Posts Tagged ‘nanowrimo’

Nano Aftermath

Happy December, everybody. It’s miserably cold here and snowed for approximately five seconds before it got bored, which, well, boo, I guess.

December is here, and so Nano is over. I had 4,000 words to write yesterday, but they didn’t end up being an issue at all–in fact, it was some of the most relaxed I’ve ever been on a Nov 30 in a Nano year.

I also, for the first time ever, have a complete first draft after Nano. Now, most of the time, I’m writing fantasy or science fiction, which trend longer than mysteries in general, so I guess that’s not that big of a surprise. I think the closest I got before was a YA fantasy story (I may revise that one next year, we shall see) whose first draft ended up being around 60,000 words.

Nano was weird this year. Almost…dreamlike, in some ways. It had none of its usual trappings. The loss of the in-person write-ins made it so I didn’t connect with anyone locally, and even my online groups weren’t terribly active. Normally they perk back up for Nano, but I barely saw a bump this year.

So, did that make it worse…or better?

While I spent a lot of the month behind, at no point was I stressed. Heck, for the last two weeks, I was routinely writing 2K to 3K without breaking a sweat. Despite not doing my normal accountability things, such as posting excerpts and daily word count checks in one of my writing groups, I had no issues keeping myself motivated.

That makes me wonder how much of the accountability things are really working, and how much of them are just extra work on top of the writing.

50K is a little short for a mystery–my research says they tend to be in the 60-70K range, but I suspect I didn’t provide enough misdirection in the middle. That’s fixable. For now, though, I have written a complete draft of a mystery, and if you recall, I wasn’t sure that was doable.

Nano was fine. Barely broke a sweat. Felt weird about how not stressful it was.

Now we’re on to December! The education goals are back on, though I’m a bit tired out on writing books, so I’m doing a nonfiction book about Christmas folklore instead, and I intend to do my monthly prompts again. I shall have to think about whether or not I’d like to keep doing them, come the new year. The practice is good, and it’s nice to write something new each month, but they do sometimes detract from larger projects.

And I don’t know about returning to the Changeling story. It was going so poorly. My mystery went great. I don’t know if that’s because I had to plan the mystery more, or if there’s fundamentally something wrong with the Changeling story. Not all stories are salvageable, and I need to decide if it’s worth it to push forward still or give up.

2020’s almost over. This year has both been so long and too short. I was so enthusiastic at the beginning, looking out over a whole year of possibility. It’s hard to get up the energy to hope 2021 is going to be better. But we’re still a few weeks off on that, so we’ll have to see how everything goes.

How are you, squider? Plans for December? Looking forward to 2021?

November ArtSnacks

Ahahaha super late in the month, but it’s been one of those months. Next month’s box ships tomorrow, I think. I actually won a contest in October so I’m getting it for free, woot.

Here’s my pic for this month–just a quick sketch I put together because I was having issues coming up with ideas to go with the colors I got. Seriously, that’s my biggest complaint about the ArtSnacks. The colors are just plain weird.

drawing of girl

Let’s go through the stuff, shall we?

Marabu Graphix Sketch Marker
This is a double-sided marker, with a thin side and a super thick side. Mine’s a dark purple color, which I used as the outline in the picture above. It’s actually quite nice to use for outlining, and outlining with color gives the picture some interesting pop. That being said, it bleeds through my paper, and this is not thin paper.

Tombow Pastel MONO Graph Mechanical Pencil
It’s a mechanical pencil. It’s a nice mechanical pencil, I guess. It works well for sketching. Don’t have a lot to say about it.

Tombow Fudenosuke Neon Brush Pen
Mine’s yellow. Like, highlighter yellow. Good for pop too, I suppose. I found it hard to color with, like the color didn’t want to come. Maybe it’ll get better over time. But aside from pop, not sure what I’ll use it for.

Caran d’Ache Luminance 6901 Colored Pencils
There’s two; mine are blue and peach. They’re very soft colored pencils and I feel like I’m going through them quickly. I got a blue colored pencil in an earlier box, so I wish I was getting different colors. But, I mean, can you ever really have too many colored pencils?

The purple marker is probably my favorite thing this month, and mechanical pencils are always good.

