Re-Writes & Happiness

writing in class
This is my notebook for my math class.  Only there’s about twice as much novel-writing as math notes in it, because I write in class a lot.

I’m once again finding myself in the vast green land of Re-Writes.  To be honest, I think this might be my favorite part of novel-creation.  The rough draft is hard because I’m not sure where the story is supposed to be going, and then later, edits are monotonous and they just take forever.

But in between those two, there are Re-Writes.  For me, this is the sweet spot of writing.  It’s the mysterious Wood Between the Worlds, where the real story starts to take place.

Right now I’m working on a fun, snarky, YA urban-fantasy novel that I originally wrote for NaNoWriMo in 2015.  After a year and a half of very little love, it’s finally getting the attention it deserves.  Because here’s the thing: in NaNo, I didn’t really have an idea of what I wanted the plot to be.  I knew very little going into that November, and just hard-core ‘Pantsed’ my way through the month (in other words, behaved like a Pantser, or one who flies by the seat of their pants when writing as opposed to outlining first).  So then on December 1st, I was left with 50,002 words of cool characters, a great voice, a fantastic world, and very rambling plot.  So now I’m taking all those things and adding characters, tension, and a real plot.  In other words, I’m doing re-writes.

And it’s amazing.  I’ve already written the rough draft, so I’m that much closer to having a complete, ready-to-share-with-the-world story.  (Or at least share with my mom.)  The fact that the rough draft is already done gives me strength and hope.

done the impossible, that makes us mighty

But also, I’m still in the writing phase (I’m creating like 10 new chapters out of nowhere), which is the best because WRITING IS FUN.  And since I’ve written the end of the story (or a version of the end), I know where this needs to go.  I know (sortof) what needs to happen.  I have the bare-bones story, and I can then add in a plot: complete with conflict, stakes, and motivation.

So, yeah.  Remember this quote?

first draft

I love this quote.  I live by this quote.

For this novel, I’ve written the rough draft.  I’ve hauled in the sand.

And now, my friends, it’s time to start building castles.

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NaNoWriMo Thoughts

 

20160921_164639_29805381896_oIt’s almost October.  While all normal people are starting to plan their Halloween costumes, we writers are starting to plan our novels for November.

Or, if you’re me, you’ve just jumped into an editing frenzy.

(I seem to remember doing this last year as well.  Good job, Beth.)

With the leaves starting to fall, I think it’s time to have a discussion about NaNoWriMo that’s been a long time coming.

Last November, I won NaNoWriMo.  It was my first time truly participating, and it was 30 days of late nights and strong coffee and writing with strangers who became friends.

It started out with me loving the fact that I was finally getting this new idea out of my head and onto paper.  But then it turned into me abandoning all concept of “plot” in favor of meeting a wordcount goal each day.

The end result was a very quickly-written, but not very cohesive novel.

It took me only 30 days to write 50,000 words.

My previous novel had taken me 2 years to write 100,00 words.  (The novel’s about 80,000 words, but the first quarter had to be re-written mostly from scratch.)

So, NaNo’s great, right?!  You basically speed through the rough-draft process!  Yay!

Well, yes.  And no.

‘And it is also said,’ answered Frodo: ‘Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.’   -JRR Tolkien, Fellowship of the Ring

NaNo is great because it gets you writing every day.  It connects you with other writers online and in your local area.  It makes writing fun again in a new and exciting way.  And at the end of the month, you will (hopefully) have 50,000 words of a manuscript done.

But here’s where NaNo fell short for me:  At the end of November, I walked away from my NaNo novel.

I was terrified to even touch it because I knew it was an utter train wreck.

I am just now brave enough (or curious enough) to have read through that novel and see if it’s worth salvaging.  I’m happy to report that it is, and that I’ve started the editing process.

But I think that for some of us, NaNoWriMo is too intense.  We burn so bright that we burn ourselves out.  We write something so fast that we lose sight of what we wanted it to be in the first place.

So while I am planning on signing up for NaNo2016, but I’m not going to beat myself up to meet a daily word-count goal.  I’m going to try to follow a plot of some sort while writing.  And I’m not going to sacrifice quality for quantity.  My tentative plan is to do a “half-nano,” where I write 25,000 words in the month.  They’ll be 25,000 words that follow and actual plot and make sense.

imag0539_27457904034_oSo, back to editing.  I’m finally working on last November’s novel.  For me, the first step in editing is reading through my novel and mapping out the plot points on index cards.  This first picture is the plot of The Sound of Color, and it was done on my closet at home.  The second one is for my 2015 NaNo novel, and it’s done on a wall of my dorm.

