A Title, for now

NaNoWriMo is open for this year!  Yay!!

I registered my novel for this year, put up the description, and I’ve come up with a title for now.  It might not stay my title, or since it’s one word it could end up being part of the final title.

Oh, you wanted to know the title?

Unexpected

It refers to several parts of the story – the friendship between Doug and Kiwi, the people from their respective pasts who show up, and the challenge they face.  Not great, but it works for now.

So excited for NaNo!!  Who’s with me?

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No Title, But…

I started working on a title for this year’s NaNo novel.  Normally I’d start writing before I fight my way to a title, but when you register your novel with NaNoWriMo, they ask for a working title and a brief description.

Obviously these things aren’t required, and you don’t have to stick with your initial thoughts if the novel pulls you in a different direction.  In the future I may opt to not have them, and I might still skip the title for now, but I did get a decent description written for this one.  I find that the effort of writing a summary helps me to hone my thoughts about the story and where I’m taking it.

Oh, you want to read the description?  Here you go:

After an unlikely accident brings an urban fairy into the living room of a divorced computer programmer, the two quickly become friends.  Their unusual relationship creates some challenges for them both; Doug has to fend off his suddenly re-interested ex-wife and Kiwi must deal with family issues from her past.  While facing these problems, the two try to rescue his coworker from a dark sorceress who uses the energy of her victims to further her evil schemes.

With only a month to go before NaNo, I’m feeling close to ready! How about you?  Are you getting ready for NaNo 2012?

Monster Research

There is a scene in my head for my NaNo novel that required some research.  I did that research the other day, and discovered that the information I need is not immediately available on the internet.  I found it, with a little searching, but it shouldn’t have been that hard.  I was only trying to find the names of monsters that take on a female shape to suck the life from men.

It turns out that most female spirits/monsters/nasty things either are more interested in stealing children, or luring men to their doom.   They are also frequently tied to a specific location (water seems to be a common theme).  There aren’t actually that many monsters that keep their men alive for very long, but I did find a couple.  Fortunately, that’s all I need.  It turned out to be a lot of research for a very brief mention in the (as yet unwritten) novel.  It’s important, though, and since I’ve done the research in advance I won’t have to pause in the writing to compile a list.

By the way, the antagonist in my novel is not a female monster who slowly sucks the life out of her victims.  It’s simply a theory that gets suggested as the main characters are trying to figure out what’s really going on. 🙂

NaNo is getting closer…

For those who haven’t looked at a calendar recently, it is the middle of September.  That means that the beginning of NaNoWriMo is just around the corner.  It’s time to make some decisions!

First, there is the big decision.  Are you going to participate?  I’ve already decided that I will, and I’ve been thinking about it since April.  If you haven’t decided, well, you have a little bit of time.  (Not sure what NaNoWriMo is?  Check out their website.)

I have two other novel-related decisions to make.  One is a working title, which frequent readers know is not my favorite part of writing. That might take a bit; I’ve got a really basic plot description and I’m hoping that playing with that will spark something.

The second decision I mentioned before, and it is related to a character with a foul mouth.  While I do not intend to let her swear a blue streak in the version anyone reads, I’ve chosen to let her speak her mind (however filthy) during the actual writing.  The initial revisions, before anyone gets to read it, will include some creative work on my part to tone down her dialog in a way that is true to her character.  Some may disagree, but I think letting her say what she will in the writing process will help me in two ways.  I’ll get a better sense of her full character if I don’t censor her, and it will also make the high-pressure, time-sensitive writing of NaNo a touch easier.  (Yes, by the way, I do know that my characters are actually part of my own brain, but sometimes it feels like they take the reins and are separate from me.  Authors, back me up here!)

Other than those two things, the remainder of the decisions are the usual writing ones.  Who’s point of view to use?  How much backstory should I share?  Is there a way to add depth with a subplot?  You get the idea.

I’m getting excited for NaNo!  Are you?

Training

I’ve been slowly working my way through chapter summaries for Dragon, and I’ve discovered something that will make my life easier when it comes to the final synopsis.  The main character spends several chapters in training.

Now, it is interesting training.  Rather than drone on with a lot of repetitive stuff (which is what training is, right?) there are snapshots of her training.  Everything we see is new and interesting, helps develop her relationships and reveals a bit more of who she is.  She’s also learning cool things.   Flying in a thunderstorm?  Intricate magic work?  Dragon battle training?  Yes, please!

The thing about it is that, while every chapter is unique and revealing, it’s all still training.  This (theoretically) makes the synopsis a bit simpler, as I need to summarize all of it and pull out one or two moments that are key to the plot later on.

We’ll see if that’s really how it falls out.

Finding What’s Important

I am an author, and one that is very character-driven.  This means that, by definition, I am attached to every character in my story in some way.

Some advice that I found about writing a synopsis said to leave out anything that isn’t key to the story, including side characters.  This is valid advice, but I now feel like a parent being asked to choose between my children.

Ok, that’s not fair, since I’ve never been a parent and I have no idea what it would be like to choose between children.  I still feel bad about leaving characters out of the synopsis.

For now I’m working on chapter summaries, finding the key actions and emotions from each chapter. It’s hard enough to leave out plot points and sum up the entire chapter in two or three sentences.  I’m bracing myself for the difficult decision of cutting those down, until all that’s left is the key points of the story.  Fortunately, unlike Butterflies, the layering of characters is more distinct.  It shouldn’t be too hard intellectually to know which kids get to stay, even if my emotions want to give everybody a mention.

Starting with the right stuff

Tonight I made a fancy grilled cheese with ingredients that I got at the local farmer’s market.  I made something similar last week, so I was very hopeful for dinner.

It turns out that the pieces I used this week weren’t quite right.  I like all three ingredients – handmade Nordic bread, locally made dill cheddar cheese, and heirloom tomatoes.  The end result isn’t great, and I think the bread is the problem.  I’m still enjoying it, but it’s not as good as last week’s sandwich.  (If you’re curious, last week was pumpernickel, not Nordic, and the cheese was store-bought shredded Italian.  The tomatoes were the same.)

This has implications for writing, which is why I’m mentioning it here.  A good novel takes lots of pieces, and they need to fit together effectively.  Certain writing styles lend themselves to certain stories.  Particular characters are suited for specific tales, and tie back to the writing style as well.  If you have a stoic character, you can’t write with a lot of dialog, and a focused, low-action tale needs a deft hand with detail.

If your story isn’t quite working, take a look back and see if changing point of view, writing style, or even rebuilding a character can help.  Sometimes swapping out one ingredient makes all the difference.

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