I think I may be near the end of my ArtSnacks subscription, however. I feel like the box is a good value, and it’s nice to have new things, but I’m starting to accumulate things I may not necessarily use, and without better color variety, especially in things like markers, they have limited functionality.

I did use some of the previous ArtSnacks supplies in another picture I drew today (the green paint pen from September continues to be the bane of my existence) but I couldn’t get very far, which was somewhat telling.

Along with getting a free box, I also won $25 worth of supplies. I should go through their shop and see if I can supplement my marker supply with other colors.

As far as Nano, I’m still a little behind, but I’ve been catching up, and I should be on track tomorrow or the day after. Next time you hear from me, it’ll be December, and we’ll know how the month played out in the end. Wish me luck!

Merrily We Crawl Along

Well, Kit, you might ask, how is Nano going?

It’s not going great, not going to lie. Oh, the story itself is fine. I’m a little over on word count vs. plot point, but I’m generally where I need to be (though I have reached the end of what I’ve outlined and now need to outline the next third). The first person viewpoint is going pretty well for being new to me for novel length works.

(Wait, I think my first Nano, the one I was telling you guys about, back in 2003, the murder mystery that went into a drawer and was never seen again, may have been in first person. We don’t talk about that one, though.)

It’s more…working up the motivation to write. Like, the mobile ones are virtual again, so there’s a lot of making sure people are getting to Zoom meetings on time (not necessarily a strong point of mine–I think the small, mobile one must have had a speech therapy one yesterday, but I didn’t get a meeting link so I don’t even know) and generally making sure people are doing what they’re supposed to be doing (and understand what they’re supposed to be doing). But once they’re in their meetings, I could, in theory, sit next to them and write.

Do I write? No. Well, I did on Monday, but in general, I am not. Instead I’ve watched a webinar I’ve been sitting on since July, have watched a lot of YouTube videos of people playing Among Us, read two and a half books, spent way too much time on Tumblr and in the Am I an Asshole? subreddit, and not done any artwork whatsoever all month.

It’s frustrating.

Part of it is that having the small, mobile ones is distracting, which makes it hard to focus on anything specific. A YouTube video is easy to put down and come back to, whereas if I have to wander away from writing because someone can’t find the right math sheet it’s harder to get back into the flow of it.

The other part is I’m just existing at an elevated stress level in general. There’s the pandemic, of course, and I’ve got to decide if I’m letting the small, mobile ones go back to in-person school after Thanksgiving break or if it’s safer to keep them virtual through Winter break. There’s Thanksgiving, which was already a bit weird because we’ve lost several members of the family over the last few months, but now it looks like we’ve got to keep it to just the immediate family, but cooking a whole meal for just us seems excessive, and do I order a pre-made meal from somewhere? But almost everywhere has set menus which include things like stuffing, and no one in my family will eat stuffing (me and small, mobile ones don’t like it, and spouse has Celiac). My dryer died and needs to be replaced, but everyone’s out a few weeks on delivery (the new one is finally coming on Saturday, a full 13 days after the current one died. We’re into the dredges of everyone’s clothes).

Plus, there’s the election mess which is never-ending, and climate change, and other things that if I think about them too closely send me into an existential crisis.

Good times.

I’m only a few days behind, really. If I would just sit and focus for an hour or so a day, I’d be fine.

But man, finding that focus is not easy.

I’m going to soldier on. The month is still, well, not young, but achievable. And if I don’t get to 50K, well, it won’t be the end of the world.

How are you faring, squider? Are you feeling okay? What are you doing to get through this month?

Let’s Not Talk About That

Happy Election Day, squiders, I guess. Man, I’m exhausted from being anxious all the time and I wish I thought today would be the end of it. But that’s depressing, so let’s not talk about that.

Let’s talk about Nano!

Here we are, day 3. I’m pretty much right on track (though I haven’t written for today yet). Normally I try to write 2K a day so I can be a little ahead. I may get there yet, but thus far I’m just trying to keep up and not worry about it.

It’s actually a bit of a miracle that I’m on track. October, as I mentioned before, I spent most of the month trying (and failing) to finish my changeling story draft, so I didn’t switch to planning my Nano cozy mystery until pretty late in the month.

Which meant that I was not done with my planning by the time November hit.

