is more drama here than in a soap opera,” the author interjected. Everyone ignored her.
That was during one particularly high-drama story that started going even further into emo-town than I wanted. I wrote this line, at first thinking to attribute it to one of the characters, but soap operas don’t exist in their world, so…I just put myself in.

6. What is your favorite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?
Hmm, I’m not sure I’ve really thought about this before, but I think the end. I really like the climax, as it’s usually something I’ve been planning and looking forward to for a while. Sometimes I think that my excitement about the final scenes leads me to write them in a way that feels rushed, so that may be a down side. But I try to fix that in editing.

7. What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!
I write best at night. Sometime between 8pm and 3am. It’s quieter and my responsibilities are asleep. I sometimes listen to music, but the most consistent audible tool that I use is some kind of white background noise like from Coffitivity. As for snacks, during NaNo I tend to consume an unhealthy amount of day-after-Halloween-sale candy. Outside of November, I can’t keep up that habit due to both expense and it’s so unhealthy.

8. How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?
Sort of both. I would share every day’s writing with people if I could. But I know that anyone who is interested in knowing the story is better off reading it start to finish after it’s done. However, I have often used my husband as a sounding board when I’m stuck, or shared exciting break-throughs with him.

9. What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?
The knowledge that if I don’t keep going, I will never be able to share my stories with anyone else. I’m not looking to be a bestselling novelist; my aim is to find an audience, whatever size that might be, who will enjoy the complex and exciting plots I’ve weaved together as much as I do. But that will never happen if I don’t get them out (and then get them revised).

10. What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?
Oooh, three? I’ve been happy in the past to come up with one. Let’s see here…
– “Write every day” is a nice goal to shoot for, but it can’t be something that you let rule you. If you have other full-time endeavors, whether that’s a job, kids to raise, or whatever else it might be, you have to write in your spare time. And sometimes spare time is hard to find. If you miss a day or two here or there, but don’t let it break your overall habit, you’re still making progress.
– Keep everything. As soon as you change a word in your first draft, save it as draft 2. If you take out an entire chunk while in the middle of a draft, consider saving it in a different file. You never know what you might wish you’d kept, what you might be thinking about later and wish you could remember what you’d written. Save it all.
– All of those writing tips and “rules” you’ve read? They don’t mean anything. They can be helpful, and if some of them work for you, then great! But don’t force yourself to stick to anything that doesn’t feel right or makes writing less fun. They’re not rules. They’re tips and helpful hints.


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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Daily Writing Check-in: October 26, 2017

Words/Time: 136 words of writing practice

During the last few weeks as NaNoWriMo approaches, I get to my evening writing time and work on NaNoPrep right up until midnight, when I stop and blog about how much I got done. I’m calling it quits 40 minutes before midnight…and I haven’t done any actual prep. And the 136 words were written last night, after midnight, so I count them for today.

I started coming down sick today. My daughter has been sick for a few weeks (mostly shook it, but still has a sore throat), and my husband has been sick for 4 days, so apparently now it’s my turn. I am having some serious joint aches, along with sore throat, and my brain is a bit muddled. Prep will not happen today, and most likely I’ll feel even worse tomorrow. I hope that’s all, though, because I do still need to do a good amount of prep work, and (when I’m not medicated as I am now), my fingers hurt too much to type.

The 136 words, though, were a pretty big deal, so that’s something. I wrote them starting with a writing prompt from this site. The word I used was “correspondence.” I had recently wondered if my protagonist could write a letter to his favorite person (a very wise man) right before the climax, and if that could make the climax better. I hadn’t decided 100% to do that, though, so I decided to see what that letter would look like.

By the time I’d reached the end, I had another sudden moment of realization (I’ve been having those a lot while working out this story, and it’s incredible!). What if the protagonist has been writing letters to this wise old man the whole story?

