The Final Week

With Thanksgiving just gone it’s only five days remaining for this year’s NaNoWriMo. I’ve just passed the 40,000-word mark and it’s been a battle to keep up with the writing. I didn’t do any writing on Black Friday, and it wasn’t because I went out shopping. I sat and watched TV most of the day and ignored my computer until 4 o’clock in the morning, when I woke up and realized I wasn’t going to fall back asleep any time soon.

I could work on my novel but instead I’ve been redecorating the blog with some holiday-themed background paper and sorting through some art supplies. I’m pretty much doing whatever I can besides working on the novel. I have 10,000 words to go and five days, so that’s not too bad. I just don’t know if my story will be resolved in anther ten thousand words, but all I can do is try. That’s what NaNoWriMo is for, right?


It Begins

So I was talked into doing National Novel Writing Month again this year (I did 2011 and 2012). The idea was to write a noir story. I have a working title, Killing Palatino, and about 2100 words of prose that I’m really not very happy with. I think this story is going to be rough going, but I understand it’s just a draft and a lot of what is happening on the page is going to be edited within an inch of its literary life before the novel sees the light of day.

This year, instead of pantsing the whole book, I decided to write a brief outline. I had two weeks to get it done. Then one week. Then a day. Last night I sketched in a very short outline on a single-page plot sheet and decided it was enough to get moving on. Hey, I pantsed two whole books so if I have even the barest minimum of an outline to work from that should be enough, right? We’ll see.

At any rate, I’ve met the word-count goal for today and updated my word count on the official website. I think I’m going to play with cover ideas for the finished book in case that helps get my creative juices going. If that doesn’t work, I’m going to go work on my crochet project or clean the bird cage or factor quadratic equations. Because I can.

Thursday Writing Prompt No. 129

The strength of the gravity well of inertia is directly proportional to the comfort of a particular chair.

The strength of the gravity well of inertia is directly proportional to the comfort of a particular chair.

So, it’s NaNo month and most of my writing friends are busy getting their word counts up. I’m not doing much writing this week because I’m taking a break. I just submitted four encyclopedia articles and have another one to revise next week, then another eight due in February. I’m also revising my novel (again) and starting work on a nonfiction book. But this week I’m goofing off, caught in the gravity well of laziness and growing steadily dizzier as I whirl about the vortex.

This year instead of doing NaNo I decided to focus on trying to get an existing work in progress revised and edited so that it works. I bought three books on writing craft, including two on plotting, to help me figure out where the weaknesses are. Actually, I kind of know that, I just need to learn how to fix the problems. And already I’m irritated with one of the authors. Hey guys, don’t insert politics into your work unless that’s the topic you’re writing about. Readers don’t like opinions stuffed down their throats, and it’s unfair to take advantage of them knowing they have no way of arguing your point. Okay, I’m ending my rant here — and don’t make me repeat it!

Let’s talk about this week’s Thursday Writing Prompt. Figuring out what motivates a character can be difficult. I seem to have no problem with my secondary characters, but I’m having problems identifying what my main character really wants, and as a result he’s wishy-washy. I’m going to try having him write a letter to explain himself. So, that’s your task this week, too. Not to write about my character, but one of yours, of course!

Have one of your characters write a letter. It can be to another character in the story, or a character offstage if that works better for your situation. The letter should indicate your character’s desires and what he or she wants. It’s a letter, so it can be emotional, and it might serve you better if it is. Take one or two pages to figure this out. The more neatly you can sum up the character’s feelings the easier it will be to write them onto the page. Good luck!

Writing Tasks for April

A beautiful autumn day in Colorado's Rocky Mountains, with golden aspen trees.

A beautiful autumn day in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, with golden aspen trees.

I’ve been buried under writing assignments and other work, so I haven’t been keeping up with the Thursday Writing Prompts. But a new one will debut this week, so stay tuned! In the meantime, I’ve set myself a goal to finish editing my 2011 NaNo novel by the beginning of June.

I’m going to try for a traditional publishing route instead of self-publishing, so at some point I’m going to start looking for an agent, too. There are different opinions on whether to search out an agent while the writing and editing is still in progress or to wait until the book is completely finished and then start looking. The basic story is done, but as I’m editing and fixing continuity problems I realize that it would be easy to keep rewriting the book forever, so it is ever really done? I guess knowing when to step away from the keyboard is a big problem.

I’ve gotten some excellent feedback from a writing group I belong to on the first 11 chapters, most of which is along the lines “you overwrite and explain too much.” Well, it’s a lot easier to cut out stuff than to go back and fill in holes. But since I put the novel aside for a while I’m finding that it’s a lot easier to see what the reviewers were talking about. The characters are also feeling more like distinct personalities and it’s easier to see where dialogue or actions don’t work properly.

I have my work cut out for me this month. This week I have a literature review to do for my graduate class on World War II, and I have five more encyclopedia articles to write by the end of the month. In the meantime there’s a ton of reading for class, too, and that’s on top of a full-time job. Somehow I will fit in editing my novel and getting on the treadmill at least three times a week. There are enough hours in the day, I just have to get better organized. See you on Thursday!