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.
‘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.
–added after NaNoWriMo: I named my hero after a bird because of her transformation during the story. Here’s the rough draft of that scene–
“She went to the dressing room to try on her costume pieces; taupe skinny jeans, her fawn-coloured t-shirt, fitted long brown leather jacket, and her long pull-on boots with a low heel. Cassy put some extra pieces together to make the costume more special; wrist bands with extra pieces she’d sewn on to hold knives, a leather belt to hold the ball-bearings in a pouch and wooden balls on a thick leather thong, leather ankle bands large enough to go over the boots and hold more knives, and two leather belts to crisscross her chest and hold a short staff behind her back. All she needed now was a mask!”
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).
What a tragic day this has been. For my fellow NaNoWriMo novelists in Paris – My prayers are with you today. I can’t imagine what you’re going through. I can only pray for your comfort today.
I will give just a quick update for those of you who are following my NaNoWriMo blog:
Day 10 was a very busy day with personal commitments, so I only wrote a few hundred words.
Day 11 was Remembrance Day so we went to a service at the local cenotaph. This year my husband visited Belgium with his brother to see the grave of their grandfather who died in battle, so the day was especially memorable for him. Again I only managed a few paragraphs.
Day 12 I wrote quite a bit and reached 13,304. My story was coming together nicely as I approached the ‘muddle in the middle’. A particular scene was very rewarding, and I was pleased with my work. But before I could update my word count we had a four hour power outage.
Today I worked feverishly all day to try and get my middle going well. I was pleased with it again today, although I felt like I needed to change a few bits and pieces. So I did as instructed by the mentors and wrote a reminder into my novel to change those sections later if I have time and just press on to the goal. However, we had another power outage. I hope this isn’t going to be a continuous thing. I’m below the daily average needed, but I’m hopeful I can catch up and still take Sundays off.
Day 9 I’m soooo tired tonight/this morning. I got on a roll with my main protagonist realizing she’s not who she thought she was, and I took off with it. I was supposed to be winding down and giving my buggy eyes a break by now (1.30am)! Today was a good day for writing, though. I didn’t have to do any errands today so I spent most of my time at my computer. I may not have written a lot of words, but I spent a lot of time going over my rearranged outline and I like where my story is heading and the development of the characters. But my goodness, this is hard work the first time around. When people tell me now that they want to write a book, I smile and wonder if they really mean it. I’ve coached a few people at the start of that journey and I know now that many don’t follow through and I understand why. I’m very fortunate right now in my life to have the time, physical and mental ability, and no small children vying for my attention while I write. I swear I couldn’t have done this when I was younger, raising three children, and too broke to not work part-time at least. I have a deep respect for people who are challenged with their time and spreading themselves so thin, and still do NaNoWriMo. Wishing everyone, writers and readers alike, a very good night’s sleep.
I’m very proud to have my short story Dancing On The Bus as part of the newHot Apple Ciderbook,Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon! The book contains 67 true stories, short fiction, and poems from 61 writers from across Canada.
The men, women, and children in these stories experienced love in ways they’d never have thought of, from people they might not normally have noticed, and in surprising places…
My story comes from a time in mid-century England, where I grew up before coming to Canada. Each story and poem is just long enough to enjoy with a cup of hot apple cider 🙂
Day 7 This is Saturday – I got off to a late start. We had errands to run and housework to do. As I got to typing late this afternoon, I realized that the flow of my story was way off track. I didn’t know how to fix it, or ask for NaNo help in the forum – how do you describe something that’s not yet complete because you need help completing it? (my ‘?’ still works!) I decided to ask an expert who lives nearby – my son, the fantasy/sci-fi author. We hashed it out for about an hour and I do believe I’ve finally got the hang of it. I took notes, so I hope tomorrow I still understand what I wrote. The plot has a definite outline now and it seems to make sense. (In order to keep my cat from messing up my keyboard again, I’m presently typing with one hand and holding her in the other. Dogs have masters – Cats have staff). I think I’m almost at the end of Act II, depending on which plotting strategy you’re using, if any. I’m enjoying watching my hero come to life and seeing what she’ll do in the next scene because, although I now have a defined outline that flows, I still don’t know all the details until I start typing. Do you write your novels that way? My word count is way down below where I wanted it to be by now – 8735. Tomorrow I’ll be taking the day off to go to church and spend time with family. We’re going to a craft show to fundraise for our local – wait for it ….. cat rescue shelter! My Smokey is a rescue cat. My brother found her at the side of their very busy road but couldn’t keep her because my sister-in-law and nephew are severely allergic to cats. So guess who got the phone call to go pick her up. NightNight and enjoy your Sunday.
*Now that I’m one week into this NaNoWriMo month I’d like to be able to share with you what you’d like to know instead of me just rambling on at 2am. So what can I tell you that would be helpful or informative? I’ll try to answer any suggestions in upcoming posts.
Day 6 Greetings! Day 6 and I’m surviving. I’m drinking a lot of green tea and herbal tea. (I only drink coffee when I go out somewhere). That means I’m reminded every hour or so that I need to get up and stretch my legs. I’ve gone back over some of my earlier chapters and added descriptions to fit better with how the story’s evolving, but I’ve realized that means my word count slows down. I think I have a better idea of who’s who now, though, and why they do the things they do. I think that, although I’m basically a pantser, I need more plotter qualities to start out with. My character personalities weren’t as defined as I need them to be, and I’m not as in touch with their quirks as I will need to be in the next couple of chapters. I’m learning so much from doing this exercise in such a short amount of time. I’m so glad I signed up for it. I’m enjoying writing fiction more than I thought I would. (I’ve been a non-fiction writer to this point). But I guess it all comes down to the finished product, right? Now, for those of you who’ve been following the saga of the missing question mark – it came back this morning! How, you ask? I don’t have a logical explanation; therefore I’m going with divine intervention. God knows my limits 🙂 I hope you have a good night’s sleep and happy dreams. Word count up to 8,000. Till tomorrow…
Day 5 My keyboard is still not fixed. My friend, the social media expert for my writing group, showed me on her keyboard what to change. The problem is, my keyboard doesn‘t look at all like hers. Hers is probably newer. We‘re great believers here that if something is broken you only replace it if it can‘t be fixed. Well, knickers to that! I may just buy a new keyboard to save my frayed nerves. However, my son did figure out somehow that if I press shift and 6 I get a ? Ta-da! So I‘m getting a badge at least from all this (insert expressive word here) bother – Thank you, Ben, for helping me with my noveling 🙂 Now how do I fix the need to press Ctrl plus the quotation key and press it twice to get a ‘ ? Forget it -I‘m buying a new keyboard! And my novel is taking on a life of its own. It keeps changing what I wrote in the outline. I‘m not sure it‘s flowing right and I‘m highlighting things that may need revision later. I‘ve come to realize I need to observe life more. Plodding on. Total word count with all this messing around – only 6152 – way behind. Looks like I‘ll be working late nights and most of Saturday. Plod on beautiful Plotters and Pantsers! 🙂