Daily Writing Check-in: October 24, 2017

Words/Time: 2 hours & 15 minutes of NaNoPrep

First, I spent 45 minutes finishing my conversation with Vin. By the end, I had a much better grasp on something that need a lot more explanation than I’d taken the time to come up with. I even had a (possibly) brilliant idea for the climax of the story, which I jotted down with a question mark to muse on, because as brilliant as it might seem, it’s way out of left field and potentially makes no sense.

And in fact, today, I added a little more to that question–something that makes it actually possible…but more musing is needed. Meanwhile, I still have an outline that’s barely started.

So I opened up my timeline and…promptly realized that some of my entries there were really skewed. I thought I’d solved all of this in previous weeks, but there I was again, back to tinkering with my timeline for an hour and a half.

Now let me just say, this is not just the timeline for my NaNoNovel. This is the timeline for 6 potential novels (some drafted, some just solid ideas) that all intertwine in a way that used to bring me glee, and now gives me a headache. There were 2 events (both related to that climactic moment I’m hoping for) that needed to happen in a certain order, but were way off.

Then while fixing those, I realized that two other events (neither directly related to “Vin”) happened in an order that made me very sad. So I moved some things, aged one character a bit, shortened a stretch of time, and lengthened 2 other stretches of time, just to make sure that one of my overall main characters was able to experience a particular moment (a happy moment…she deserves a happy moment).

This involved a lot of shifting groups of events this way or that, until I was satisfied with where everything was in relation to each other. In the end, there are a few things that unintentionally ended up in better position than I’d had them in, and I’m pretty happy with the timeline, I think. If I need to make changes in the future, I think they’ll be small changes.

(By the way, if anyone reading this could use a good timeline program, I highly recommend Aeon Timeline, which is what I use, and the reason I was able to shift my events back and forth so much. Though frankly, I still use the original, as opposed to Aeon 2, because I prefer the way you can see all arcs stacked on each other, as well as which people are involved, at the same time. If this is possible in Aeon 2, I haven’t figured out how.)

Though NaNoWriMo is now about a week away (so all of the other NaNo blogs out there tell me!), I am feeling a little more confident right now. If nothing else, my timeline should provide a decent outline if I run out of time to make the normal outline. And I do think I’ve hit on a way to break through any blocks (it might not work with every story, but for some reason, it works with this one), by just going right to the source and asking Vin himself. It’s really coming together, and I’m starting to get more excited to write this than I thought I’d be.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 23, 2017

Words/Time: 312 words writing practice & 1 hour NaNoPrep

I did some writing practice with prompts, which is where the words came from. Some of it was about Vin, some of it was not.

Then I worked for 1 hour trying to make sense of the gaping plot hole I discovered while outlining yesterday. I had hit on some possible answers during my brainstorming yesterday, but I couldn’t quite organize my thoughts. So I got out my Neo and I did something that I’ve rarely done before. I started asking questions of Vin to see if he could help me make sense of my questions.

I still feel a little odd when I do this (or maybe just admitting that I do this), but it worked wonders. I still have some more to figure out, but his explanations for some of what I knew had to happen, but didn’t know why, made sense. I’ll definitely have to continue this line of questioning later.

I am acutely aware of how close NaNoWriMo is, and I don’t feel remotely prepared. Hopefully this crunch time will really drive my creativity.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

A Monday Moment: Vin & Missy

Normally I put any prompts involved with a Monday Moment writing at the bottom, but I thought it was important to state it at the beginning this time.

From my Writer’s Emergency Pack, #9, question 1: Picture your hero on a date with each of the major characters in the story.
Vin and Missy are both major characters in my NaNoNovel, “Vin.”
The following gets a little meta.


They stared across the table at each other awkwardly.

“So…which one of us is the hero in this scenario?” Vin asked with a smirk.

Missy rolled her eyes.

“Hey, it’s a legitimate question. We don’t even know how much you’ll be in the book.”

“Oh, please,” Missy said, straightening up in her chair. “Every time a new book is written, I manage to push my way in to a near-main-character role.”

“Not the ones about Alexander.”

“Alexander is on his own quest so much, he is fine as the lead. You, on the other hand…”

“What about me?”

“We’re all still getting used to the idea of you not being a sociopath. It was all a lot easier when you…”

“When I was just plain evil?”

“Well, yeah…”

“So why am I not anymore?”

