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NaNoWriMo Preparations Part 1b

I’ve particpated in quite a few NaNoWriMo’s. With each NaNoWriMo I’ve learned something new. I’ve learned what doesn’t work for me, as well as what does. I’ve also learned that I need an unlimited supply of some type of coffee, whether it’s hot or cold. I also need snacks, healthy and non-healthy. And I also have to exercise–get out of the chair and away from my desk and move around.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned though is that I am not a hardcore outliner, at least not using the “plot” method of ouline. I’ve tried Save the Cat, the Marshall Plan, using beat sheets, spread sheets, index cards, a storyboard (on paper, in Scrivener, and on my wall), and too many other methods to list. I’m not a plot based writer. I’m a character based writer. I’m also more of a loose outliner. I need to leave some things to my imagination–I need to pants a few things so that I don’t get bored, so that I feel the creativite juices stirring and my muse is inspired.

The Hero’s Journey is more or less about the main character (or the hero’s) journey, which seems perfect for the way I write. I toyed around with using the Hero’s Journey and a Plot Method (or three) together, trying to merge the two, and that didn’t work out so well for me. I decided to try just using the Hero’s Journey to write my novel for NaNoWriMo this November. I went so far as to purchase Arwen Lynch’s 33 Days to Finish Your Book (outlining using the hero’s journey and tarot) eCourse. I’m on the third day and loving it so far.

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Posted by on September 28, 2015 in NaNoWriMo, Writing

 

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My Writing Process and How it’s Changed

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2015 in Writing

 

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Finally something I can feel really good about

I finished April’s Camp with my required word count, but didn’t feel good about the novel at all. It was forced. Headed in a completely different direction, the characters were trite, the words weren’t meshing with the concept I had. I wasn’t happy with it, not at all. But I learned a great deal from the process. I learned that I’m truly a plotster. I need to plot the main ideas, and let the rest flow, otherwise I’m trying too hard and the words don’t flow. No matter which way I’ve tried, I’m mostly a panster who needs the basics to stay on track but plotting makes my skin crawl and my brain freeze.

pantser quote

Cut twenty-five. Take one hundred and seven. Just Kidding. I have no idea of how many starts and stops, beginnings I’ve trashed, or WIP’s I’ve put in the back of the computer closet in order to get to a place where I feel really good about what I’m working on. What feels like the ONE, Just call me NEO. Seriously though, I’ve got at least thirty folders pushed to the side on my computer that were the beginning of a novel, only to find it just didn’t feel right. Maybe it’s because I was trying to be the kind of writer I thought I should be instead of the kind of writer I am.

Current Work in Progress

Current Work in Progress

Now I am finally at a place where I feel really good about what I’m working on. The first idea that came to me over two years ago, when my then fiance was telling me I could do it, that he believe in me, and there was no reason why I couldn’t write a novel (he’s read my poetry, I’d told him about my short stories and how I used to write but put writing on the back burner because of …well various reasons, but mostly because I allowed what others said to influence me, to negate my own feelings of self-worth and my dreams). That idea stayed in the back of my mind, with each and every WIP I started and tossed it was right there poking and prodding its way to the surface of my conscience saying, “Excuse me! You’re on to something here…Go with it! Find your way!… Excuse me! It doesn’t matter what others think or do, it only matters what you can do and are willing to do…”

Writing on a bad day

I stopped second guessing myself halfway through April’s Camp and started writing so I could figure out what worked best for me. I’d found myself reading books like “The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing,” or “Save the Cat,” along with various other writing books, and I realized that I’d backed myself into a corner of starting but not finishing because I didn’t have the right kind of plan, because I was so focused on the outline or the plan or the process or the genre or the rules or the structure…that I’d lost my great idea. I lost my way because I was constantly second guessing myself as a writer.

