October Writing Update

This year I’ve been setting myself monthly writing goals to help keep track of my progress on my fantasy novel, The Secrets The Dead Keep! October’s writing goals were:

  • To continue editing Draft Four,
  • And to continue to improve my worldbuilding.

I also wanted to work on my novel every day – even if just for a few minutes – to establish a daily writing habit.

So, how did I do?

Continue reading “October Writing Update”

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The Writing Process: A Guide for Non-Writers – Part Two

In my last blog post, I talked about preparing to write a book, which is the first part of the writing process. You can find it here. Today, I’ll be continuing with the next stage of the writing process: writing the first draft. This, I’m sure, is the bit non-writers think of when we say we’re writing a book. The bit where we sit down at our desks with huge smiles on our faces and a coffee by our side, and just let the words pour out of us. We’re excited about this idea and this story, and everything from the overarching plot down to every last comma is perfectly aligned in our heads. Now we just need to write it all down, then it’ll be ready for the world to read and love!
Sounds too good to be true, right? That’s because it is. Although writing the first draft may be the least complicated part – the only step to it is “sit your butt down and WRITE DAMMIT” – that does not mean it is easy. A writer faces many challenges while writing the first draft. Many writers quit at this point.

Continue reading “The Writing Process: A Guide for Non-Writers – Part Two”

NaNoWriMo 2014: From Heaven To Hell/Hydrena

Time to talk about a story idea!

When I was maybe 13, 14, 15 years old, I spent a lot of my time on a website called FictionPress.Net, posting stories and talking to people in the forums. The site users used to start informal writing competitions among themselves, and I took part in two. The second is irrelevant, but the first involved starting your story with a short passage which ran thusly:

“Stop, you thief!” Panting frantically, I ran down the escalator from the heavily puffing security guard. I clutched the pack of cigarettes tightly in my hand as I made my jump to freedom – crashing into someone. I looked up to find myself staring into a Goth boy’s green eyes.

I’m not sure if this was from something, or if the girl who started the contest just made it up; if I’ve just infringed some sort of copyright thing, I didn’t mean to and I’m sorry.

From this passage, I developed a modern fantasy story about a girl who discovered a new world and a new race (by means of the green-eyed Goth boy, who was a part of this race), and ended up having to confront Death himself. I called this story From Heaven To Hell. I made it up as I wrote it, so the plotline was a bit dubious, and what kind of character gets transported to another realm by some guy she literally just ran into and doesn’t ask where she is or what the hell just happened, I don’t know. But it was one of the few stories that I actually finished at that age, and despite the fact that my two main characters didn’t have much personality-wise (much like the rest of my characters – guess who couldn’t be bothered with character development when they were 14), they stayed with me.

I have a habit of merging story ideas together, and so when I realised during the early stages of planning The Secrets The Dead Keep that I would want some sort of magical race in my story, instead of creating a new magical race, I decided to steal the one from From Heaven To Hell, thus linking the story ideas. I decided, then, that The Secrets The Dead Keep is to be the first in the main series, which will consist of four books, and From Heaven To Hell, which I am renaming Hydrena while I rewrite it during this month’s NaNoWriMo with a better plotline and more developed characters, is to be the last. I am also planning a prequel and have numerous other ideas which I may or may not ever write.

So Hydrena – the rewrite of From Heaven To Hell – is what I am writing at the moment. We are ten days into NaNoWriMo now and unsurprisingly I am very behind (both with writing and with my uni work, but that is neither related nor the point). You want proof? Fine.

However, I am not the only one doing NaNoWriMo at my university, and we have got permission to have an overnight write-in at our library soon, so as long as I don’t continuously forget to write until then, I should be able to catch up. 🙂

Best. Pep Talk. Ever.

One of the reasons that it’s better to do NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNoWriMo than write a novel in any month of the year is the community feeling of I’m not writing alone, if all these other thousands of people can do it then so can I. Another reason is the weekly pep talks.

Yesterday’s, I think, was particularly brilliant. The idea was a personalised pep talk: you were given a list of things to think of…

  1. An awesome superhero name
  2. Adjective describing your main character
  3. Your favorite snack
  4. The last verb your main character enacted
  5. The manufacturer of your favorite snack
  6. The first piece of dialogue in your story that starts with ‘You…’
  7. Your current word count
  8. Adjective describing your inner editor
  9. Adjective describing your best friend
  10. Your favorite supporting character in your Camp project
  11. The last piece of dialogue in your story that ended with an exclamation point
  12. How much time you last spent writing
  13. Your favorite mythological creature
  14. Your favorite author
  15. Write a sentence beginning with the words “Once upon a time”
And then you inserted them into the pep talk in the appropriate numbered gaps. This is what I ended up with:
 
Once, there lived a writer, known throughout the lands as (1)The Authoress. This writer was seized by inspiration one July, and struck out to tell the tale of one known only as “The (2)Determined One.”
The first two weeks were full of wonder. Fueled by (3)chocolate digestives, the writer generated conflicts like vast thunderstorms, and characters so real they jumped off the page only to (4)write you right in the face. (5)McVities, now aware of the crucial role they played in this writer’s story-spinning, swelled with pride and told the writer, “(6)You can’t leave me housekeeper-less, Kerla!
Alas, not all was so rosy. After hitting (7)20,854 words, the writer remembered their last pang of doubt. What if they became blocked once again? What if their story was silly? Maybe… maybe it would be better to stop. They looked into the mirror, and the face they saw seemed almost (8)stupid.
At the writer’s darkest moment, a/an (9)awesome voice arose. “Hey, you can do this,” it said. “If you don’t, how will we ever find out what happens to (10)Felwin? I don’t want to live in a world with that kind of empty hole. Don’t stop now.”
The writer nodded, saying “(11)I can’t just leave it! No matter how far away from my word-count goal I am, I promise to write for at least (12)the majority of the day a day.”
With that, a rainbow sprang across the sky like a (13)dragon racing toward the newest novel by (14)Kristin Cashore. The world seemed to hold its breath, waiting for the writer’s next sentence. The writer smiled, took a deep breath, and wrote “(15)Once upon a time there lived a dragon called Hubert who was a very misunderstood dragon…”

Credit goes to Tim Kim, (Camp) NaNoWriMo’s editorial director, for the writing of this pep talk.