See, without getting into too much detail, because I want to go lie down, way back in the day, I had thought this story would be told through journal entries by Vin (who is currently the protagonist). I figured other things would have to be mixed in there too, a sub-plot that was more normal prose, but it made sense. But when I started outlining, I forgot (or maybe just figured I didn’t need to do it that way). I got through a page of broad outline and realized it was just too much detail. Not just in my outline, but it would be too much detail in the story. Way too much happens in this story to tell it all, but that’s okay, because a lot of it has already been told in other stories. So why rehash it, just because it’s a different point of view?

So I went back to the journal entries idea, and it started to feel better again. But then this morning, I thought…letters to the wise old man, instead of journal entries, and suddenly–it felt great!

There’s just one problem though…I don’t think he can be the protagonist anymore. These letters are going to be more introspective than anything exciting or action-y, and I don’t want the story to drag. So I think that sub-plot I mentioned above will need to actually be the “main plot,” with these letters being every 2nd or 3rd chapter.  I have no idea about the flow yet, but something like that maybe.

And the biggest issue with that now is that I’ve spent the last several weeks getting to know Vin, which is totally fine and necessary. But I have not outlined the other plot at all. At all. I know very broad strokes about what happens, but no clue at all what fills between those. And I can’t stress this enough–I am not a pantser. I don’t need a super-detailed outline, but I need a little more than what I know.

And now I’m sick.

I will take advantage of every medicated few hours where my fingers don’t hurt to try to find this plot…well, except when I’m binge-watching Stranger Things with my husband tomorrow. In that way, and that way only, maybe this is a good time to be sick. (Unless I get really sick and can’t even enjoy the show.)

Seriously, this post is crazy long for how little work I did, and the fact that I’m achey and ready to lie down. I think I got an adrenaline shot remembering my excitement this morning. It’s going away now. Time for bed.


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 25, 2017

Words/Time: 1.5 hours of NaNoPrep

So I finally went back to my outline for my NaNoNovel, “Vin.” I changed a few things that were decided during my recent musings, made it through a few more plot points, and then I was struck with a sudden thought. It was one of those, “This is a plan I had years ago, it’s been set in stone, but now suddenly, it makes perfect sense to change it a bit to be connected to this story!” moments. I’m sure you’ve had them too. But, once again, it wasn’t just a definite yes. There were questions, reasons that it might not work.

So now that I have realized that talking directly to Vin can produce such clarity, I went right to him. I may have yelled at him a bit for lying to me yesterday (because this new idea went directly against something he said yesterday). But we were cool again by the end. So that killed an hour and a half, but honestly, I’m having a lot of fun with this type of prep work.


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 24, 2017

Words/Time: 2 hours & 15 minutes of NaNoPrep

First, I spent 45 minutes finishing my conversation with Vin. By the end, I had a much better grasp on something that need a lot more explanation than I’d taken the time to come up with. I even had a (possibly) brilliant idea for the climax of the story, which I jotted down with a question mark to muse on, because as brilliant as it might seem, it’s way out of left field and potentially makes no sense.

And in fact, today, I added a little more to that question–something that makes it actually possible…but more musing is needed. Meanwhile, I still have an outline that’s barely started.

So I opened up my timeline and…promptly realized that a some of my entries there were really skewed. I thought I’d solved all of this in previous weeks, but there I was again, back to tinkering with my timeline for an hour and a half.

Now let me just say, this is not just the timeline for my NaNoNovel. This is the timeline for 6 potential novels (some drafted, some just solid ideas) that all intertwine in a way that used to bring me glee, and now gives me a headache. There were 2 events (both related to that climactic moment I’m hoping for) that needed to happen in a certain order, but were way off.

Then while fixing those, I realized that two other events (neither directly related to “Vin”) happened in an order that made me very sad. So I moved some things, aged one character a bit, shortened a stretch of time, and lengthened 2 other stretches of time, just to make sure that one of my overall main characters was able to experience a particular moment (a happy moment…she deserves a happy moment).