Happiness

I’ve written about this before. I’ve written about the differences between plotting, pantsing, and somewhere in between. I’ve written about my ideas, my inspiration…I took a break from blogging, writing, etc after Camp. I needed a break. I needed to figure out where I was as a writer, what I really wanted to do, what kind of writer I wanted to be, and whether or not it was something that was a pipe dream, a hobby, or something I truly felt called to do.

untold story

I am a writer. Whether I ever publish a novel or not, I’m a writer. I’m not a plotter/planner/outliner, though I wish like hell I was. I’m not a full blown pantser either. I need some organization, some planning, or I’ll go off on tangents, which is par for the course with ADHD, and I’ll never finish or if I do it will need more than a shovel for editing, but a bulldozer.

After much thought, inspiration, and soul searching I’ve finally found that sweet spot in my writing. My happy place as a writer. At least, I’ve found what works for me. Maybe this time it will work, and I’ll manage to write my way through to the end with a novel that I don’t feel is forced, drivel, or not worth the ink and paper to print to edit.

 
 

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Structure, plotting, and beats oh my

What was I thinking when I signed up for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo? I was already working on a novel. I had already plotted the beginning, middle, and end…Along with the catalyst, the midpoint, the darkest moment, and the B-Story. I know, I lost my ever loving mind. I just lost it! So I decide to plot a completely different novel for Camp NaNo (April) and get most of it in my project in Scrivener, and at the last minute an idea hits me like a ton of bricks! WHOA!

Stop! So I’m working on the structure for that one. Plotting. Reading about plotting, structure, Saving the Cat, and beats…WHAT!?! Somebody has to save a cat? No, no…that’s just the hook…Oh, okay. I got it now. Back to plotting. Back to the dreaded outline. And outlines are not my cup of coffee, they never have been. I spent my first NaNo as a pantster. Then I became a plotster. I tried so hard to be a plotter, but I just get bored with that much detail being put into an outline–I’m long-winded, my outlines don’t look like outlines–No, they look like condensed essays or summaries, a few even look like short stories. And I’ve went through stacks upon stacks of index cards because there just isn’t enough room on one to write it all down.

CUT! Cut! I said cut! Okay, so that type of outlining doesn’t work for me. I wish like hell it did, but it doesn’t. So I condense my index cards to three-four word sentences, or phrases. And the whole while my inner editor, bitch that she is, is screaming. I can hear her as I write those short sentences or phrases. I finally yell back, “It’s just a friggin’ outline!” Okay, I feel better now.

I’ve looked at way too many beat sheets. One too many writing resources about structure. It’s all starting to run together. I go back to the Cat. 15 beats. Only when I look at the list I automatically want to convert the pages for the screenplay into novel pages. Where does the inciting incident go in a novel? Where is that rascally rabbit called the First Plot Point and where does he go? My goodness, don’t forget about the Set Up. So I read some more. Found examples. And wouldn’t you know I found this great post about Harry Potter and structure. Complete with diagrams, percentages, and examples that my overloaded plotster brain can comprehend. If you want to check it out here’s the link. Hell, I even printed out one of the diagrams so I could compare it to the book, which meant I could read the Harry Potter series all over again. (Yes, I realize I’m 46 years old and a grandmother and a wife and a mother and…Reading Harry Potter gave me the same feeling I got the first time I read C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia–yes, I’ve reread the series as an adult but  alas my big book is gone and I need to get another–insert extremely sad face here). So on top of trying to write 50K for Camp NaNo, reading several books on structure, along with writing in general, I am also rereading the Harry Potter series. And to be honest, each time I reach my goal I give myself permission to read two-three chapters from Harry Potter, otherwise I’d be curled up on my couch all day reading about Harry’s adventures and my novel for Camp NaNo would develop virtual cobwebs. Last NaNo I rewarded myself with an episode of Supernatural (I was catching up on missed episodes), along with copious amounts of dark chocolate. I’ve done better this time about limiting my amount of chocolate, but I can’t say the same about my reading for pleasure.

 

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Cover for Camp NaNo Book and other stuff

I am so excited….A fellow NaNoer made the cover for my book for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo which starts tonight at midnight (only 1 hour and 15 minutes away for me)… And I love it!!!!!

