NaNoWriMo 2019: Complete!

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I’m wrapping up NaNo 2019 this year with 60,761 words on an entirely new project that is not even close to finished. This is my fifth consecutive year participating, and my fifth win. (I’ve won in prior years as well, but for fun back in college, long before I adopted this pseudonym or had this blog or published anything for public consumption.)

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I was ahead of the standard curve from the first day and built myself enough cushion early on to absorb the days when I didn’t have time to write at least 1,667 words. In fact, I planned that into my goals for the first time, this year: I set the goal of only 444 words on days I worked double shifts. That’s the minimum count to maintain a daily streak on 4thewords, which I’ve been using for six months now!

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My daily word count ranged from 521 at the low end to 3,963 at the high end. While the new NaNoWriMo site has carried over past projects for basic lifetime totals, the daily stats for them are gone, but I’m 99% sure I broke the 4K/day barrier on past projects, so this one was not record setting. Nor is it my highest total word count (that was back in 2015 with What We Need to Decide when I hit 65K.) But I did write every day and update every day, and honestly, I think that might be a first. I usually miss at least one day somewhere along the way, but realistic and flexible daily goals helped a great deal when I was facing a lack of motivation to write.

So did bringing a journal to work, to allow me to squeeze out a few sentences here and there during down time.

I’ll be honest, from story perspective, this project is a mess. I’ve got a muddled and over-long beginning burdened with too much character introspection, a slow middle, then a huge gap of time I skipped over to get to the first culmination of the romance, where my two lovebirds finally admit something more than friendship is going on. Then I’ve got a few solid scenes following that, but no “final” conflict to threaten their happiness, and I certainly don’t have an ending.

The good thing? I’m fully aware of the flaws in this project, and I’m going to spend December filling in those gaps to finish the first draft.

This time last year, since I started my new project for Fictober, NaNo was about finishing it, so I was done by now. I wish I’d been able to do that again this year, because trying to finish a novel draft, even the first draft, around the holidays is not ideal timing for me. I’ve got mountains of cookies to bake! But I’m going to do it. I’m going to keep my same flexible daily goals depending on my word schedule. I’m going to keep updating my project on the NaNo site (assuming the new layout supports that, it did in years past); I’m going to keep myself accountable on my social media with the daily updates on Tumblr.

I am going to finish this project, dammit.

I’ll let you know towards the end of the year how it’s going, but NaNoWriMo itself is over, so that’s all for now!

 

NaNoWriMo 2019: Progress Report #2

  • Total Word Count: 42,055 (day 20)
  • Fewest Words Per Day: 521 (day 19)
  • Most Words Per Day: 3,963 (day 3)
  • Average Daily Word Count: 2,103
  • Currently Projected to Finish By: Nov 24th

I’m still ahead of the curve, but my pace has slowed slightly over the second stretch of ten days. That was bound to happen, as the initial burst of energy at the beginning of the month faded. And I had a cold last week, not a bad one, but it did mean that I wanted to spend more time lying down and less in front of my computer. And I’ve got a lot of hours this week at work because we’ve got trainees!

But I’m still chugging along and still projected to finish well before the end of the month. The weird thing is, I’m overwriting so much that I’m 40K in and maybe only a quarter of the way into the rough outline I put together during my brief NaNo prep. Maybe a third? At this rate, the finished draft is going to be about 120K, which is looooong for me and definitely longer than it needs to be.

As usual, I’ll keep working on this project at as NaNo-like a pace as possible through December (and January, too, if necessary) until it’s done. But this is going to need sooo much rewriting before it’s ready!

NaNoWriMo 2019: Progress Report #1

  • Total Word Count: 24,728 (day 10)
  • Fewest Words Per Day: 1,889 (day 1)
  • Most Words Per Day: 3,963 (day 3)
  • Average Daily Word Count: 2,473
  • Currently Projected to Finish By: Nov 21st

So NaNo is going well. I came so close to hitting the halfway mark on Day 10, I will definitely get there today. I’m pantsing my way through an incredibly loose outline that only includes a few specific scenes (most of which I haven’t even gotten to yet) and mostly relies on “and then stuff happens.”