We’ve talked about this before, but I find it really hard to outline in detail on a first draft, but I do like to have some direction (and also it helps with my pacing), so I tend to do an outline style where I know my major plot points and can head toward them in a timely fashion.

You can probably pants a mystery. Actually, the very first time I did Nano, back in 2003, I wrote a mystery. Well, I wrote 29,000 words of a mystery, then got a concussion and the death flu. That one was not planned. In fact, I wasn’t even going to do Nano until I woke up with a story idea on November 3rd. And I didn’t know who was the killer until I was 10,000 words in.

But I also haven’t ever touched that story again, so.

ANYWAY, though, I had to do new and different planning for the mystery. A lot more character work. Normally I just let them form on the page (though arguably that did not go well for the changeling story, so), but this time I found a blog post about using a random number generator so you could decide how they’d react in different situations, which was very useful. Also a quirk generator, because what’s the point of a cozy mystery if you don’t have wacky side characters?

And then I had to plan out my murder. (Actually greatly helped by a joke conversation on one of my writing group’s Discord channel.) And you can’t just plan out the murder. You have to know where all potential suspects are throughout the murder, so you can plan for red herrings.

My point is, on the morning on November 1st, I had MOST of my character work done.

So I spent the morning finishing my characters and then writing out the murder.

I spent the afternoon doing the murder timeline and the first third of a more detailed phase/turning point outline.

And in the evening, finally, I got to write. (And also botch dinner three times, but we’re not going to talk about that.)

It was an intense day.

My third of an outline should get me to about 20,000 words (or day 10ish), so around then I’ll need to do the next third. I think it’s okay, not having the whole detailed outline done. It’ll allow me to integrate things that happen organically in the first third, and I do have a general sense of how the story is going to go.

So. Still early, but doing okay.

How’s your November going, squiders? Doing anything distracting?

A Roadblock for the Education Goal

Oh, wait, I was going to draw you a landsquid for today. Uhhh…hold on.

Okay! Here we go!

Hooray! It’s fall, it’s October, my FAVORITE, as I no doubt mention every year (August was the 10th anniversary of the blog, can you believe that?). Time for sweaters and warm drinks (like I don’t drink warm drinks all year) and boots and pretty trees and everything wonderful.

But it almost means Nano is coming, and while September is really too early for Nano anything, October is prime prepping time, especially if one is trying out a new genre, one that requires a bit more planning than normal.

We’re most of the way through 2020, so if you’ve somehow missed me mentioning my word for the year, education, well, I don’t know what to tell you. As a recap, the education goal comes along with:

  • Two prompt responses a month to just write (as opposed to writing for publication)
  • An art class or book or stretch project
  • A writing book or class

I’ve completed these goals every month so far. But now that we’ve hit October, I’m starting to see some issues moving forward.

On the prompt responses, well, the prompt responses have been getting done, but other, larger projects (*coughChangelingnovelcough*) have not been getting done. I would very much like to have the first draft of the Changeling story done before November. Which may mean that I need to refocus my writing time, which means the prompts may not get done.

And, well, I’m not 100% on Nano (which will greatly depend on whether or not schools are open), but if I do it, then the prompts will, again, need to take a back seat.

Art! Hooray! (My next ArtSnacks is on its way and I’m super excited!) I was taking SkillShare classes, but my membership expired and I probably won’t renew it til the new year at the earliest. Last month I went through one of the drawing books I got from my mom (my mom is a book hoarder, which, well, is genetic I guess. But at least when she cleans out her writing/art books I get free, useful books) which was very interesting, but it’s hard to get through a whole book in a month. Every page or so I wanted to stop and try something out.

So for this month, and potentially the rest of the year, I could pick a book and go through it slower so I can practice more techniques. Or I could just free-draw, using the techniques I’ve learned earlier. Not sure yet.

Which brings us to the writing books/classes. This month is good. I’m reading a book about how to write mysteries. Not sure what to do about next month, though. I think Writer’s Digest has some short tutorials about mysteries. Since I’ll be working on a mystery, I think I want to focus there as opposed to reading a book on another writing subject. But it also seems like you have to do a lot of the work pre-writing for a mystery, so it may not make sense to learn more about mysteries at that point.

