NaNoWriMo ’16 : Recap and Learning Things?

It’s been a week now since I closed out my National Novel Writing Month project and frankly, I’m still kind of amazed that I ‘won’ this year. With everything else going on, I assumed I’d be too strapped for time to get those 50,000 words in. But it worked?

Last year I had outlines, plans, maps. I had research behind me and a concrete plot just waiting to be written down. This year I had none of that. My story was inspired by a writing prompt I did over a year ago after visiting a resort town about an hour from where I live. In that snippet, a bored teenage townie breaks into the vacant vacation homes of rich people in an attempt to liven up her own boring life. In the process, she finds an antique that turns out to be a time machine with some very specific limitations. She exploits it for her own gain and benefits.

For NaNoWriMo I adapted that 1,500-word short into something substantially greater. The place stayed the same, but the nameless bored delinquent became Em, a college-bound young woman. The theft of the time machine becomes her first crime, rather than one in a string of many. The machine itself became futuristic rather than ancient, and the limitations changed due to plot contrivances I never had to address in the previous iteration. And of course, the story went way beyond what was originally penned, traveling back and forth with twists and turns and troubles everywhere.

The story opened up to other characters- parents, friends, adversaries, but it remained personal.  In the writing prompt, the tale was told in third person. In the novel, it moved to a first person viewpoint, enabling me to better address the mental state of a person wracked with the countless emotions brought by affecting time. The perspective change was the most difficult thing to tackle. I’ve never written fiction from that side, and it proved incredibly challenging. Here is a girl struggling with major life changes who comes across something she absolutely doesn’t understand. How to you explain the ins and outs of that technology and process when the storyteller doesn’t know themself?

The other characters helped with that, giving Em an outlet to express her own theories, or serving as teachers to direct her questions. But that, of course, brought the need for lots and lots and lots of dialog, which is a feature that I’m sure many struggle with. How do you sound natural? How do you direct the conversation? How do you describe the scene outside of the words being spoken, but do it from a very limited viewpoint?

It was certainly an adventure, one that actually had no true goal until I was nearly 25,000 words in. I had ideas for where I wanted things to end up, but those changed several times. Characters that were supposed to show up in one chapter came back and played prominent roles. Names changed. Relationships changed. The entire theme and tone changed. What was intended as a one and done morphed into something wider reaching with a new world of my own invention open to future stories.

But of course I have to get this one cleaned up before I even think about future plots.

So what’s next? A break. Letting the story sit for a while to marinate in its own completion. Both to develop my own clarity and because I’m just… busy. Travel. Holidays. School. But I will come back to it in early 2017. I have a lot of timeline cleaning up to do, and a lot of character building. I also have a chapter or two that need to be written, just to add more cohesion to the narrative and makes some events seem less…. left field.

So until then, congratulations to all my fellow NaNo Writers. Even if you didn’t make the 50k goal, you’re still a rock star for trying. And to anyone considering this project, please give it a go. This was my second year and I’ve learned so much each time. It’s a wonderful experience (especially with friends to push you!) and I can’t talk it up enough.

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Shelf Status : November

I’m dispensing with my normal Shelf Status process for November, as I completed exactly two books, and both were from the same urban fantasy series. Not an especially thrilling recap.

November was… complicated. It kicked off the start of the advanced classes for my MBA program. It saw the end of seven months of marathon training. The curling season hit its full stride. Far away friends came to visit. And through all that, I somehow managed to complete another NaNoWriMo Project. Needless to say, it was a mess of a month. And unfortunately, December isn’t looking much better. NaNoWriMo is over and my knee is still too wobbly to run on, but in their place I have holidays and travel and even more school. Can you tell I’m ready to be done with school? When I finish it will top off 9 years of college and grad school and I have a disgusting suspicion that I won’t even be done then. As much as I complain about school I’d be a full-time student for the rest of my life if someone would pay me to do it!

Anyway, in lieu of a monthly recap, here are my goals for December :

  • Finish my monthly Discworld titles. I still haven’t closed out Moving Pictures, so I’ll need to do that plus two more.
  • Read a classic. Just one.
  • Not play too much Mass Effect. I’m just really excited about the new game and my brain is so friend that I’m falling down the BioWare rabbit hole to compensate for real life right now. Also, try not to romance Garrus for once? Impossible.
  • Get all of my homework done ahead of time so I don’t need to waste time on vacation sitting in a hotel on my laptop.
  • Recap my NaNoWriMo experience.

Not a very exciting list, but I only have 2.5 weeks to complete it… so when you put it in that perspective…




Blood Rites

Chocolate fends off all kinds of nasty stuff. And if you get hungry while warding off evil, you have a snack. It’s multipurpose equipment.

Blood Rites : Dresden Files #6
Jim Butcher | 2004 | 372 Pages



NaNoWriMo ’16 : The Final Push

National Novel Writing Month is ending in just three days, and while I’m currently on track for 50k words, I can’t help but wonder why on earth they picked November for this? Holidays are starting, school is in full swing for the students. It’s just a busy month!

The fact that I’ve made it through another year astonishes me, though my story is in far rougher shape that last year’s project. I think if I were to give a printout to someone I would get it back with red ink everywhere and This Makes No Damned Sense scrawled across every page. But that’s what first drafts are for, right?

Anyway, this is just a fast check in to say I’m still alive. I’ve also don’t basically no reading this entire month… which is super lame. If I do a shelf status it’ll just be to say “whoops I was writing a horrible sci-fi novel instead.” So, um, watch for that riveting piece of introspective reporting.


Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!

Of course, you only live one life, and you make all your mistakes, and learn what not to do, and that’s the end of you.

Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character
Richard Feynman | 1984 | 391 Pages



NaNoWriMo ’16 : Half Way There

I am alive, really.

I just made the horrible, horrible mistake of doing NaNoWriMo at the same time as my most difficult and time consumer MBA class. The good news is that I’m currently surviving both. The bad news is that I have essentially zero time to read or write about anything else. Aside from the audio books I listen to while commuting, I haven’t picked up a book in two weeks. Sorry challenges, I’ll make it up to you in December when I have nothing going on again.

Here’s what’s shaking…

  • I’m at 23,500 words right now, and today’s deadline is 25,000.
  • I’ve hit the center point of the story, which was the hardest for me last year as well. The opening is done, and the end is decided, but I’m meandering to get there.
  • I haven’t decided on deaths yet. I might hoenstly flip a coin.
  • Also, I hate first person and I doubt I will ever do a story in that perspective again.
  • Why, why did I do time travel? It was fine when it was just set points with one person, but now that the points and people are changing it is getting insanely messy. At least that portion of the story will be done within the next 10-15k pages I hope.

I’m still behind on two book reviews, so I’m going to try and get those out before I forget what I even read. Otherwise stay sane my fellow NaNo’s! The end is… half way closer?