It has been a while since I blogged about the writing, but that is only because I have not been writing. Today I decided it was time to provide a update, as things finally seem to be rolling! I hesitate to start this blog post only because I don’t want to jinx it. But I feel like it’s a good time to record how the writing is going.
I did not enter January knowing what I wanted to write, only that I wanted to rediscover the joy of writing. I didn’t want to outline. I didn’t want to force myself to write anything specific. I was going to be perfectly fine if each day I started a new project if what I was writing the day before was not speaking to me.
What I didn’t realize I needed at the time was to figure out what time works best for me. I’ve struggled to write at night, because I generally want to unwind and relax in the evening after a long day at work. I’ve also struggled to write in the morning because it feels like a luxury I don’t deserve, because I am still looking for full-time work. Also, I didn’t know how I would fit it in as I started working mornings in December.
It seems like I’ve found a routine that will work for me right now, and I’ve decided to embrace it while while I can.
As I mentioned above, I now work in the mornings. I must wake up around 5 a.m. to get ready for that shift, work about two hours, then I have about five hours until I need to leave for my regular afternoon shift. So my days are really structured at the moment, which I like. It’s taken me a while to get my bearings, but I feel like I have plenty of time to do everything I want and need to do within my work schedule.
I think my writing schedule will be 9–10 a.m. Monday through Friday, which will give me about an hour each day to write my goal of 1,000 words. This goal is short-term, as I really want to use the next week while my friend is out of town to get a good foundation laid for the new story I am writing so I can surprise her.
The story has not been outlined. I have a couple of rough ideas of where it might go, but I’m open to that changing as I learn more about the world and characters through writing. I suppose I’m writing chronologically, but I may start jumping around if I feel like there are scenes demanding to be written ahead of time. I really just don’t want to get ahead of myself.
I’m not sure when I’ll be updating you all again. I’d like each update to feel special and come only at significant points in the writing. I’m not sure what that looks like, but things are looking up. And the writing is fun. In other news, I’m reading The Man in the High Castleby Philip K. Dick. My thoughts on Breakfast at Tiffany’s will be coming Thursday.
First of all, let me start by saying Happy Halloween! I’m sorry it’s taken me a little while to get back to the blog and talk about my writing. Truth is I didn’t accomplish very much this month. It’s now been exactly two weeks since I had my nose surgery and I’m just now starting to feel more like myself again.
For NaNoWriMo I will continue working on Troubling a Star, which I’m renaming A Familiar Story. It suits it better and will mark a new leaf for this project. I recently looked back at my plot summary for the project this weekend and fell back in love with the story. I think trying to write chronologically was messing me up, so I’ll probably be jumping around this month in an effort to maintain my enthusiasm and momentum.
November Writing Goals
The official goal for NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words by the end of the month, which translated to about 1,667 words per day on average. I’ve long been a proponent of each participant picking a goal that works for them and their schedule; the most important thing being participating at all. This year I will be aiming for that50kword count goal.
Additionally, I have mini-goals for the month that relate to writing.
Write at least5 minutesevery day
Write somewhere different at least once a week
Use my bullet journal
Don’t start any new books or T.V. shows!!!
My Bullet Journal
I’ll share it next week!
❧ ☙ END NOTE ☙ ❧
Sorry this post went up a little later than I meant for it. It actually published before I was finished drafting it. I had decided not to post it, then it went up and I realized I should just polish it up.
I would like to start blogging a little more regularly, but this is not the month for me to commit to anything major. I’m planning to do at least one post per week related to NaNoWriMo and it is simply going to be a weekly log of my progress. I’ve already started it and I’m super excited about it.
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, how are you preparing?
Hey! Sorry for the short absence! October started with a bang and I didn’t want to burn myself out so I took a little unexpected break while I worked on other things that I want to begin to share. I’ve been working on my story, so that’s been a lot of fun!
I decided I wanted to gear up for NaNoWriMo this November by practicing in October with a modified daily word count goal. Instead of the goal of 1,667 words, I decided to merely write 1,000 minimuma day. That’s not been happening every day yet, but I’m optimistic I will end the month at that pace and with 31k words total regardless of my slow start.
I encourage anyone who is thinking about NaNoWriMo to start practicing making time to write and putting words on the page. If you want to be a writer, you don’t need to wait until November to start writing. In this post, I hope you are inspired to start writing! I’ll be sharing what I’ve been up to for the past 10 days and my revised plans for the month of NaNoWriMo Prep!