Maybe I’ll just take the month off.

Thoughts, squiders? Excited for fall? I’m hoping we get some moisture and everything stops being on fire.

Nanowrimo Comes Earlier Every Year

You know what showed up in my inbox this morning?

NaNoWriMo’s preparation workshop for the year.

It’s SEPTEMBER. It’s barely MID-SEPTEMBER. What the heck? What happened to waking up on November 1st and going with whatever caught your fancy at the moment in time?

I kid. I only did that once. And it was November 3rd.

But ugh, it still feels early. And when I get planning stuff now-ish, it makes me anxious. Should I be planning my story already? Am I setting myself up for failure?

I know I’m not. I’ve done–and won–Nano a ridiculous number of times. I know what works for me. But there’s always a thread that goes you are behind and you are going to fail when I see what feels like everyone else already starting to get ready.

Also, how much of the year needs to be dedicated to Nano, honestly? It already eats the entirety of November. And some of October. It’s like Halloween and Christmas, invading stores a little earlier each year. Do we really need to sacrifice September to Nano too?

I mean, maybe, if you need a lot of plotting or research. But otherwise?

Maybe I’m just getting grumpy in my old age.

At this point, I’m not 100% on Nano. I had fun last year, and it was nice to do it again, but they’ve cancelled all in-person events for this year (understandable, but still sad), and I wonder if it’ll be as easy to get the momentum going without them. I try to hit at least one in-person write-in a week normally. Virtual write-ins are harder for me, because I find it easier to get distracted. (And no one’s looking over your shoulder to see that you’re messing around on YouTube or tumblr instead of what you should be doing.)

Also, you know, the small, mobile ones are only partially in school, which means they need daily supervision, and this year is just all over the place in terms of productivity.

I would like to do Nano. I have a project in mind–the first book of a paranormal cozy mystery series that I’ve been planning on and off for about two years now. You guys know I always like to do something new each Nano, and I love cozy mysteries. Mysteries have always seemed really hard to write, but I figure it won’t hurt to try!

(Plus cozies are shorter, so I might be able to get a whole draft written, instead of half a draft of an epic fantasy, har har.)

It’s just…ugh. I don’t want to start planning Nano yet. I’m not ready! I have to finish my changeling story draft and, uh, I dunno. Something else.

What do you think, squiders? Do you Nano? When do you start planning? Do you go through Nano’s prep program or do your own thing?

I Won NaNoWriMo!

Happy Friday, squiders. Best of luck to you if you’re in the States and braving the stores like a crazy person.

(I did mine online, since most stores offer the same deals online as in store, and then I just cruise in later and pick up my stuff.)

(I bought art supplies, but we’ll talk about that next month.)

It’s November 29th, and as of 7:15 this morning, I’m at 50,000 words on World’s Edge and officially a winner of Nanowrimo 2019.

Excuse me while I bask in your adoration.


You’ll note that I’m about four days behind when I predicted winning Nano (Monday, the 25th), and unfortunately that’s due to a fairly major medical issue that was discovered last Thursday and ate Thursday-Saturday.

(The immediate danger is dealt with, and we’re in the running tests/figuring out what happened stage, which is exhausting but less overall time consuming, at least at the moment.)

If you said, hey, Kit, that’s only three days and yet you’re four days behind, well, the fourth day was yesterday, where I worked out for the first time since said medical emergency and regretted it for the rest of the day. (Also we host Thanksgiving, so.)

I’d like to say I’ll keep writing and get the entire first draft done, oh, mid-January or so, but past experience tells me that even with the best intentions, we’re looking at 5K in December, max.

I love Nano (when appropriate for my goals) but I find that it just…takes a lot out of me. Not sure why. Expectation, maybe? The pressure of the goal? Having to write everyday? (I normally only write during the week the rest of the year.) So it’s hard to keep writing in December, cuz I always feel a little bit burnt out.

Plus December’s hard for other reasons. Just a ton to do to get ready for Christmas (and we’re already behind, due to Thanksgiving being so late) really. So there’s not always as much time to work as one would like.

So, hooray! I accomplished my goal for the month. And I got to work on a project I’ve been waiting on for years. So I call it a good month. I hope it was for you as well. See you in December!

