Tag Archive | novel

NaNoWriMo Day 19: 24k

I have returned from my vanishing act and have managed to fall behind on NaNo in my absence, mostly because I got lazy and didn’t bother writing anything. But now I’m back! *throws confetti* Anyway, I’ve still got time to catch up if I pull out plenty of high wordage days. *hyperventilates*

Before I lose my brain, I’m going to post an excerpt from day five, just before I stopped keeping track of the days I wrote things on.

They sat quietly for a while, Darian alternating between stifling yawns and managing caffeine shakes, Valora frowning out the windshield and muttering words under her breath. Darian figured she’d tell him what was on her mind without prompting if she wanted to share. The road kept on rolling beneath the white hood of the car. Finally, Valora looked at Darian for a second. Long enough to let him know she was about to speak, but short enough that she didn’t veer off the road and kill the both of them.

“I wanted to ask you something,” Valora said slowly. “Are you… all right?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean your insomnia isn’t exactly a secret, for starters.” Valora tapped her fingernails against the steering wheel. “And having the room right next to yours makes me rather… privy to things.”

“What things? Do I sleep talk or something?” Darian’s insides squirmed independently of his issues with cars.

“Sometimes,” Valora replied. “But that wasn’t really what I was talking about. You sounded like somebody was killing you last night.”

“Right. That.” Darian self-consciously tugged his left sleeve down to better cover the area he had almost cut the night before. “Shit, did I wake you up?”

Valora shrugged. “Doesn’t really matter.”

“It does to me.” Darian glared out the side window. There was a faded red car sitting on the side of the road, missing its wheels.

“You don’t have to be ashamed of having nightmares, you know,” Valora said gently. It was the first time Darian had ever heard her soften the sharp edges in her voice, and it put him a little on edge.

“You sound like you’re saying that from experience.”

“I am. I get them too.” Valora’s frown deepened. “I know you’ve been through a lot, and I was kind of stupid to hope I’d get you out of there with your head in one piece.”

“My head was fucked up long before we met, believe me.” Neither he nor Valora had made eye contact since she’d glanced in his direction immediately before broaching the subject. They were playing eye tag; whenever one looked, the other looked away.

“Well, between the rest of us, I think you fit right in,” Valora managed a grim smile. “Maybe when we know each other better, you’ll feel comfortable coming to me when you need someone to talk to. Don’t forget I’m here whenever you decide you’re ready for that.”

“You too… I guess.” The commitment sounded like something more than a promise to listen to each other’s trouble. It felt like some kind of bond, something a bit presumptuous for Darian’s current state of mind, but maybe their relationship would grow into it over time. Darian, for all his irritation with her, liked Valora a lot. Maybe even more than he’d first anticipated.

It’s kind of rough and I don’t like some of the repetitive bits, but it’s better than nothing, I guess.

NaNoWriMo Day 1: 10k

I got a strong start on NaNoWriMo this year, because I like to torture myself by pushing for crazy wordcounts right off the bat. Because I’m rebelling by working on a novel that I’d already written a bit on before November (I’m not counting those words, though), I didn’t have the same issues starting as a lot of other writers might. Keeping with last year’s tradition of posting excerpts of my writing, here’s the first one for this year:

Valora sat in the desk chair after Siate had left to fetch a Healer. “How are you feeling now?”

“Like I’d rather be dead.”

“Do you need some water?”

“No.”

“What about another blanket?”

“No.”

“Another pillow?”

“No! I need you to shut up.”

Valora poked her tongue out at him. “Just trying to help.”

“I’d rather be left alone to my misery, thanks.” He felt a bit less nauseous after vomiting outside, but his head still pounded and his joints ached. Gods, he hated withdrawals.

“Oh, so you’re the ‘suffer in silence’ type, eh?”

“I’m pretty sure loud puking is the opposite of suffering in silence,” Darian muttered. He was starting to feel nauseous again, so maybe now wasn’t the best time to hold a lengthy conversation. It probably wasn’t a good idea to open his mouth at all.

I have nothing intelligent to add.

NaNoWriMo 2012!

