Tuesday, November 30, 2010

IT'S A NOVEL!

At approximately 11:27pm today, I completed NaNoWriMo.

30 days and 50,007 words later... I have a novel.

I am proud beyond measure.

More later. Bed now.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The End is the End... or is it?

See that bar over there? Just there to the right. At this moment it reads 41,134 words written (subject to change). That means at this current moment I am only 8,866 words and two days from the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words written in 30 days. The end is nye.. or is it?


I forced myself to bed last night after reaching the number above and realizing I had no idea how to end this story. When I started 28 days ago, I had a basic outline of events that needed to happen to get me to the end. Several surprises popped up along the way, but the end I created before I started still seemed plausible. The characters knew all along, I'm sure, but they were kind enough to let me think I would get my way. I am now at the end of the story but due to characters with more control than I ever imagined... the end is nowhere in sight ... or is it?


I woke this morning and lay in bed another 45 minutes. Getting up seemed pointless. In the midst of the climax, my story had no ending. The demons waited. The family huddled. And... nothing. I checked my email, twitter and FaceBook all from the warm restraint of heavy blankets and my dog (gotta love smart phones and smart dogs for that matter). As I was rolling through a few NaNo forum posts and contemplating the benefits of sleep, a very clear voice said, "They have to leave." Before the voice could fade, an image formed and ... the end is clear (say it with me now).. or is it?

Yes, this ending will work nicely and may in fact be genius. Well, it won't change the world or anything.. hmm... it does change the story world. Anyway, I have my ending for this story. So what's the problem now? Can you say sequel?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Following Your Character to Hell

I am emotionally drained at the moment after writing my main character into a dangerous situation and maiming another secondary character.

The situation with my main character was planned and he's been left where I need him to be. However, the maiming of my secondary character was not planned in the slightest.

When I am having trouble forcing a scene, I will take a deep breath and let the character tell me where we are going next. Now I realize this may sound odd to someone that doesn't write, but I guess you could think of it as a form of "free writing". This has happened a few times so far in this novel and so far I've been happy with the events as they unfolded. Not the case this time.

I followed this secondary character as I needed to get away from the place I'd just left my main character. At first I typed easily and understood the reason for the secondary character's place of choice. It made sense that he would do this. As we moved along through the scene, the mood became more somber and I realized we weren't leaving this scene without something horrible happening. Before I could change my mind about any of it, the entire scene played out in my mind and linked itself back to the scene I'd left before. It had to be written.

I feel horribly guilty about having written it and done this to my character, but in all honesty... he led me here himself. He already knew this was coming before I did. In fact, I'm pretty sure he and all the other characters know much more than I.

I think I'll take a small break before I try to lighten the mood.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Story with an Attitude

Congrats to me! Yes, I am tooting my own horn and I deserve it! I just passed 20,000 words. My novel is now 20,000 words in length. The story is not exactly as I thought it would go, but I have to say I am excited about a few of the scenes that evolved as I struggled to get from point A to point B.

*insert happy dance here*

As I push through this NaNoWriMo, I am reminded of my favorite quote from Mark Twain:

“There are some books that refuse to be written. They stand their ground year after year and will not be persuaded. It isn't because the book is not there and worth being written—it is only because the right form of the story does not present itself. There is only one right form for a story and if you fail to find that form the story will not tell itself.”

I find a sense of relief in this quote. My struggles to write my story do not necessarily mean the story, my writing or my dreams of being published are off the mark. In fact, this quote makes me think I must be on the right path.

This story has been more than 10 years coming. It has changed and fought with me every step of the way. My characters have refused to be written into situations and instead pushed my writing in other directions. The settings change at will. The plot thickens and thins despite my best efforts to keep it on track. The chapters end suddenly and usually when my mojo is in full effect.

Over the last 2 years, I've come to understand one thing very clearly:

I am not writing a story. The story is already written.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Appeasing the Voices

When I stop writing, my characters revolt. They stomp their feet in anger and assault my brain with plots and dialogue. They want out. They want the page. They want to feel real.

