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Archive for November, 2017

November isn’t quite over yet, but I can firmly state that I will not have written 50,000 words by tomorrow night. More like half a NaNo (around 25,000 words). So, is that a failure or a success. Well, it all depends on how you look at it.

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I was never officially doing NaNoWriMo anyway. I was using it as an opportunity to instill a little more discipline into my writing–discipline that had slipped over the last months as I’d struggled with the structure of this story. And that worked.

I was able to establish a fairly consistent writing habit. (There will always be those days when not much writing gets done, sometimes for reasons that have nothing to do with writing or the story at hand.) I’ve found a pace that’s challenging enough without being uncomfortable–or, hopefully, unsustainable.

I haven’t finished this first draft, but I’ve brought it up to the three-quarter mark (for the first book). And that’s pretty good in my book. If I maintain this pace, as I intend to, I should have the first draft done somewhere right around the first of the year.

I’ll call that a success.

 

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It’s true even without NaNoWriMo: I always look at a holiday weekend coming up and see more writing time than actually happens. This time it was more true than usual.

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Wednesday, I didn’t do badly. Nowhere near NaNoWriMo winning pace, of course, but not badly. I even got a fair amount written on Thanksgiving. I was only responsible for the pies and, well, it’s possible to get a good bit of writing done while the pies are in the oven. Friday . . . Friday was just one of those low-energy days. After a flurry of work getting the word out on some black Friday sales, I didn’t get much done at all. Saturday was when I cooked my turkey and somehow that always involves being busy most of the day–plus the drama with getting my internet back up. And then I fell victim to the turkey coma I didn’t experience on Thanksgiving.

So, here’s hoping  I can get a good stint of writing in today. Somewhere in there I discovered that I needed to add still another new chapter before I get to that pivotal moment. This time, it’s to solve a problem. I know what needs to happen after that pivotal moment and I was having trouble figuring out how. Because if one of the characters was there when it happened, there’s no way he’d be sleeping that night. And then he couldn’t have the dream I want him to have to set up the betrayal (that won’t feel like a betrayal to him, but will to somebody else). But, if I just move that pivotal moment a little, then that otherwise-sleepless character doesn’t need to be there or even know about it, yet. Works. This sort of thing just goes with being a discovery writer.

Back to writing.

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Adding Chapters

Last time I said I’d probably have to break the section I was working on into two chapters. I was right.

I’m not an outliner, but I do  set up a road map as I work, at least on novel-length stories. For my rare short stories, I’m usually willing just to jump off the ledge and let the story lead me where it wants to go. After all, a short story is only about 1/20th the length of a novel. Much less risk if it ends up not leading anywhere.

This road map takes different forms. Sometimes it’s just a few paragraphs describing the story–almost like the dreaded synopsis. Sometimes, it’s a little more like an outline. This may be only for a few chapters ahead or provide a skeleton framework for the whole story.

For BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING, it takes the form of chapter headings through the end of this book. With, perhaps, one or two lines about what should happen or maybe a snatch of dialog.

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Well, that wasn’t quite sufficient for this particular part of the story. Plotwise, nothing much is advancing here. But what is happening is the stakes for my main character are rising dramatically–right before everything crashes for him. It’s important and it needs to be fully developed or that fall won’t have the weight it needs to have.

And it’s not just a question of length–although I generally dislike writing chapters that are too long. It’s also a question of elapsed time. If enough time has passed for my characters, then it probably deserves a chapter break.

So, that’s the chapter I’ve been working on–almost finished, actually. And then I go on to that pivotal chapter where everything goes boom. After that, I hope to be able to make better progress through to THE END.

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I had a really good weekend last week working on the first draft of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

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Things slowed down a bit during the week–which should not be unexpected. I’m still not up to that level of progress this weekend, but I think I know why.

The chapter I’m currently writing is one that . . . doesn’t so much raise the stakes for my main character as make them painfully clear. Painfully, because the very next chapter is the one that’s going to change everything. This chapter needs to really paint that picture clearly, even while not all that much, plotwise, is actually going on. It’s a still place, the calm before the storm.

I’m quite sure I’m not getting all the emotion that needs to be in these scenes in. I’m fairly sure I’m eventually going to have to break this into two chapters. I’m reminding myself of that Shannon Hale quote about shoveling sand into a box in preparation of building castles later. And I’m trying to gather myself for that next chapter which is going to rip everything apart and, basically, force my main character to start from . . . not even from the beginning. Farther down than that.

Authors are supposed to torture their characters for the good of the story. That doesn’t mean it’s always an easy thing to do.

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I’ve had a few very good days on this NaNoWriMo experiment. Over 2,800 words on Sunday alone–and that included a fight scene. Still probably not going to make it to 50,000 words, but that’s not really the point. At least not for me.

BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING is still 12,500 words closer to being done already.

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And a pivotal scene coming up in just over a chapter.

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I’m still not on the NaNoWriMo pace of over 1600 words a day and I likely won’t make it to 50,000 words by the end of the month. I’ve written about 6500 words so far when the pace would be about 14,800 words. I actually had negative words one day when I went back to fix something that was going to lead down the wrong rabbit trail. But I am making good, solid progress on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

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And I’m fast approaching places where the writing may go more quickly. Or not. Sometimes those exciting bits, while they’re fun to plot, are actually harder write–and get right.

Still, I’m happy with my progress so far. I’m really happy with what I’ve written so far. And that’s what counts the most.

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I’m still well off the pace of writing 50,000 words on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING this month.

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That’s okay. I have a three-day weekend coming up. I may make up some ground then.

But even if I don’t, I’ll still count this experiment as a win. I’ve written every day, so far. Even if some of it was going back and altering what I’d already done. And I’m generating new ideas–which is making me more excited about this story again.

Forward!

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