Tag Archives: Amberspun Spiderwebs

Camp Nanowrimo Project — day four

So I apologize for missing yesterday. I really have no excuse save for not hitting my quota until far too late at night. I’ll try not to let that happen again.

You’ll notice that I’m not starting today’s report with a wordcount. That’s because I currently don’t know it. I spent most of today reworking the last seven thousand words or so of my novel (so everything I wrote yesterday, essentially) because I realized fairly early on today that it simply wasn’t working. Yes, you’re told not to edit during a writing month and to save it for editing, but I’ve decided this month that I’ll fix major structural problems as I go. Having to rework 7000 words is a pain, but it’s nowhere close to having to redo 60,000, as I would have had to do had I waited until the end. Not to mention that trying to keep writing without fixing the issues would have led to another day of painful, forced writing. I write for fun, and when it’s not fun I use it as a signal that something’s wrong.

So I spent most of today rethinking when my main female character would be introduced and essentially unintroduced her and cut all of her scenes. I’ve kept them in a separate document and will be reintegrating them when I get to that point in the new version, but for the moment they’re sitting nicely in a document of their own. Which means that I have no idea of how many words will be reintegrated because I’m not there yet. If you go by the new version I’ve dropped down to just under 20,000, but if you add in the scenes that I cut it puts me at 26.5k. I haven’t decided yet what I’m going to log, if anything. Hopefully by the time I finish tonight I’ll have reintegrated everything, but at the speed it’s going that may not happen until tomorrow.

It’s interesting that, after so many years of essentially not having a dictatorial inner editor, this one has chosen to show its face now, during the very month when it should be kept away at all costs. I think it represents both my investment in the story and an evolution in the way that I view my writing. Living with a fellow writer whose inner editor is far more vocal than mine has meant that I’ve spent the past several months listening to them talk about various revisions of their current work in progress. I’ve heard characters added, removed, made more important, made less so. I’ve discussed with them different ways to write scenes or which scenes to move around. I’ve actually learned a lot more about editing from talking with my roommate than I have in any of my English classes. Apparently hearing about editing first hand has rubbed off on me more than I thought, because here I am, reworking an unfinished draft in a way I would never have done even last year.

Then again, this is definitely proof that this story is talking to me properly. It ground to a halt towards the end of the day yesterday and this morning flatly refused to keep moving unless I fixed the problems. I do love it when novels come alive on me like this, so I can’t be too upset with it. And definitely the prose I’m writing now was better than the stuff I was attempting to squeeze out yesterday or this morning. It’s just frustrating to make so little progress in terms of overall wordcount when I’ve invested so much of my time today in working on the project. Ah well, it’s all still part of writing and, really, when I’m ahead even for my adjusted goal, I think I can afford a day with little concrete progress in terms of wordcount.

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Camp Nanowrimo Project — day 2

Finished out the day with 18,110 words, once again all in Amberspun Spiderwebs. It’s not quite as many as I was hoping for, but it’s certainly respectable, especially for the 2nd. I had a hard time getting started this morning, but once I got myself in gear it went fairly easily. 15k was hard to cross, because it’s such a nice round number, but I powered through and kept going.

I ended up spending quite a bit of time developing a country that I never thought I would use more than briefly. But my characters were caught trespassing and taken to the local law enforcement office, so naturally I had to pause and figure out what that law enforcement office would be. This lead me down the worldbuilding path and at the end of it all I had the beginnings of a functional government and class system for this country. I never intended to actually use any of this information, but now I’m considering changing the timeline and keeping my main characters there for longer than a couple weeks, so I may end up using those details after all (and creating many more along the way). I know we’re told not to edit during nanowrimo, but I would rather take the time to edit now when the changes would only effect a chapter and a half, than do it later when I’d have to change the other 12. I haven’t yet decided whether or not to actually do this, so I’m going to sleep on it and look at the story again in the morning.

In other exciting news I have finally introduced a third named character. Yes, for nearly 17,000 words it was just my two boys interacting with a couple nameless side characters occasionally. To be fair, my viewpoint character did spent quite a bit of that time either sleeping or nearly dying of pneumonia, so he had an excuse for not being particularly social. I expect my other MMC met several people and learned their names, but we don’t get to be in his head so we’ll never know.

I realized as I took my worldbuilding break today that this story really is writing itself. Part of the reason why I like nano events so much is that they do let me take the backseat to the story out of necessity, but this story is going even more smoothly than past nano novels. Partly I suspect it’s because this story has actually existed in my head for several months and so I’ve had time to figure out the major plot holes and find ways around them. So it’s mostly smooth writing, which means that I can sit back and let the story happen as it will. But it also means that it was a good story idea. Part of the way I tell if an idea is any good or not is by seeing how easy it is to write. Last November I started a romance novel about a human and a fae, set against a backdrop of a series of grizzly murders. The concept was fine, but writing the story was somewhat akin to pulling teeth. I didn’t get more than 10,000 words or so and will not be returning to it, at least not in that form. The idea may be recycled into something else, but that version of the story is finished. I write for fun, and I don’t see the point in continuing when it consistently stops being fun.  But Amberspun Spiderwebs is definitely fun and it’s definitely not hard. I know I’ll hit walls sooner or later — it’s happened with every other project and it’s bound to happen with this one — but the ease with which I came up with these first 18,000 words is definitely a good sign. I have a good feeling about this one, I really do.

