Day 23 How do you organize your outline? I asked a few colleagues that question and received several different responses from them all. I didn’t organize my outline before I started writing (Pantser) and that slowed my writing quite a bit. As I mentioned earlier, I had to go back over some segments to cut and paste so I could keep track of who was where and doing what. So the suggestions I received were very helpful in trying to help me do just that. Sticky notes seems to be the favourite, with spreadsheet close behind. But my favourite, and the one I’m now using, is to list my chapters in order with titles before I start writing. This tip was given to me by my NaNoWriMo writing buddy. Thanks, Melanie! I admit I’m a little late doing this, but since I gave my chapters headings, I’ve been able to stay on track with my story. I also wrote out my characters’ names and pertinent information on file cards and stuck them on the office bulletin board. If you haven’t started your novel yet, I’d like to suggest you at least put your outline somewhere handy where it’s easily accessible. I wasted a lot of time rummaging through my manuscript to find out where my supportive characters live! Do you have a tried and true method to organizing your writing?
Day 24 I just finished writing my final battle scene – phew! I’m exhausted and I didn’t lift a single sword. I basically wrote about fighting ALL day. I fed the cat, made a conference call to one of my pastors, fed the birds, talked to my son for a bit then wrote about blood and guts the rest of the day (and into part of dinner time). Once my husband went to bed I took up the final battle scene once more (my writing that is) to get it finished. Total word count to date: 35,816. That means if I still take Sunday off, and I have to take Friday off to go out of town with my daughter all day and do a virtual book launch in the evening, I’ll need to write at least 3,500 words each day including the final day on Monday! I know from recent experience I need 7-8 hours of sleep to work at peak performance. Trust me – your brain won’t work well if it doesn’t get enough sleep and people will think you’re a zombie – not good. Tomorrow is the part referred to as The Payoff part of the novel. A nice change from today. Sleep well and long.
Day 22 Today I thought I’d share with you a small excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel. Please keep in mind it’s a hurried first rough draft and will probably be edited to shreds later.
“Cassy searched the small gathering for her mother. Stepping sheepishly across the marble floor she heard her mother laughing loudly from the vicinity of the stone fireplace. Her mother had a haughty laugh which could be heard all over the downstairs rooms when she was entertaining guests. Mother loved to entertain and the wealthiest people vied for invitations to her dinner parties. Cassy made her way through the crowd who didn’t seem to notice her torn clothing – or her presence for that matter. They were busy flaunting their designer gowns and silk suits, and waving their hands so everyone would notice their newly acquired gold trinkets. Everyone appeared to be called Darling.”
This is from a scene from Act 1 of a superhero story. Until now I’ve only written non-fiction, so I’m very excited to see how the story ends! Word count to date: 31,043. Pleasant dreams everyone.
Day 20 The more I write of my novel the more I realize that what I really want to write – what I feel compelled to write, is allegorical fantasy/fiction (a parable or fable with a message in it). I’m thoroughly enjoying my superhero novel, but I find myself fighting the urge to put a message in there somewhere. Before NaNoWriMo, I started writing an allegorical fantasy story, and even now, as busy as I am with this project, I find I’m jotting down notes for the other. My heart is in finding the redemption of the character more so than the story itself. But the story is necessary for the reader to see the redemption at the final page. So here I am, looking for ways to show the redemption of my protagonist in a superhero story. It must be time to watch Iron Man again. Have you found your true passion in your writing? In your life? I hope you have. Word count to date 27,614. Have a wonderful weekend.
Day 19 How much do you need to describe your character’s appearance? I asked my son how he approaches describing his characters;
“I intentionally never described Nevaeh’s appearance in detail. Partially because it wasn’t necessary, but also because I didn’t want to make people see my idea of “attractive” when they pictured her. I just described her as “attractive” and let people decide for themselves what that meant. Guys could picture loved ones. Women could picture themselves or someone they admire. If I’ve written the character’s personality right, then people will picture her as a beautiful person without me needing to describe her features.” – Benjamin T. Collier, referring to his female protagonist in The Kingdom.
I used this approach to describing my characters unless, as Ben explained, the external details will later be revealed to be of significance to the story. For example, I wrote the clothing transformation from dreary to expressive that my female protagonist went through, to ‘show-don’t-tell’ her inner transformation from depressed to confident. So, usually, it’s unnecessary to describe all the physical features of a character. Leave that to the reader’s imagination.
My blogs through the first half of NaNoWriMo were mostly subjective. During this second half of the process I’m hoping to bring you some useful writing insights too – as well as my personal struggles and triumphs. On that note, today was grocery shopping day and I added some Christmas shopping in there too and lunch at Boston Pizza. Word count? I’d rather not say.
Back to hitting those keys at breakneck speed tomorrow! Good Night from the NaNo Novice.
Day 17 ‘Costumes’ was the word of the day. I had to narrow down a list of seven then decide my hero’s superhero name and add a costume description. I wanted the superhero name to fit her personality and super powers. Then the costume had to look the part. Modern – not tights and a cape type! She’s getting her pieces at a staff discount, so they had to be regular everyday items. I managed to get it done, but I’m a little late to bed. Feeling good about the writing all the same. Good Night from Ontario, fellow writers and readers.
Day 15 I just wrote my first fight scene ever! My antagonist is a female and this was her first fight too. I called upon a friend who’s in the security business to give me some tips on weapons and such. Thank you, my friend – free book when I publish it! I must say it felt good to unleash the inner superhero. And I have two more fights to choreograph with my mighty pen. I’m at the halfway mark and feeling pretty good. On a personal note, I enlisted my son’s help prepping the garden shed for Fall. It was full of stuff we don’t need and I have a vision of a tidy garden shed to work in and store my garden art. So we loaded up the pick-up truck ready for the tip – or dump – depending on where you live. He also helped me choreograph the fight scene ‘cos he’s good at that too. I haven’t quite caught up on my word count, but I’m confident I will. If you’re novelling along with me this month, keep it up. We can do this! (Apparently, by Grammarly standards, ‘novelling’ isn’t a real word – my bad).Word count to date 21,110. Have a good sleep.
Day 14 Today was a writing/gardening day. I was supposed to have my gardens all finished so I would only need to help with the raking of leaves in November. Well, that didn’t happen. So today my son helped me with tidying the garden shed and I put away most of the toys. Then we started on the leaves. We still need to upturn some pots so they don’t crack in the winter, but Monday will be a good day for finishing that and doing some more raking because we’re expecting a high of 13! I probably won’t catch up with my word count until Tuesday. I think I’m about 5,000 words behind at present. Ughhh. I am enjoying the experience, though. I’ve learned a lot about plotting (not my forte as a Pantser) and flow. There’s a great deal of figuring out to do to make scenes flow. I have a greater respect for fiction writers now I’m aspiring to be one. It is not easy. NaNoWriMo is an amazing place to test and hone your writing skills. I’m so glad I decided to do this. I think next year I’ll start by purchasing a few stacks of sticky notes and posting them all over my office wall so I can rearrange them when I realize the protagonist shouldn’t be revealing her super powers till the next scene. Two weeks to go – will I make it? Yes, I will! (Well now I have to, don’t I?)
Have a good sleep everyone. I’ll be away from writing tomorrow so I can go to church and visit my daughter and her family (not necessarily my son-in-law, he’ll be glued to the football game).