Nanowrimo Day 9

Yesterday sucked. I only wrote 222 words. I didn’t feel good and was in pain and for the first time during this Nanowrimo season I didn’t fight through it. At first I felt some writer’s guilt, but now I’m just angry. At myself and at my body.

This year Nanowrimo has taken on a new meaning. Yes I want to get words on paper. Yes I want to win. Yes I want to finish my first draft. What’s become more important is not letting pain win. I might not win, and in fact I assumed I wouldn’t when this started, but I want to get close. Every word I get written is like sticking my tongue out at the pain. Every sentence is a HA and each paragraph is a waving middle finger to all the crap I’ve gone through.

For those who don’t know I’m have many problems with my lower back, not through injury, just through genetics and living. The other thing to know is I am the biggest baby on the planet when it comes to pain. My mother always said I had the pain tolerance of a piss ant. I’m not even sure what a piss ant is but I’m forced to agree. Obviously I have built up some tolerance during the last six months but either I’m still wimpy or the pain is really that bad. Doesn’t matter because to me it’s horrible. I’m sick and tired of this pain leading my life. It  was actually when I started thinking of skipping Nanowrimo that I got mad enough to say screw this I’m doing it anyway.

So back to yesterday. Between the pain and feeling yicky I let it all weigh me down. I don’t regret taking most of the day off but as I promised myself at the beginning of November, now I have to make up for it. I’ve written well over the daily goal of 1667 so I have some padding but I can’t guess when I’ll have another bad day so I’ll pretend I don’t have backup. I also don’t have any clue how today will go. I had a ‘what-if’ moment a bit ago that could spur some good writing so I’m hopeful.

What if the people of the compound Drae lives in and is the temporary leader of turn their backs on her when they find out her secret? What if they throw her out to fend for herself in the town of vengeful ghosts who are particularly targeting her?

Whoa! Doing this would change so much of the story, it practically blows the second half of the second act to pieces, but the change is much needed. I’ll have to think about it for a bit and maybe write up a basic outline to see if I can work with it but I’m excited about the idea. Hopefully my next update will reflect a good outcome from it.

Nanowrimo word count as of this morning:19,133

Last Day Of NaNoWriMo Prep

Today will be a busy one for me. It started with me getting up early to take my husband to work, which I don’t normally do and usually would not want to! I’m glad I did it though since I didn’t stay a zombie for as long as I do in the mornings. It helped that it was a bit chilly outside — I love fall weather, so my mood was good.

I’ve tried to finish up a story board for my Nanowrimo project since I got home. I think I have it mostly figured out, at least enough to get me started. I fully anticipate my plan blowing up once I actually start writing the story.

This afternoon I have to take my cosplaying daughters to some event they’ve got going, then pick them up three hours later. Then I need to make dinner and pick my husband up. At 9:00 I’ll go pick up a friend and go to the last-minute planning event for my Nanowrimo region and hopefully avoid passing out before midnight so I can participate in the kick off (and not snore while out in public).

In between all of this I’m trying to finish reading Stealing Hollywood, Screenwriting Tricks for Authors. I’ll be reading it/working through it during all of Nano. This year I’m limited on how long I can sit and write because of back pain but I have the time to write. To avoid frustration I plan to read about writing when I’m not doing the physical act during my writing time. Most of the last third of the book consists of breakdowns of movies to show the structure. I’m interested in this but if I somehow write longer than I plan in a day I’m not going to feel guilty for not reading it. On the other hand since reading these breakdowns can only help me with my story and in the future, I don’t have to feel guilty for reading it when I can’t write.

As for my story this year, as mentioned I have the plot mostly figured out but I’m still struggling with character names. I may have to pick really bad place holder names for now. You know the kind you would never actually use in the finished story. Right now I have a character I only call ‘2nd wife’, two potential love interests called ‘male love interest’ and ‘female love interest’ and one ‘guy in charge.’ I also haven’t named any of the necessary minor characters. Hell I haven’t even fleshed out any minor characters. Most don’t show up until the second act and I’m enough of a pantser to be okay with figuring them out as I go along.

My biggest fear for Nanowrimo this year is life is going to get in the way of me writing every day and I might not finish. I don’t mean I’m afraid it will. I mean it definitely will so I’m worried about it. I will have two medical procedures that don’t take long but will leave me loopy afterwards, although maybe I’ll writing something interesting during those times. It’s more likely I’ll want to sleep. Also between my daughter’s orthodontist appointments and Thanksgiving break from school, there will be many interruptions. Plus stupid little things like eating, bathroom breaks and showering and my limited ability to sit in one position for long.

Honestly I don’t think I’ll win this year but I want to write as much as I can. My daily goals are small and manageable but I’m still nervous. There is something about Nano that brings out obsession in writers. I don’t want to fall victim to that again because disappointment sucks.

I’m going back to my book/prep.Good luck to everyone trying their hand at Nanowrimo this year.

Brief Update

I am re-plotting my middle grade fairy story. It was originally my nanowrimo project. After the excitement of winning nano wore off I looked over it and realized that I had melded two separate stories together. I don’t know why I changed my plot in the middle but I’m glad I did. Of course now I have to write the end of the first story and the beginning of book two. Re-plotting is much harder than plotting was the first time. So if I seem to disappear for a while, that is why. I can only hope that I can control the dreaded inner editor long enough to get my thoughts out. I will also intermittently work on my fantasy novel. When I’m not doing that I hope to keep trying my hand at flash fiction and eventually finish the course I started before November blew all my plans out of the water.