As far as the plot goes, I’m over-writing, because at 24K I should have about a quarter of the story told, as my novels tend to be in the 90-100K range. I don’t think I have, I’ve been getting word count when I’m “stuck” by explaining, often at great length, some aspect of the world-building, or detailing how the POV character feels. It’s exposition, and I know it is, and assuming this draft even gets finished post-NaNo (several of mine haven’t) then a lot of this is going to get condensed or cut in revision. However, NaNo isn’t about “good” writing, and when the time comes to rewrite, I’m going to be glad I spent all that time recording my thoughts on how the characters feel, because occasionally on past projects I would look at a section of dialogue and or a bit of internal monologue and wonder, “What was I thinking? Because I don’t remember the point of this.”

I’ve got enough ideas moving forward that I don’t think I’m going to stall out any time soon. And the first winter storm of the season just hit us–it’s been snowing steadily since I woke up and is projected to keep snowing until sometime tomorrow–so after I squeeze in a quick run before it gets worse, I’ll probably be holed up inside the rest of the day, might as well write, right?

NaNoWriMo 2019: The Word Count Plan

In years past, I never worried too much about making the standard daily goal necessary for a 50K win, 1667 words a day. Sure, I didn’t make it every day of every NaNo, but I usually wrote more, and when I fell behind, I was pretty good at catching up.

With my new job this year, I have less free time than I used to overall, offset with the benefit of always having a “weekend” off. Yeah, it’s Sunday and Monday, but it’s still two days, in a row, that I can always count on.

So here’s the plan.

On work days when I have a single shift, I’ll aim for at least the standard 1667.

On work days when I have a double shift, I’ll lower my aspirations to 444. Why that number specifically? It’s the minimum word count on 4thewords to add a day to your writing streak. Got to at least keep that going!

On my days off, I will aim to catch up to the expected total word count for that day, if I’m behind, and write at least 2K if I’m not.

I start November 1st on a double shift, of course, why wouldn’t I? I often work doubles on Fridays. But even if I start behind, my weekend comes quickly after that, so I won’t be behind for long!

NaNoWriMo 2019: Ready to Get Started

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I have a new novel idea for NaNoWriMo this year, and I’m excited about it. So excited that I’m impatient to start, in fact.

I have a notes document with almost four thousand words of rambling about it, a compilation of everything I’ve thought of so far, every scene, every bit of world-building, every potential plot point. To be honest, I haven’t actually thought of enough for an entire novel yet, except in the broadest sense of it being a romance (like everything I write!) so it’s got to start with two people not being together and end with them happily in love.

What is it going to be about, you ask? After years of reading stories about them, from semi-grounded historical fantasy to wildly original settings, I’m finally tackling the Fae. I admit I got a good chunk of inspiration from The Dark Mirror, even though in the end I didn’t like the book much at all, but it’s got a main character who’s a foundling born of the Good Folk, and I was disappointed by how little that seemed to matter, even as her origins were supposed to be a central conflict of the story. So I thought, what could I do differently with the same basic idea?

Of course, my setting is going to be totally fantasy, rather than historically based, because I don’t do historical. I like to research in much smaller amounts than that would require–I’ll look into a crafting method for something, or how long it takes a body to decay under specific circumstances, or what widespread tornado damage looks like, no problem. But I have no interest in the kind of intensive research and reconstruction that good historical fiction takes to be successful.

I linked that Fae foundling idea with a really old and battered single scene I’ve had floating in my head for years without putting into a story. You have those too, right? A disconnected bit of story that is really interesting on its own, but doesn’t have a home yet for whatever reason? Well, I think I found one for this scene, a snippet of a family taking their guests on an afternoon ride that nearly ends in a tragic drowning, but instead becomes a heroic rescue! Because why not?

I stuck my foundling into that scene, started playing “What if?” and “Why would that happen?” with the resulting mix of old and new ideas, and came up with a new twist on the Fae that I’ve never seen personally before–they can’t swim. They are afraid of any water they can’t hop over or walk through. (This, of course, doesn’t mean it hasn’t been done, only that I haven’t run into it. It’s a common bit of folklore that ghosts or spirits can’t cross moving water, so prevalent in the media I’ve consumed all my life that I don’t even know the origin of the idea, or even if it has one single and definite origin.)

