Well. It’s here again. Camp NaNo. My nemesis. My white whale. The one that got away. The one that consistently defeats me. The one I can’t seem to best. And I, being too stubborn for my own good, am picking up my harpoon and going after it one more time. And my long-suffering sister has agreed to do it with me once again.
That being said, we are trying something different this time. For me, I’m hoping that shaking things up a little might actually help me motivate the way I want to, and I might actually end up hitting my goals (yay!) and I dragged my sister along in it because I don’t like doing things alone. Specifically, we’re going to be giving each other writing prompts every other day and writing a series of short stories– or whatever comes to mind. And the prompts can be anything! Traditional writing prompts… songs… pictures… anything we find.
I’m so excited! And here we are, June 30… the first prompts have been exchanged… let Camp NaNo commence!
July is over, and with it my latest attempt at Camp NaNoWriMo. Technically, I didn’t win. In fact, I only got about a quarter of the way through my original goal of 20,000 words. It would be so easy to be discouraged by that, particularly as I know I can write more. Or rather, I know that in a similar amount of time, I have written far more than I did just now. So, yes, by that metric, this last month wasn’t a particularly resounding success.
However! There’s another metric. Specifically, the metric of how much I wrote this month compared to the last few months. And by that measure, this month was a smashing win. I averaged over 100 words a day. I made progress on mapping out a story I’ve been wrestling with (in one form or another) since last November. I knocked a bit of rust out of my writing gears. And for now, I’m happy to count that as a step forward.
Keep an eye out for some excerpts in the next week or so!
Sometimes, I’ve noticed that certain stories demand a particular point of view in their telling. I can try to write them from a different viewpoint, but it doesn’t do any good; the words just won’t come. And it’s not just a matter of my being more comfortable with one over another, because despite the fact that I naturally tend to gravitate towards first-person-snarky, I’ve had an easy enough time writing stories in either first or third person. Some stories just need one or the other.
The example that most readily comes to mind is my modern urban (rural?) werewolf story that I’ve being toying around with to various degrees for years. I managed about 10,000 words on it, all in first person, but ended up getting stuck due to a lack of planning. So, I made it my NaNo project a few years back, but made the mistake of trying to switch it to third person. What followed was one of the most difficult NaNos of my life. The thing just would. not. write. To the point where I ended up burning out on the project, more or less.* Similarly, my rough draft fantasy novel from a few years ago, with its ensemble cast and epic stakes, was a better fit for a third person telling.
Now! Before someone goes for the torches and the pitchforks, let me state for the record that my saying that I can’t write a certain story from a certain point of view doesn’t mean that I think that it can’t be done. I have no doubt that someone can write a compelling epic fantasy from the first person (like The Black Company, for instance), I’m just not there myself. And besides, my epic fantasy is its own story, not the same one as The Black Company, so naturally, what works for one might not work for the other anyways. But that’s a subject for a different post.
It’s also interesting to note that, like its setting, a story’s point of view has a profound effect on the final story. Which explains why the wrong voice makes it so hard to write the story at all. The voice provides the overall atmosphere to the story, and if the atmosphere doesn’t match the content, the whole story is going to feel off. It’s like that scary recut of the Mary Poppins trailer (click here to see it); great for a one-off joke bit, but not an effective way to tell the original story.
Anyway! All that to say that I’ve found certain stories that I can’t tell with one point-of-view or another, and that it’s amazing how much easier it gets to write when you find the right voice for the tale. Which is why it’s so nice to write the Tanner and Miranda stories, because I know the voice that works for them, and I find it a fun one to use.
Speaking of, keep your eyes open for a new story (a Tanner and Miranda adventure!) going up tomorrow! Also, since I, heh, missed posting not one but two stories last month, you’ll get a couple of extras this month to make up for it. Until then, drop a comment below to share your own voice/writing related curiosities! **Edit: I lied! Not tomorrow– but check back on Saturday, March 7!
* Granted, there were other problems, too. Like the fact that I didn’t have a clear idea of the story I wanted to tell. You know, minor things.
I’m pretty sure the months are actually passing faster than they used to. It feels like this year’s NaNo event just started, and here we are several days into December. It’s madness, I tell you. Final wordcount for this year came in at right about 56K, which is not too shabby, though definitely not the 100K I was going for. Maybe next year!
Also, as is often the case, reaching the 50K goal doesn’t always equate to finishing the story. It certainly didn’t this year, so I’m still chipping away at it, and will hopefully have a completed pre-rough draft before the month’s up. And then! On to the editing!
As of five minutes ago, I reached the 50k goal for NaNo 2019! Which I’m super happy about. There was definitely a little while there, when my poor old laptop gave up the ghost, that I actually wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to finish this month. I’m very happy that wasn’t the case.
As for that 100k goal… I somehow don’t think I’m quite going to get there this year. I’m not done writing, and I still have three days, but that’s a pretty wild pace to keep to finish. We’ll see how far I get!
For all of you doing NaNo, how are your projects going? Are you ahead? Behind? Right on track? Keep on pushing! You’ve got this!
I’m back! Mostly! Problem is, I’m also thoroughly distracted, because there’s a billion and one things that don’t quite work on the new laptop, and right now my brain is far more interested in fixing those than writing a novel. But! I’m writing this post from the new machine, which is a huge step in the right direction.
Also! Here’s a (short!) snippet from my current project:
I can’t imagine what Paul thought when he saw me. Or rather, I could, but I would rather not, as it wasn’t bound to be flattering. I was covered in dust, grime, sweat, possibly a few tears, and definitely a little blood– mine as far as I knew, but I couldn’t be certain. It’s a testament to the relationship he had cultivated with me and Tanner over the last two years that he didn’t reach for his gun and point it at my head as soon as he caught sight of me.