Writing This Month So Far…
As you may already know, for the past couple of months I’ve been working on my WIP currently titled Troubling a Star(TaS). The title no longer fits, but it was never meant to be a final title anyway. For the sake of continuity I will not be changing it until I’m done with the first draft! I started writing it in August with a very loose idea of the plot and where the story needed to go.
In August, I had decided to start writing in a Google Doc so that my writing buddy could check on my progress (or lack thereof) and give me positive feedback whenever she wished. I’ve since taken away her viewing privileges so she can be surprised when she reads it for the first time, but I’m still writing primarily in that Google Doc! I’ve added a Table of Contents, so it’s easy to jump directly to the chapters I’m working on when I open the webpage.
I’ve talked about how I initially plotted this story last month, but I recently completed a more detailed plot outline by summary outlining. With the major plot points I had as light posts guiding me through the murky swamp that was my story, I wrote short paragraphs in which I elaborated about what happens to my protagonist. So essentially I told myself the story in 1,315 words.
I am so glad I dedicated more time to plotting in this way because I truly believe it will help me write a book that feels very cohesive and not just like disjointed parts glued together. I added characters and mini plot arcs that will strength the main story.
When I was at the midpoint I started breaking my outline into chapters by copying and pasting excerpts from the summary under the corresponding chapter headers, breaking paragraphs up where it felt most natural to start a new chapter. I assume as I write there will be even more that happens that might change where I break up chapters, but for now it will just help me know where I am in the story.
My Google Doc currently has 3,465 words in it but a lot of that is stuff I wrote before my more detailed plot outline, so I feel like I’m starting from scratch! However, the thing about NaNoWriMo is you must not delete anything. If something doesn’t fit anymore put it aside but DON’T DELETE! So I’ve moved about 2k words to the very bottom of the document to a “chapter” titled “Unsorted”. (These include scenes I still very much like and will be saving for future projects, perhaps.)
Now that I’ve got a better idea of what I need to write, my goal is to start writing at least 1,000 words a day as originally planned. I will most likely be jumping around a bit to write the stuff that seems the most compelling or important to write first. I’m keeping a journal to help me keep track of all my writing progress on a day-to-day level.
October NANoWriMo Prep
I shared my NaNoWriMo Prep schedule for this month last month before I took my little break, but I still want to stick to that, so you can expect what should’ve been today’s post at some point before next Wednesday (fingers crossed)!
I’d don’t know how long it will take me to finish up a first draft of TaS, but I’m still really energized by the opportunity of starting something completely new for NaNoWriMo next month, specifically a contemporary. I just saw A Wrinkle in Time (2018) and actually thought it was a really good modernization and adaptation of the book. Even though it did drag on a bit and get a little lost on the way to the original message of the story.
I would really like to try to write my own L’Engle-inspired work! By that, I mean a book that deals with contemporary issues and modern day scientific discovery. I think I will talk about this more in my next post in which I try to help aspiring writers tips for generating story ideas.
❧ ☙ END NOTE ☙ ❧
I was hoping to include my writing updates this month at the beginning of every post, but I may actually start sharing the odd writing update in single posts as I do find myself having a lot to say. I’ve thought about starting up my YouTube channel again instead to dedicate specifically to my writing updates, but that presents its own challenges!
So I guess we’ll see! I’m hoping to be back with regular blog posts again this weekend so stay tuned for that. ^_^
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, how are you preparing?
My writing buddy and I usually Skype at least once a week, typically during the weekend, and for as long as I can remember we tend to end each call with plans for what we would like to accomplish on our own before we next talk. These are really simple, achievable goals that are easy to remember so that we can hold each other accountable.
We pick these goals for ourselves. They are things we would like to achieve, that are within reason, and the only obstacles to them is ourselves and how we choose to spend our time during the week. She’s amazing and meeting and exceeding these goals. I’m so-so. But I love setting goals. I love knowing what I should be doing (even if I don’t do it)!
Types of Writing Goals
Whether you are a fan of setting goals or not, I think we can all agree they serve some function of motivation. I think they also help writing a novel seem more manageable. Each goal is a stepping stone that leads to the ultimate destination: a complete novel draft.
There are a few different types of goals you can consider setting for yourself. There are long-term and short-term goals. With long-term goals you may have dates in mind for completing your WIP as a whole or for beginning your novel querying. Short-term goals are often stepping stones toward the long-term goal. They take less time to complete and account for different methods to achieving the long-term goal.