“That’s a better question for someone else, but I’d say it’s because you weren’t interesting enough to drive a story that way.”

“And now I am?”

“You’re complex. You have real motivation, as skewed as it may be.”

He opened his mouth to protest, but she silenced him with a raised hand.

“You garner sympathy–that’s the important thing. You saw a need and tried to help. Your somewhat broken past may have led you to a dark place during your quest, but your underlying intentions were good.”

He didn’t even try to say anything. What she was saying reminded him of Pastor Lede. Considering how he had always treated Missy, she was giving him more kindness than he deserved.

“This is supposed to be a date, you know,” he said.

“I know.”

“But how do you leave him out of it?”

Missy shook her head. “I think we’ve already ruined the premise. I’ll try to do better with Alexander.”

“There you go again, presuming you’re the hero,” he said, stopping short of sighing.

She stared across the table at him intently. “Vin, you may be the main protagonist, but do you really expect anyone to buy you as the hero?”

“Maybe it depends on who you ask.”

 

Daily Writing Check-in: October 22, 2017

Words/Time: 319 words & 45 minutes NaNoPrep

I did some writing practice with a prompt, which is where the words came from. It was completely unrelated to my NaNoNovel (well, that’s not true, because it was still in that world, just nothing that really relates to the NaNoNovel).

Then I worked for 45 minutes, starting from scratch on an outline. After realizing I was going completely the wrong direction with my outline, I started over. That led me to my timeline of events, and trying to figure out what on earth Vin is thinking, and why he does some of what he does. I was staring at yet another gaping plot hole, so I stopped outlining and started asking questions to try to fix this hole. That’s where I left off.

There’s a big part of me that wonders if the only way this novel will work is to alter a lot of “givens” that have happened in other stories I’ve drafted. It’s not a pleasant thought.

 


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Tools for NaNoWriMo: Neo

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(Disclaimer: Just like most of my posts on my NaNoPrep tips page, this isn’t specific to NaNoWriMo; it’s just a good time to break out tips like this.) A few years ago I came across a crowd-funding campaign for a portable, electric typewriter called a Hemingwrite. It provided a way to connect to your computer and retrieve what you wrote, but while using it, you would be free of distractions, because there was just a little screen for the words to go into–no browser, no social media, nothing that might normally pull you away from your writing. I really liked the idea of it, but it was quite pricey.

I don’t remember exactly how I first came across Alphasmart. I may have read an article about alternatives to the Hemingwrite (by this time called the Freewrite). But I did a little research and found out that the Alphasmart Neo was everything I might want in a portable, distraction-free word processor. The research told me that Alphasmart no longer produced new items, but that used Neos (and other Alphasmart items) could be found for sale on places like Amazon. Sure enough, I found several for an average of $30 a piece.

I dropped the hint to my husband that it would make a great Christmas present (I think it was during November last year that all of this happened), and he came through.

Neo
Just like the reviews said, this keyboard is exactly what I would want it to be! It can store separate files, saves as you go, has (from my experience so far) great battery life, and it runs on AA batteries. It has a small screen, which can be helpful in making sure you don’t see too much of your text at a time, distracting yourself while writing. But there are 5 options for font sizes so you can go from 6 lines with very small font all the way to 2 lines with really big font.

When you’re ready to transfer your writing to a computer, it’s a simple procedure. There’s a cable that plugs into the Neo, and then plugs into a USB port (if the cord doesn’t come with the Neo, it can be purchased separately). You open whatever program you want the text to go into–Word, Google Docs, Scrivener, etc–make sure you’re on the right file, and then push the “send” button. It’s not a simple file transfer; it “types” the text onto your computer. The more text you have in the file, the longer it takes. You definitely want to do this when you aren’t going to need your computer for a few minutes, because it transfers it to the active program. If you click away to something else, it will continue transferring, trying to type into that other program. That is one of only 2 downsides I’ve found with the Neo so far.

The other downside is that some of the keyboard shortcuts take a while to get used to. (Note: I’m a PC user, so I don’t know how this is for Mac users.) If you’re like me, and used to using “end” and “home” buttons to quickly navigate your text, you will have to relearn some new commands. “Home” takes you to the beginning of the entire document, not just the beginning of the line. Some shortcuts and commands are on the underside of the keyboard, but I did end up looking up a manual online to find more (mine didn’t come with a manual).

Speaking of commands, the Neo has a built-in spell checker, word count function, find & replace, and other things that can be helpful for writers of all sorts.

