Writing–NaNo Completed

calendar -  November 2012

What? Already?

Of course. That’s my goal every year. I always aim to finish before Thanksgiving and this year I finished nearly a week before the turkey deadline.  I did fall short of some other goals, though.

I aim for 60,000 words. That didn’t happen this year. I ran out of story right around the 50,000 word mark, which is great for winning NaNo, but not so hot with my own personal pride. I could have added an additional ten thousand words on a related story that would reveal what really happened to the missing girl that sort of threads the story together, but in the end I decided to just stick with the novel itself and let my ego take that lump.

I also put an interesting restriction on myself. Since the story is set in the 70′, I challenged myself to not use any language that would have been censored on 70’s era television. It was a silly little challenge designed to make me think a little bit more on my dialogue and encourage myself to be a little more creative rather than relying on the easy out of swear words for insults and exclamations. I mostly did it. Mostly.  I fully admit to writing while tired and not caring about this self-imposed little demand.

On the other hand, I really pushed myself on the word count, writing 4,000 words a day four days a week instead of just on the weekend like usual and then sticking to 2,000 words on the three days of the week that I worked more than one job. It’s nice to know that I can maintain that level of demand if I really put my mind to it.

Overall, I’m rather pleased with the way the novel worked out. Not getting too far ahead on my outlining wasn’t a big deal and I think actually helped me be a little more creative with my story since I wasn’t concerned about getting too far off track. On the other hand, I think I could have benefited with a general story line set out before hand instead of going in as cold as I did. I admit, I didn’t have an ending when I started and that usually doesn’t bode well for me. This time it worked out.

As of right now, I rather like Night of the Nothing Man. It’s a pretty simple, straight-forward horror story. I’m thinking that it could be edited and revised down into a nice novella and I think I’m going to try for that.

All in all, I’m going to say this was a pretty successful NaNoWriMo. I certainly didn’t think it would turn out this well.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Writing–The Story Went “Boo!”

The Werewolf of Fever Swamp (TV special)

It’s not unusual for me to fall asleep thinking about a story I’m working on, particularly if it’s a big project like a novel. Many a night I drift off thinking about what happens next or what scenes need to be revised or what plot problems need to be fixed.

Most of my short stories are firmly in the horror genre. To date, I’ve only written one straight horror novel manuscript prior to this year’s NaNo project and in the end, I revised it to fit more in the vein of my other novels (a mix of horror, comedy, supernatural/fantasy). Every night during that November that I worked on that first draft, I fell asleep thinking about it. Mostly I thought about how boring it was. Writing it as straight horror wasn’t working out so well for me. But I plowed through it and called it done knowing I could fix it later.

Of all the nights that I fell asleep thinking about my scary stories, never once did anything I came up with keep me awake.

Until last week.

I tend to have trouble falling asleep and sleeping in general on Sunday nights. I don’t know if it’s the anticipation of the 6:30 Monday morning wake-up call or what. Last Sunday, as is typical for my November nights, I got into bed and attempted to drift off while thinking about my NaNo project. I was trying to figure out how to get my two MCs out of the cabin in the woods and back to their car with the bad guy looking in the window.

My brain tumbled this prospect around as I fell asleep, leading me down a promising path until sleep snuck in and the path suddenly turned and I jerked to consciousness though I wasn’t quite asleep, scared out of my wits.

I’ve never had one of my own stories do that to me. Never. I never think what I write is very scary. I rely on other people to tell me that the notes I attempted to hit and thought I hit were the right ones. But my own story jerking me out of a near sleep like that is new.

It makes me think I might be on to something here.

It also wrecked my Sunday sleep, yet again.

Let’s hope it was worth it.

Writing–November Projects

Fall leaves in Vancouver

It’s NaNoWriMo time!

This year’s project is called Night of the Nothing Man. In addition to the challenges raised by not coming up with this novel idea until a week before the start, I’ve given myself some other guidelines that I’m going to try to follow as I write. I’ll reveal those at the end of the month.