Here are some writing goals you might consider on a daily or weekly basis:
Word count goals. Similar to NaNoWriMo, you may aim for productivity by consistently adding new words to your draft. If you know exactly what you want to write, or have no problem writing on the fly, then this goal might be great for you. You can be ambitious or realistic, adjusting the exact number of words as needed.
Finish [x] chapters/scenes. If you want to prefer to look at your novel as a collection of discrete parts, you might feel more productive meeting a goal where you are writing scene-by-scene. Instead of a random number of words, you can know when your writing session for the day is complete when you’ve finished a specific part of your book. Word count doesn’t matter. You’re weighing your satisfaction upon the completion of a scene.
Task-oriented goals. Maybe you like to edit as you go. You might have a goal of writing one chapter this week and next week you’re going through a round of edits. Maybe you leave a lot of fill-in-the-blank spots in your draft and like to attend to those all a once. These can encompass a number of things: naming places/characters, writing witty dialogue, adding hints of foreshadowing, fixing plot holes. Its all still work you can quantify as progress.
Sitting down at [this time] to write. If actually sitting down to write is your problem, then you might consider making it your writing goal to write at specific times/places during the week. No, it may not relate directly to your novel. But this goal will help you complete your novel in the long run.
You have got to know yourself and your writing in order to set good goals for yourself. I personally jump back and forth between all of these different writing goals each week.
If I’m having trouble making the words flow, I find having a word count goal can help. If my mind is on a specific part of the novel, I may dedicate my time specifically to working on that. Sometimes I just want to spruce up the words I already have. I find that by looking closely at my words from time-to-time sparks ideas for things that can happen before and later.
October NANoWriMo Prep
In case you’re new to the blog, you may not know that I love participating in NaNoWriMo each year. When I was younger, NaNoWriMo always seemed to sneak up on me, so in an effort to promote the writing event and encourage others to participate, I organize a weekly NaNoWriMo preparation series on the blog in the place of the regularly scheduled writing updates.
I announced my schedule in my Week in Review this past Sunday, but I also wanted to share it here for anyone who might have missed it.
I’m hoping to finish up my current WIP so I can start something entirely new for NaNoWriMo, but I don’t know yet if it will be possible. I have to make sure I’m in a good place to stop with Troubling a Star, if I’m going to start a new project.
❧ ☙ END NOTE ☙ ❧
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I started a bullet journal, specifically for writing. It’s turned into a real bullet journal, now though, so it’s taken me some time and research to create page layouts that work for me. The actual writing-related sections are in my October spread, so I’m excited to start seeing how those work next month. Hopefully I’ll be able to share my success on the 17th as currently planned!
What kinds of writing goals do you set for yourself?
Time and time again as blog hop, I discover that many of my fellow book bloggers are also aspiring writers. I say aspiring, because although many (like me) have the urge to write, think of stories, and plan writing projects, we all struggle to sit down and put words on the page. We find ourselves coming with up reasons to not write.
It’s not the right time. I need to finish my outline. I’m too busy. I’m not feeling inspired. All of these excuses pile up and it becomes easy to work on anything but our novels.
I find myself wondering all the time how people like Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo do it. Obviously, they are super successful authors who can afford to make writing their main priority and they have deadlines which publishers, editors, agents, etc. hold them to those deadlines. But how do they do it? Do they have more funwhen they’re writing? Is there something mystical that sets them apart from us?
The more I think about it, I think the answer is alarmingly simple; they have writing routines.
Why Develop a Writing Routine
When I say writing routine, I mean these established know when they are going to sit down and write each day. They know where they will work. They know how they are going to work. They may have a quiet part of their home where they do nothing but write. They may turn off their phones and wi-fi to eliminate distractions. Maybe they go somewhere more conducive than their homes for a productive work environment.
It’s important to know where you need to go and what you need to do to to avoid being distracted. Just the way you could explain your whole night-time routine (everything you use and explanations for why) you should know your ideal writing routine.
It may take some experimenting with different times of day or locations. You may find it necessary to get everything else that needs to get done in your life first (e.g. homework, chores, errands) so these things are not in the back of your mind.
Once you have your writing routine down pat, you will find that it’s easier to get into that writing mindset where you are not waiting for inspiration to strike or for divine intervention to somehow produce your novel’s words with little effort on your own part. Writing is work. It takes time. You need to put in the time if you ever want to be able to hold your book in your hands.
