Camp NaNoWriMo Winner’s Circle

Back in February I took the plunge and signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo. I packed my bags, grabbed some extra bug spray, washed the sleeping bag and waited anxiously for April 1. And who waits for April Fools Day? I mean, once you’re past 4th or 5th grade.

Turns out I should have packed an umbrella and a poncho. It rained almost the entire month of April, which made writing easier (less work outside) but killed my plans for writing on the porch enjoying the milder weather.

I set my goal at 30,000 words. I chose that number because it’s what I lacked in the novel I was working on in February and March. But after I picked that goal I was working on the novel and I realized that I had a serious problem. I had a batch of characters that I loved, but they were functioning more like paper dolls that I was moving around in painted scenes. Translation: I had no real plot. Just a few scenes and an angsty main character and 47,000 words of pretty prose.

Okay, crappy prose. Full of angst.

But, I digress.

Three days before Camp NaNo started I got an idea that would allow my characters to have new life! A real problem! A plot!

I thought I could salvage the original story, but the problem was that you can’t backfill a plot. I know, because I tried.

I stepped back. I wrote some character descriptions using the Chuck Wendig method (far, far more helpful than the 30-page character questionnaires I’ve used previously.

I bought and devoured Alexandra Sokoloff’s e-book Screenwriting Tricks for Authors (and Screenwriters!) – I took the advice and bought some index cards and jotted down the scenes that I had and little bits of information. I laid it out. And I had almost a fully formed plot for the book.

Also, it was day 6 of April and my word count was at 0.

I transferred my index cards notes into a new (yes, another one) file and started filling in gaps, and then, the writing. And I cranked out a total of 34,000+ words between my novel (now with PLOT!) and other writing (because I count all writing in NaNo months, which may not exactly adhere to the rules, but I’m a rebel, yo).

Moving on, the plan is to knock out the first draft of this novel, working title The Heart Stone, and have it done by June 1. If that date seems familiar, it was the original deadline for the novel I started in January. Which was novel number 2 and which will now never see the light of day.

After June 1, I’ll table Heart Stone and start work on novel #2 in the series. Once I have that one plotted and started I’ll most likely begin to edit and Heart Stone while working on book 2.

Ultimate goal: Heart Stone will be ready to query in the fall.

Finish That First Draft

I passed 30,000 words in my WIP novel this week. I am both proud and mystified.

Y’all. I’ve hit the muddy middle. Anyone that’s written anything knows that there comes a point when you start to question everything. Here’s what I’ve been thinking this week:

* Why did I even think I could do this?

* God, this story sucks.

* This is going straight to the file cabinet of broken dreams.

* Any agent I query this to is going to laugh and tell me I never should have even tried.

* I should quit this one and start that new project I thought of in the shower.


* I’m the worst writer to ever write. Ever.

* I can always quit.

It’s so tempting. It’s so tempting to shelve this project and start something new. That new shiny idea full of life-like, obedient characters, fully rounded and waiting for me.

But I’m committed this time. I will write something in this book every day, with a goal to meet or exceed my word count target every day. Right now, that means just over 900 words every weekday to meet a total word count of 100,000 by June 1.

I will not lose myself in the muddy middle. I won’t do it. Even if this book winds up the file cabinet of despair, I will finish it. I will finish this first draft.