My cover… I saw this pic while looking through Deviant Art and she got permission from the artist to use it. Isn’t it amazing! How it turned out! The pic itself! I love all of it! It looks like a real book cover. I am just so excited!!!!!  (Makes me feel like a bonafide writer!!! Once again I’ve changed everything at the last minute! SIGH!!!

bonafide writer mug

I can’t seem to help myself. I’m using almost the same premise. I’ve changed the character’s names, and the title of the series but not the title of the book. I’m in the process of changing the whole outline to fit the revamped premise and characters… Double work, maybe, but I was reading Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat and realized what I had wasn’t going to work, not the way I wanted it to. Thus the changes. I’m okay with that. It means working on my outline at the last minute, but I’d have been doing that anyway, at least now it will be the right concept, theme, etc for what I want. I’m happier with it now, even though it means more work. But I found a great outlining video over a year ago from Katytastic that if you’re interested in learning more about outlining using the 3 act structure from Snyder’s Save the Cat, or outlining with Scrivener in general, it’s a great start.

Isn’t that the great thing about WriMo though?… You sort of need just a little pantsing to make it fun… At least for me I do. I’ve gone from a pantser to a plotster so I guess I have to throw some pantsing in there somewhere or it’s not fun for me.

I’m in a cabin now, with people near my age bracket (last time I ended up in a cabin with a group of NaNoer’s around my children’s age, which wasn’t really a good thing for me since they are between the ages of 25-14)…I’m happy about that. And our living room is finally finished… YAY! I no longer have my writing room… BOO!! But my son has his room back. He was injured while at bootcamp. He’ll be able to recycle in the next 6 mths, but he has to heal. While he’s healing he’ll be going back to college and is thinking about going in the reserves (Navy or Air Force) instead of going in the Army full time (Can’t say I’m unhappy about that–I’m all for serving our country, but I believe in working smarter not harder and the Army and Marines are definitely in the work harder category).

The pillows on our couch match my writing space...

The pillows on our couch match my writing space…

Red bookcases and desk go well with our updated look.

Red bookcases and desk go well with our updated look.

So here are the pics of my new writing space… Instead of being in the dining room we decided to completely rearrange our living room so that I could have my own little space. We painted the walls, moved everything around, and put our pictures in completely different places so that I could have this space. My husband ROCKS!!!! (Now I just need to paint the hallway and we’re done with the khaki/taupe color and it’s off to figure out what color to paint our dining room and kitchen. I love how our new living room looks.

Ok, I have less than 1 hour so let me get back to outlining. Happy NaNoing and have a great night.

 

 

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Writing with a Plan

pantser quote

When I first began NaNoWriMo two years ago I pantsed it. My work is completely character driven. I put her in what I now know is more or less a hero’s journey, only she was definitely not what most people would think of as a candidate for heroism. She was the unlikely hero who fell into a situation and did what she felt she had to do, what was the right thing to do, and though it got her into trouble and put her in danger the likes of which she had no idea of how to get out of, she managed through it, just barely.

outlining quote

IN real life that’s what hero’s do. They don’t walk 6 miles like the Doctor in Atlanta did to save his patient in order to be a hero, they do it because it’s what they feel is right–they do what they need to do. But midway through, (sagging middle syndrome) I began to flail about like a fish out of water. I had no plan. I was writing from my gut and the heart of my story was great, but I got stuck because what I wanted my character to do and what my character wanted to do weren’t the same. I was following the character, but without a plan I lost control of the book/situation.

puzzler quote

After 3 NaNo’s under my belt, I’ve realized I am one of those cross breeds as a writer. I am both a pantster and a plotter. I guess that makes me a puzzler or a plantster. I don’t let the outline (which is often just a basic 3 act structure outline) rule me. I tend to write off the cuff, adlib, stray from the main course, follow the path less traveled too much to be considered a plotter, but I do my research, I brainstorm. I narrow down my plot, subplot, character sketches, and I write down a few ideas for each act and some of the chapters. The most in depth thing that I do now, versus when I was pantsing, is that I get to know my characters. I use Scrivener and that makes it so much easier. I use actual character sketches, and the corkboard for pictures and create a synopsis of each character comes up or the picture comes up. (My only problem with Scrivener is that the Windows version isn’t as detailed as the Mac version. There are things Mac users can do with Scrivener that Windows users can’t. Right now I can’t afford a Mac, if I could I’d get one.)

