Friday, 30 November 2012

NaNo Last Day Summary

Hmm, wow, what a month! I have really enjoyed NaNoWriMo Novermber, well, the bits of it I was writing in anyway (illness and other things got in the way a bit, but never mind). :)

I have come to a few conclusions:

  1. Having a writing goal in word count form is really, really useful. I shall be aiming for 3K wds a day on writing days from now on, since that seems to be my comfortable limit. My sis has written a spreadsheet that allows you to set a time frame and a word count aim for that time frame that shows you your progress like NaNo only not just for November, it's great for keeping track of the count, and motivational when you see the count dropping below the line! ;P 
  2. Sometimes I can jump sections of my work. I normally write linearly, I find I just end up tweaking later scenes if I have to go back and write a scene I missed, however, during NaNo, word counts and writer's block worked together to mean there were some bits I just had to skip, and actually, as long as they weren't really, really tied in with following scenes and I had notes on the important points in that scene then I could actually skip bits. It meant I could go back to the missed parts when I was more in the mood, or confident about what I had to write in that section.
  3. I love and I hate writing for a living: sometimes, when everything is flowing, it is brilliant and then other times, when I have to fight for every word, it is frustrating as hell, but discipline to keep going is very important. It's a living, a job and if I am to make it work, I have to keep my output up.
Thanks to all the NaNoers who have been offering support and my family and friends who have been listening to the word count ups and downs. In my own opinion, I won and I lost NaNo: technically, I won, I strolled over the 50K mark a couple of weeks ago, but thanks to illness last week and distractions this week, I did not complete the first draft of my sequel to Death In The Family, which was my reason for doing NaNo. Still, for my first NaNoWriMo, I'm happy and proud of myself and it's been lots of fun watching everyone else reach their goals as well. 

So, what's next? Well, more of the same, since I haven't finished the first draft. The last 5th of the book to complete, I'd say. I had some good ideas to mix things up a bit in the last few days, so my head is going back down. Oh yes, and I still don't have a title for my novel (LOL), I shall have to think a bit more on that.

Well done to all the NaNoers who reached their goal and to those who didn't, well done for striving for something, it's the effort that matters, not the 50K wd limit!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Day 28: I won't call yesterday a washout, but...

The reason yesterday wasn't a washout is because I went with my family up to London to hear my sis, Tasha, read one of her short stories at Den Of Eek, a night of spooky tales organised by Den of Geek. She was fabulous and I'm very proud of her! :D

However, it did mean no writing was done yesterday :(. And since Day 26 was a slow start, given I take time to ramp up after the week of illness, I need to buckle down today. I like what I wrote on Monday, but it was only about 1500 wds, only half my daily aim, so now it's onward and I'm diving into some juicy confrontation scenes (climax scene is still a few away). There's a lot of conversation in the next few scenes, something that could get boring if one is not careful. The way I try to avoid this is emotion, if the character is involved in the scene, reacting to what is said, hopefully the reader will be too. Tom actually has to be rude and confrontational in these scenes, something I find difficult, because I'm not naturally like that and my British politeness gene tries to kick in :P - I just have to try harder to get into the head of the character at times like these and resist my own personal impulses.

NaNo is nearly over - keep on slogging away peeps! :)

Monday, 26 November 2012

Day 26 - A Week Of No Writing - eep!

Thanks to neck problems, which turned out to be a weird virus, not a strained muscle as I originally thought, I could not spend much time at the computer from last Tuesday. BUT today, I'm back with not quite a vengeance, but at the very least enthusiasm.

I did get to submit my novel thus far to NaNo today, since I'm over the 50K wd mark :D

Still, I haven't finished the first draft, which I want to complete by end of the month, so this week is going to be busy!

I was actually getting withdrawal symptoms this last week, but pain was a great demotivator every time I tried. Still, the rest has at least meant I sorted out a few hitches I had with the remainder of the plot. I still have to decide how the final confrontation starts, I have several ideas mulling over in my brain and about a day to sort out which one I'm going to go with before I get to the point I have to write it. I just have some little logistical issues I have to overcome as well, though. Some people might ignore them and hope their readership do too, but I can't do that, I have to have every i dotted and every t crossed. I am thinking a Taser might solve my problem. ;)

Right, back to work. Good luck NaNoers.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Day 20 - Gotta get Touchy Feely Today

Yesterday was a slow start as I got back into the flow, only 1800 wds yesterday and most of that was adding to the last scene I wrote before my hiatus. Turns out, there was a whole set of character interaction missing, now it feels like a much more complete scene!