I love having the visual of what’s happening in the plot, and being able to see how one thing leads to the next.  I can also move the cards around or put up other cards with notes on them like “ADD A SCENE HERE” or “Come back and fix this!”

It allows me to focus on fixing the Big Issues with my plot before touching the Little Issues of chapters and words.

 

 

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Wherever you are, whatever your feelings are for NaNo, whether you’re editing or writing or working on query letters, or re-writing chapter 1 of your novel for the 18th time, just don’t quit.  You’re an amazing human being and the world needs to hear what you have to say.

And I hope to see you all this November.

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My Love-Hate Relationship with my NaNo Novel

Well, folks, I sincerely apologize for the lack of posts lately.  But the truth is, since NaNoWriMo ended, I’ve needed a break from anything writing-related.

But today I’d like to talk a bit about my feelings for this NaNoWriMo novel that I’ve spent the last week completely ignoring.

The first thing that comes to mind is burning hatred.  It is awful.  The plot makes no sense, and there are more plot holes than I can count.  The characters are flat, the dragons don’t get developed nearly at all, the first three chapters are in past tense instead of present, and just the whole thing is hugely awful.

Today, however, I made the decision to open up my MS and read some of what I wrote during November.  Just to see if it’s really as bad as I thought it was.

And guess what?  Some of it was.

But a lot of it wasn’t.

Okay.  So NaNoWriMo didn’t deliver a perfectly-plotted novel into my lap.  It didn’t drop life-like characters from the sky.  But it did do a lot for me.

It allowed me to write a rough – very rough – draft of a novel.  It allowed me to get an idea down on paper.  (Well, computer screen.  Same difference.) It allowed me to see where I need to go from here with this novel.  It gave me the chance to create some really cool characters, some incredibly amazing ideas, some scenes that make me want to laugh or cry or both.

And my favorite thing?  It allowed me develop this sarcastic, witty, informal voice that I am absolutely in love with.  My MC makes jokes and funny comparisons to herself, and it’s straight up awesome.  To show you how great it is, here are some examples:

I watch in horror as Brylee’s long, lovely black ringlets become choppy strands of limp, cheek-length hair. It’s like a pixie cut done by a drunk pixie.


 

“Alright!” she says when she’s done. “Now for Stage Two!”

I swallow. Stage One was just so much fun.


 

The hot pink lipstick makes me feel like a total weirdo. A pretty wierdo, but a weirdo nonetheless.


 

“Wait wait wait!” Brylee says. “Let me get a picture.” She pulls out her Iphone, holds it up, and waits. “Oh, never mind. It’s dead. Maybe we’ll buy one of those portable chargers while we’re in town, and I’ll get a picture when we get back.”

“If we get back,” I mutter under my breath.

“Right,” says Daniel. “Either we get captured and killed, or we have to face Brylee’s photography. It’s a no-win situation.”


 

I glance around at the shop. It is, by far, the biggest jewelry store I’ve ever been in. And – don’t tell Brylee – the first magic jewelry store I’ve ever been in. The store is actually two levels. That’s right. Because one huge floor of too-sparkly bracelets and necklaces isn’t enough.


 

The spiral staircase is like an escalator, just, you know, spiral. Man, if I’m shocked by a spiral-staircase-magic-escalator, I really need to get out in the magic world more.


 

I look at the blue earrings on the table in front of me. I do really want them. But it seems silly to want something as frivolous as earrings when our lives might end in about fifteen minutes.


 

I think I’m gonna break a rib from holding my breath this long.


 

“You’re awake! Good,” says Brylee.  “Here, I’ve brought you some clothes. You might want to, uh, take a shower…” She looks at the floor, like she’s trying not to be rude about my appearance/smell/the fact that it’s now been thirty-six hours, one fire, and two teleportations since my hair has been brushed.


 

I can’t help thinking about Eric on the way home. You’re pretty, he’d told me. He must have terrible vision.


 

I stroke Fangar under the chin, and he purrs a cute Dragon-Purr. You think your sister will get less angry later? I ask him.

She just wants to eat someone, he says innocently. I swallow hard.


 

Adileen is still staring at me funny. I wonder if she’s a bit afraid of dragons, or if she just thinks they’re gross and might mess up her dress.

Probably the latter.


 

So, even though there are a lot of things that are totally wrong with my novel, there is so much that I actually love.  And I think I needed to step away from it for a week in order to realize that.  To see that it might actually have potential someday.

