Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

Evolution of a Novel #1

So, on Friday I mentioned that I’d started outlining my project for November.  It’s a science fiction novel that’s been kicking around in my head for a lot of years (long before I’d even heard of NaNoWriMo).

It still doesn’t have a name but for now we’ll call it The Desert Planet. (The Word doc name is my usual ever-(not)-helpful “NaNoWriMo 2017 Outline.”)

Anyhow, I thought it might be fun to explore where the idea came from and trace it from that one bit of inspiration through to the final project.

This novel started as a single scene that hit me as I walked out of an air conditioned building in downtown Pittsburgh and into a wall of city heat.

And that’s all the scene was – the main character walking out of an air conditioned building and into a wall of heat.

Then a second character came up to him. Said second character was supposed to be his guide on a rescue mission.

And for a long time that’s where the whole thing sat.

Throughout the years a couple more scenes got added inside my head, but nothing major was happening, just two characters traveling through the desert.

Then last Wednesday, years after the initial idea, it suddenly had a prologue, some background, and a plot twist. (What brought it to the forefront after all that time? Unseasonably hot weather that hit me when I stepped out of my much cooler house.)

So, I started outlining.

So far I have the prologue outlined, and the first two scenes.

Scene two used to be scene one, until I decided that there was too much telling (it was MMC1 reflecting on the mission briefing he’d just left) so I made the briefing scene one so I could show it instead.

Scene two is MMC1 meeting his guide for the mission – one of the planet’s natives.

It still doesn’t have a title, and none of the main characters have a name. One minor character does, but the main characters are MMC1, MMC2, and FMC. I also need names for the planet, the city, the natives, their tribes, and the enemy.

But, hey! I have over five months to name everything, right?



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It was an odd two days off.  Aside from being unseasonably hot (near 90F in May is not normal for my area) it was also kind of productive.

Well, not very productive. It was too hot to do much of anything.

But I did do some writing.

I wrote about 500 words. (532 to be precise.)

It’s not much, but progress is progress, right?

It wasn’t toward any of my stated goals for the month, though; it was for a scene to be added to Onyx Sun.

As for my goals for the month. *sigh*

I think I’m not going to be submitting to the anthology after all. I have two ideas for it but neither one seems to want to write itself – or tell me to write it.  There’s still time, I suppose. We’ll see.

And I haven’t even opened the Elven Bard novel.

But I started outlining another novel, one that’s been kicking around in my head for years. It’s science fiction and it’s going to be my NaNoWriMo novel this November.  (Hey! Only five and a half months to go! Of course I’m outlining!)

So at least I’m doing something, even if it’s not what I’m supposed to be doing.



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I did it.

I hit 50K and I won NaNoWriMo again.  It wasn’t a pretty win, and not one I’m proud of, but it was a win.

And for the first time ever I’m glad it’s over.

November was a rough month all around and I’m beyond exhausted on all levels: physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually.

I don’t think I’m going to set any goals for December. I need a break.

I’ll still be doing some work (I need to type up my handwritten notes for one thing) but I’m not giving myself a minimum word count or anything like that.  I’m gonna kick back and relax and do a little of this and a little of that.

And tackle some stuff around the house that has been let slide.

I’ll also be working on setting up my goals for next year.

Then in January I’ll tackle stuff full on again.

Of course, that’s what I say now.  But while I was making lunch a while ago I was thinking about diving into the first round of edits of Book 6 of The Academy of the Accord series, and getting the changes of the first round of Book 5 entered into the computer, and finishing this round of revisions to Onyx Sun and…

Yeah.  So much for taking a break.  Apparently my idea of taking a break from writing is to edit.



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I need 16,398 words for a win.  There are three days left counting today, which means I need to write 5466 words per day to make it.  With luck (and a lot of caffeine) I think I can still pull it off, especially since I’m off tomorrow with no plans to go anywhere.

And hopefully by then I’ll have shaken this migraine so I can actually be productive.