Today, though, I have to get touchy feely - the next scene is a character development scene, an important one and I want to get it right. I enjoy character dev scenes, although I find I have to be careful with them, because they can slow down the plot if I indulge in them too often. This one, however, is integral to the plot, so I get to spin it out a little. The story has been working up to this for a while and now I have to concentrate, because, although I like writing these kinds of scenes and they're actually the ones that I find I don't have to tweak very much after the fact, they take effort to get right as I go along.

After that, I get to wing it for a bit, though, because there are several scenes that I didn't plan, but are necessary which I have to drop in. Don't know where I'll get to, but I should at least start these scenes today.

Well, onwards! Enjoy today, NaNoers!

Monday, 19 November 2012

3 Days of No Writing - Hiatus Thoughts!

Well, after an absolute blast of writing last week, this weekend I had loads on, mainly fun stuff, so I'm not complaining, but it meant I got about 50 words total written (bit of a come down from 50K :P). I'm not bothered about my word count, because I think I should still be able to complete the first draft of my novel before the end of the month, but it does impact my flow when I stop midstream. I'll have to do a bit of rereading this morning to get the mojo back (I hope) and then launch into the next scene.

One thing that has been nagging me, and it does tend to nag more in hiatuses, is that there's something missing from the plot. I don't know what it is yet, and I'm not going to push it, it will either hit me before I reach the end, or during draft 2, but I am sure there is some piece of impetus missing, something to give the story that extra zing. I'm not talking a gimmick, or anything like that, I'm talking an undercurrent that I'm not pushing enough. It may only be a few lines here and there, a tweak of a sentence to subvert the atmosphere, but I won't know until it hits me, because I'm sure it's going to be one of those Zen and The Art of Writing moments. Until it does hit me, though, it's bloody annoying sitting there in the back of my head, poking me, but not actually forming properly.

Ah well, I'll just have to get on with the main plot, where there is plenty left to do.  Have fun today NaNoers (I think that's the point of writing most of the time) - see ya on the other side!

Friday, 16 November 2012

Oops got a bit carried away yesterday...

I got a bit carried away yesterday, I came downstairs with several ideas in my head and I was so desperate to get them into Scrivener, that I thought, I'll just leave the blog post till lunch time. Well, I was so distracted that I forgot to do it entirely and it wasn't because I edged over the 50K mark yesterday, although I did do a little dance of celebration when I did. No, it was because I was in the middle of hallucinations that were proving both very difficult to write and very interesting - a good challenge.

I started them two days ago, and had bits, but I came to the conclusion in the wee hours that they were too ordered, and there was not enough contrast between them, after all, I wanted to explore more than one aspect of my protagonist's warped little psyche :). That's why I leapt in, I had a whole bundle of ideas and they were changing what I'd written the day before almost completely.

I don't think the hallucinations are complete, I think I'll be visiting them again, but not now, they have the structure I want now and a good deal of the content, I'll go back and attack them with fresh eyes in draft 2. Now I have to march on. I have some good character scenes to write now thanks to the fall out from the hallucinations. Some discoveries to be made and some discussions to be had. Quite a lot of character conflict, plus I have an antagonist to deal with. Not all today, though, because I'm just about to go out to do the weekend food shop, I have an appointment for a hair cut this afternoon and I don't think taking my laptop to a fancy restaurant this evening would look very good! :P

So, onwards - see ya on the other side NaNoers! :D

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Day 14: I talk to the trees....

As my father still loves to sing to young children to make then laugh: I talk to the trees, that's why they put me away!

My writing today has to be deliriously good, literally, since I have to write a rather significant hallucination. Now, before everyone groans and thinks I'm about to trick my reader with a dream sequence, how clichéd, I'll say now, I'm not. No trickery involved, well not for the reader anyway. I use dream sequences (not trick ones I hasten to add) several times in Death In The Family, they're the way Tom remembers his childhood, drawing it out of his subconscious. However, the hallucination is not a dream sequence, it's much more of an acid trip and does not serve the same purpose as the dreams; it's not looking backward, it's looking at the now and beyond. It is reality mixed with what is in the mind and so it has to have a different feel to the dreams. It's also a journey with way points I already have planned and I have to develop that progression convincingly. Not sure how it's going to pan out, there may be some scratches and restarts today, but I'm looking forward to writing it.