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Camp NaNoWriMo Project — day 1

So today was the first day of June, and therefore the first day of Camp Nanowrimo. Because I promised to blog Camp Nanowrimo (details here), here’s my first report:

I finished the day with just over 11,000 words, which is fewer than I was hoping for but still a respectable amount. All of them belonged to Amberspun Spiderwebs, which is my official Camp Nanowrimo project and the one that I’ll be blogging from now until the final edit, assuming there ever is one. The writing went really well. Like I was hoping, the characters developed minds of their own and took the story in a direction I wasn’t expecting, which is always nice. Like I said last time, half the fun of writing for me is figuring out the plot along with the characters, so when they veer off in an unexpected direction it’s quite exciting. So far my two main characters bounce off of each other nicely, and I think my pacing isn’t too awful. Pacing tends to be a problem for me, so I’ve been trying to improve it for the past year or so. Currently I’m just about to end my second chapter and several things have happened to move the plot forward, so there is hope.

I’ve refined my overall Camp goal and it’s now to finish workable drafts of both Amberspun Spiderwebs and Skytouched. Workable, in this case, means proofread and without nonsensical tangents. I want something I’ll be able to start editing without having to go in and correct all the spelling mistakes and remove the extra chapters on the battle of Waterloo. I’ve rounded this to 130,000 words, though it may come out to a bit less since I’ve already started Skytouched. I’m thinking 80k for Amberspun Spiderwebs and 50k forSkytouched, but both are just ballpark figures. I’m not great at judging length, partly as a result of the aforementioned pacing problems.

Other than that not much to report. Expect these entries to be fairly short, since they’re really just progress reports. I’ll do my best to keep real content coming as well, though I don’t promise to be anything more than my usual sporadic self.

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On different planning methods

So I was pointed to the Snowflake method of novel planning today. I’d heard of it before, but never really investigated. Today my curiosity was peaked, since someone mentioned that my planning method looked a little like Snowflake, so I went over and checked it out. Obviously every writer is different in terms of how they plan and what works for them, but Snowflake is definitely a nicely detailed checklist of things to do for people who don’t know where to start. (It’s also fairly time consuming, so it’s not for the super impatient, sad to say.) Certainly it’s interesting, but one sentence towards the end caught me eye:

I have heard many fiction writers complain about how hard the first draft is. Invariably, that’s because they have no clue what’s coming next.

This to me is a bit astounding. Not because I always have an idea of what’s coming next (I almost always don’t) but because to me that’s the fun part of writing. I love following my characters into the unknown and figuring out what’s going to happen as they do. It’s exciting, not knowing where this journey will take you. I write for the same reason I read: I want to know how the story ends and what happens to these people when they get home again. Planning a story too thoroughly ahead of time ruins that journey for me because I already know everything. There’s nothing to explore anymore, nothing to discover.

That’s not to say that I don’t plan. I do, sometimes quite extensively.* But my planning revolves more around worldbulding than plot or even really characterization. My characters often come to me fully formed, and those that don’t tend not to want to give up their secrets until we get to that point in their story. Lately I’ve been playing around with the idea of a scenelist, an idea borrowed from Rachel Aaron, who pointed out that the scenelist doesn’t have to be in order at the beginning of the process. She goes on to write out every single scene, but I stopped at the more important ones and put those in order. So, for instance, here’s the scenelist for Skytouched, which is a story I hadn’t planned to write until July but sometimes life doesn’t work the way you want it to:

Current draft of the scenelist for Skytouched

There are, in fact, twelve chapters in Skytouched, but the last three don’t have any scenes yet and, anyway, my screen won’t hold them all at the same time. The novella is planned at around 50,000 words, and I have 19 scenes listed. That’s not nearly as many as I’ll have in the final draft, but these are the ones that I considered important when thinking up the story. Actually, this is fairly detailed, as scenelists go, because my main characters seem to enjoy talking to me. The scenelist for Amberspun Spiderwebs (my official Camp NaNoWriMo project) is much more typical:

Scenelist for Amberspun Spiderwebs

This is for a full length novel, not a novella, mind you. These characters are being quite reticent about their story, though presumably they’ll open up as I actually start writing.

Anyway my point is that nothing works for everyone. For some people, planning everything out to the most minute detail works best. For some, doing that is akin to committing creative suicide before even starting to write. But at the end of the day, there is no right way to write. Really the only way to figure out what works is to try out several different things and see what fits. Writing should be fun, and anything that makes it fun is the right way to do it.

In other news, Camp NaNoWriMo starts in a little over 24 hours. Expect regular progress reports throughout June.

All pictures are of the Liquid Story Binder program, for which I cannot claim credit.

 

*I plan more extensively for fanfiction than I do for original fic, but that’s a blog post for another day.

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