Hello, again. Nope, I’m not dead. Just lazy. And what’s the perfect antidote? NANOWRIMO, OF COURSE. Or maybe it’s just the perfect antidote to sanity. Or both. I should stop writing in fragmented sentences so often.

So, yes. NaNoWriMo. I’m rebelling this year with Coldfire. I’m performing a complete rewrite of the novel (yeah, the same rewrite I mentioned months ago and never got around to completing). I have a few chapters already written, but I’m going to start counting words for NaNo from the point I start writing them during the event, so I’m not cheating, per se. Honest. This blog will mostly be dedicated to wordcounts, summaries and excerpts, but my Tumblr will have a lot more of my brain vomit, flailing and procrastination by fangirling over Harry Potter, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Sherlock and other fandoms, some of which I’m not actually part of (I ship characters in shows I don’t even watch).

I promise I’ll be good and update often this time… unlike June’s Camp NaNo. I’ve changed, I swear. I’ll blog regularly and be a dutiful writer and actually get things done. Oh, hey! The WordPress posting options buttons look different.

Next I’ll get distracted by something shiny and ride off into the sunset on the back of a magpie. I think I better stop writing before this deteriorates any further. See you soon!

Why I’m An Outliner… Sort Of

I’ve written on this topic before, but I wanted to get into more detail about why rather than about the style itself (as seen in this post). I’ve always been one to scoff at well-known planning methods (such as the Snowflake Method), since they generally require me to alter the way I think or to dream up some detail I usually don’t imagine until at least halfway through writing the first draft (OR DRAW THINGS I DON’T WANT TO DRAW BECAUSE I SUCK AT DRAWING). My resistance to established methods kept me hovering between being a pantser (here’s a definition) and planner for years. I was never fond of throwing caution to the wind and just writing whatever feels right, but I also didn’t like the idea of having a rigid structure.

While writing the first draft of Coldfire, I started messing around with a dot-point list of events I wanted to occur a few chapters ahead of where I currently was. It was messy and often the events were irrelevant to the main plot, but it was an outline. Sort of. I later started writing my messy outlines sooner in the writing process until, last year, I wrote the whole thing out before I started writing the novel. Since then, writing without coming up with a plan in advance makes me nervous and I often end up floundering in a tangle of scenes that dig their heels in and refuse to be written. So I guess that settles it: I’m an outliner. In a way. I still prefer a degree of fluidity in my writing, since I have an annoying habit of only discovering who the characters really are about halfway through a first draft (or, in the case of Coldfire, halfway through something like the fourth and then the fifth and then the seventh).

I’m not sure this post is even making sense, since it’s three in the morning and I should probably be asleep right now but I’m strangely hyper instead. What I’m trying to say is I now prefer to plan out the events of my novels before writing them but am too much of a FREEEEE SPIRIT to stick to a rigid outline. And that’s okay. I seem to be doing okay without such restraints.

What Book Made You Want To Become A Writer?

This is a blogging prompt from Duolit, a two-person writing team who provide information about self-publishing, although a lot of their information is helpful for writers of all stripes.

I wrote a little as a kid but didn’t read a lot. Teachers just couldn’t get a handle on my tastes, which leaned more towards fantasy than the ridiculous “realistic” stories they tried to shove down my throat. I was more interested in magic and unicorns and princesses than about little boys who went on a journey to find their missing bikes. Reading and writing, while they interested me, were more of a curiosity than a real hobby. I still preferred to play elaborate make-believe games with friends rather than write the stories in my head.

And then, Harry Potter happened. The first movie came out when I was eight and I immediately turned my attention to the books. At this time, only the first four were out, but they sparked an insatiable thirst for the written word that to this day has not ceased. My mother dutifully lined up for hours on the release day of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which was quite possibly my favourite of the books released up to that point. Harry’s struggles with a hostile learning environment, a government and media determined to discredit him, and his own psyche working against him made for a compelling story when Rowling wove in the magic.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was the book that really inspired me to write. My first lengthy works were terrible fanfictions that I wrote a few chapters in before abandoning. Keeping with the pattern of earlier years, the best parts of the story remained in my head. I just couldn’t force them onto the page. When I was about twelve, I started writing a particular fic with an original character stepping in as Harry’s love interest. I never completed the story, but I did come away from it with new knowledge and a lively character I couldn’t stop thinking about.