The main reason to develop a writing routine: If you are sitting down to write regularly, you learn how to diagnose the problems that may easily set you back right now.
Don’t like your story anymore? Think about why you feel that way now. Brainstorm options to fix whatever caused you to see your story differently from when you first decided it was the story you wanted to tell.
Don’t know what to write next? Think about a scene that sounds more fun that the one than the one that might technically come next. Maybe you can stop writing and jump back into planning mode. If you didn’t have an outline before, make one now so that you can think about your story from a more holistic perspective. It all counts as working on your novel.
Don’t like how the words have come out? Remember that it’s easier to edit a bad draft than no draft at all! If there’s no rush to finish up your current draft, maybe you could spend some tie editing the words you just wrote. Make them pretty and you might find it motivating to continue writing because you’ve had a glimpse of what will ultimately be.
Finding Your Writing Routine
We are all different. We all lead different lives, have different home situations, and different life commitments. Everyone will need to do some experimentinguntil they find the writing routine that works best for them.
I’ve always found it easiest to write in the early mornings before most people are awake and when I am working with my writing buddy. But she’s not always available, so I have needed to think about why I find it easier to work with her. For one, it keeps me on task. I couldn’t very well watch YouTube or pick up a book when she can see and hear what I’m doing. I also like our breaks where we’re able to talk about what we’ve written and bask in our excitement together.
I’ve found writing these Novel Progress updates are similarly rewarding to talking to my writing buddy. I can share my excitement and progress with you all, feeling encouraged by your feedback in the form of comments and views. I also get the satisfaction of knowing that others out there may find themselves inspired to write by reading about how my own writing is going.
So that’s additional motivation to write, to keep having stuff to share. ^_^
I don’t really find it very easy to go out and write in cafes anymore now that I’m living a suburban lifestyle, so finding a good placeto write has been a little tricky. I prefer quiet places. I don’t really prefer to listen to music or hear T.V. in the background while I write, so my bedroom is the main place I have. But my bedroom is also where I sleep and lounge about, so it can be hard to transition from relaxation to work .
I’m thinking about tidying up some of the other spare rooms in my house where I can work and find it easier not to think about all the other stuff I’d rather be doing.
So I’m in a weird stage of writing right now. I’m not really plotting this novel in great depth at the moment. I have some short paragraphs that provide a path for the story to take. I know there’s a lot of room where I could expand it with more scenes and plot points, but a part of me wants to discover these things as I write.
I’m using a Scrivener document so that I can more easily see each scene I write and move them around later when the novel begins to take a real shape. It also helps me start each day, knowing if I don’t like what I’ve written, the words are not set in stone. I can move the scene out of manuscript, but keep it for proof that I did write that day.
❧ ☙ END NOTE ☙ ❧
Something new that has begun to take up some of my free time is the creation of a bullet journal. I wanted it to be specifically related to writing, but as I did more and more research I realized I ought to also use it to keep track of my blog work. I wanted to make it the subject of next week’s Novel Progress, but I’m not sure if I’ll be ready to share it!
I only want to share it if I’ve found it valuable to my writing and feel like it’s something you all would find useful, so I may sit on this idea for a while longer. That being said, I’m not sure what the subject for next week’s Novel Progress will be sure to check out my little writing update in my weekly Week in Review post for any news ahead of next Wednesday!
Do you have a writing routine established yet? Have any tips to share?
As promised last week, today I want to share how I’m plotting my current WIP, Troubling a Star (TaS). I have a few different methods that I’ve found useful in the past. Rather than go through all of them, I just want to share what methods I used to figure out the plot ofTaS.
If you want to follow how I plot, there are a couple of things you should already know about your story:
a) what kind of story you want to write (e.g. romance, mystery, adventure, etc.)
b) your main characters, &
c) the world/genre of your story (e.g. contemporary, high fantasy, dystopian, etc.)
These are the elements I find come to me quite naturally when I’m beginning a story. Some people will do a lot of world-building and character development at the beginning, which may be necessary if their novel isn’t meant to be very plot-driven.
My favorite books are strongly plotted, and that’s how I aim to write. So I don’t personally find it all that productive to start a new novel by developing characters or the world in too much detail at the beginning because I like to be able to feel out the characters/world while I write.