Flash fiction roadblock

I’m working on an online flash fiction class. One of my biggest struggles is I find it hard to keep it short. All the ideas I’ve ever come up with, except a couple, have always leaned more towards novel length. Because I see short story writing as one of my weaknesses I’m very determined to do this. The problem is I’m not sure how to come up with ideas for flash fiction stories, or even regular short stories. In the class I’m doing there is a method but it doesn’t really work for me. I find myself coming up with ideas that are within my other current projects. If not that, then I come up with boring things. Perhaps I just haven’t found subjects that interest me yet. I fear that I will lose interest and that is not to be allowed! While trying to come up with short story stuff, I’ve managed to come up with lots of ideas for full length books. If any of you write a lot of short stories, on command, feel free to share how you come up with ideas that get you started.

Plotter or Pantser?

So which is best? Being a plotter or a pantser? I really have no idea at this point, but I suspect I’m somewhere in between. I did a lot of plotting for nanowrimo. I won so that seems like a good thing right? I’m not so sure. Somewhere in the middle I lost my way. All my planning and I managed to get stumped? Yep. I made an outline, not a vague outline or a simple one. I made a full-out official looking outline (I hated it). I had a blank wall outside my bedroom door so I made plot cards and taped them up. I didn’t make a card per scene. I made 3-7 per scene. That I loved. When I got writer blocked in the face I looked through my outline and found nothing. I stared at my plot wall and was able to at least see gaps that needed filling and get some more work done. One things that was really helpful was a character sketch. I had written down everything thing I knew about each character, adding anything else I figured out along the way. Those pages helped me come up with what-if questions. Those questions are what got me back on track. Still, it was like a battle plan and most of my strategy went out the window after the first ‘really cool amazing new’ idea popped into my head. Basically the conclusion I’ve come to is I need some planning, but too much doesn’t work for me. Having a simplified outline is a good jump point. Writing character background stories is great for me too. My wall of index cards was wonderful. Even so, at heart, I’m a pantser. Most of what I wrote was unplanned. That’s how my mind works. I need a little organization and a little clutter to function and I’m perfectly happy with that.

That said, I’m sure I’ll change my tune when I really dig into revisions.

What If?

I don’t know about the rest of the writers out there but I find what if questions extremely helpful. If I’m trying to figure out a character, or I’m struck with writer’s block that kind of question is my go-to first step.

I’ll give an example of how it’s helped me. About a year and a half ago I decided to write a middle grade fantasy story. I had this random idea for a story about a fairy that didn’t really fit in with other fairies. I don’t normally like fairy stuff but I went with it. Maybe she would suck at magic or maybe be clumsy when flying. I didn’t like either of those so I started with the what-if’s.

What if she wasn’t good at magic because she couldn’t do magic the way the other fairies wanted her to because her magic worked different? What if all she wanted in life was to become a fairy godmother but failed to achieve that? What if she had no idea if she could fly because fairies didn’t fly anymore? What if she looked different than all the other fairies? What if she made some friends that also wanted to be fairy godmothers but couldn’t for some reason?

I somehow came up with hundreds more. Each what-if made me think of another. Eventually this turned into my nanowrimo project for this year. The idea wasn’t new but I had been working on other things. Plus I was too scared to write it because I had never written something like that before.

So a story idea about a fairy who didn’t fit in turned into more. It is about a fairy named Tomorrow (Tommie) who wants to be a fairy godmother more than anything. In the Fairy Godmother Academy, she learned that magic had to be carefully controlled. Creation magic was forbidden. For centuries the fairy community had used creation magic to change themselves to look more human. They got taller and their wings got smaller until most were born with no wings. No fairy alive could fly. As a whole the fairies were less powerful than that had been. No one remembered why, but everyone agreed that creation magic had been depleted and it was dangerous to use. Then Tommie was born. She was like the fairies of old. She was small, about four feet tall when the rest were near five feet. She had wings that were larger than her body was. She had huge purple eyes. But the biggest difference was that she was more powerful than the rest of her community. A lot more powerful. Controlling her magic only caused chaos and using it the way that came natural to her only got her in trouble. Eventually she has her final exam to become a godmother but failed. Various adventures ensue. Along the way she makes some friends who want to become fairy godparents too. Not one of them is a fairy and each of them is a little different than their families and peers. They start a campaign to change the rules when a bigger problem occurs. The gates to the fairy realm are failing.

Not too bad a base to start with. All of it started with the one what-if question: What if there was a fairy that wasn’t good at magic because hers worked differently than everyone else?

I still have a long way to go and I’ll keep asking my what-if’s until I don’t need them. This is only the beginning of a series. What tricks work for the rest of you? I hear people say ideas are cheap but I’m always looking for new ways to generate them.

Now I know I said I might talk about minotaurs in my last post. That one is in the next book. As I was researching him and making a character sketch, I realized I haven’t quite figured him out. What I know is that he is not evil. He might have evil urges but he’s choosing to be good. He’s got perfect memory. I mean he lived in a labyrinth, he had to be able to find his way around. I think instead of it being just one guy from Greek mythology, he will come from an actual race (maybe a created one). There aren’t that many around though and they are all bad. He might be a vegetarian. Tommie and her friends will meet him in their travels along with a really tall gnome, who was raised by garden gnomes.