This involved a lot of shifting groups of events this way or that, until I was satisfied with where everything was in relation to each other. In the end, there are a few things that unintentionally ended up in better position than I’d had them in, and I’m pretty happy with the timeline, I think. If I need to make changes in the future, I think they’ll be small changes.

(By the way, if anyone reading this could use a good timeline program, I highly recommend Aeon Timeline, which is what I use, and the reason I was able to shift my events back and forth so much. Though frankly, I still use the original, as opposed to Aeon 2, because I prefer the way you can see all arcs stacked on each other, as well as which people are involved, at the same time. If this is possible in Aeon 2, I haven’t figured out how.)

Though NaNoWriMo is now about a week away (so all of the other NaNo blogs out there tell me!), I am feeling a little more confident right now. If nothing else, my timeline should provide a decent outline if I run out of time to make the normal outline. And I do think I’ve hit on a way to break through any blocks (it might not work with every story, but for some reason, it works with this one), by just going right to the source and asking Vin himself. It’s really coming together, and I’m starting to get more excited to write this than I thought I’d be.


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 23, 2017

Words/Time: 312 words writing practice & 1 hour NaNoPrep

I did some writing practice with prompts, which is where the words came from. Some of it was about Vin, some of it was not.

Then I worked for 1 hour trying to make sense of the gaping plot hole I discovered while outlining yesterday. I had hit on some possible answers during my brainstorming yesterday, but I couldn’t quite organize my thoughts. So I got out my Neo and I did something that I’ve rarely done before. I started asking questions of Vin to see if he could help me make sense of my questions.

I still feel a little odd when I do this (or maybe just admitting that I do this), but it worked wonders. I still have some more to figure out, but his explanations for some of what I knew had to happen, but didn’t know why, made sense. I’ll definitely have to continue this line of questioning later.

I am acutely aware of how close NaNoWriMo is, and I don’t feel remotely prepared. Hopefully this crunch time will really drive my creativity.


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 22, 2017

Words/Time: 319 words & 45 minutes NaNoPrep

I did some writing practice with a prompt, which is where the words came from. It was completely unrelated to my NaNoNovel (well, that’s not true, because it was still in that world, just nothing that really relates to the NaNoNovel).

Then I worked for 45 minutes, starting from scratch on an outline. After realizing I was going completely the wrong direction with my outline, I started over. That led me to my timeline of events, and trying to figure out what on earth Vin is thinking, and why he does some of what he does. I was starting at yet another gaping plot hole, so I stopped outlining and started asking questions to try to fix this hole. That’s where I left off.

There’s a big part of me that wonders if the only way this novel will work is to alter a lot of “givens” that have happened in other stories I’ve drafted. It’s not a pleasant thought.

 


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 21, 2017

Words/Time: 2 hours

 

As I try to work my way back to a daily writing habit while working a demanding job, I had to come to a decision to not push myself if I didn’t have time or mental energy to do much writing work. I read a blog post that talked about finding ways to keep the mind in the writing, even when you can’t spend much time on it. I realized that the best way to avoid dropping back off again, or experiencing frustration or guilt over not doing any work, was to allow myself to do anything that kept my mind in the stories as my writing work for the day, even if it wasn’t strictly writing (or planning, revising, etc).

Yesterday I felt a little odd about saying that the work I did for the day was creating aesthetics for stories that I’ve already written at least a partial draft of. But after a long week of a lot of working and a lot of leaving the house for work (I normally work from home as much as I can, and as a major introvert, leaving the house to go somewhere 5 days of the week, and knowing there’s a lot more of that coming next week, has worn me down), I just couldn’t get my mind back into the writing. So I worked on those aesthetics some more, and finished them. That’s what I did for 2 hours today.

Tomorrow I will hopefully be rested enough to get back to my outline, or at least more character discovery for the protagonist in my NaNoNovel.


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 20, 2017

Words/Time: undefinable amount of work done

So first, I did spend about 12 minutes talking through my issues with the outline for “Vin” (my NaNoNovel) that I started yesterday. It started with just expressing my frustrations to my husband, and then I think I worked out some of the problem. So it counts!