My new method of counting words that are hand written but not typing them, just marking a space for them and continuing on with writing the story, is working.

Of course, when it comes time to try to translate my handwriting into something approximating the English language I’ll be somewhat less thrilled with this method and will be wishing I’d done typed it while it was fresh in my mind.

And I’ll be crying an ocean when I have to try to edit this mess into something presentable and coherent.

Still, I seem to be slowly gaining ground and now that I’m seeing the glimmer of a light at the end of the tunnel I’ve even started looking ahead to next month.

So many things have been put on hold this month that I’m probably going to spend most of December getting caught up on stuff around the house, not to mention cooking and baking and decorating and shopping for the holidays.

And I need to get back into editing and revising and I’d like to get back into doing other crafts.

And, of course, I’ll be setting up my writing and editing (and other) goals for next year. I’d like to make them more realistic than this year’s but, yeah, good luck with that, right? I mean, I’ve already overbooked myself for December…


I’m just hopeless.


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A New Plan

I’ve been writing.  Not really gaining ground but holding my own and not falling any further behind.

I’ve written a couple short stories and have started a couple post apocalyptic dystopian type novels. (I can’t really call them “dystopian” because I just can’t seem to write “dark” enough for dystopia.  Is there a sub genre called hopeful dystopia?  If so, that’s what I seem to be writing.)

And I shared part of one of the novels and am now being urged to finish writing it.  I think I’ll need an outline and some background info on that first – I kind of wrote myself into a little more of a plot than originally planned. (Not that it was all that well planned, but still…)

Anyhow, now that I seem to have gotten that out of my system (at least for now) I’m back to the originally planned project for the month.  Will I finish it?  Oh, hell no.  But I am working on it and the words are coming better than they were before the detour.

And I’ve figured out a way to help my word count as well as the story progression.

I can get anywhere from 750 to 1000 words written (by hand) at work on a good night. What I’ve been doing is that if I hand write something at work I type it up when I get home, which is normally okay but since I’m so far behind it’s kind of a waste of writing time. So, for the rest of this month when I hand write stuff I’ll put a date on the top, and leave a space in the Word doc flagged with that date and just keep on writing.  I’ll count the words (it’s usually about 250 per page) and just copy and paste that many words from somewhere else into the end of the file. So sort of a weird combo of normal NaNoWriMo and being a Luddite.

But hey, whatever works…

And with this method I won’t worry so much about not being on my computer next Wednesday while I’m away from home waiting for Riley’s surgery. I can just write and count the words.

So, yeah, I have a plan!

And in addition to the plan, I have renewed enthusiasm for my original project.

I call that a win win.

And hopefully a NaNo win.


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On A Roll Again

On Friday, I needed to write 3168 words per day in order to finish on time.

And I laughed because I knew that wasn’t going to happen.

And as of today I need to write 3865 words per day in order to finish on time.

And I know that number will be worse tomorrow.

And I’m still laughing. (Mostly because crying will give me a headache.)

And I’m still writing.

Actually, that’s not quite true.  I’m not still writing – I’m writing again.

What am I writing?

Well, that’s a good question.  It was supposed to be a post apocalyptic dystopian novel but, well… It’s rather light on the dystopian aspects, probably because most of it (so far at least) is set in an intentional community, one that runs counter to all the dystopian stuff.  Right now I’m still setting up the community, although that is changing as I write and make changes in how I’m handling the story.

The cool thing about it, though, is that as I’m creating the community and gathering the people that live in it, words are flowing.  I get to write a bunch of mini stories as I introduce the characters and get them to the community.

The uncool thing, though, is that I don’t really have any sort of cohesive plot for this thing yet.

The other uncool thing is that if I ever intend for this thing to see the light of day as a finished novel it’s going to need about a year’s worth of revision.

But that doesn’t matter. I may never unleash this thing on the public, but writing it is good for me.

