NaNoWriMo: Day 19

Written Today:  1,081
Current Total:  43,131

I must admit, I’ve hit a bit of a block with my novel.  I have spent the past month now world-building, and it has made me sick of this world I’ve dreamt up.  Apparently, this is when authors are most ready to begin work on their narrative, but I’ve been struggling with getting back into mine now that the grunt work of laying down the story’s foundations is mostly complete.  My mind keeps drifting off to other stories and other characters that do not fit into or exist within the constraints of my post-apocalyptic chronicles, and I’m debating whether or not to pull it back.

I also know that I haven’t updated in about a week at this stage, for which I apologize.  The fun thing about participating in NaNoWriMo as a college student is that things like school and work and life tend to swallow me whole every once in a while, and refuse to allow me access to the world outside of their walls long enough to write let alone update you wonderful readers about my progress.  I am, however, nearly done with the 50 thousand word goal, and though much of it is actually character and world building, I feel that this has been the most productive NaNoWriMo for me out of the four years I’ve participated.  Why?  Because even though I didn’t get much written that I feel might be usable in my novel, I feel better prepared to write the stories ahead than I ever have before.  Not to mention that I don’t feel as though I just wasted a bunch of time and 50 thousand words of effort on stuff that sucks or needs so much editing that I might as well begin anew.

I have a beginning.

Speaking of beginnings: the first theme for my 100 Theme Challenge has been posted.  Please, follow the link, and enjoy.

Thank you for reading, and have a lovely evening.

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Donate to my NaNoWriMo Fundraiser, and I’ll insert a character with your name into my NaNo Novel!

There are 10 days remaining until the end of the fund-raiser for the Office of Letters and Light, and I’m only about halfway to my goal so here’s my idea:  for every increment of $10 donated I will write you something and send it to you.  In this instance, for every $10 you donate, I’ll create some fiction for a character with the name of your choosing (could be your name, could be the name of someone you love… or hate, or it could just be a crazy name you want to see in a story).  Much like a commission, the rewards will be as follows:

  • $0 – $9: A beautiful thank you letter, written in your favorite color of ink, with my quill, and sent to you (or scanned if you prefer not to share your address with a stranger).
  • $10 – $19: A character with the name you submit your donation under will be mentioned somewhere in my novel.  Fair warning, they may be among the dead as I’ve chosen to write the post-apocalyptic story.
  • $20 – $29: A character with the name of your choosing will be mentioned with a short description of who they are and what happened to them (think about 200 words)… Again keep in mind that there will be a LOT of people dying in this story.  Sorry about that.
  • $30 – $39: A character with the name of your choosing will make a cameo appearance (around 300 words or so) before either leaving or dying.
  • $40 – $49: A character with the name of your choosing will appear in a short scene (around 400 – 500 words).
  • $50 – $59: Choose your character’s name, whether they live or die, and I shall write them in with one of my main characters for a scene or conversation before leading them to their fate.
  • $60 and above: I will email you and discuss further options up to and including a supporting role in the story of the character whose name you will choose depending on how much you donate (each piece will increase by around 100 words for every $10).

Sound at all appealing?  Please, follow this link to donate, and include your name, the name you want me to use (if applicable), and their fate (if applicable).

All commissions will be delivered by midnight December 1st, PST.  I will not be sending you the entire manuscript, mind, only the piece in which your character is featured with a bit of context so that you can grasp what part this character plays in the story.  Also, for those who still would like a thank you letter written in your favorite ink, remember to attach an email to your donation.

Thoughts, questions, concerns, or other ideas?  Feel free to comment below.  Thanks for reading, and have a lovely weekend!

World Building: NaNoWriMo Prep

Perhaps it’s overly ambitious of me, but I am currently prepping three different novels.  Not because I think I’ll finish all three before the end of November, but because I know myself well enough to know that if I prep only one of my ideas there’s a good chance that I’ll only be able to think of scenarios for one of my other stories.  I don’t want to tell myself that I cannot work on a project when I have ideas for it.

In the interest of doing this, I have begun world building all three worlds.  Now in fairness, I’ve been randomly world-building all three projects since I dreamt them up.  Until this morning, however, I had not yet begun the difficult work of setting up all of the rules that existed within any of these worlds.  To ensure I’ve covered all of my bases, I am working through these challenges – 30 Days of World Building: Master List.  Of course, to get a proper jump on NaNoWriMo I will be doing three of these challenges every day for the next 10 days for three separate stories.  After all, I want the chance to do some character development pre-NaNo, as well.

