Nov 30, 2008

Nov 30th! NaNo's at an end...

... and I've still been writing away so I must update the wordcount and validate it.

I'm going to keep going with this project. I'm determined to finish the first draft, polish it up and send it out into the world in 2009. I'm also going to finish the GothNo project and send that out, too.

*sigh* It's been a good year, writing-wise. I'm pleased with what I've achieved, and even more pleased with what I've learned.

Onwards and upwards!

Nov 25, 2008

Reached the finish line!

Hurray! I've reached the 50K goal and passed it!!

I still haven't finished the story yet. I know where it's going - I have ideas for the ending - but I haven't written those last scenes yet, and I've only written one scene featuring the villain.

There'll be a lot to work on for the next few months, and I'm looking forward to it!

Nov 18, 2008

Week 3 NaNo

Form Christ Baty's motivational nanomail:

"For those of you who are on track with your word counts, Week Three is when you should start thinking about how you're going to get a complete arc written in November. If the end of your book still feels light years away, think about abbreviating scenes, omitting chapters, and jumping ahead to the middle-end and end-end of your story. It's much, much easier to go back in December and flesh out the connecting bits you skipped than it is to write an entire ending."

Today I hit a slump. I had just done the How to Think Sideways Critical Scenes Pre-Planning, but could not for the life of me come up with more than one critical scene. (That's the one I'm going to write tonight, by the way.)
But I read Chris Baty's words, and I realised that now is not the time to wonder what comes next, chronologically, in the story. Now is the time to make sure that I have my middle securely in place so that I can start writing the scenes at the end in Week 4.

With that in mind, I have at least one other scene I can write. It's an important scene and is going to make a huge difference in my heroine's life.

Another thing I really need to do at this point is find out what the villain is planning to do with the artefact he stole. He's got serious problems, but I've not really focused until now on what he plans to do about his problems. Writing a few scenes from his pov will be fun and will also give me a feel for what will need tying up at the end
And that's my Week 3 NaNo plan going forward!

Nov 16, 2008

Passed the 33K mark!

Yes, only another 16K or so to go.

This morning I have to sit down with the How to Think Sideways course and finish two more sections on world and language, both of which are potential sources of conflict.

I'm having lots of fun this year with NaNo. And once December arrives I'll have two projects to work on and edit and polish - Greenwood Manor, the gothic novel, and When Worlds Collide, the paranormal fantasy-romance.

Nov 14, 2008

Day 14 NaNoWriMo

Today I had to sit myself down and work through week 5 of the How to Think Sideways course. I'm winging NaNo - there's no plot outline, per se - but that doesn't mean I can go completely blindly into the story. A writer needs to know some important things about her characters, about the conflict, about the world the story is set in. Week 5 of the How to Think Sideways course helps a writer to get those important details down on paper and clear in her head. And that sparks ideas.

I now know what the next scene is going to be about, although I'm not sure how it's going to end - I have to leave that open so that I enjoy the journey from A to wherever B is.

I also know what's going to eventually happen to one of my characters, and why it's important.

Bit by bit, the story is rising slowly out of a murky, bracken-filled pool and beginning to gleam in the sunlight.

Nov 6, 2008

No plot outline? No problem.

The first four days of NaNo have been very interesting. A while ago, I mentioned that I was seriously thinking of winging my way through NaNo – I had a vague idea of characters, plot points and of genre, but I had no plot outline or anything other than a vague sense of where the story would go.

The past four days of NaNo have reminded me of how I used to write essays at school. (For essays read stories because my essays were almost invariably fiction.) I free-wrote them all. I never had an idea of wordcount, number of pages to limit myself to, characters, plot, nothing. All I had was the title we were set, and away I went to turn that title into a short story. Unless the title was altogether too rigid, in which case I had to write a non-fiction piece.

I remember an incident in Sixth Year when I got into trouble for not planning my essays. I was eighteen years of age, and the Leaving Cert was not that far off. We’d been set an essay and the English Teacher (I have to capitalise, this woman’s presence cannot be encapsulated in lower case) told us to make sure we did an essay plan, because it might get us extra marks in the Leaving if the examiner marking the papers saw we’d done one.

Of course, I got caught up in the whole essay-writing and gaily free-wrote away for half an hour or more that night till I had the whole thing down on paper. I can’t remember what the story was about now. The aftermath has completely wiped that memory from my mind.

Up went my copy book to the English Teacher for marking. Back it came to me in the next English class with an entire page at the end of my essay covered in a red scrawl, questioning why there was no essay plan and demanding that I include one with my essays in future.

I was livid when I got it home. I stared at the page for a long, long time. How dare she write in my beautiful, clean copy where all my creative outpourings went. A clean, innocent sheet of paper that had been waiting only for my joyful imagination to fill it was defaced almost beyond my endurance. She had disrespected my property and something of personal value.