Not just for my word count, but because of the sense of hope inherent in the intentional community.  (It doesn’t have a name yet.  Or, rather, it has several names because I can’t decide on one.) And, eventually, there will be some fighting back against the dystopian regime.

At least, that’s the plan.

And I have a scene mapped out in my mind.

That scene should probably come earlier in the book than where it’s probably going to end up but that’s what revisions are for.

Meanwhile, I’m going to keep chugging along the way I am and introduce a bunch of people and bring them to the community.  At the very least I’ll have solid back stories on all of the members of the community.

And I’m hoping that their stories keep me going to 50K.


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So the plan was for my roommate and I to each drive our own car to work on Thursday (we work at the same place and usually we ride together) and for me to take a change of clothes, change out of scrubs just before the end of my shift, and go to the midnight showing Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Then fog happened.

Wednesday night we had heavy fog (that didn’t burn off until after noon on Thursday). The weather forecast was just calling for “patchy fog” Thursday night, but I didn’t want to take a chance. (The theater I was going to is half an hour away.)

So I decided to wait. There was a showing scheduled for 10:50am today (Friday) and that sounded like a much better idea. (Especially since my roommate decided she didn’t want to do lunch this week.)

Turns out it was a good call.  By the time I left work last night the fog was already starting to gather — and it didn’t look patchy.

But now I’m faced with trying to sleep and not oversleep so I can be up, bathed, dressed, and on the road by 10:00 in the morning. Fortunately we’re allowed to wear jeans on Fridays so when I get home all I’ll have to change will be my shirt and my shoes and I’ll be ready for work.

(And work should be much more interesting with my brain in a fantasy movie induced fog.)

So, what about NaNoWriMo?

Hm, yes. What about NaNoWriMo?

The plan was for me to way ahead on word count goal by today so that I could go see the movie and not worry about making par for one day.


I’m not worried about making par today.

I’m so far below par that I’m not worried at all because catching up and finishing on time currently requires me to write 3168 words per day.

(You can stop laughing now.)

Yeah, it has been a crazy busy hectic month here this year, far more than in previous years.

But there’s also been fog.

Events earlier in the month seem to have numbed my creative side.

And not just mine. I’m seeing and hearing it from numerous online friends.  We all seem to be struggling to find the clarity needed to see our way forward. We keep hoping the fog will lift, that the sun will come out and burn it away, but it seems to just keep getting thicker.

And when we do see a glimmer of open air it never seems to last long before the fog closes in and shuts everything down again.

But we still struggle on, trying to find normality (or what passes for it).

And maybe, just maybe, going to the movie will dispel the fog.

At least for a little bit.


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Discipline and the Lack Thereof

So, what can I say?  Not only can’t I seem to catch up (let alone keep up) I keep falling further and further behind.

As of this moment in time, I am 18,114 words below par and need to write 2635 words per day for the rest of the month in order to finish on time.  Unless I manage to get something written before work today, I’ll be 19,781 words behind by tomorrow.

Tomorrow the dogs go meet their new vet, Thursday I have to go in to work early for CPR re-certification, Friday I meet a friend for lunch (and then go to work, a combination that pretty much shoots my entire day), and on the 30th I’ll be out for a large chunk of the day.

A win is looking less and less likely.

So am I just going to chuck it all and say “Nope, can’t do it. Not even going to try.”

Nope. Can’t do it.  Have to try.

Have to do, not try.

After all, I still have half a month.  And I once did 100,000 in one month so not quite 50,000 in half a month should be pretty much the same thing, right?


I just need to discipline myself to sit down at the keyboard and focus on Word, not FB, not a message board, not Jig Zone, but on writing.  And with two fantasy novels (one plotted, one pantsed) in process, and another (science fictionish this time) story lurking in the wings, I should be able to cobble together enough words somehow. (The science fictionish one is a bit of a stretch for me: dystopian, sort of post apocalyptic– definitely not what I usually read.)

And, yeah, I should discipline myself to just one novel – preferably the one I spent all last month hashing out an outline for – but words are words and the latter two stories need to be told right now.