I started this novel about 10 years ago with a solitary idea and a character named Benny. Benny is in his mid to late 30's and has worked in construction for 15 or so years. Longevity has it's advantages. He knows when the concrete will be poured, how long it takes to set, how to smooth it out evenly. He also knows what can be hidden beneath it and how long it could take to find it. I worked through the "what ifs" and wrote a very small beginning. Five years ago, I couldn't take the influx of reminders from characters not yet formed pushing me to write about them. Two years ago, they won.

When I resurfaced the original idea, it took a life of it's own and became something entirely new. Benny has changed quite a bit and I'd venture to say, this isn't Benny anymore. This is a completely different character. Maybe Benny grew tired of waiting on me to get around to him, but I can still hear him now and again.I can still see him sitting in the shrink's office staring out the window. He deserves at least a short story some day.

My new characters are relentless. When I'm focused on one or two of them, the others are vying for my attention. Sometimes, I write a note or two to the side about them just to appease them for small periods of time. They want bigger parts in the story or have their own axes to grind and crosses to bear. It's my job to tell them ever so carefully, this isn't their story. It can be hard to let them down easy and still expect them to give me the rest of the story or help carry the main character.

So, I promised them I would share them with the rest of the world soon. My novel is about 14,000 words written, meaning I have a long way to go yet, but sharing pieces of them now is better than nothing.

Without further ado... here are my character names in no particular order:

JoAsh Lux, Idena Lux, Athan Lux, Lamb, Liam Lux, Joshua and Diane

And here is the working title of my novel in progress... 


Ahhh... peace and quiet.. for a little while.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Writing is in the Numbers

I passed small sign at the end of a driveway today that read "11900" ...

On any normal day this sign would have obviously meant the house at the other end of the driveway was house number 11900 on whatever road I happened to be driving. Today is not a normal day. Today is halfway through week two of NaNoWriMo. Today, I saw that sign and my first thought was "Oh, I almost have that many words down!" The next number I saw reminded me of the number of words I have to go until I reach the coveted 50K goal, then how many words I need to write today to reach my daily goal. I saw my number of pages, my character count, my hours left in the day to get home and actually write.

Writing ... it's all in the numbers.

I love watching the little number count in the lower left of my page. I peek when I start writing and look again after I've come out of an exciting burst. When the starting number and new number differ by more than 100 words, I have to update my count on NaNo. I just have to!

Word sprints are the best. Time is just organized numbers. Start with 10 minutes, post number of words and go another 15 minutes. This time post your word count ever 15 minutes for an hour. I love it!

Well, I've put about 261 words here that could have been in my novel, but that's OK. I'm all warmed up now.

And go...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Better Than a Smoothie and a Cupcake

I decided to go Barnes and Noble today to beat down the word count I'm increasingly missing. (Never you mind the stop at Bruester's for ice cream) I meandered through the cafe ( the good spot taken... you know the one nearest to an outlet and the second good spot... the one where no one can possibly read over my shoulder). After assaulting a stranger with paper towels in the bathroom, I headed for the YA section.

Now, I like vampire books as much as the next person (well, the next person that likes vampire books) but the YA area seems to be overrun with them. After sifting through books and book covers with fangs, full lips or blood droplets, I found two shelves of books about anything but vampires. The new ideas blew me away. I wanted to read them, not so much for the sake of the story but to find out just how they pulled it off!

As I was standing there amazed, a few YA's (yes they do exist) browsed books near me. They commented on one or the other and how they hate it when they buy a book they've already read. I continued picking up a book now and then but not to review them. I wanted to hear more from these girls. I wanted to ask them what they enjoy most in a book. I wanted to know what they were tired of reading. I wanted to know if their friends read the same books they did and vice versa. These girls had read so many books they couldn't tell from the covers if they'd read them before. These girls were my future market and they were reading voraciously.

I wanted to know a lot of things, but you know as well as I do theYA can be skittish. One minute they are talking freely and laughing with their friends but if an outsider interrupts it can be ... awkward. I opted not to interrupt them. Just as I was about to walk away a teen brought a book to her mother explaining to her with much excitement that this was the next book in the series. As I was leaving it was decided she would get it for her later now that she knew she wanted it. That sucks.