At last I made the decision.

That red scrawl had to come out of there.

Out came my tip-ex pen and I went back over the red scrawl with a healing white line.

And then I wrote the start of the next essay over it.

Well. English Teacher was not at all impressed, not even with the fact that I’d included her beloved tool, the essay plan. (Incidentally, I wrote it up AFTER I’d written the essay.)

She called me up from my desk in class, had me stand in front of her seat on the podium, and spoke to me in furious low tones. Of course, all my classmates were agog to hear what English Teacher was saying to me. You could have heard a pin drop. I stood there getting hotter and hotter and more and more resentful, my face bright red. And she kept me standing there. (In those days, there was no back chat allowed in class, and even if there had been my experiences in a convent school had bred in me the belief that adults were to be respected. Looking back now from the perspective of an adult, I believe she was more intent on abusing her power and humiliating me, than she was concerned about guiding me in a 'right' direction, whatever that was. But no matter; that's beyond the scope of this blog!)

The reason why this sticks out in my mind is that I’m not planning this NaNo project either. There's no essay plan, no outline. I’m writing now the way I used to write when I was a child and teenager. There was no plan, then, either, and yet I always finished the stories I wrote in those days, and I always enjoyed my efforts.

It’s happening for me again now during NaNo. I write more per day than the required wordcount. I love what I’m writing. I never have more than a vague notion how what I’m writing is going to finish. And it’s fun. I’m going on a journey with the characters and it’s wonderful.

The value of this memory - and it's thanks to English Teacher that this memory is so sharp and clear in my mind - is that it tells me that I seem to have the sort of writing-soul that does not want to be constrained by an outline. I want to be free to roam about in the story wherever I choose, discovering and deciding as I go along. For a first draft, anyway. After that I already know that I have the discipline to sit and edit and read critically and re-word and revise and so on.

The first draft, though; that's about freedom and joy and excitement and breathless wonder.

Nov 3, 2008

Day 3

And it's going good so far. I'm free-writing, I have to admit. I'm not sure where I'm going, but I'm getting a word count out, and that's the main thing.

I really do need to do a bit more planning, get some ideas floating around in my head, places for me and the muse to aim for, even if we're not sure of the path we're going to take....

Working full time isn't conducive to sitting and planning AND working on getting out the word count, so I'll have to wait till the weekend and immerse myself in the How to Think Sideways lessons.
In the meantime, Z (I still have to think of her name) has broken up with her boyfriend, Justin, is in 'pieces', and has gone to her grandmother's to resource herself. (And to try to save a bit of money, now that Justin has moved out and money isn't flowing as abundantly as it was when he was around.)

Nov 1, 2008

NaNo Day 1

I was awake after midnight last night; technically, I could have started writing. But I didn't.

To keep myself motivated and spurred on, I am trying to design a logo for a couple of NaNo t-shirts which I'm going to wear during November. I started the design last night, using MSPaint and MS Photo Editor. Needless to say, the designing is tough-going with these two. I eventually worked out that I could do a bit of tweaking of images in Word if I set up a drawing canvas, but midnight really isn't the best time for discovering these things.

Not to worry. Today - Day 1 - I have achieved a wordcount of 1,838 words, so I'm very pleased. Kat and I have been texting one another and she has also passed the 1,667 wordcount goal. Great news for both of us.

I'm still working my way through a plot for When Worlds Collide, and Holly Lisle's Dot and Line technique has been a tremendous help in getting the ball rolling (a technique in her How to Think Sideways course), but I had a scene in mind to start the novel with, and this evening I ended up writing a scene that actually happens before that one, so tomorrow's writing is taken care of! This buys me time while I figure out what happens next.

Right, I'm going back to the t-shirt design now...

Oct 28, 2008

3 days to go to NaNo...

... and I have put one scene, and one scene only, into SuperNotecard. Help.

I know I had intended to free write the whole way through NaNo but the nearer the deadline gets, the less comfortable I am with that idea.

Oh crumbs.

Panic is not going to help at this stage. Somehow, some way, I'm going to have to sit down and put a few ideas together.

Where there's a will ...

Oct 26, 2008

Vlogging and a way to journal during NaNo

(Life whisked me away on its merry-go-round, but I made sure to shoot off at the appropriate moment when it came round again so I could blog about this!)

In order to spend as much time as possible at achieving the daily wordcount, some NaNo-ers vlog rather than blog. A vlog is a video blog entry using the webcam on the computer.

An interesting idea and one I might just mull over.