Character Outline on the Corkboard in Scrivener.

Character Outline on the Corkboard in Scrivener.

One of the most helpful aids I’ve found for my writings is Caroline Norrington’s template for outlining with Scrivener. You really should check it out her blog post Scrivener Template. (And the template if you use Scrivener.)  It’s absolutely amazing!!!!

Now that I’ve finally got my laptop up and running, (a new power cord, battery, and a D-Link USB adapter), I downloaded the template and imported into Scrivener so that I can use it while I’m out on the road for the next month with my husband. If you haven’t read any of my previous posts I’ll clue you in, if you have sorry for being redundant-he’s an over the road (OTR) truck driver. I went out on the road with him for a week last month. Now I’m about to go out on the road with him for a month. We’ll be home on weekends, but I’m cannot “not” write for long periods of time, so I managed to fix my laptop all by myself. A friend of ours who fixes computers kept saying it was the port that the power cord goes into but I know my computers and it was the cord. It was bent and every time you moved slightly the blue light went off and you you lost power. The battery was shot, that’s one of my major problems with HPs is that they tend to run hot and their batteries don’t last long. When I get a new laptop it will not be another HP.

North Carolina. OTR. Truck Stop. Trucking.

North Carolina. OTR. Truck Stop. Trucking.

Once the storm let up and our power came back on I began preparing for my trip OTR with my Sweetheart Mr. Rockstar/Truck Driver.

  1. Get the laptop up and running. ✔
  2. Download and import outline template for Scrivener.✔
  3. Do laundry. (Working on that.)
  4. Pack. (Nowhere near done.)
  5. Cook dinner for him for when he comes home. (Working on that as I type. Bean soup is in the crockpot and will be more be delicious when it’s done.)
  6. Go to grocery store for stuff to take OTR. (Will do that tomorrow or Monday morning before we leave.)
  7. Send D____ (my son who is in bootcamp in Missouri for the Army) his letter. ✔
  8. Pick up book of stamps so you can send D____ more letters and other people postcards. ✔
  9. Shave legs (Not yet, I just got my power back, LOL)
  10. Do research for character, place, etc. (WIP)
  11. Print Michael’s coupon.✔
  12. Go to Michael’s and purchase a new Smash Book. (Will have checked off by later today.)
  13. Go through scrapbooking supplies. (Will do later today.)
  14. Write blog. ✔
  15. Make coffee.✔

I’m drinking my coffee now and once I’m finished with the blog post I’ll be working on the research for my book.  Then I’ll head to Michaels to pick up my new Smash Book. I’m so excited about going out on the road with my husband for a month. I keep thinking of Kerouac. I am charging the batteries for my camera. Oops, I need to stop by Walmart and pick up a new memory card. Guess my list just got longer. 😉

Have a great day! Happy Writing! Reading! and Life!!!

 

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In need of coffee

coffee-and-book1

So I’m writing my outline for NaNoWriMo. It’s almost there, finally. I’m at the midpoint, and rounding towards the 3rd Act, and I’m still not sure that this whole outlining thing is for me but I’m trying. I’m not a big fan of outlining, never have been, even when writing research papers or essays for college. I’d make a basic 5 point outline…Intro, 3 major points, then the conclusion, and that was that. Now that I’m trying to write a novel I find that’s what I’d prefer to do. But writing a novel is different.

Maybe that’s why I like the 3 Act Structure. I can divide my novel into the basics: a Beginning, a Middle, an End. I wrote the synopsis, the basic idea for the ending, a summary of what my novel is about, and then the basic ideas for each Act. And right now, I need MORE COFFEE.

I wonder if other pantsers out there have trouble at the midpoint of their novel. That’s the whole reason I’m working so hard on an outline this go round. Ah well. I’ll be checking out the forums of NaNo soon enough, as well as reading other blogs related to pantsers and plotters. Hopefully this whole outline thing will get easier as I go.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2013 in Outlining, Writing

 

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