NaNoWriMo Musings

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November has gone and another NaNoWriMo is over. Time to think about what I discovered.

First some basic stats. This was my sixth year of NaNo and my fourth win, writing at least 50,000 words. Other wins were: 2012 – Wyrm Blood; 2015 – Fates Maelstrom; 2016 – Eagle Passage. I did write over 50k in 2011 but failed to validate that total in time. Although I fell short some years and didn’t start in 2014, I have completed the first draft of every ‘novel’ by the end of the year. My ‘lifetime achievement’ – NaNo writing – is 354,334 words.

My daily average for this November was 2,008 words and as a result, I reached the 50k target on November 22nd, in time to celebrate Thanksgiving with my US family – without feeling that I ought to be writing. By the end of November, I had written 60,264 words of Ruined Retreat.

On reflection, I realise that with perseverance I can write 2,000 words per day – if I know roughly where I am going. I did have to minimise the time working on emails, checking Facebook, getting distracted but I wasn’t a total bore, I hope.

Back to that outline: a rough one, sketchier than with previous ‘novels’ but with the advantage of being Book 3 in the Snowdon Shadows series, so I knew some of the characters. Now, as I return to the fifth draft of Fates Maelstrom, Book 1 of the series, I know even more about the characters and where they are going.

Previously, I had plotted my novels with intricate detail, almost scene by scene. The problem was that diversions were difficult even if the characters demanded them. The danger of a too-rough outline is having too many wild plot horses to tame – as with Spiral of Hooves which took thirteen years to complete.

 

Dolbadarn Castle

Photo of Dolbadarn Castle, Snowdonia by Etrusia UK on Flickr

 

This time, I used a mystery plot template from The Novel Factory at https://www.novel-software.com/ and the three-act structure proved ideal, especially when I discovered that Scrivener had a similar three-act fiction template when I created the Ruined Retreat file. Having merged the two ‘guides’ to create, my novel flowed out more easily and logically. On November 26th, I completed the first draft and spent the next four days reading through what I had written, changing the glaring errors and marking the phrases that needed to be worked on and developed.

An interesting side-note is the research for this novel. Some research was done while I roughed out the plot, although that was more like compiling links for later use. I also marked up keywords in the text with Scrivener – yellow highlights and red text – to remind me where research was still needed. However, I must confess that my research brain doesn’t always switch off and niggles me until I check a fact. But I do ‘favourite’ the site if there’s too much to check, then knuckle down to writing more words.

Okay, 60,264 words are not going to be the final total for Ruined Retreat, but it’s the first draft so something to build on. I have finished a first draft during NaNo before but in most cases that was the furthest stage reached, even if they can be developed. This time, I won’t get to draft two for a while, but writing Ruined Retreat makes the earlier books in the series more achievable in 2018.

So, once I’ve cleared some non-writing priorities – like getting a good US health insurance policy and my UK tax return –  will make finishing Fates Maelstrom top of my agenda. But I suspect I’m facing a tough task deciphering the copious notes that were meant to bring order to a writhing plot some months ago.

Or do I just ignore the stray sheep and write knowing where I’m heading – towards a ruined retreat in Snowdonia?

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#IWSG – Favorite Aspect of Being a Writer

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I’m still struggling with my health so normal posts are postponed until…whenever.

For now, it’s time for my monthly post for Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day:

November 2 Question: What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?

If I had more than one novel published my answer might be different. I would have books to promote and readers to link with. However, I’m still at the early stages so I need to focus on those stages of writing.

For now, my favorite aspect must be able to take the germ of an idea and create an outline where that initial inspiration comes alive. Yes, the actual first draft is meant to bring that alive, but I find that my characters and their actions emerge on stage in the outlining stage.

Or is that because as I work on this post, I’m outlining an idea for NaNoWriMo? Maybe when I get into the draft, that will be my favorite aspect of being a writer. Or have I misunderstood the question? Am I meant to say being my able to work wherever?

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The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day. We post our thoughts on our own blogs. We talk about our doubts and the fears we have conquered. We discuss our struggles and triumphs. We offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.

Please visit others in the group and connect with my fellow writers.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

And be sure to check out our Facebook group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/IWSG13/

Our revved up IWSG Day question may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

The awesome co-hosts for this November 2 posting of the IWSG are Joylene Nowell Butler, Jen Chandler, Mary Aalgaard, Lisa Buie Collard, Tamara Narayan, Tyrean Martinson, and Christine Rains!

 

Parallel Plotting Predicament

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Plotting was simple with previous draft novels, even when there were two interweaving plot arcs. But how did I end up with three parallel ones? More important how should I be writing this novel?

Draft blurb for “Seeking a Knife”: Welsh Detective Sergeant Sparkle Lodge suspects that the death of a researcher is linked to the priceless 200 year-old Memoirs sent to Nadine Palmour, a Native American journalist. Is Nadine descended from the author of the Memoirs, an English naval officer, Talcott Wendell? Is the theft of his naval dirk in 1920 a cold case that has to be resurrected?

Three POVs in three separate settings, two separated by location – North Wales and Texas – and the other by historical time – the memoirs are from the War of 1812, between the USA and the British in Canada.

I recognise that there are three different areas of research, three sets of character sketches, but are three outlines that gradually weave together? I had initially planned to do all the research, character sketches, and then one interweaving outline of the whole novel. I have a rough outline so know how the novel should unfold – and a time line for the present day arcs. But the great plan hasn’t worked out beyond those elements.

My first POV character, a Welsh Goth in the North Wales Poice  arrested me. Who wouldn’t want to develop a character based on Abi in NCIS? So I have her sketched out, and a few lines on those she interacts with.  Worst of all I have written around 10,000 words that cover the first third of the novel from her POV.

Do I stop? Do I continue with her story, until she meets the Native American? Or should I just work on the parts that inspire me?

Pauley Perrette aka Abi

Pauley Perrette aka Abi

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. This is my attempt to talk about my doubts and the fears that I am trying to conquer. I want to be encouraging, and by posting perhaps this is a way of saying keep striving. Visit IWSG and some other great bloggers, not all as insecure but great fun.
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG
The awesome co-hosts for this February 4 posting of the IWSG are Gwen Gardner, Dolorah, Sarah Foster, and M. Pax!