Posts Tagged ‘nanowrimo’

MileHiCon and Nanowrimo

I have survived the con! \o/ Barely. But I had a good time and made some new friends (yay!) and am now on a search for a refillable notebook cover. (Craig Griswold who was in the art show, on the off chance you read this, you have no online presence and I would like to buy things from you.)

(If you know of nice refillable notebook covers–i.e., a cover you can move from notebook to notebook that attaches to said notebook’s cover, kind of like a dust jacket for a notebook–in a larger size, such as composition book or steno book size, let me know. It seems like the perfect solution to my need to buy fancy notebooks but then my reticence to use said notebooks because they’re too fancy.)

I think the panels and limited signing/selling books time is a much better combination for me. I might have sold more books if I manned a table all weekend, but hey, maybe I wouldn’t have. I sold a decent amount for the time I did man a table, and any difference in sales is not worth being trapped at a table all convention. I got to see the costume contest for the first time ever.

The panels were mostly fun. The Trek one was the best, both because of the obvious love for the franchise by everyone on the panel and in the audience, and also because we actually discussed things back and forth on the panel. The audience was engaged and had great questions and comments. The Doctor Who one was the worst. It was a roundtable, which is basically just a big discussion between everyone present, but it was dominated by a small minority who wanted to talk about special effects and other background things while it was obvious some people just wanted to geek out over their favorite companions and whatnot. And the fangirling panel was fun, but we would all just go in a row to answer each question, and I wish we’d had more actual discussion.

It was a learning experience, though, and I’d definitely do it again.

There were a lot of questions from con attendees about Nanowrimo. It makes sense–the convention attracts a lot of amateur and beginning authors and it is almost November (I wrote Navember, haha)–but it still surprised me. So I figured I’d better do my obligatory Nano post for the year here.

I’m not doing Nano this year. I have not been terribly productive this year, at least not as productive as I’d planned to be, due to various stresses, and while November should be pretty chill (after next Wednesday, anyway) I know that the moment I commit to anything, something else will fall apart. So I’m out for the year, though I will probably do a smaller goal (somewhere between 10K and 20K) on my rewrite.

Doing Nano, squiders? Thoughts on MileHiCon if you went, or conventions in general?

Also, happy Halloween!

Advertisements

Obligatory Nanowrimo Post 2015

Ah, Squiders. It’s October. Best month of the year, of course, for many reasons, but it being October means it’s almost November. And November means Nanowrimo. And so October, these days, also means getting bombarded by Nano everywhere you look if you are a writer.

I do mean everywhere. Oy vey. And I apologize for adding to the madness, but I’ve had a bit of a headache and blog post topics are scarce at the moment.

(I got an email this morning from a woman who runs writing groups out of the local library about Nano prep, and she mentioned she’d done Nano five times, and I was like, “Well, I’ve done it eleven” and then I figured it was time to get off the internet.)

(If you’re interested in previous Nano adventures, feel free to search the “nanowrimo” tab here on the blog.)

(Also, the reason why there’s a year in the title is because I suspect I’ve already named a previous years’ entry this.)

(Help! I’m trapped in parenthetical phrases!)

Freedom!

Anyway. My Nano news this year is that I’m not doing Nano, so if you are sick of Nano stuff, after this entry you’ll be safe until next year.

Unlike 2013, where I waffled back and forth about whether or not I was going to participate since I had a book release on Dec 1 (2013 was the first year I missed since I started in 2003), I’m sure about this point. 2013 taught me that it was okay not to participate if it didn’t align with my current writing goals.

I’ve got a completed draft due to editors on Dec 1, so while I might feed off Nano to make sure things get done (I’ve got ~25K left to do, though I hope to have less by the time November hits), I’m not going to do it in any formal sort of way.

What about you, Squiders? Nano, yes or no? Sick of seeing it everywhere, or does that get you raring to go?

Nano: The Aftermath

Ah, December. Sweet, sweet freedom. And yet, it highlights yet another less attractive aspect of Nano, aside from the fact that it is unaccountably exhausting.

And that is that you feel restless when December comes.

I am not one of those people that finishes a draft during Nano. I have exactly once, in 2006, when I wrote a younger YA fantasy whose first draft came in at a whooping 54K. But in general, 50K is about half a draft for me, so I rarely write “The End” during November itself.