So, into day 14! Good luck fellow NaNoers - see ya on the other side!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Day 13 - Unlucky for some, but not for me, I hope

Yesterday was a bit of an unexpected slog. I did manage 3K and a little bit, but that little bit, 400wds, I think may end up in the bin during draft 2. I even had to jump part of a scene because it just wasn't flowing, which is as close as I get to truly writing out of order. However, the scenes that followed went okay.

Today, I'm ready and raring to go. One of the scenes I wrote yesterday is missing a chunk, I didn't know it at the time, not like the one I jumped, but there is a whole conversation that Tom needs to have with Sean. I also have in my little head the transition from that scene to the next, which was eluding me yesterday and was why I stopped.

So, yay for me! :P Now I just have to deliver today's potential!

Keep going NaNoers, Tues 13th will be a good day!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Day 12 - 3K a day is good for me!

No NaNo yesterday, since I was at a Remembrance Service yesterday morning and then with friends most of the rest of the day, so I have to make up 1.5K today and tomorrow, or 1K each over three days.

I get to bring Tom's past and his present together today, since I'm introducing someone from London to the folks of Coombedown. It's funny, though, even a day without writing and I'm needing to go back over more scenes to get back into the feel of it. I think that maybe the NaNo pace is good for my creative juices, I shall have to try and keep it up after NaNo. I don't think 3K a day is too much to ask for a professional writer in full flow. Of course, I will have planning and editing days as well, which are set aside for November in favour of word count, but I think I shall set my bar at 3K from now on.

So, day 12, onwards!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

We Will Remember Them

We Will Remember Them
Poppies In Sunshine by Sophie Duncan

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

When You Go Home, 
Tell Them Of Us And Say, 
For Your Tomorrow, 
We Gave Our Today.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

New Character Today, a Positive Trickster

Oof, some pretty emotional scenes yesterday! I've been handling a loose end, the death of a character in the previous book and I actually had myself crying at one point - we'll see in the reread in a month's time whether what was in my head made it onto the page. It's difficult in these types of scenes to keep the words from going very purple. I am prone to purple anyway, so I have to be careful and sometimes in my attempts not to be purple, the emotion gets thinned down too much. Not going back yet tho'.

So, today, day 10, well, I'm ready and raring to go, which is good, because I have to do quite a lot of typing today, since I don't think I'll get much done tomorrow (going out to lunch). A new subplot arrives today, something to toss things around a bit and put what has happened into the context of the wider world, a normal person's viewpoint as it were. I've been looking forward to introducing this character, he's been in my head since the beginning of book 1; he's a trickster in that mischief follows him around, but he's not intentionally bad, unlike my antagonist, and he's going to be good for Tom, he needs loosening up!

So, once more into the (NaNo) breach, dear friends - see ya on the other side! :D

Friday, 9 November 2012

Iterations - keeping them whole!

Apart from scaring myself witless again with a combination of GDrive, Scrivener and two computers yesterday ( NOTE TO SELF: must make sure GDrive is on and has updated Scrivener files before opening NaNo project on upstairs computer, then I won't scare myself and think half my story is gone again - I've done it twice now), the writing bit went extraordinarily well. This may sound odd, since I'm 28K in, but I feel like I'm sinking into the characters properly now - I foresee significant rewrites/tweaks for draft 2 to the first section.

I'm getting back into the sense of Tom, my protagonist, and the pace feels right now. I think the early sections need a few more hooks, or angles, some jiggling and chopping to make the scenes more interesting. It may not turn out that way, that's just my instinct not having reread it, but I'll know when I jump into draft 2. For now, plot and structure are down and I'm not going back on myself until I have the first draft fully in my head.

I work iteratively, but I know from experience that I have to deal with whole iterations of a plot, otherwise I disappear into a blackhole of smaller and smaller tweaks on little sections which may end up being tossed anyway once the whole draft is finished. It is very difficult to resist tweaking, especially when I reread the previous day's section in the morning to kick me back into writing gear, but I must resist!