If you recall, I wrote a novel manuscript this summer in a different fashion. I outlined a few chapters, wrote those chapters, and then revised those chapters before moving on. I’m going to be doing something similar with this NaNo project. I managed to get about six chapters outlined before the NaNo countdown clock wound down. This was partly by design. I do better during NaNo when I outline, but in the course of my writing, I end up changing or deviating from my outline that typically results in some frustrating revisions and rewrites. I liked the outlining and then writing of the summer novel experiment in that I stayed on track, but I could make changes. So I’m going to attempt to do NaNo in this fashion.

Dangerous business for me, but I like living on the edge.

Also during the month I’ll keep working on my Lucy and Jamie story. I’ve got a good idea where it’s going and I think it might be good for me to write a page or two of something else while working on NaNo. Kind of like a morning warm-up.

I may or may not start poking at The World (Saving) Series again. I’ve got an idea of some revisions I’d like to do and I’ve been kicking them around for the past couple of months. They wouldn’t be too taxing to do when I need an evening break from NaNo, but don’t want to be unproductive.

It should be a good month full of words.

Writing–Generating My NaNo Idea

Notebook page

I wrote before how I was stuck on what to write for NaNo this year. I toyed with the idea of being a rebel and writing novellas instead, but even then I wasn’t too moved by the idea. I really wanted to stick to my November guns and go for my usual goal of 60,000 words before Thanksgiving. But I had nothing.

A NaNo buddy of mine whom I also follow on Twitter and also has a pretty rockin’ blog, Trinae Ross, told me that she was stuck for her NaNo idea, too, until she just started writing random words down on a piece of paper and then asking the usual questions of who, what, where, when, and why. It took her about four days for things to start to come together, but she ended up with something of substance that she could get to the point of outlining. She had a story.

At her suggestion, I decided to try it. Sitting and thinking wasn’t helping me any. The blank I was drawing was just getting blanker. So I grabbed one of my plentiful notebooks, flipped to a blank page, took pen in hand, and wrote down the first things that came to my mind.

“Guys like him aren’t very good at staying dead.”  The 70’s. Nighttime. A face in a window. A room full of newspaper articles. A missing girl. An attempted abduction. Two teenagers.

And from there I started asking questions. Who is this guy? Why doesn’t he stay dead? Why this decade? Who is this face? Who are these kids? What do the articles say?

The page filled up pretty quickly with my answers and other scribblings. More importantly, I was pretty happy with what I was jotting down. Just like what happened with Trinae, my story started to come together.

Even at the eleventh hour going into NaNo I still have some work to do (I’ll get into the details next week), but I’m feeling so much better about this project than I was a week ago when I didn’t even have a project to work with. At least I have a place to start when the clock strikes midnight.

I am horrible at networking and socializing. I don’t work very hard at including myself in the writing community because there’s a still a chunk of me that doesn’t think I belong because I don’t have enough credits to my name. But through NaNo and through Twitter, I’ve met some pretty cool fellow writers that don’t hold me to the same high standards that I hold myself to when it comes to inclusion and for that I am grateful.

Without Trinae, I’d still be spinning my wheels.


NaNoWriMo Day 3

You may have noticed if you read my October Projects post that NaNoWriMo was left off of my To Do List. There’s a very good reason for that.

I have no idea what I’m going to do.

In past years I’ve gotten my NaNo idea in September, August, July. I once came up with my idea in March and held onto it until November.

But this year I’ve got nothing.

I’ve thought about going rogue this year. Instead of writing a 60K word novel like I usually do, I’d write two 25-30K word novellas. I’ve got a couple of ideas that I could use for it. They’re pretty good, but neither one I think would flesh out to be an entire novel. Doing them both as novellas would satisfy the word count even if it wasn’t exactly a novel.

I’m not completely sold on the idea though. I’m a bit of a traditionalist. Even though I’d really like to do those novellas (as they’d be part of the Outskirts Universe so they’d be useful to have done) and doing both would count, I’d still feel like I was cheating a little bit.

So if I don’t do the novellas, what do I do?

Logic tells me that I should do something in the Outskirts Universe. That’s my “thing”, after all. On the other hand, it might do me some good to break out and do something completely different.

I don’t know.

The good news is I’ve got about three weeks to figure something out and get it outlined. The bad news is I feel like right now, I’ll take all three of those weeks to come up with something and won’t start outlining anything until 10PM on October 31st.

No matter. I’m up for the challenge.