Last night, or rather early this morning, I stayed up way too late working on a project that came to me unexpectedly and sort of took over my attention for several hours.

I recently decided that at some point soon (maybe before NaNo…maybe after) I want to write up a post that attempts to explain the tangled mess of stories I’m working on. I have 6 storylines in mind that are all in the same story world, contain the same characters in varying roles, and largely all happen around the same time, and intertwine in various ways. There will probably be more than 6, but there are 6 that are developed enough to mention.

I don’t know how well I can explain this without giving spoilers, but I’m going to try. Last night/this morning, I got it in my mind to come up with an aesthetic for all of them, to add to that post. I made one last week for my NaNoNovel, and it’s the first time I’ve ever created something like that. I enjoyed it, and even enjoyed the way it made me think about the themes or visual aspects of my story. So I started looking for images for each of the other 5 storylines that I plan to post about. Here’s a sneak peek at one of them:

Pithea cropped

Yes, I’d rather be able to say I did some work on my outline, or even some more writing practice. But I didn’t get home from work until around 10:30 this evening, and I still had to eat supper. It’s been a rough week at work (lots of evening meetings), and I already told myself I wouldn’t push it if work was causing issues with getting to my writing. Making some visual representations of my stories is fun and still in the spirit of writing work, so I’m counting it.

 


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 19, 2017

Words/Time: 137 words written, and 34 minutes of work done

The words were a short bit of free writing using another word from the list I’ve been using. The work was ACTUAL OUTLINING for my NaNoNovel! After several attempts and only an empty Scrivener file to show for it, I finally realized that I just needed to outline by hand first. I was trying to outline in Scrivener so I could just put the scenes right into there as I wrote them in November, but I realized that I don’t know where scenes will be separated yet. The way I normally outline is just plot point after plot point, and sometimes one line is an entire scene, but sometimes one scene comes out in 8 lines. I need to get the outline going before I can put scenes into Scrivener (if I even do that in advance). So I have almost a full page’s worth of outline, and barely got far in the story. But it did show me one thing.

I have this tendency to want to obfuscate as much as I can in a story. If I can fool the reader into thinking something else is happening than what is, even if just for a sentence or two, I do. If I can take two somewhat separate storylines and merge them together, but not give the reader any clue as to how they connect until 2/3 of the way through the story…oh, I love it!

I had it in mind to do something like that for this book, but since this book (I think) should be released after a few others, the things that I’m trying to keep secret are going to be pretty obvious to anyone who’s read the other books. So now I have to decide if I can salvage that obfuscation, or if I should just write it more normally.


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 18, 2017

Words/Time: 755 words

I continued where I left off yesterday, free writing using a card in my Writer Emergency Pack. I finally finished the first question, and this last date my “hero” went on turned out really revealing. I almost don’t want to answer the other 2 questions on the card, partly because the first one took so long already, and partly because it’s now the 18th, and I need to get going on an outline. The other two questions don’t intrigue me at all either, but I have learned that it’s good to not ignore writing prompts just because I don’t see anything amazing coming out of them. Some of the ones that started with me thinking, “Meh, this will be boring,” have produced results that I’ve quite liked.

At this point, I’m just glad I’ve been able to do some free writing this week, because I’ve been a little crazy with work-related activities this week. I’ve also been free writing in a notebook, which I missed.

Oh, and I almost forgot that some of those words were a short amount of free writing using the 3rd prompt on this list. There’s a character that I killed off in my first novel, but have recently questioned if he really needed to die, and am strongly considering letting him live. And if he lives, he will be in many other novels (albeit in a side role). And he will be a leader. And he will be awesome. So I wrote about him.

I can’t believe I let myself go a year and a half without writing. Somehow I forgot how much fun it can be! I really can’t wait for NaNoWriMo right now; I almost don’t care how little planning I end up with at the end of the month.


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!)