Meet the Crew of the Hope’s Redemption

I made a huge mistake, squiders.

I was like, oh, well, we’ve talked about the ship, and we’ve talked about the world, so maybe we should talk about the characters! And I should find pictures of the characters, so everyone can see what the heck I’m talking about.

Only I couldn’t find pictures of the characters. Well, admittedly one character has green skin and hair and that was never going to happen, but I was having a hard time with everyone else too, and then I got to pondering posting pics when I didn’t have permission, and in the end I decided it would be easier to use an avatar maker to make the characters.

But I had a hard time finding a maker that would work for everybody too, so I played around with a bunch, and now I have about five versions of everyone in varying shades of success, and I’ve spent two hours of my life on it.


But I suppose we should get on it, right?

So, if you guys remember, I’m trying writing from a non-protagonist point of view for my main character. Think Watson from the Sherlock Holmes story, or whenever they do Star Trek episodes from “below decks.”

So our protagonist, but not our viewpoint character, is Rae. She’s captain of the Hope’s Redemption and the reason the crew is attempting to cross the uncrossable ocean, for reasons she has thus far kept to herself.

Our secondary protagonist/sidekick/potential love interest (for Rae) is Sol, who is a member of the main race that lives on the continent our human crew is trying to escape from. He’s aware of what’s going on and why, and is the main voice of reason onboard.

(I shall have to remember that second one. This species has routinely given me trouble when messing about with this sort of things, and it had options for skin color, ears, and stripes. Wahoo!)

Next we have Marit, who is our viewpoint character. She ran away from home and right into Rae and Sol, just in time to get swept up in all this madness.

And then there’s Viri, who’s basically Marit’s opposite and hence is a bad (or good?) influence.

And last, we have Ead, who was unplanned but whom I love dearly. He and Marit are essentially best friends, and they’re also close in age (youngest on the ship). Poor Ead’s a bit of a worrywart.

(Also he got dinosaurs to the face, poor kid.)

I also have this one of Ead and Sol:

(This generator was called the Hipster generator, har har.)

And there was a LOTR generator where I could stick in as many people as I wanted (green skin was not an option, alas, so that’s why Sol looks the way he does):

(I had to fudge clothes and stuff there. Whee.)

And then there’s other people. I think I’m up to 20 or so named people out of 36. It’s always interesting, trying to juggle a bunch of people who may or may not actually be important.

So, that’s the crew!

I hope everyone’s having a lovely November thus far, and I’ll see you next week!

I Wrote 9000 Words This Weekend

I tell you, because I wrote 7000 words on Saturday, and I think that’s a personal record.

And also, I am now 100% caught back up to where I wanted to be (2K a day, on track to finish November 25), so that makes me feel a lot less stressed. Especially since I’ve remembered the small, mobile ones have Thanksgiving Break all next week and hence will need supervision.

I know there are people out there who routinely write 5-10K words in a day, and more power to them. I’m going to assume they typically have more actual writing time available to them, as well that they probably write faster than me as well.

I’m pretty comfortable in the 2-5K range (and, indeed, when I went for 100K for Nano 2011, I was averaging 4-5K a day) during Nano, and, well, in general. But I’m also not generally in a place where I need to be writing faster than that either. I suppose at some point in time I may be trying to put out more books in a year, and then things will change.

(In case you’re wondering, I’m currently at 37K and should be at 38K by the end of the day, so doing just fine.)

7K is new for me, and I think why it worked is because I outlined the section before I wrote it. Oh, and I re-outlined using my normal method. Sorry, Nano Prep Guide. But you failed me.

If you guys have been with me with a while, you’ll know that I outline my major plot points, and then allow myself a little more freedom in between said plot points. This works great in general, but I’ve found that because this book is so long (I’ve estimated it’ll be 100K in the end, which is pretty standard for a fantasy novel, if not a little short) I have A LOT of distance between my plot points.

For example, my current section (25K-50K) says “Ship somehow makes it through storm, they really can’t go home now” and that has to get me to 50K (“Marit saves…the ship? Rae? Sol? Something, using what she has learned, and realizes she is useful; Rae and Sol have a moment, before Rae doubles down on previous plan”), so I’ve had 12K of freedom and have 13K more, which is actually a bit daunting.