It’s actually kind of fun for day 1 to see how drastically different these three stories are.  Yes, they have some similar themes in a way.  Many authors, including some of the greats, write about similar themes all their lives, I’ve noticed.  However, they are also different enough in tone, mood, setting, and so on to be set apart from one another.  One will be dystopian/fantasy/horror where the two main characters are never settled, never feel safe, and always running from what is after them at any given time.  The next will be a post-apocalyptic/somewhat alien invasion-esque (in a way) story in which a major change in the world must settle over everyone within it before there can be peace… good luck with that.  And the final one is a high fantasy I’ve been dreaming up for AGES at this point that is really more of a comment on today’s educational system than anything else at this point, although there are definitely themes of societal norms and bullying mixed in there as well.

Honestly, I’m quite happy to finally be working – writing and building something – rather than being a victim of life and my own schedule where I only wish and dream of having the time to write.  Sure I only got three hours of sleep last night so that I could get up and write while still managing to be awake early enough to get to my 8am class on time, fit in homework time, and study for that quiz today, but it’s so worth it just to have something finally written down.  It’s such a relief to be getting it out of my head.

Discovery Writing & Me

I have been doing a lot of research lately on how other people begin their novels.  I wanted to know what were the first steps people took when setting themselves up for the long-haul that is this process of telling yourself the story (because that’s what you’re doing in the first draft of your novel).  I have asked a good number of people, and they have all mentioned outlining in one form or another.  I’ll be honest, as a discovery writer I automatically become distrustful of the advice given by someone who is an outliner.  This might seem like a harsh way to look at it, but I think it makes perfect sense.  To me, it’s like getting advice for surviving in the arctic from someone who has only ever lived in the desert; the two might have a few things in common but overall they are fundamentally opposites.  

There is no doubt about it, I am a discovery writer.  I don’t pick characters, they come fully formed to my mind.  They have their own minds, they do pretty much what they want to do with the occasional prodding from me, which may or may not actually push them in the direction I want, and they are mostly, though not entirely, out of my control.  

What do I have control over?  Well, I can dream up situations to put them in, decide which characters they get to interact with (just to see what happens), and, well, bits and pieces of the world.  Though, I’ll be honest, once the world-building begins, that is largely out of my control as well.  The world just explodes out of one or two ideas, and spreads itself like a plague.  I may have begun the process of creating a world, but out of those few ideas the thing begins to build itself and it becomes my job to keep up with it as I’m writing.  

As a whole, discovery writing can be a very exciting process.  However, what happens for me is, whereas outliners know precisely where to begin and where they are going, I get lost at the point of beginning because I don’t know where it should start or where it should end.  And believe me, I’ve tried outlining.  I wish, more than anything sometimes, that I could at least incorporate outlining into my story, but as soon as the outline for any ending is written I lose all interest and joy in the story.  When I outline the writing that comes from this is dusty and old and dry because I, as the writer, lose all of my excitement in going forward with the story.  

The closest thing to an outline I can come is brainstorming a series of events or meetings that I want to take place in the story.  I write them all down, then set them aside in the brainstorming pile, and when I run out of ideas I begin to write.  What happens from here is I usually completely forget about the brainstorming pile until I get lost in my story or I hit that first wall.  Then I go back to the b.p., and take one of the events or meetings that seems most interesting at that particular moment and place the characters into it.  Honestly, the first one is almost always wasted because that writing-wall is in the way, but even though it’s sad to lose one of these scenarios the casualties are a necessary component in the war of story-telling.  

I discovery write everything that I do well, and outline everything that anyone has told me could be improved upon.  “This one was a bit dry compared with your usual fair,” “I couldn’t find your voice in this one,” and “Really not your best work” are just some of the comments I’ve received on pieces that I decided to outline.  So I abandoned outlining altogether, yes, but I wish there was still some way in which I could organize my stories so that I don’t feel primarily as though everything I’m putting down is in absolute chaos.  I don’t like chaos, I don’t like the way it feels around me or in my writing.  There has to be a way to organize everything as a discovery writer without losing the organic aspect of the story-telling process.  

I would be extremely happy to receive any writerly feedback on this if you have some to share.  Feel more than welcome to comment below either way, and thank you so much for reading.  Have a lovely day!