So, because November is exhausted, I find that I have little motivation to keep going when December comes (again, not sure why Nano is so exhausting when it’s about what I write on a regular basis) even when my drafts aren’t done.

So here we are, about a week in December, and I still haven’t finalized my writing plans for December.

I have three options:

1) Go back to my YA paranormal edit (sitting at about 65K, so 20 to 25K more to be done) that I was working on over the summer and up to the beginning of Nano.
2) Continue working on the first draft of my space adventure story I started for Nano until it’s done (Probably 30 to 40K more past 50K).
3) Take a break from both big projects for the month and work on shorts and other miscellany.

I can’t quite decide which to do. Every time I think I’ve got it figured out, another one starts to look more promising. At this rate it’s going to be Christmas and I’m still going to be deciding. I have written a section of my serial and sent out some short stories to ezines, so that’s something at least.

I would like to start the edit on my high fantasy trilogy in January, but I’m still missing most of my beta comments and I feel like I should finish the last edit first. But man, to leave a first draft in the lurch…

You see my dilemma.

How did Nano go for you Squiders that did it? Any opinions on what I should do?

Nearing the End

My apologies for this being a little late, Squiders. I spent yesterday pulling out 5,000 words around everything else, so I’m afraid blogging fell by the wayside.

Something always does, during Nano. This year it seems to be blogging (sorry!) and non-essential house chores. The poor car desperately needs to be cleaned out, alas.

I spent most of Week 3 being utterly exhausted and sick and so I didn’t get a lot of writing done. I’ve written 8K over the past two days, which brings me up to 46K, which, to the untrained eye, looks like it’s nice and close to 50K, but from experience is forever away, and I am probably doomed.

Nano can get a little exhausting. I’m not quite sure why. It’s not like there aren’t other times of the year where I write 1.5-2K without breaking a sweat. So if I’m not necessarily writing more (5K days aside), why does it wear me out so bad?

I really wish I would figure that out. I swear it exhausts me every year.

An added complication that I didn’t have in my earlier years of doing Nano is that we now (since 2011) host Thanksgiving. Before I just showed up at someone’s house, helped set up and clean up, and then hid in the basement and pounded out a couple thousand words during the football game if I wasn’t already done for the month. Now I’ve got to cook and clean, and yesterday the store I was picking the turkey up from and I had a truly epic (and long) miscommunication going, and I’ve got to make stuffing for the homeless (admittedly volunteered for that one), and we’re in the middle of repairing the formal dining chairs (we’ve got one half-done, so that needs to be finished today).

Sorry. Thanksgiving stresses me out. I’ve got 16 people coming tomorrow and toys spread everywhere. And the other day I cleaned off the inside of the oven door (badly needed) and now the whole oven smells slightly bizarre and hopefully isn’t creating toxic gases.

ANYWAY. I shall be done when November is over and I will go back to my edit (which hopefully, when I read back over it, will be better than it felt to do) and will freak out about Christmas instead.

Happy Thanksgiving, American squiders, Happy Wednesday everybody else. I hope everyone else who’s doing Nano is feeling like they’re having a good time and making good progress.

More Structural Thoughts

Another issue I’m running into with my Nano is my structural beats, or acts, or whatever you want to call them.

You see, when I plotted Nano this year I tried a new technique. In the past I have phase outlined, which consists of basically making a bullet point list of what happens in order. This generally works well for me, and is especially useful when I have multiple viewpoint characters that directly affect one another, because it helps me keep track of what’s happening overall and also what’s happening in relation to the other character.

But I find it hard to phase outline an entire novel (it is an excellent technique for short stories and I highly recommend it) if I don’t already have a draft of said novel under my belt. It’s an excellent tool for sharpening things up. But a whole novel is a lot of work to phase outline otherwise.

So, for this book I decided to outline by tentpoles. In story structure terminology, a tentpole or a milestone is a major event, typically that divides your acts if you’re using a 3-Act Structure (or a 4-Act, or I suppose any number of acts). Depending on who you talk to, there can be a variety of numbers of tentpoles, but normally you have one 10-25% through your novel (sometimes called the Inciting Incident) and another one 75%-90% through the denotes the start of the climax. (That one probably has a fancy name too, but I’m blanking on it.)