All I need to figure out before I start properly writing are the plot beats. By that, I mean the things that need to happen for the story to progress. They can entail character decisions, major world events, points at which relationships change. Ideally they’ll cumulatively show the arc of character development in conjunction with the story’s action.
With vague idea of the story I want to write in mind, I’m ready to start plotting. In the past, I’d summary-outline my novel and discover the story in the moment, writing down everything came to mind first. Over the last year, I’ve come to realize that I wasn’t liking where those outlines ended up. So now before I start, I try to first think about the final product as a whole.
I ask myself,
“Can you think of any famous works that seem to mirror the kind of story you want to write?”
With TaS, I knew that I had a character that was a kind of ethically ambiguous witchy character who the young female protagonist would need to face, so I thought of all the works I know that feature similar character dynamics. If you think about it, the ideas I present above could relate to any number of existing works! From the works that came to my mind, I picked the one I thought most closely resembled the story I would like to write, Vassa in the Night.
Without going into too much detail, I soon realized Vassa didn’t actually work very well, for I didn’t want to have my protagonist being trapped and forced to toil in my witch-like character’s underwater world. So I had to think about how my protagonist would need to toil for the witch. Said toiling would consist of the bulk of the novel, so it was important to figure that out.
Then it hit me! Somehow, I had another idea of the kind of journey the witchy character could put her through. I won’t tell you exactly which character specifically, but I will say the current iteration of my protagonist’s journey in TaS is, strangely enough, now somewhat inspired by the sub-plot of a minor character from the Harry Potter (HP) series!
I took a look at the source material (i.e. the HP book).
I wrote that minor character’s story out in a bullet-point list.
I bolded the major beats of that plot (i.e. the points in the story where the protagonist experiences trials and tribulations finally culminating at the point at which the character knows what they have to do to solve their problem).
Finally I began replacing the source beats with my own. My beats mirrored the ones from HP by fulfilling the same roles that the originals do for the source book. For example, if a beat from the source material is “mysterious note with threat left on desk,” the beat I create would need to include some sort of threat meant to intimidate my protagonist.
I don’t have the ending quite figured out yet, but that’s because the climax of the story is the point at which my story derails from the HP subplot. That is 100% fine, as I still have enough that I can get started as soon as I commit to the specifically tailored beats I develop to fit my story.
Everything can still change when I start write, but the important thing is that I’m not going into the story blind and with no direction. I can start to flesh out the world and the characters, and adjust course as needed.
My main goal is now to just complete the draft. If midway through writing the story I decide I want to change the whole plot of the story, I will write down my ideas so they don’t get lost but I WILL KEEP WRITING WHAT I’M WRITING. The most important thing will be simply to finish the draft that I start. I will follow the plot bunnies later and not let them convince me to stray from the path.
❧ ☙ END NOTE ☙ ❧
This weekend I was inspired to start a new creative project related to my novel that should help me keep all my ideas in one place and track my writing progress in a more personal way. I’m hoping it’ll prove successful and that I’ll be able to share it with you in a couple of weeks. But in the meantime, you can continue look forward to weekly progress reports on Wednesdays with my Novel Progress installments and on Sundays in my Week in Review posts!
Okay, so I know it’s been a little while! I apologize for the absence. If you’ve been keeping up with blog, you’ll know that I had to kick up the job search again and recently acquired a part-time job that I actually started Tuesday (the day I’m writing this post). I wanted to do Novel Progress updates, but I didn’t feel like I had anything of value to say.
I have some big updates to share today. I don’t want to linger too much on the past, though so I’m going to try and make it snappy. Simply put, I decided to put Come, Beasties aside after talking to my writing buddy on Sunday.
It was not something I had been contemplating up to that point. I had actually sent my most recent outlines to her and received some feedback. We’d talked in depth about my story for the first time in a long time, and I felt bad thinking that I’d asked her to waste her time looking over a story that I felt like stepping away from. But she was so supportive and confident that I would be just fine returning to that WIP after some time away.
The New WIP
I decided look through an old desktop folder where I’ve collected most of my previous writing attempts. I didn’t have an immediate new ideas, so I wanted to scour old documents. I found past NaNoWriMo attempts, ambitious plans for short stories, and lists of story ideas that never came to fruition. I found two stories that really spoke to me.
The first was four single-spaced, polished pages of a introduction that has since evolved several times. It had actually been reworked to become the beginning of a story I had been working on prior to Come, Beasties, which had unintentionally started to develop a classic Victorian horror story vibe.