I have plans to sew up a sleeve for it, because it will fit into my Handbag of Holding for when I want to take it places (or a laptop bag or tote bag), but I don’t want it to get dirty or hurt. I am really looking forward to seeing how it helps my NaNoWriMo next month; it’s already been of great use so far. I haven’t had much occasion to take the Neo away from home to write, mostly because it’s not as imperative to write wherever I am outside of NaNo. I have used it, though, for writing practice, outlining a story over the course of a couple of days, and I’m even writing this blog post on it. It’s more convenient than a laptop if I even just want to go sit on the couch to write, and as much as I enjoy writing by hand, it’s faster (I do still write by hand though).

How about you? What portable writing devices do you use–whether a laptop, tablet, paper & pencil, or anything else? Does the Neo look appealing to you?

Daily Writing Check-in: October 21, 2017

Words/Time: 2 hours

As I try to work my way back to a daily writing habit while working a demanding job, I had to come to a decision to not push myself if I didn’t have time or mental energy to do much writing work. I read a blog post that talked about finding ways to keep the mind in the writing, even when you can’t spend much time on it. I realized that the best way to avoid dropping back off again, or experiencing frustration or guilt over not doing any work, was to allow myself to do anything that kept my mind in the stories as my writing work for the day, even if it wasn’t strictly writing (or planning, revising, etc).

Yesterday I felt a little odd about saying that the work I did for the day was creating aesthetics for stories that I’ve already written at least a partial draft of. But after a long week of a lot of working and a lot of leaving the house for work (I normally work from home as much as I can, and as a major introvert, leaving the house to go somewhere 5 days of the week, and knowing there’s a lot more of that coming next week, has worn me down), I just couldn’t get my mind back into the writing. So I worked on those aesthetics some more, and finished them. That’s what I did for 2 hours today.

Tomorrow I will hopefully be rested enough to get back to my outline, or at least more character discovery for the protagonist in my NaNoNovel.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 20, 2017

Words/Time: undefinable amount of work done

So first, I did spend about 12 minutes talking through my issues with the outline for “Vin” (my NaNoNovel) that I started yesterday. It started with just expressing my frustrations to my husband, and then I think I worked out some of the problem. So it counts!

Last night, or rather early this morning, I stayed up way too late working on a project that came to me unexpectedly and sort of took over my attention for several hours.

I recently decided that at some point soon (maybe before NaNo…maybe after) I want to write up a post that attempts to explain the tangled mess of stories I’m working on. I have 6 storylines in mind that are all in the same story world, contain the same characters in varying roles, and largely all happen around the same time, and intertwine in various ways. There will probably be more than 6, but there are 6 that are developed enough to mention.

I don’t know how well I can explain this without giving spoilers, but I’m going to try. Last night/this morning, I got it in my mind to come up with an aesthetic for all of them, to add to that post. I made one last week for my NaNoNovel, and it’s the first time I’ve ever created something like that. I enjoyed it, and even enjoyed the way it made me think about the themes or visual aspects of my story. So I started looking for images for each of the other 5 storylines that I plan to post about. Here’s a sneak peek at one of them:

Pithea cropped

Yes, I’d rather be able to say I did some work on my outline, or even some more writing practice. But I didn’t get home from work until around 10:30 this evening, and I still had to eat supper. It’s been a rough week at work (lots of evening meetings), and I already told myself I wouldn’t push it if work was causing issues with getting to my writing. Making some visual representations of my stories is fun and still in the spirit of writing work, so I’m counting it.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 19, 2017

Words/Time: 137 words written, and 34 minutes of work done

The words were a short bit of free writing using another word from the list I’ve been using. The work was ACTUAL OUTLINING for my NaNoNovel! After several attempts and only an empty Scrivener file to show for it, I finally realized that I just needed to outline by hand first. I was trying to outline in Scrivener so I could just put the scenes right into there as I wrote them in November, but I realized that I don’t know where scenes will be separated yet. The way I normally outline is just plot point after plot point, and sometimes one line is an entire scene, but sometimes one scene comes out in 8 lines. I need to get the outline going before I can put scenes into Scrivener (if I even do that in advance). So I have almost a full page’s worth of outline, and barely got far in the story. But it did show me one thing.

I have this tendency to want to obfuscate as much as I can in a story. If I can fool the reader into thinking something else is happening than what is, even if just for a sentence or two, I do. If I can take two somewhat separate storylines and merge them together, but not give the reader any clue as to how they connect until 2/3 of the way through the story…oh, I love it!