My brush with the Harry Potter fanfic community taught me some important aspects of writing, like how to correctly write dialogue and the importance of smooth transitioning as to not give the reader whiplash. Writing fanfiction, with the aid of a few moderators on the fanfic website I had chosen specifically for its guidelines, in essence, taught me how to write.

Later, when I was fifteen, I took that original character from my abandoned fanfiction and began to write my own story. Although I’m still working on it now (it’s the one I just had to start over), this book has me in a vice-like grip. I have to finish it, and I will. I’ve come too far to give up now.

So, that’s my story. What about yours?

Starting Over… Kinda

I had a realization while lying in bed last night: my novel is broken beyond what a simple edit can do and the only solution is to start over. I’m not starting over entirely–I will keep some of what I have written–but I’m going back to the drawing board. My biggest problem was conveying the information I needed to get across. Writing a combination of dystopian and fantasy means I have a lot of worldbuilding to do. I have to establish the rules of magic, the varieties of magic and the politics that influence it while also giving some clues as to why the world is screwed up, the state of society, who’s in charge and why they suck. And that’s only part of the job.

So I’m trying something new. I’m putting down all the information I know about the world of the story into a separate word document. Hopefully this will give me more direction when I start writing again and I’ll avoid the gaping plot holes I had to contend with in the original novel. It will also help me foreshadow later events in other books and I can pick and choose what information to share and what to hide.

This should give me a clearer picture of the overall storyline and prevent fridge logic. Fridge logic sucks. I would very much like my novel to make some kind of sense. I better get back to it, given the enormous task I have ahead of me.

2012 Resolutions

2011 is over, bringing with it the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions. A lot of people complain the resolutions are pointless because they are abandoned early in the year, so I keep in mind Maggie Stiefvater’s advice about making concrete goals that are achievable.

So my resolutions for 2012 are:

  • Finish Coldfire and submit to agents
  • Finish the first draft of the sequel
  • Revise and edit my NaNovel, not necessarily to completion, but at least to a point where reading is possible without causing spontaneous combustion of the eyeballs
  • Do NaNoWriMo again
  • Do Camp NaNoWriMo (this one’s a bit iffy and will depend on my university schedule)
  • Get my provisional driver’s licence, or at least rack up enough hours to take the test
  • Pass my first year of university

Most of these are achievable once I stop being lazy (and get over my hatred for driving). I’ve gotten by for so many years coasting on some kind of inborn talent when it comes to academia and music. A few years ago, I never practised music or studied for tests. Now I have to, which has improved my overall work ethic and turned me into less of a brat. And that’s a good thing for all involved.

2011’s Resolutions – How I’ve Fared

I set a few New Years’ resolutions at the beginning of this year. As the year is drawing to a close, perhaps it is time to evaluate how I’ve done in fulfilling them before I create new ones.

  • Finish “Coldfire” and submit to agents. Nope, but I’m pretty close and have researched agents. Hopefully I’ll do this early next year.
  • Finish the first draft of the sequel… at least. No dice. The stupid thing isn’t cooperating. I will complete it next year. The ideas are in my head. I just have to stop being a wimp and get the damn thing written.
  • Write more short stories. I won’t set an exact number because I know I won’t stick to it. Yes. Using a variety of writing prompts and other random stuff, I’ve written a decent handful of (very) short stories. I’ll count poetry in this section, too, since I didn’t anticipate writing poetry at all.
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo, exam schedule permitting. I’m hoping with only four exams this year that it will be possible. Yes. And I have a completed first draft to make up for my failure with Coldfire‘s sequel.
  • Finish year twelve (though admittedly this one is inevitable unless I fail all my subjects this year). Yes. Quitting was very tempting, I’m telling you now. I’m glad it’s over.
  • Audition for university music programs. Done and done.
  • Get into a university on my preference list. Still waiting to find out about this one. I might not even find out until first round offers in January. I do know that I failed my three auditions and my year 12 score isn’t high enough to be accepted into my other two preferences unless miracles happen. So I’ve added more preferences to the list that I’m almost guaranteed to get because the clearly-in scores are all lower than the score I received.
So I was somewhat successful this year. Could’ve done better, could’ve done worse. 2012 is likely going to be a year of submissions. There’s only so long I can keep working on Coldfire before I finally send it out into the world. I can’t keep it locked up forever. How have you guys fared with your resolutions thus far? Or did you not make any? If not, did you have any goals in mind for your writing that you had hoped to accomplish this year?