Well, onwards into Day 9. Keep going fellow NaNoers, talk to ya on the other side! :D

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Staying in the flow

Well, my main antagonist for the plot is now firmly established and sewing discord wherever he goes, but I have to start weaving my subplots together properly in the next few scenes. I have a couple yet to introduce that are important, one for resolving tensions from book 1, and one for introducing some new ones to push the book along. They should flow seamlessly into each other, but I am trying to avoid the sense of everything coming to Tom, my protagonist, one after the other, like they're being parachuted in from the sky, which is a risk, because of the isolated nature of his situation at the beginning of the story.

So, now I have to widen Tom's horizons. He's been focused down on routine and the everyday and now I have to let him spread his wings a little and take the reader outside of his everyday. My antagonist is a rather good catalyst for this, since he's already upsetting routines and threatening the status quo. He's going to push Tom out of his comfort zone, not too far, I'm not heading for a plot climax only 25K wds in, but the ripples of change need to get a bit bigger.

Upwards and onwards, or should that be outwards? :) See ya on the other side, NaNoers! x

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Well, I wasn't expecting that at all!

No I'm not talking about the US election - but since everyone seems to be on that subject this morning, from a non-US citizen, who had been dismayed at rights being denied women more and more around the world as radicalism takes hold, well done Mr Obama, I'm glad the US is not going the same way!

Okay, politics done, what I AM talking about is yesterday's NaNo session. I started out writing a scene I thought I had all planned, but as I launched into it, my brain said, this is boring, what's your point with this scene, how is it furthering the plot? And my subconscious had a good point. The scene as it stood was an okay scene, a bit of tension, but it was mainly all one level, no real development. Then my brain remembered an idea that I think I dreamed, or at least I had it in those minutes before the alarm goes off when you're still half asleep, but mostly waiting for the alarm, y'know the ones? It was quite a little piece of drama and I wondered if it was going to be too much, too soon, but in the end, I thought, hell, might as well give it a go and see how it pans out.

Turns out, it worked rather well, firmly establishing the antagonist and revealing some plot points that are going to be useful later, even though I hadn't thought through the bit they're going to be useful for until I walked down stairs this morning to start writing.

Sometimes the subconscious can be a wonderful thing! :D

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Conclusion: Pantsing doesn't work for me!

Well, at the very least, pantsing* slows me down. The last few days, a number of factors have meant I've been working on scenes that either didn't exist in my plan, or needed to be modified significantly, and I have come to one stunning conclusion (okay not so stunning): pantsing it takes longer for me than planned scenes. Now, I'm not talking about those Zen moments when everything just flows and it's all brilliant, I love it when those happen. I'm talking about jobbing it, writing my needed wc for the day, i.e. working through the bits that need to be thought through and structuring the scene to drop in the needed hints and clues to the reader for what is going to happen later.

Well, anyway, conclusion aside, I managed 3K yesterday, NOT the 5K I was aiming for - see, pantsing is not my most productive mode, although it was quite fun. Today, I have a scene I've been thinking about for a while, although for some reason it's not in my plan, so not quite pantsing, but still, bad Sophie! And I have to rearrange some later scenes, because, guess what, pantsing the previous ones means that they need to be jiggled. Mixing planning and pantsing clearly is detrimental to the anal little me who likes to write notes longer than the actual scene :P.

*Definition pantsing - writing by the seat of one's underwear. Pantser - a person who habitually writes in this manner.

Monday, 5 November 2012

And I missed a bit!

Yesterday wasn't the complete NaNo washout I thought it was going to be: I did manage to start writing at 9pm last night and did an hour. My target is 90K wds, since I want to finish the first draft of my sequel to Death In The Family, and I'm aiming for between 80K and 90K length. This means just under 3K a day, and  so both Saturday and Sunday were a bust as far as that target went. Despite the fact I had extra wds to spare from the previous three days, it still feels like cheating not to make the word count. So, today, I'm aiming for 5K wds, since I was 2K short over the weekend.

Today should be interesting in terms of writing content, because I realised this morning that I have forgotten one fairly vital plot line during my planning (not vital to this story, but to future ones), and now I have to weave it into the narrative. To be fair, the reason I remembered it is because I've reached a scene where it would slot in nicely, but I must drop it in other places as well.