So, let’s see where this adventure leads us.

After all, isn’t that what NaNoWriMo is all about?



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Not Giving Up

I had thought about it, actually, but so what if I have to write 2278 words per day for the rest of the month in order to finish on time?  And so what if my days off are dwindling rapidly and the last day of the month is pretty much shot to pieces.  (But for a very good reason — I’ll be taking Riley to get his tumor removed.)

So what?

I’m not giving up.

I’m pulling out of the pit of despair with renewed focus and determination.

And a new project.

Events of this past week have inspired a new story (working title: Fighting Back) (yes, I know it sucks) and aside from a stunning lack of character names (and probably place names although I haven’t actually named places yet) and no real clear idea where it’s going or what is going to happen (or even if I have enough for a novel instead of a short(ish) story, I’m pretty much on fire with it.  I wrote 880 words before work yesterday.  I would have done more but got a late start and had too many distractions.  Plus, having names for the minor characters would help a lot as far as productivity.

I do still want to work on my Elven Bard novel, but I don’t have the heart for it at the moment.  I think I need to write this first to clear my head and my heart — the main character (and there’s only one so far) is going through a lot of the things I am right now, so even if I never complete this one for publication, writing it is cathartic.

It’s a fantasy, of course. A fantasy setting can reflect reality far better and more accurately than the real world could ever dream of doing.

I think that’s what the best fantasy does — it reflects reality and calls it out and beats the crap out of it.

And I want to beat the crap out of things.





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One Week In

Already?  It’s already been November for a week?  Sheesh!  Where has time gone, and, more importantly, how did it get away from me to begin with?

I’m still behind on NaNoWriMo. Like, five days behind.  I need to write just under 2000 words per day to finish on time (1944 to be exact) and at my current rate I will finish on February 13, 2017.

So, it’s still doable.

I think.

(I hope.)

Unfortunately, a new hindrance has happened — and one not nearly as happy as going to get Jazzy and Riley. (“Tomorrow, tomorrow, we’ll have them tomorrow. They’re only a day away.”)

Ahem. Yes. Anyhow.

On Friday morning I stepped out of my car and into a whole mess of pain in my left hip.  I went to work that afternoon and was pretty much okay as long as I didn’t sit for long.  Saturday, not so much.  I made it through my shift but walking didn’t help the pain like it did on Friday.

Sunday I called off because I spent the night in so much pain I could have cried. Or screamed. Every time I moved my left leg I woke up whimpering.

Yeah, no way I could be a nurse feeling like that.

By that point I was pretty sure it was the sciatic nerve but of course it was Sunday so no chiropractors were in anywhere.

So, I spent the day trying not to want to take a shotgun and blow my left hip to smithereens and not being very productive. It didn’t help that I couldn’t sit for too long at a time. Or stand for too long at a time. Or move for too long at a time. Or…

Anyhow, I called for a chiropractic appointment as soon as I got up and they got me in within the hour.  I got poked and prodded and x-rayed and had my lower back stretched, some electricity applied to my muscles (e-stim, I’m in love), and a few minor manipulations and got sent home with an appointment to come back tomorrow to go over my x-rays, probably get some more treatment, and decide on a course of therapy.

So… writing…

Hasn’t been happening.  (See: not being able to sit for too long at a time.)

Between that and getting ready to bring our new family members home from the shelter tomorrow (one more sleep!) nothing much else has been getting done.

And then there was the time change.  I know a lot of people like the “fall back” thing but I’m not one of them.  My body has no idea what time it is now and it will take about two weeks before my internal clock gets completely reset.  (The same thing will happen in the spring.  Congress really needs to do something useful and abolish this nonsense.)

Anyhow, probably not much writing is going to get done tomorrow either, between voting, getting dogs (two and a half to three hour chunk of the day), chiro appointment, and getting the dogs used to their new digs.

But I can still do this.  I won’t quit now.


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