(I also realize that my plot points are pretty dang vague–that’s just how it works for first drafts, cuz I generally have a good idea of how the story needs to go to hit my themes/make sense but not a good idea of specifics. My outline in revision is quite a bit more detailed.)

So what I started doing, as of Friday, was jot down a little phase outline of the next part of the story.

(Well, what actually happened was that Friday was a wash because the smaller, mobile one was very sick and I had to take her to urgent care. So outlining made me feel like I was getting something done even if actual writing was not.)

And I used the Friday outline for my 7K on Saturday, and it worked great.

So I’ve been doing that since, and so far it hasn’t been an issue to hit my 2K a day (though I admit it’s been 3 days, so). I’ve done this a few times before, most notably when writing City of Hope and Ruin, and it really does work well. It gives me the freedom of creativity that I don’t get if I try to outline the whole thing start to finish (and I find that, at least for me, it’s near impossible to do that anyway–my brain just can’t fill in that many details up front), but it allows me to have a plan for the day, so I can move forward faster.

Also, I read something on tumblr about using Comic Sans–that it makes it easier for writing to flow–so I’m trying that too, and have been for most of Nano. I’m not sure if it’s actually making it easier or not, but at this point I’m a little afraid to switch back to experiment.

I hope your November is going well, squiders, and that you’re reaching your own goals! See you Thursday!

Creating a Fantasy Pacific

Heigh ho, squiders, we’re still in the straits of Nano. As of mid-afternoon I’m at a little over 24000 words, so almost halfway, a little ahead of schedule. Not as ahead of schedule as I wanted to be, but eeehhh, not terrible.

(In a perfect world, I write 2K a day, which gets me done about November 25th, and then I don’t have to panic through Thanksgiving. This has happened approximately 3 times out of the many years I’ve done Nano. So.)

We’re into the middle of the story, which has me feeling a bit flail-y and mostly wishing I’d stuck to my normal outlining method. But we are where we are, and now there will be dinosaurs, because WHY NOT.

Tuesday we talked about the Hope’s Redemption, which is the main setting for the story. To continue the theme, I thought we’d talk about the setting of the setting, or the ocean on which the Hope is voyaging.

While Altruia, which is the continent that everyone calls home, is vaguely the size, shape, and climate of Europe, I’ve decided to go with the Pacific for the inspiration of the ocean, for one main reason:

The Pacific is really big.

Even in a modern boat you’re not getting across that sucker that fast. The Atlantic is piddly. The Indian Ocean is decently big but surrounded by a lot of land, so not ideal for shenanigans. And the Antarctic is cold.

Plus there are other neat features of the Pacific:

  • There is a section of the Pacific near the Galapagos called the Doldrums where the wind just…doesn’t blow and ships used to get stuck there for weeks at a time
  • There are thousands of miles between the west coast of North/South America and any islands
  • Most of those islands are piddly
  • Teutonic plates, so volcanos and seaquakes and fun
  • Big and deep and who knows what lurks within

Now, that, being said, the Pacific doesn’t tend to get some of the worst weather systems that, say, the Atlantic or the Indian Oceans get, but the nice thing about fiction is that you can kind of pick and choose what works for you. And then there’s things like currents and maelstroms and hurricanes, which could be anywhere.

(And rogue waves, and contamination that looks like blood, and waterspouts, and weird magnetic disturbances, and converging weather patterns, and tsunamis…)

Anyway, part of the mythology of this world is that Altruia is home to a giant forest, with trees stretching hundreds of feet into the air (roughly modeled off the Giant Sequoia, though they’re deciduous and sequoias are not) and the humans are from a continent to the west. The remains of a fleet of ships reach the shores of Altruia about 300 years before World’s Edge starts, and no matter how anyone tries, they can’t get back home again (or at least, no one’s ever reported back that they have).

But neither do new people come from the west. So basically, this has to be the worst, most impassable section of water.

And goodness, does that sound fun.

If you are on my email list (or thinking about it), know that I am in the process of overhauling it and it is taking much longer than expected. I’m putting together free shorts at the moment, and then I’ve got to edit all my automations and sign-ups. So bear with me on that!

Happy Thursday, squiders!