The second was my NaNoWriMo 2016 attempt. Looking at it after almost two years was really surreal. I remember my inspirations and writing while I house-sat for a professor of mine during the infamous 2016 election. I even remember why I stopped writing, how the story had begun to take a stereotypical turn I did not like. But I didn’t remember how much I had loved the story’s beginning and ending scenes.
These scenes did not have much anything to do with plot, but in my mind they were so visually stunning in a way that I am impressed that I could’ve written them at all. These scenes reminded me why I thought I could become a writer.
I’ve decided to give this “new” WIP a new title (the old one doesn’t seem to fit anymore): Troubling a Star. It’s actually the title of a lesser-known Madeleine L’Engle book that I read (and reviewed) earlier this year. I’m comfortable borrowing it, because I know the final draft will have a title I want to keep to myself. I just feel like this title evokes something that I’m going for with this WIP.
I feel like I always start writing with a character and living situation in mind along with a very vague idea of how they need to change by the end of the novel. The trouble is I struggle coming up with the meat of the novel, the story, the fun and games!
I entered this new project with a plan to keep the story very simple from the outset. I knew who the protagonist is and her problems, but I needed to figure out who the antagonist would be and what form the plot would take. I didn’t want to be too ambitious. I wanted to follow a tried-and-true story structure, adapting it for this story and fantasy world.
I had a list of four ideas, ultimately deciding on the first one. I had reread Vassa in the Night earlier this summer and it’s remained on my mind as a shining example of the kind of novel I’d like to write. I like how it’s a modern adaptation of a Russian fairytale and is so vibrantly envisioned when I read it. I decided could see Troubling a Star having a witchy villainess with whom my protagonist needs to spar to survive (external conflict) and grow as a person (internal conflict).
Other stories that come to mind as inspirations, including The Little Mermaid and Howl’s Moving Castle, but I won’t tell you exactly how I see these works relating to my own yet!
Next week I’ll share more details about how I’m plotting along with more general update on how the writing is going. I want to start officially writing pretty quickly, so I expect things to move along pretty quickly as I draft this novel.
To a certain extent, I don’t want to get hung up on mismatching scenes or messy writing. I find it inspiring to edit as I go, because I find it easier to write when there is “proof” of what the story can potentially become once the first draft is complete. At the same time, I want to write a short first draft and then be able to expand it in future, adding the layers I have trouble juggling in the plotting stage.
Ideally, I would like to finish this draft before November, because a part of me would really like to be able to participate in NaNoWriMo successfully this year with a completely new story, maybe within a genre I’ve thus far left uncharted (e.g. contemporary or historical fiction). I think it would be really beneficial as a writer to write something that is out of my comfort zone and that would require a different kind of preparation.
I’m going start making notes of news stories or historical events that might be fun to imagine fictionally. Maybe that will become a future blog post!
❧ ☙ END NOTE ☙ ❧
I could blabber on and on about more of what has happened since Wednesday, but I don’t think it’d make for a very reader-friendly post. Even if I take a short break from writing these posts, know that I do love writing them. I just don’t want to degrade them by writing anything incoherent and ultimately unhelpful for any of my writer friends out there!
I know these posts are most fun when they are short and sweet. ^_^
In case you missed it, last week I announced that I would return to weekly writing-themed posts! I didn’t know quite where I would want to start after last week’s post, but I decided it might be a good idea to give you all a sense of what my novel is about. I also realized it might be nice if it had name so I could stop calling it “my novel.” So the public working title for my novel is Come, Beasties.
Despite my eagerness to blog my writing journey, I do worry about idea theft. So I’m wary of sharing explicit details. But I also don’t want to keep you completely in the dark, so while I may not go into great description of the novel’s details (i.e. plot points, real character names) all at once. Instead I will share details in bits and pieces as they become relevant over the course of these posts so that you get the gist of what I’m writing and how it’s going.
As for today I will be teasing what the story is about and who I envision as the target audience.
What Kind of Story Is It?
It is a YA fantasyset in an alternative universe with magic and monsters where industrialization is still fairly new. My protagonist (M) is about 12 years old and lives in a troubled colony of a powerful country and becomes a pawn in a larger game for magic wielders who want independence and power for themselves.
At this point I think there will be multiple perspectives beyond the young female protagonist. There are a couple of slightly older characters (male and female) whose lives become intwined with the protagonist. I’m writing this book as a standalone, but I imagine there will be series or spin-off potential given the complexity of world I’m creating.