They say there are two types of people in the world… those who do backups, and those who have never had a hard drive fail.
Well, I can say beyond the shadow of a doubt that I don’t belong to that second category! Sadly, my faithful laptop of the last four and a half years bit the dust on Sunday. Now the good news is that my current NaNo project (and all other important projects) are thoroughly backed up, so I haven’t lost anything. The bad news, of course, is that I am in the middle of NaNoWriMo without a functional laptop. It was bound to happen sometime?
Of course, the other good news is that I have a tablet and a bluetooth keyboard. It’s a little laggy, but totally workable, and I no longer have the excuse of “I don’t have my whole project with me so I can’t write during downtime at work.” So, net good?
How is everyone else doing with NaNo? Any unexpected setbacks? Are things going more smoothly than usual? Let me know in the comments!
Super quick update this week! According to the calendar, apparently the first week of November is almost over! My wordcount is currently sitting at a little over 11,000, which is a little ahead in terms of the 50K official goal, and really, really, behind for my personal 100K goal. But! The last couple of days have been fantastic for getting into a groove, and I am optimistic!
For those of you doing NaNo this year, how’s the first week treated you? Any exciting scenes? Fun plot points? General mayhem?
It wasn’t like Tanner to go it alone. Not usually. Not unless my brother was feeling like a white knight, at any rate, and there was nothing about an old wrecked ship that should have been attracting that particular part of his personality to the fore. Which was why I was confused. And curious. And concerned for Tanner’s wellbeing, of course.
But also kinda hoping that he had gotten himself into the sort of trouble that would give me teasing rights for the next month after saving his butt.
I was still a little surprised we’d been asked to investigate the wreck. Even on a colony as young as Verdant, crashed ships were hardly uncommon. It was a little odd that no one had any idea what ship it was, sure, but between the wildcatters and the outlaws, there were a lot of possibilities for an unregistered ship. The weirdest thing about it was that the flyover scan that turned the thing up had suggested that the ship was old– seventy five years old. Old enough that there was no way it should be on this side of the galaxy.
And that’s when everyone with a ghost story to tell crawled out of the woodwork. Serves me right for talking about it while Tanner and I were goofing off in the big common room at Teddy’s.
“You know they say there was a mutiny aboard an armadillo-class like that one back in ’43. Its last transmission was cut off right after her captain started cursing the traitors with some sort of old world hocus pocus.”
“I heard they’d tried uploading an honest-to-god AI to a private freighter back when all the big corps were still messing around with thinking and feeling computers. Could be a real ghost in the machine, you know?”
“Galaxy’s a big place. Could be aliens.”
And those were the most well-thought-out theories presented by our fellow denizens at Teddy’s: stuff and nonsense everyone one. Which made the fact that I found myself actually a little spooked as I started out for the coordinates of the wreck on my own all the more annoying. When I found Tanner, he was going to get a piece of my mind.
If I’d thought it would be better as soon as I got to the coordinates, I was wrong. Wrecks are always a little creepy, especially once you get to thinking about how they used to be functional, beautiful vessels– some of them, at least. Or, maybe, a home. Or maybe just a place that used to see living, breathing humans every day. Seeing empty ships like that just felt wrong, like a graveyard without the bodies.
I stopped just outside the wreck and gave a disgusted snort. Now I was creeping myself out.
Not that the remains of the ship in front of me were making that hard. Of all the derelicts I’d ever seen, this one might have been the most derelict. The hull was worn through in a dozen different places, and the sand and the sort of scrappy vegetation common on Verdant were sneaking their way inside. The hatch had fallen open what must have been decades ago, and while I suspected I could probably find it in the dirt below my feet if I dug long enough, I wasn’t about to put in the effort. So instead, the hatch just stared at me with a sort of death’s head grin, and I stared back and tried to remind myself that I was a stone-cold badass of a freelancer, and I shouldn’t be scared of some old empty ship.
And I had almost managed to convince myself when I heard someone behind me…
Happy Halloween! Looks like they still celebrate the holiday all the way out on Verdant, much to Miranda’s probable chagrin. Not much else to report, save that I’m equal parts excited and terrified for NaNo to start, since I’m not sure how my personal goal of 100,000 words is going to treat me. We shall see!
Anyway, good luck to everyone participating next month! May your writing be swift and your editing minimal!
Not a whole lot to report this week, save that I did manage to get some decent prep work done for NaNo next month. This, of course, means “decent” prep work by my own loose standards, which means that it’s still leaning pretty heavily towards pantsing it (as opposed to truly planning it), but hey. You gotta start somewhere!
I am excited, though! Because I have a whiteboard now! Apparently they make adhesive whiteboard material surfaces, which happen to be a bit more affordable and so much easier to mount than a standard whiteboard, so I now have a shiny new plotting surface stuck to one of my closet doors. (This, of course, would be why it’s been easiest to find me cackling and petting my dry erase marker collection of late, but I’m sure that will wear off soon.)
In preparation for next month’s marathon, too, I’ve also jerry-rigged some yarn to create a sort of makeshift timeline, which I’ll be using to organize various scenes/keep all my character sketches easily accessible. It’s so much more than I’ve ever done in the past, so we’ll see how well it sticks. Either way, I’m super excited, and it’s already helped me plan some things out, and at the very least should do a fantastic job of keeping things visible.
Do any of you have any tried and true methods for NaNo prep? Or maybe you’re like me and trying something new this year? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!