Camp NaNoWriMo: Checking In

Today is the halfway point, so I thought it would be a good time to update.

My combined word count as of yesterday for writing/editing: 32,980/50,000.

It’s clear I’m going to “win,” because boy, howdy, is line editing faster for me than writing new material. My highest daily word count so far is 4,113, and on the days I was tracking my start and stop times, I clocked rates of anywhere from 1500-2000 words an hour.

The funny thing is, I don’t actually know how long the second draft of Fifty-Five Days is that I’m editing, so I don’t know how much more I have to go beyond the standard 50K goal. I wrote it completely on 4thewords, divided into separate chapter files. But I’ve got the original and my failed 2018 rewrite stored there, too, for easy access; each draft in a separate folder under the parent project. I know the project as a whole is currently at 300K–but the individual folders don’t have totals! I’ll either have to add the count for each chapter up (not a chore I look forward to) or transfer all the material to a single document that will count for me (not something I plan to do until I have a draft someone else gets to read.)

Most of my novel drafts clock in somewhere between 95-110K, but even if that “feels” right for this, that’s still a big window. And it actually could be longer, I cut quite a few chapters but I think I added at least as many new ones.

(sigh)

Whatever the total is, the plan at this point is to keep working until it’s done. Draft four (or maybe, more accurately, 3.5) can start immediately after that, no break necessary, when I drag this draft over the coals of my filler-word list to make the language even tighter and neater than I’m doing now.

The world may have gone to pieces around me in the spring, and I had some setbacks, but Camp NaNo is giving me the push to get back to work and hopefully still get this book out in 2020. That was the goal, and I’m sticking to it!

Checking In on #rockstarnovel, #2

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Not a deadline this time–the next one is at the end of March–but as of yesterday, I have a working title and the first draft of a blurb! That seemed worth checking in early.

Please enjoy:

FIFTY-FIVE DAYS

It was only supposed to be a fling.

After the bus crash that ended the second tour, killed one of her band mates, and left her in chronic pain, Amber Riley decided never to return to Punch Drunk Love. She was done with the rock-star life, the high of performing weighed down by the lows of grueling schedules, endless travel, and the uncomfortable intimacy of living two feet from everyone else on the bus.

But when her replacement has to bow out a week before the new tour, the band needs a rescuer, and she answers the call. What else can she do? They’re her family.

Rob Sullivan, as the other new member of the band in their revamped lineup, is doing his best to make a home with them, to prove his worth. He only met Amber days before the accident, and his time with Punch Drunk Love has been defined as much by her absence as his presence. When she returns in their time of need, he sees what the others don’t–how much it’s costing her to save them from disaster. When his support of her becomes attraction, and attraction becomes a secret fling, he may doubt their affair is what’s best for the band, or for himself, though he’s sure it’s the best thing for her.

But what becomes of them when the tour is over?

What happens when you fall in love with someone living a life you can’t share?

I have some really rough ideas for the cover as well, but I’m letting those stew for a bit while I keep up momentum on the actual rewriting. Which is going reasonably well, I’ve just hit a snag where, once I put a tour schedule in place, suddenly a few of my major plot points were simply happening too fast! So I’m tinkering with the outline and moving a few chapters around to improve the flow.

 

Checking In on #rockstarnovel, #1

 

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I made my first (self-enforced) deadline!

As of yesterday, I have 12K worth of notes taken on #rockstarnovel, broken down into general stuff and chapter-specific, plus a transitional first-to-second draft outline, showing how many chapters are switching POVs (ten,) how many are getting cut (seven,) and how many I have to write new (five, so far.)

I also have a 55-day, 44-show tour schedule in a text file, cobbled together from five different actual tours across the continental United States from five artists across several decades. No, I’m not worrying about the actual venues (some of which might not even exist anymore) but I did want to use real-world resources for dates and cities and thus, actual travel times. I strung together logical pieces based on location, but didn’t mind the weird spots too much because this band’s tour was put together close to the last minute and so can be a little scattershot, based on what venues were even available on those nights. (Also, in researching the existing tours, a lot of their dates and jumps between cities don’t make “sense” for efficiency, so it’s not like I don’t have a realistic basis for the occasional weirdness in the schedule. One band took a two day break to travel from Louisville, KY to freaking Toronto, in Canada, then had another two-day break to get to Newark, NJ. That happened, it’s real, but like, you didn’t stop over in Detroit or Cleveland or something on the way up, or anywhere in New York State on your way over to New Jersey? Probably because there were no venues available.)

So the prep work for the second draft is done, on time. As for how long I expect the rewrite to take…hard to say for sure? A lot of the notes I have for individual chapters amount to “this is basically fine story-wise but needs a few details changed for consistency.” So there are chunks that hardly need work at all. But I’ve got those ten chapters that are getting rewritten from a different POV character, and at least five new ones to write, and honestly speaking I’ve never taken less than two months to finish a draft of any full novel at any stage except line-editing.