But not right now.  I think I need a bit more space from it before I keep writing/ do re-writes.  It seems like a good project to work on while I’m querying TSOC.  Yes, you heard right.  I do indeed plan to start querying in the next couple months.  Just as soon as I get around to writing a super awesome query letter.  BLOG POST COMING SOON ABOUT WRITING QUERY LETTERS!

Questions I Ask Myself During NaNoWriMo

Hello everybody!  The first week of NaNoWriMo is over, and I’ve stayed above the word-count goal every day so far.  I’ve been to two write-ins and they were both amazing in every way possible.  I love where my story is going [usually].

But I’ve had some questions during the week:

  • How many twizzlers can a normal teenager consume in one day?  (Quite a few, apparently.)
  • Why is it that it takes me an hour to write 500 words when I’m by myself, but only ten minutes during a word-sprint at a write-in?
  • Who invented the whole write-in idea?  Are they a billionaire yet?  (They should be.)
  • Where did the Viking logo come from?  And what does it have to do with writing?
  • What the heck even is happening with my plot?
  • WHY AREN’T YOU BEHAVING LIKE I PLANNED YOU, CHARACTER??!
  • Um, hello.  Who are you?  (Me to a character that just showed up out of the blue.  He’s cool though so I’m keeping him.)
  • How does one spell chauffeur?  (I had to google it ’cause spell check had no idea what I was trying to type.  I know, I’m pathetic.)
  • How does one spell dandelion?  (I didn’t have to google it; I got it right on my first try!)
  • What even is a plot?  Why does my book need one?  They’re not important, right??  😉
  • Why doesn’t every human being participate in NaNoWriMo?  THEY NEED TO!
  • How many times can I complain about writing to my friends before they decide they’re not my friend anymore?
  • Is “teleportations” a word?  My [engineering major] friend said yes.  My spellchecker said no.  So I added it to my dictionary.  HAH, NOW IT’S A WORD.
  • How hard is it going to be to change the first chapter of my story from past tense to present?  (I switched after one chapter, and I like it a lot better this way.)
  • HOW DOES ONE WRITE IN FIRST PERSON?? I mean it’s easy to do, but am I doing it wrong?  I guess that’s what edits are for.  The people at Critique Circle are probably going to tear my writing style to shreds.
  • Has anyone else ever gotten a blister on their finger from typing?  Mine’s mostly gone away, but, like, a blister.  From writing.  [PROOF THAT WRITING IS HARD WORK.  Or something.]
  • Coffee, will you marry me?

Plot Thoughts

This post is actually NOT about Camp Nanowrimo.  (Well, not directly.)  Surprise!

When I started writing, I was a die-hard pantser.

Writing was like reading a book: I never knew what the characters were going to do, or say, or be.  If one of them died halfway through, great!  If they felt like meandering through a forest for eight pages, great!  There were no restrictions to where my imagination would take me.  And when I had that bizarre inspiration in the middle of the night, it would fit perfectly into the thing I called a plot.

Sure, I had some idea where the story was going (eventually), but it was allowed to take detours or scenic routes.

No more.

no more

I’m doing re-writes.  And I’m finally wrestling this monster called Plot under control.  It’s going down, kicking and screaming (and biting, too).  But it’s going down.

I know where my story starts now.  I know what the turning point is.  I’ve created conflict in the beginning (that was previously nonexistent).  I know about the conflict in the middle and the climax and the resolution.

Okay, so it still doesn’t fit into the magical Seven Points of Plotstuff (aka the Dan Wells Story Structure, as referenced today on one of my favorite blogs, Am I Doing This Right?)  or the Circus Tent for Instant Plotting (as referenced here on another of my favorite blogs, Crackin’ the WIP).

Actually, now that I look at the Dan Wells Thingy, maybe the Inciting Incident would be when Star meets Irsong and Emmella… and Plot Point 1 would be when she gets the Item… and then Pinch 1 when they find out he’s evil and they flee… and then… Plot Point 2… then…

Hey!  My plot actually matches that pretty well!  *Applauds myself*

The point to all this?  I really enjoyed being a pantser.  It gave me incredible freedom.  But going back and re-writing while knowing where I’m going is pretty cool too.  I loved the feeling I got while writing yesterday.  It was pure Oh-my-gosh-I-love-the-plot-and-this-conflict-is-beautiful-and-my-story-is-amazing-and-I-could-publish-this-someday.

Will I pants my next novel?  No idea.  Will I at least attempt an outline for it?  Probably.  Will I always be a pantser at heart?  I’m 99% sure the answer is yes.