I had it in mind to do something like that for this book, but since this book (I think) should be released after a few others, the things that I’m trying to keep secret are going to be pretty obvious to anyone who’s read the other books. So now I have to decide if I can salvage that obfuscation, or if I should just write it more normally.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

My NaNoWriMo Tradition

I have participated in NaNoWriMo 7 times in the past. Though I “won” every year (wrote at least 50k words in the 30-day time limit), I would argue varying degrees of success in those wins.

Lifetime stats

Flames, on the sides of my face…

Just like each year has a different visual theme on the website, each year has a different memorable thing about it for me. Like 2012 was the year I pantsed it (rough year); 2014 was the year I blogged it (not the novel, just how the month went); 2016 was the year I barely remember (hiding in a [figurative] cave…).

One of my favorite traditions for NaNo is to buy a t-shirt to commemorate the event. In recent years, I’ve taken to pre-ordering the winner shirt. It may be a bit presumptuous of me, but now that I think about it, that may have been what pushed me to finish last year, when I was 13,000 words behind coming into day 27. I would have felt such shame having a winner’s shirt if I didn’t win.

So every year I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo, I’ve bought a shirt…except one. My very first year, 2007, I don’t think I even knew they sold shirts. Or perhaps I wasn’t quite as connected to the event. Whatever the reason, I didn’t buy one. In the last 2 years or so, I’ve wished I had one. In the online store, they have various versions of previous years’ shirts still for sale, but not back to 2007. I’ve searched online on different occasions, but never even saw an image of what it would look like.

Until a few weeks ago. I was commenting on a blog post about how a NaNo t-shirt has become my souvenir every year, and decided to search online again. And lo and behold–I found one for sale on eBay! It wasn’t my size, but still, I had new hope. A few days later I was sharing my excitement with my husband, and when I brought up the page, it was a different listing, and it was in my size! He told me to buy it right away, so I did!

2007 shirt

I feel a little silly getting so excited over a t-shirt, but not half as silly as I feel about the way I reacted when I found out that it had a hole in it the first time I wore it. (No, I didn’t cry…but I was utterly dejected.) It’s not in a helpful place like a seam either, but right on the stomach, and it’s big enough for me to suspect a fix job won’t look great. We’ve contacted the seller (it was definitely there when I put it on), but I don’t hold out a lot of hope for that working out. (For one thing, I don’t see any indication that they have any more for sale now, so even if they give us a refund, it probably won’t be able to be replaced. Though if they offer a refund, I will be content with that.)

I don’t want that to spoil the purpose of this post though. Getting a NaNo shirt every year that I participate is a tradition that I really enjoy and will continue to do.

My NaNoWriMo Tradition

I haven’t ordered the winner’s shirt for this year yet, but I may still…and if I don’t win, I will just have to edit this graphic to the regular shirt, because no matter what happens, I know I’ll get a 2017 shirt.

Do you have any NaNoWriMo traditions? Do you get some kind of souvenir when you participate?

 

 

Daily Writing Check-in: October 18, 2017

Words/Time: 755 words

I continued where I left off yesterday, free writing using a card in my Writer Emergency Pack. I finally finished the first question, and this last date my “hero” went on turned out really revealing. I almost don’t want to answer the other 2 questions on the card, partly because the first one took so long already, and partly because it’s now the 18th, and I need to get going on an outline. The other two questions don’t intrigue me at all either, but I have learned that it’s good to not ignore writing prompts just because I don’t see anything amazing coming out of them. Some of the ones that started with me thinking, “Meh, this will be boring,” have produced results that I’ve quite liked.

At this point, I’m just glad I’ve been able to do some free writing this week, because I’ve been a little crazy with work-related activities this week. I’ve also been free writing in a notebook, which I missed.

Oh, and I almost forgot that some of those words were a short amount of free writing using the 3rd prompt on this list. There’s a character that I killed off in my first novel, but have recently questioned if he really needed to die, and am strongly considering letting him live. And if he lives, he will be in many other novels (albeit in a side role). And he will be a leader. And he will be awesome. So I wrote about him.

I can’t believe I let myself go a year and a half without writing. Somehow I forgot how much fun it can be! I really can’t wait for NaNoWriMo right now; I almost don’t care how little planning I end up with at the end of the month.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)