I’ll be generous with myself and say I need to have this draft finished by the end of March. That’s two and a half months, starting today. But I’ll check in at the end of February to reassess my progress. See you then!

New Year, New Draft of an Old Project

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Photo by GetĂșlio Moraes on Unsplash

That’s right, I said I was going to dig up an old project to rewrite and publish in 2020, and the one I’ve chosen is #rockstarnovel, my NaNoWriMo novel from 2016. Yeah, it’s been gathering dust for three years now.

Despite that, I’ve thought about it often. To this day, when I go running, if my brain gets blank my mind might jump to these characters, because I’ll imagine them covering whatever song is up on my playlist. Which one of them would suggest it? How would they arrange it? Would they play it straight or put some spin on it? Who would the lyrics mean the most to?

Music has always been a huge part of my life, and I went and made my first romantic hero in print a struggling singer-songwriter, so go figure the next big project I tackled afterward stepped me up to a full band.

I’m about a quarter of the way through rereading it and taking a fresh set of notes about what needs cutting and what needs fixing. Part of the problem was that I bit off more than I could chew with my concept–a double romance, both of a pair of twins finding love over the course of the same tour of their band. One of those plot lines turned out far superior to the other, and facing the rewrite the first time I tried to keep them both, shoring up the lesser one with more development. But it wasn’t working, and I knew it wasn’t working, so I set it aside to work on other things, and here we are years later.

Another part of the problem is that I had done about zero research into what being on tour was like; since then I’ve read quite a few rock-star novels, whether adult romance or YA, and taken notes on what made sense and what didn’t. (Obviously some are more realistic than others. Also, not all tours are created equal in the real world.) I think I can make this believable enough to read as realistic without slavishly including every single detail until the plot is totally lost in the shuffle. (I’m haven’t forgotten you, For The Record.)

So what am I doing differently this time around? I’m cutting that second, weaker romance entirely, which entails looking at each chapter from either of those characters’ POVs and deciding if I still need to show those events, and if so, which of the surviving POV characters get to “see” them. And if I am cutting the whole chapter, I have to make notes about what world- or character-building I did in it, so I know where to find it if it needs to get moved elsewhere when I start to rewrite.

This is going to be a tedious process, but a necessary one. A lot of writing advice would have an author “bang out” their reread as fast as possible, so as not to get bogged down in fixing each problem as it comes up, but to look at the whole. I’ve seen advice that says get the whole process done in as little as three to four days, but I don’t write full-time, so I’m aiming to have it done in two weeks. By the 15th, I want to have all my notes in order, an outline of events with the chapters I’m keeping slotted in and the holes marked where I have to write new ones, and a reasonable goal set, time-wise, for getting the next draft written (once I know how much new material I need.)

So expect me to check back in on this in two weeks!

NaNoWriMo ’16 Progress Report, Week 1

Word counts for the week:

  • Tuesday: 2,556
  • Wednesday: 3,609
  • Thursday: 1,870
  • Friday: 2,312
  • Saturday: 2,102
  • Sunday: 1,762

Week One Total: 14,211

I have been thinking about this story (which shall be tagged #rock star novel, lacking a proper title or even a working stand-in) for months. Literally. I’ve been daydreaming about these characters all throughout editing and publishing What We Need to Decide over the summer, and certainly this plot bunny distracted me through revising What We Need to Rebuild.

It’s a relief to finally commit these characters to paper, so to speak.

Out of context spoilers, so far:

  • A bus crash
  • Terminal liver cancer
  • Platonic snuggles at a bar
  • Sibling tension (twins, even!)
  • A road trip to California
  • Cryptic text messages
  • Waffles

The first day of the month, I was struggling to switch mindsets, from the hypercritical editing mode I spent October in, to the word-vomit mode NaNo requires. I would write for a few minutes, hate all of it, get up, try to read, abandon my book, then write for another few minutes. It was tedious and stressful and I suffered serious doubts about jumping into NaNo immediately after deadlining a polished draft of another project.

Wednesday, I hit my stride. Words poured forth without hesitation from my brain, spilling through my fingertips onto the keyboard in a flood of unpolished prose.

It certainly helps that I’ve been pondering the key points of this story and its characters on and off for months–but already I’m finding new scenes to write I’d never envisioned, because I write a scene I had, then obviously this is what needs to happen next, and it should be from this character’s perspective.

Oh, yeah, by the way, I have four POV characters, because this is an ambitious double-romance novel I’m pantsing. I thought early on it should be a duology, first one couple, then the other, but really, the love stories need to happen concurrently to make it work. It’s all going to be a glorious mess and I’m going to have a hell of a time in the rewrite phase, but that’s the point, right? First drafts can be terrible, god-awful reams of absolute crap, and still turn out to be the bones of a decent story.

I have embraced the spirit of NaNo once again. Go forth and write terrible revision fodder!