Elizabeth: NaNo Progress Report – The Sagging Middle

No, I don’t mean the after-effect of holiday eating or what happens when the elastic in your gym shorts breaks, I’m talking about what happens right about now during the month of NaNo.

We’re at the mid-way point; probably the most challenging time of the whole month.  The initial excitement of the first week, when stories were fresh and new tends to fade about now and be replaced by daily word counts that are a little more challenging to hit and creative ideas that are a little harder to come by.

For some – those whose stories are rolling right along – this can be an exciting part of the process where the germ of a story idea has taken root and grown into something even better than first imagined.  For others, this can be the time when what started out as a great idea now looks like a tangled mess with no discernible resolution.  You may have written yourself into a corner, or noticed you don’t actually have any solid conflict, or realized that 10,000 words ago your story took and unexpected turn and now you don’t know what’s next.

It can be tempting at this point to read over what you’ve written so far and do a little editing.

Don’t do it. Continue reading

Elizabeth: NaNo Progress Report – Week 1

National Novel Writing Month kicked off just a week ago and, according to the handy graphic on the NaNo website, writers in nearby San Francisco have already written over 4.5 million words.

Multiply that by all the participating writers in all the participating cities around the world and that’s an amazing amount of writing and an amazing number of stories that didn’t even exist a mere week ago.

I’d love to say that my own NaNo experience was off to a stellar start this year, but that would be an extreme work of fiction, and not the good kind.

In reality, as you might guess from the graphic in this post, my NaNo got off to a rather slow start.  Three days of long hours at the day job coupled with at least one evening when I fell asleep in the midst of dinner made hitting the daily 1,667 word count a dream rather than a reality. Continue reading

Elizabeth: NaNo Countdown – 1 Week To Go

October is racing to an end, which means there is only 1 week left before the start of this year’s NaNoWriMo.  Michille had a good post the other day about preparing to write and the NaNo website is full all sorts of good information, like the NaNo Prep Webcast.

Part of my prep-work has included finishing up a host of non-writing projects so they aren’t hanging overhead when I’m trying to write.  I’m also wrapping up a big multi-year project at the Day Job, which should free up some much needed brain-cells.  I will definitely need those to hit my daily writing goals.  All that is left, other than those pesky story details, is to decide when to write and to stock up on motivational “reward-for-hitting-today’s-goal” treats. I have found that cupcakes are excellent in that role.

As I’ve mentioned that last few weeks, my writing specific preparation has included drafting a rough outline for my new story, figuring out the setting(s), and getting to know my characters.

That’s all I need to craft a great story, right?

Oh wait, those characters probably need some goals and motivations so they actually have something to do.

<sigh>

Guess that means this is a good time to focus on:  Conflict Continue reading

Michille: Getting Ready to NaNo

NaNo-2012Piggyback.  Yesterday, Elizabeth posted about her focus for NaNo. I’m not planning to do it this year, unless it can be stretched to editing 50,000 words, instead of writing them. But I am reminded of planning that I have done in the past to prep for it.

One of my favorite writing blogs, Writers Write, posted an organizer that led to a brainstorming worksheet and 30 tips (with lots of links for other helps). From the Writers Write blog, I found some resources that are on the NaNo website. Like the Reference Desk. I never knew it was there. Rather than spending time noodling around on the internet doing research, post a question on the reference desk and another writer might have the answer. Want to know how to rig a 500 gallon propane tank for explosion? Need information on growing up in a Turkish Cypriot family in London? Need to know how to milk a cat (really?)? Post your research question and get an answer (maybe – no one seems to know how to milk a cat). Continue reading

Elizabeth: NaNo Countdown – 2 Weeks To Go

We’re halfway through the month of October, which means there are just a few weeks left before NaNoWriMo kicks off on November 1.  In order to prepare for what I hope will be a successful month of writing I’ve been doing a bit of prep-work these past few weeks.

As I mentioned in my first post in this series here, I began the countdown to November by working on the outline for the story I’m planning to write.  As the outline developed, I found I needed to clarify the setting, in order to get a big picture view of how the story will progress.  If you missed it, you can read that post, and the helpful suggestions from commenters, here.

With a general outline and the story setting(s) nailed down (kind of, sort of), I still have a pretty large gap that needs to be addressed before I start trying to put words on the page.  I need to know who these people are who will inhabit the story.  My heroine needs a hero.  My antagonist needs a supporting cast.  And I need to know who that random assortment of secondary characters is and what roles they are going to play.

Piece of cake, right?

Not surprisingly, this week my focus is on:  Character Continue reading

Elizabeth: NaNo Countdown – 4 Weeks To Go

The kids are back in school, holiday merchandise is popping up at the local stores, and my heater at home came on for the first time this season.

Do you know what that means?

Right, National Novel Writing Month is almost here.  For those of you who are not familiar with NaNoWriMo (NaNo for short), it’s a month where writers around the world do their best to get 1,667 words on the page every day in the month of November, resulting in a 50,000 word manuscript by December 1st.

It’s fun and exciting and motivating and challenging and, frankly, hard as all get out.

It’s also a great way to focus on a writing project and get some words on the page.  Of course, not everyone has a creative muse who responds well to that kind of pressure, but as I found out in 2015, mine seems to be okay with the idea.  Something about the accountability and not wanting to be left behind when others reach their target word counts is just the motivation I need to move from “thinking” about story to actually writing it down.

Last year was a bust, for reasons outside of my control, but I’m looking forward to November this time around (and not just because there will be Halloween candy right beforehand).  I’ve already decided on the story I’ll be writing, a contemporary romance with the working title A Change of Heart.  The story is the second book in the series that I started with my 2015 NaNo story, Second Chances.

In order give myself the best chance of success this time around I’m doing a fair amount of pre-work.  It worked well for me in 2015, so it makes sense to do it again.

This week my focus is on:  Outlining Continue reading

Elizabeth: NaNoWriMo Reality Check

Critical NaNoWriMo writing supplies

Critical NaNoWriMo writing supplies (note they are all still unopened)

So it’s down to the last week or so in the annual writing extravaganza known as NaNoWiMo and things are not looking good here in the Fortress of Writing.

I had high hopes for this year; due in part to last year’s success, but sadly, that hope was misplaced.  While there were some external circumstances that I couldn’t really have foreseen, my biggest stumbling block was inadequate preparation.

Last year I started November 1st with conflict boxes, clearly defined characters, and an outline for my story.  I had a fairly good idea what needed to happen in the beginning, middle, and end, so I didn’t have to spend a lot of time wondering what should happen next.  Even better, since I knew where I was heading, it was fairly easy to jump around and work on whatever scene had my attention at the time, rather than having to write sequentially in order to uncover the story.  I wrote late at night, in the dark, and spent very little time looking back over what I had written.

Naturally, since that worked so well last year I did something completely different this year.  (In hindsight, not my best decision.) Continue reading