NaNo Update, Day 22 (Happy Thanksgiving!)

No work today, but lots of writing!  Here’s where I stand with Unexpected.

Current total word count is 37,309, putting me about 650 words ahead of par.

I wrote a whopping 4,000 words today, making it my highest single-day word count.  If I feel so inclined I might write a few more later.

The twist is proving to be a very useful tool, and should get me quite a bit closer to the end goal  At one point today I got so into the action in the story that I think my words per minute count went up.  Hopefully it reads as exciting as it was to write!

I did interrupt my writing to cook my favorite Thanksgiving foods and then eat them.  Now I get to clean up the mess that is my kitchen, and maybe go back to writing.

Saturday is my last day off of work until the end of the month.  I hope to write like a fiend and get ahead.  I’ll let you know how that ends up in next week’s update!

Happy writing!


Writing All Day

I spent a large portion of my day writing.  I took a few breaks, wrote lots of words, and even had to do quite a bit of talking things out and formulating what I was going to put on paper.

I did not, however, make any progress on my story.  All of that writing?  Work.

The end of the year is almost upon us, which means I get to submit a comprehensive proposal for next year to my supervisors.  Don’t get me wrong – I still love my job, including this project.  It’s nice to be in a position that requires this much of my brain to work on something that I’m passionate about.  I am glad to work on it and I’m sure I’ll be working on it again on Friday.

It did, however, make me really not want to write when I got home.  So, knowing that tomorrow I don’t have to work and the day is already mostly budgeted for (story) writing, I gave myself the night off from NaNo.

Sometimes you just need a break.  Between a little time to rest and the upcoming twist to excite me, I should be able to get caught back up by the weekend.  (Of course, should is the operative word.  We all know how long plans last.)

Look for the weekly NaNo update tomorrow, and have a great Thanksgiving!

With a Twist!

It’s always when things look a bit bleak that inspiration is the most appreciated, and tonight was one of those moments.

I am getting close to the end of Unexpected, and I’m only looking at about 35,000 words.  I’ve been facing (and somewhat ignoring) this difficult possibility for a while now, and the more I write, the more it looms.

So while I was walking my mutt tonight, I started contemplating ways to draw out the story.  There are legit ways to do it without seeming forced, unlike my 7-pages-become-11 essay tricks from high school.  How, you ask?  I could go back and add more description, since my first drafts are always light on it.  I could re-read the story and find places where it can use a little fleshing out (also something I usually do during a revision).  Or I could make upcoming things take longer than I originally planned.

This is where I was when the inspiration lightning hit.  Not only can I make something that was supposed to be straightforward turn out to be more difficult than anticipated, I can use it to bring in a crazy twist!

No, I’m not going to tell you the twist!  I will tell you that I am really excited about it, to the point that I was jumping around a little when it occurred to me.  Now I just need to find a way to resolve the secondary issue presented by this surprising direction.

Yay for a twist!!

Point of View

With the exception of the beginning, which may end up as a prologue, the entirety of Unexpected is from the point of view of one character: Doug.

Choosing to have the story be third-person limited (so we know what Doug is thinking, but not anyone else) means that there are times when action is happening away from our frame of reference.  This can lead to interesting moments.

From a phone call we learn that Doug’s ex-wife Nikki has shown up at a meeting location, possibly throwing a wrench in the plans.  Doug is not there, but his friend Ryan leaves it at “I’ll take care of it.”  We get a teaser that something happened (“You should talk to Ryan about his evening with Nikki”) but until Ryan and Doug meet up later, we don’t get to hear the whole story.  (Full disclosure: I haven’t quite figured out the whole story, so it’s currently a place holding sentence.)  This is a kind of fun way to lead the reader on, as long as it pays out in the end.

With the limited point of view, I can also leave a question unanswered.  SPOILER ALERT, if you feel the need.  There is an explosion, and Kiwi is in the house when it happens.  Doug, and therefore the reader, is left for a while not knowing if she survived.

I am kind of enjoying the benefits of this type of point of view, even if it does mean having characters go back and explain their point of view to Doug after the fact.

Little Details

You can’t forget the details when you’re writing a story.

Details turned out to be important twice already in my writing today.  I’m sure that won’t be the last time, either.

First, I took a three-sentence description of searching a house and made it a four-paragraph description by adding details.  This does two things, besides adding words to my count.  It adds depth and description for those visual people out there who need to know what something looks like.  (I’ve already talked about how descriptions of places and people are not my main focus, but I know that others like them.)  It also helps the reader feel like the character.  The search is taking too long, and if the readers think “these descriptions are taking too long, just find him already!” then they are sharing the same emotion as the main character.

The second way that details came into play today is when I realized that I had forgotten one.  My main character ends up at the hospital, taken there by ambulance, which means that his car is somewhere else.  And the ambulance won’t give you a ride home.  It turned out to be a great moment to bring back a friend whose subplot had been hanging and give a little teaser to remind the reader that other things were going on at the same time.

I’m feeling pretty good about this story, and I think the details are what will help me get to my desired word count.  At the moment, though, I still owe 2000 words or so to get caught up for today, and the 275 words of this blog don’t count.  Back to writing!

Drawing from Life

I did not intend for Unexpected to be a cathartic writing experience.  Somehow it ended up that way anyway.

Fantasy is one genre that doesn’t typically draw from the author’s personal experience.  I mean, not many people wake up to dragons, elves, and fairies as part of their everyday life.  Yes, characters are built with the traits of people the author has met and yes, events and emotions are based on real life at some level.  If they weren’t the whole thing would feel very flat.  But the day-to-day life of most fantasy authors does not frequently provide fodder for storylines.

What is different about Unexpected?  I made my main character divorced, and his interactions with his ex-wife make up one of the subplots of the tale.  It turns out that my life can provide ideas for a novel after all.

Please know, I didn’t take events in their true entirety and just put them in the book.  Things are not handled in the same way that I addressed them in real life.  But it has been very interesting to use pieces and shades of things that really happened to add flavor to my novel.

I guess there is more than one way that Unexpected is letting me say things that I would never be able to say in real life.  Now, if I can only finish it before the month is out…

NaNo Advice, Part 3

This is the third Friday of NaNo, and as with the previous Fridays, I’m going to give myself some advice that you might benefit from as well.

Don’t get discouraged.

I guarantee you, there are already people out there who are finished with their 50,000 words, if not the entire novel.  As you can probably guess from my post yesterday, I am not.  Some days the writing is easy, and some days every word is a fight.  These are the moments that I just have to remind myself that I can do this.  Even having proven I can do it by finishing last year, it’s still tempting to just give up.

The “I’m never going to finish” attitude will kill your motivation during NaNo.  If you hear that little voice in your head, send one of your characters to tell it to shut up.  Let yourself write out-of-order, write a scene that comes later, even write something that’s peripheral to your story.  A detailed description of a location, a romantic moment between secondary characters, or the weird daydream of one of your main people can re-spark your creativity and may even end up staying in the novel.  Not everything that happens has to advance the plot!

In fact, I like that weird daydream idea, and I think it will fit in the spot where I’m currently stuck.  Back to the writing – stay strong!

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