SOO, I'm aiming high today! :) Good luck NaNoers with your own WC's (word counts not water closets :P) today and see you on the other side!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Tricky Day Ahead

Today is going to be a tricky day for NaNo, so I'm glad I have a few thousand words to spare in the bag. 

#1, I slept in late, because yesterday was a late night and a nervous day (I had trouble concentrating because I was all nervous about the fact that my sister, my brother-in-law and me were going to see someone perform our very first play, okay so it was only 10 minutes, but it was for Halloween and had to be tension building and scary, it managed both in the end, but that didn't stop me being distracted all day worrying about it :P).

#2, we have guests for Sunday Lunch, which means I will get bugger all done this afternoon. It will be a good afternoon, no doubt, but still, NaNo fingers will be a-twitching!

Despite the distraction, I did get a couple of thousand words written yesterday, and, I cheated a bit, I jumped over the awkward scene that I mentioned I had decided I had to write yesterday, because, after half an hour of starting sentences and then erasing them, over and over again, I decided to leave that scene on the back burner of Zen and the Art of Scene Writing. Knowing that scene was there, though, did lead to four new scenes I hadn't planned, since I had a clearer idea of what I was trying to achieve with the 'first day' scenes that I'm currently writing.

I need to drop the reader in slowly, reintroduce the situation for those who have read book 1, Death In The Family, and make it possible to understand what is going on for those who might just have picked the book up to have a read in isolation. This being my first novel-length sequel, this is my first foray into the delicate art of balancing previous book back story with progressing the new plot. I think I'm managing okay, we'll see.

Well, on to day 4, starting late and scrabbling to get some words down before the guests arrive :)

Best Wishes fellow NaNoers, see ya on the other side!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

NaNo Day 3 - Launch!

I'm starting to dream in NaNo :) Which is a good thing, because I woke up this morning telling myself show don't tell. I don't know about anyone else, but when I'm getting tired towards the end of a NaNo writing session, sometimes my judgement slips a bit and sleeping on the result helps.  Yesterday, I finished a scene and wrote a few lines of exposition connecting it into the next scene. Only thing was, I have come to conclusion I need to show that last bit I jumped over. It's an awkard bugger to write, which is why I probably jumped it in the first place, if I'm honest, but my writerly instincts are telling me to dig in and write it.

My intention at the beginning of the book is to show the routine that Tom has slotted into since the end of book 1, a routine he is using as a bit of a crutch and shield against long-term thinking and planning. I will shortly be shattering that routine with a large sideways swipe, and I want the contrast to be significant, but I also want to show that his regimented little world is brittle and has it's cracks anyway, before the big side swipe, and the scene I was avoiding is perfect for that.

So, back to the grindstone. Enjoy the day peeps. See ya on the other side! :)

Friday, 2 November 2012

Keeping Up The First Flush of NaNo Enthusiasm

I saw some really good first day totals around yesterday, well done everyone. Now, on day 2, we just have to keep up the good work! ;P

It's gonna be a late start for me today, because it's Friday and we (the family, Mama, Papa and my sis) go out for breakfast together. Means I'll be starting a good hour and a half after my start point of yesterday. However, I'm enjoying the story, it seems to be flowing well, although I did note yesterday that afternoon that my pace slowed, so I will have to put in more effort today to maintain the pace all day. I stopped about 4pm yesterday, trying to pace myself and not burn out too early. Today will be later because of the later start.

So, onwards first to breakfast and then to build on my total of 4474.

Good luck NaNoers today! See you on the other side!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Time to write a novel!

NaNoWriMo is finally upon us and, I have to say, I am illogically a bit nervous! It's not that I haven't written 50K in a month before, I wrote 140K in July, so I know I can do it, but this is my first NaNo. I am looking forward to it though. I've been planning this sequel since I finished Death In The Family, well bits of it anyway, and I am raring to dive in :).

So, I am going dark until at least lunch time. I am acutally turning off the internet, no email, no Google+, no Twitter. I may, on occasion use it for a bit of research, but that will be it. because I know what I'm like, I'll start reading my stream and get distracted and that is not the way to write a novel! :P

So farewell, my friends, at least for 3 hours. See you on the other side of my first NaNo writing session!