Two authors who I consider primary influences in the type of writer I want to be are Philip Pullman and Leigh Bardugo. I feel like my writing style right now is more Pullman-like, but I love Leigh Bardugo’s plotting and inventiveness.
Who Is the Target Audience?
I would like this to be a book for young people and adults. I’d like it to something children as young as 8–10 can read but that adults would also find an fulfilling read. I’d like it the book to appeal to both boys and girls. I want it to be dark and have heavy themes, but I would ideally want this to be the kind of book that people could read and appreciate differently as they age. I realize that is a tall order!
❧ ☙ END NOTE ☙ ❧
Next week in Novel Progress #3, I’d like to share an actual update about where I am in the writing process right now, as I’ve been working fairly steadily at plotting for the past couple of weeks and imagine I will be able to make the transition from plotting to writing very soon after I receive some feedback from my writing buddy on my plot summary, which I anticipate I will end at about six pages single-spaced!
Next up on Betwined Reads, you can expect my first anthology review for How I Resist, an inspiration anthology geared towards a YA audience about activism. Additionally, this weekend I plan to share my July Notes ➴ and August Goals + TBR ➹!
If you are really new to the blog, you may not know that I consider myself a sometimes writer. I’ve never published anything or even finished a full-length novel or short story, but I work at writing throughout the year with a friend/writing buddy I made at Iowa State University. When I’m not writing I’m reading in part to study how other writers do it.
The main problem I have with writing is following through and sticking around, especially when the writing gets uncomfortable. I love planning a novel and creating characters and worlds, but I’ve always struggled to write the damn story. It’s like I’m rendered useless at the thought of just how many possibilities and directions the story can take. But this weekend I felt like I’m finally on to something. Something that can become something.
I felt confident enough to resume documenting my writing journey here on Betwined Reads, from start to finish!
I’m going to start sharing Novel Progress writing updates each Wednesday. I intend to keep them short and sweet, limited strictly to weekly highlights and not detailed play-by-plays. These posts may range from short updates to tags or discussions on any topic I might find relevant or interesting. I don’t want these posts to become super long or rambling, especially if the details I share may become irrelevant the next week.
I feel like writing can begin to feel very turbulent when I’m simultaneously trying update people weekly on my progress. Writing a book is like riding a rollercoaster of euphoria and misery. Some days I feel I’ve done something that makes it seem like everything has clicked together perfectly and the next day (or even next hour) I’ve tossed out something that throws everything into limbo again. So I don’t want to over-share prematurely.
My next few Novel Progress entries will be introducing my novel, establishing where I’m at in the novel development, and sharing how I plan to write my novelthis time around. I don’t have any hard and fast deadlines yet but I am eager to finish the first draft before November, so I’d like to keep my momentum going no matter what comes along.
❧ ☙ END NOTE ☙ ❧
I hope you enjoyed this little announcement and are excited for writing-themed posts to return to Betwined Reads! I certainly am. I want to become a more consistent blogger and writing is something that fulfills me in a way that I’m not sure I will ever get from simply blogging about books. As much as I love talking books, I do want to do more with my life and becoming a published author is a dream I’ve had in the back of my mind since I learned to read.
I plan to go the traditional publishing route, which I know is a long-shot and may take years. But I figure that even if I just end up documenting the trials and tribulations of finding a book agent and a publisher that should keep these blog posts entertaining reads for years to come! ^_^
It seems like I’ll be sharing one writing update per month for the time being! There’s been a few points in the month where I’ve felt like sharing an update, but I had to hold myself back. I generally like to write my blog posts in advance and then put final touches on them closer to their publication date, but that doesn’t really work for writing posts.
So much can change in the course of a single day, regarding my story progress. If I were to record every single up- and down-swing in my confidence, plotting, etc. my posts would be an absolute mess, and nobody wants that!
I think a lot of people harbor secret fantasies of being a writer but struggle to think of ideas or how to build good writing habits. I certainly have, and for a long time. That’s why I am so tempted to overshare right now, even at the expense of it ruining my streaks of progress! I love reading other people’s writing updates, because they get me excited to write. I like to think others might get the same motivation from reading my own trials and tribulations.
So that I don’t overshare on my novel writing progress, I’ve decided to limit myself to just one post per month until I am fully done with my first draft. However, my next few writing posts will also feature a strategyor resource(s) that have helped me in my early stages of writing a novel, starting today with how I plotted the novel on which I’m currently working.