NaNoWriMo is Almost Here

In 12 hours from the publication of this post (Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time), NaNoWriMo will begin. My outline is set and I’m raring to go. I’ve chosen a daily word count goal of 2,000, since I like rounded numbers and I have four exams and a university audition during the month so I need to get ahead early.

I have my profile and novel info all up and running and have started building a group of writing buddies.

NaNo progress bar 31/10/2011I’m armed with a notebook, pen and my laptop, auto-correct at the ready to fix my typos. Images of my characters are fixed in my head, bursting with magic and energy. My main character is innocent, as of yet unaware of the terrors I have waiting for her. The cheer squad is assembled. My villain is waiting in the wings, sharpening his black, glossy nails and preparing his zombie minions for a whole lotta hurtin’. My love interest is practising his broody expressions and cheerleader insults while the Travelling Shovel of Death is sitting innocently in the corner, waiting for my main character to kick some zombie butt.

Oh, yeah. I’m ready. Bring. It. On.

My Outlining Method

If I had to give my outlining method for my NaNoWriMo novel a name, I’d call it something like the “Kitchen Sink” method. I don’t know. I just made that up. After writing some basic character sketches including age (important since I have a lot of people several hundred years old), appearance and history that defines who they are (in my main character’s case I wrote a little personality bio, since most of the things happening to shape her happen in-story) and some setting info, I started writing the plot itself. This is where the kitchen sink comes into play.

In a nutshell, I write the chapter number at the top of the page and list things I want to happen in that chapter in semi-dotpoint, semi-sentence form. Sometimes I write a couple of words while other times I go into detail about particular events. For example, I wrote “The cheer squad is having issues with pyramids”, which will result in at least a few paragraphs of text when I begin writing in November. I wrote another section in more detail:

-          Gwen’s father comes home from wherever the hell he’s been. He hasn’t seen little sis (Emily from hereon out) either.

-          Knowing her parents wouldn’t believe her, Gwen calls Miranda. They need to find Jack. He’s their only lead.

-          They visit the football field to find him there. He smells of rot and his face has sunken like that thing outside Gwen’s window. He’s also losing his hair and his red eyes glow.

-          He can’t speak, or won’t. Gwen feels uncomfortable and nicks a baseball bat from a sports bag nearby – the baseball team had just finished practise.

-          Jack comes at them, groaning like a goddamn zombie. He puts his rotting fingers around Miranda’s throat. Gwen swings… and his head comes clean off.

-          The girls freak out and run, ditching the bat.

So it really depends on how much detail I feel like going into. I end up with a lot of random stuff that’s probably not all that important. I don’t really have a clear end in mind as I’m writing, just general ideas on where I want the story to go. I’m basically being a pantser with my outline. I’m slowly getting a clearer picture of what’s going to happen at the end, but I’m more than halfway through my outline at this point in time, provided I write between twenty-five and thirty chapters.

With this outline, I’m basically learning about the characters in my story much like I would when writing a first draft with no outline. I think this will be helpful when it comes to drafting this particular novel, since I’ll already have a pretty clear idea of who everyone is. With Coldfire, I had no idea who anyone really was until I’d edited the book at least twice, since most of the characterization was pretty shallow in the beginning.

Overall, I think this outline will be beneficial to my story, but I don’t know if I’ll do it for any novels not written during NaNoWriMo, since it is so time-consuming. I started outlining about a week ago and will probably take another week to finish it, between school and needing to sleep. Maybe I’ll work out a quicker method later, for the times when I just want to write the damn thing and screw the outline.