Aside from those two, I’ve also got a midpoint tentpole, and I’ve got all three set up for both of my main plots.

So, for the first time ever, I’ve gotten somewhere, thought to myself, “Oh, I should hit such and such plot point, that would be fun,” and then had to back up and realize that it’s not time for that yet.

So it should be interesting, at the end of this draft, to see if my story is more sound structurally because I had my tentpoles in places before I stuck them in during editing.

Anything interesting happening on your ends, Squiders?

Playing with Structure

I’ve always thought that Nano is a great time to try something new–new structure, new genre, new chronology, whatever–because I feel the format of Nano forces you to keep going where, at other times of year, you might turn back from something new because it’s too different, or because you feel like you aren’t doing it justice.

A lot of the Nano options I was considering for the year would have been “new” in some way, but the ones I narrowed it down to the end had differences in structure that were new to me. And maybe some of them would have been too complex to try during Nano. Or maybe everything would have been fine. Who knows? It’s all moot because I’m not writing those stories at the moment.

The new structure my space dinosaur story has going for it is that it’s composite cast. Most things I’ve written in the past either had a small cast of characters, or a larger cast of characters, of which only a few are truly important. This is the first time where I have a large cast where everyone is of equal importance.

So how do you write a book where you’ve got eight main characters?

Well, in this case, since this is the first book of a series, not everyone has to be equal in this case. So I picked the three characters most affected by the plot to use as viewpoint characters, and, for the first time ever, I’m not numbering my chapters.

(Well, I mean, Hidden Worlds doesn’t have chapters, it has parts, but that’s kind of its own beast in general.)

So I’m 27K in and have no idea how many chapters I have. Some of them are really short, 1000 words or so. They’re just labeled by character. In some ways, it’s kind of freeing, like I’ve loosened the bonds of the dreaded chapters and can do whatever I want.

And sometimes I feel kind of adrift.

But I do think it’s good to try new things, and I can always go back and change structure later if necessary.

How about you, Squiders? If you’re a writer, do you have something you’d like to try, structurally or otherwise, that you are currently doing or have thought about doing? As a reader, have you noticed any really interesting structures in books that you have read recently?

Obligatory Nanowrimo Post

Alas, October draws to an end. And Nanowrimo looms. It’s interesting–I learned about Nano in 2002, started doing it back in 2003–and back then it was the weird indie thing, and maybe there were a couple thousand of us doing it.

Now it’s massive. And everyone’s gotten in on it. They have best-selling authors writing their pep talks. Writer’s Digest keeps emailing me about their Nanowrimo specials. Everyone who is remotely related to writing or book selling is capitalizing on it somehow.

It’s a very bizarre thing, to have watched it grow all these years into the massive event it is these days.

But since I am remotely related to writing and/or book selling, I think I’m obligated to post about it. (Haven’t quite figured out how to capitalize on it yet myself. Ah, well, maybe next year.) I’m sorry. I’m sure half you guys are sick of the topic already.

As for me, I can’t remember if I told you guys or not that I’d decided on the space dinosaur scifi adventure series. I’ve had the world planned out for a while, and I sat down a week ago and figured out viewpoint characters, story arcs (internal, external, series-length), major plot points for all arcs, and interpersonal conflicts. Which is actually a lot more planning than I have put into any NaNovel in the past, with the exceptions of ones that were rewrites of previous ones. (I figure, on a rewrite, you’d better know where the hell you’re going and how you’re getting there.)

I figure the change in the level of planning comes down to the fact that I’ve become a lot more professional in my writing since I last started a first draft (…almost five years ago). I know more about story structure and character arcs, and so I know more about what a story needs and how to incorporate it so I don’t have to flail around for a first draft and do a massive rewrite later after I finally get my act together. So hopefully this will all go smoothly.

I haven’t done Nano since 2011 (I gave a half-hearted attempt in 2012 and made it about 14K), so I’m both excited and a little anxious. I used to think nothing could stop me from getting to my 50K after the year that I finished early while working full time and working toward a graduate aerospace engineering degree, but it turns out that kids make things really hard. But I am cautiously optimistic.

What about you, squiders? Nano yes or no? If yes, tell me a little about your story. Y’all are welcome to friend me on the website as well–my Nano handle is Kandybar. (I have an icon of Geordi loving a turbolift.)