Back in the cafe, the outlet seat still taken and the hidden seat filled, I settled for this seat. I hadn't been here 10 minutes before the teen and her mom sat at the table in front of me both with smoothies and the girl with a chocolate cupcake. I like cupcakes as much as the next person (well, the next person that likes cupcakes) but between you and me... for the cost of two smoothies and a chocolate cupcake, mom could have bought the book. The book would have lasted much longer than the chocolate smudges in the corners of the girl's mouth and been better for her.

Books > Cupcakes

Edit: After all this, I can't focus here. I'm going back home!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Workshops, Ideas and NaNo

Lots of knowledge gained today! First up... writing workshop!

The Chesterfield Writer's Club presented a workshop today complete with authors, publishers and instructors. The workshop started with how to begin as a writer, moving to structure and craft and wrapping up with publishing and marketing. This was the first effort by this group and they did a fantastic job. Some of the information was repetitive for me but I learned something new from each section. The best part for me was meeting an author I admire. Local Richmond author Michele Young-Stone wrote "The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors". I'd seen a few experts about her and heard that she often attended small book clubs to not only promote her book but to talk to them about her experience as a write. I contacted her about attending the workshop as a panelist and she accepted. She shared her experience as a new writer trying to publish a debut book and I ate it up was a spoon. What I really appreciated about her story is that she knew exactly what she wanted when she wrote the book as far as publishing and how she wanted it done. Goals are key to success. Know what you want, how you want it and then do what it takes to get there! (see the linking I did up there for her? one day someone will do that for me too!)

During the work shop a plot bunny tried to take over and distract me from learning. Having read the plot bunnies thread on the NaNoWriMo site I was fully prepared. I immediately found a piece of paper, jotted it down until the bunny fuzz settled and returned to the workshop without distraction. Sometimes you just have to write it down in order to forget it and move on. It worked. I did get a couple of ideas during the workshop that will fit fantastically into the novel I'm writing... excited to get back to it.

Which brings me to my current status with NaNoWriMo. This is day 6 and according to the 1,667 per day rule, I should reach 10,001 by midnight. Should is the operative word here... I currently have 6,370 words. Now that's 6,370 words more than I had 6 days ago so it's definitely a success. However, I need to step this up and get closer to the day to day goal. Which explains perfectly why I'm here procrastinating.

*eye roll*

Yes, yes... I'm going now.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Everybody's Writing for the Weekend!

Finally the weekend is here! Day 5 of NaNoWriMo and I'm way behind. No worries. I'll get there. I love where my story is going and that NaNo is forcing me to move forward. I don't question my writing and when I get stuck I'm more likely to think openly about what to do to get unstuck.

My brain is a bit mushy. The cause may be a combination of speed writing, candy and coffee. The mush feels good. Not the kind I want oozing between my toes, but good nonetheless. Brain mush doesn't allow for thinking about laundry or overdue bills. The only thoughts that will penetrate this mush is plot structure, character growth and a healthy dose of fantasy.

The best part of NaNo so far is knowing that as I sit here and write this novel, there are currently 637 wrimos in my region (Richmond, Virginia). Those 637 Richmond Wrimos have written 1,442,314 words so far. Do you know many books that would fill? Me either, but it seems like an awful lot!

So far, I've contributed over 5,000 words. I should be around 8,000 today and over 11,000 by the end of the weekend. There's no reason I can't get there.

I'm determined.

I'm ready.

I'm .........................SQUIRREL!!!

*ahem* ... I'm focused.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Best Laid Plans

NaNoWriMo is upon me. Day 1, I surpassed my goal of 1667 words. Day 2, I am short already. The day is not yet over and I'm gaining willpower to "just do it" but pushing aside everything else is proving harder than I expected.

When I decided to write 50K words in a month, I thought my biggest issue would be thinking of enough words to fill the 1667/day requirement. I was wrong. The writing is easy. You start with a few words and before you know it you have over 300 .. then over 800 and so on.

Why is the dog barking? Why is my son freaking out.. again? Did I finish that project at work? Is the dryer done? Where's my coffee? Did I pay that bill? Why is the TV so loud? Where is the dog? Where is my son? Why can't I focus? Who is playing bongos and WHY NOW?

This... this is the reason I will not make my goal in the coming days. The "easy button" I bought from Staples does not work against the dark forces of the household. Perhaps some rewiring is in order...