But first, here’s my little writing update!
In my last writing update (Here We Go Again | #AmWriting), I shared my personal deadline for my first draft was May 31st. I had to move it to June 20th for the reasons listed below.
One, I squandered my time, prioritizing blog posts and goals. It’s hard to punish myself when I have been doing work that I’m proud of, especially work (read: reading) that I believe has the added benefit of making me a better writer.
Two, plotting my story has been difficult. I went through three versions to end up at the one that finally, and tidily, unites all the characters and plot lines that have existed in my head some amorphous brain stew. I’m glad that I didn’t start writing before I was confident in my plot, because I don’t think I would have ended up in place that I did or even a place with which I could be truly happy.
Three, for reasons I will share at the end of next month, I will have a lot more time to myself to write in the first half of June. I will be able to use this extra time to write quality words, not hastily written ones that are discardable placeholders. I’ll be able to focus on and live in the story I want to tell.
While I often say that I’m writing when I am actually doing other tasks that help with writing (plotting, world-building, etc.), I have started properly writing this past weekend. I took my plot (in the form of short summary paragraphs with bullet-points), identified the most prominent plot arcs, chose the ones I wanted to work on first, then referred to the books that I thought might give me ideas as I began to write. PROPERLY WRITE!
A List of Possibilities
At long last we’ve reached the point where I will talk about the main topic of this post: making a list of possibilities. I got this idea from a video by Katytastic that I’ve referenced before at the end of Writing Update #1 | NaNoWriMo 2017. She talks about making a list of every possible direction your story could go when you get stuck in your writing. While she is recommending this list for people who have already started writing, I took it and ran with it as a plotting technique.
I can’t plot my stories by following a strict story structure, as much as I’d like to be able to. I find it more useful to refer to well-known story structures as guidelines when I know there’s something missing that I can’t readily identify. Instead I’ve found much more success in plotting by summarizing the story I want to write in the simplest terms.
I rarely know what I’m going to write (read: summarize) ahead of time; I discover it as I go. Unsurprisingly, this never results in a great plot at first. Fortunately, I’m often very easily able to tell when I don’t like something I’ve plotted (for any number of reasons) and go about fixing it.
What I do in these instances is brainstorm different options that fulfill what that plot point needs to do for the story to work, but in a way that satisfies me. Sometimes the first new option I come up with is great and will work, but I try to think of at least one more direction the plot point can take just so that I’m confident in my final choice.
Here’s an example of some of the original options I had for how the female (FMC) and male (MMC) protagonists in my story meet, revised and made more concise than I originally wrote them.
Option 1. MMC introduced before the Hook (witch taken away) as a charismatic mercenary. Meets FMC and build connection before he knows she’s important. Later he is a part of arresting party that takes the witch, helping the FMC avoid similar fate.
Option 2. MMC introduced after Hook, sympathetic to FMC helps her visit the witch in prison driven by his own secret motives.
Neither of these options made the final cut because I eventually realized that my MMC was better utilized not fraternizing with the townsfolk but with another group of people whom my FMC falls in with. Also, I didn’t want his true mission to turn into a reason why the witch was taken away, as it seemed like it might.
Ultimately, I decided not to let the MMC and the witch character’s paths cross at all. A few days after stewing over my plot, I decided to introduce him in an action scene, novel’s first major pinch plot as a mysterious rescuer who was fatefully in the right place at the right time.
(I wish I had a better example, but in the two first plot versions I drafted I deleted the “loser” options, so what did for this post was merge the “winners” from the first two plot iterations. )
If you’ve read this far, I hope you find this post helpful! I bet there’s a proper name and better description out there of what I tried to express through my “list of possibilities,” but I’ve not come across it and this is what worked for me.
Before I go, I will say that this process did not happen all in one day. I’ve always found it necessary to let things stew a few days before I return to work on the story so that I know if I’m still excited by what I came up with. So while making a list of possibilities may seem simple enough, it can become harder the further down the road you get. It’s especially hard if you grow attached to plot points that may not end up fitting well with the rest of the story in the end.
It helped to start a fresh new blank document each time I needed to make a drastic change. That’s why I can clearly delineate in my head two different plot versions (1.0 and 2.0) with their defining characteristics. It was also handy, because it allowed me to preserve old plot ideas that may still be utilized in future novel drafts as I discover what fits.