All at once, the mishmash of inspirations came together into a single thematic statement: the Fae don’t build bridges. I can use that to explain their relative isolation from human society–their lands expanded to the point where they reached water they couldn’t cross, and no farther–thus the oddity of the foundling. That’s also why he nearly drowns as a child, because none of the (slightly negligent) adults with him realized he couldn’t swim like any other boy his age could be expected to. But the daughter of the family he was visiting, she’d been watching him, because he was so strange and wonderful, and she was quick enough to understand what their parents and attendants didn’t, when he fell into the river and didn’t come sputtering back to the surface right away. She saves him! (Way back when I first had this heroic child-saves-child-from-drowning story idea, back in my teens, it was definitely a boy saving a girl, because I was full indoctrinated with typical gender stereotypes. I actively try to work against that when I can, now, so I flipped the binary, why not?)

And that’s just the opening of the story, because I kept playing “What if?” with the idea and how to turn it into a romance as adults, if this strange Fae boy grew up knowing he owed his life to a girl he’d only just met before the incident, and what that incident might shape him into. Before I tell you the rest of the story, I have to write it.

Is it November 1st yet?

The State of My Writing Folder: October 2019

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I’m suffering a crisis many writers will be familiar with, and if you haven’t experienced it yet, it’s probably somewhere in your future: what project do I work on?

I’ve covered this before, in terms of plot bunnies and NaNoWriMo prep, and surprise, surprise, it’s October and I’m feeling that pre-NaNo pinch again. What better time for a self-assessment of my project opportunities?

  1. #spookyromancenovel 3.0: Major undertaking, and what I feel like I should be working on. It’s definitely the closest thing I have to publishable. My beta readers worked so hard on their feedback. It’s not in terrible shape, it just needs some trimming down and shoring up! But after churning out the first draft during Fictober/NaNo last year, I’ve spent most of 2019 on this project, and I think it’s time for a break.
  2. #rockstarnovel 2.0: Also a major undertaking. Remember this project, guys? Wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t, it’s my NaNo 2016 novel. I toyed with the idea of revising it through 2017, but it needed so much work, and according to my document history, the last time I took a half-hearted stab at it was early 2018, but I didn’t get very far. I still love this story. I still think about this story from time to time, usually when I hear a new song that fits one of its characters. Its bones are still solid, but I guess I feel weird writing contemporary romance? No sci-fi, no supernatural elements, the stuff that marks almost all of my other writing. With only one series under my belt, I hardly have an entire brand to betray, but this still feels like a huge departure for me.
  3. Finishing NaNo 2017, Wolf Shifters in Love: I did so much prep work for this, I wrote almost 61K for NaNo, and then never finished it. I actually wrote a new scene for this last week, trying it back on, and it went okay, but it’s a weird genre mashup of paranormal and small-town romance, and I almost think with some effort I could restart it and make it fall in line with the universe I’ve built for #spookyromancenovel, which would give me more series potential.
  4. Unfinished Camp NaNo 2018 project, “Some Sort of Witchy Romance”: This will probably never get finished, because I co-opted a lot of the base ideas for #spookyromancenovel, and it can’t stand on its own anymore. But it’s there to mine for further ideas in the potential #spooky series, because this is an F/F pairing and I still haven’t done that and I still want to do that.
  5. Fictober 2019 Unnamed Project: totally half-assed, only a few days of work put in so far. Sometime in 2018 I wrote a bit of contemporary flash fic, never posted anywhere, a scene in a bar that I found interesting for various reasons. On October 1st, wanting to participate in the event but not knowing what to write, I set out to begin the story that would lead to that scene, but it’s a vague goal post and I did no prep work and it’s just not very good so far (which lead to me not working on it the first weekend of the month AT ALL.)
  6. #spookyromancesequel 1.0: If I want to start an entirely new project, at least I’ve already done some of the prep work for this. A minor character from #srn gets her own romance, possibly borrowing from that Camp NaNo 2018 draft I never finished. I do have ideas for other entries in the potential #spooky series–I created a lot of fun minor characters–but this one, chronologically, makes the most sense, so it’s where I should start. But it’s a bit intimidating, because the first book was an experiment in first-person narration for me (my other three works are third-person, dual POV) and this romance has me shackled to a haughty, difficult narrator, if I go forward with it. I should look at it as a challenge, not a problem, but not knowing if I can get #srn itself publishable, should I invest more effort in a series that might never see the light of day?

Top off that doozy of a list with the open-ended idea “start something totally unrelated to anything else and see what happens,” and you’ve got my dilemma. I don’t have an answer yet, but it’s definitely helped to write down all my possibilities and give them a good, hard shake to see how I feel about them. Mostly overwhelmed, at this point, but I’ve still got three weeks before NaNo to sort myself out. There’s no way I’m not going for my fifth year straight winning NaNo!