The other interesting time-saving idea I came across here is where the NaNo-er summarises the day and what they achieved as follows:

1. The date and the time.
2. How long I plan to work.
3. What I plan to work on for this day.
4. Time when I stopped writing and the total amount of time spent writing.
5. What I actually ended up doing. How well it went.
6. What I plan to work on tomorrow.
7. When I plan to work tomorrow (am or pm) and for how long.

This would be pretty useful for me today as I try to sit down and write the GothNoWriMo required daily wordcount and also work on the NaNo project.

5 days till GothNoWriMo ends

It's been a mad week and I haven't had a chance to update the wordcount, what with life jumping up and running me round in circles!

Katherine has received another letter and must keep a rendezvous with the letter-writer; James has written a short story about a lady called Elisiane who used to live in Greenwood Manor; and Dr Sterling, when he visits Katherine to see how she is recovering, realises that all is not well in her world. He asks if there is something he can assist her with, but she refuses to confide in him.

It's time to start thinking about the NaNo project as well. Today I'd like to sit down and get to know the characters better, and come up with ideas for the first four or five scenes. The working title I've come up with is When Worlds Collide.

Sentence-lite (as per Holly Lisle's How to Think Sideways course) is: A girl find her way into another world by way of a dusty mirror hidden in the attic of her grandmother's house.

Oct 18, 2008

Day 18 GothNoWriMo

I wrote over 1,000 words this evening. I'm pleased with that as I didn't get anything done yesterday or the day before.

Katherine has a makeshift bed set up for her in the drawing room and, alone, she sees something in the mirror over the fireplace...

Oct 16, 2008

Day 16 GothNoWriMo

I didn't do any writing today. Had my writers' group get-together instead.

I have been thinking about my NaNo project, and I have some definite ideas which excite me. I know how my heroine gets from her world to the hero's world. I know that my hero is a rebel. I know the means by which the heroine travels to the other world.

Now I just need to work out why the hero is a rebel and what/who he's fighting. And how the heroine fits into it. I know that she does fit in. The fact that she can cross worlds is problematic to the rebels; I'm just not sure why.

It'll come. I know my Muse is busy prowling through the shadowy undergrowth for ideas!

Dr Sterling has come to visit Katherine to see how she is after her tumble, and Gertrude, her mother-in-law, has sharp words for her after he's left.

Oct 12, 2008

Day 12 GothNoWriMo

I'm plodding along nicely. I added a bit more to the scene with Katherine and Dr Sterling - the romance elements - and now my mind is turning to look at NaNoWriMo on the horizon and wondering what I'm going to write for it.

I think my original idea of free-writing my way through November might just have to be method I employ, after all.

Katherine is sitting on the back of the cart home, her ankle very sore, but her thoughts full of Dr Sterling.

Oct 9, 2008

Day 9 GothNoWriMo

I went mad today and wrote about 2,300 words!

Katherine has tripped over a stile while walking with her son, and the local doctor, Anthony Sterling, has come to her rescue.

Oct 7, 2008

Day 7 GothNoWriMo

I went off to do some coffee-shop writing and wrote pages with ease. That is a very, very nice feeling!

Katherine is alone in the bedroom at Greenwood Manor. It's night-time, and she is brushing her hair and thinking back over the problem she needs to sort out and the words exchanged with her mother in law, Gertrude. But an icy draught keeps disturbing her...

Oct 4, 2008

Day 5 GothNoWriMo

1670 words written. 8% of total goal. I'm on track. Didn't get any writing done yesterday, but I'll do 1000+ words today to make up for it.

Katherine has just been to see her friend Eleonora, requesting her help in finding a house that she can rent for a while in a part of the country she's never been to before (and where nobody is likely to come looking for her).

Oct 1, 2008

Day 1 GothNoWriMo

Day 1 and I have written 787 words. The goal was 650 for today, and 645 per day for the rest of the month. I'm on track.

And I'm using a microscopic orange-coloured Edwardian Script font on a black background. It's easier on the eyes, but not easily-read so there's less temptation to go back and delete words. The aim is to write as many words as possible, after all.

So, tonight I wrote about my heroine, Katherine, who is sitting in a quiet room, trying to hold onto her calm outward appearance after receiving a letter which has sent her into inner turmoil...

Sep 26, 2008

Only 5 days to go till GothNoWriMo begins!

These are the things I've done to prepare:
  1. I've worked out the number of scenes based on the wordcount - I'm aiming to write 20,000 words, I will have somewhere between 1000 and 2000 words per scene, so that means I'll have somewhere between 10 and 20 scenes. Let's say 15

  2. I've done a mind map on 'I fear' (a part of a technique from the Thinking Sideways course) to find out what makes me shiver with uneasiness so that I can include those elements in the story.

  3. I've worked out what will happen in the first four or five scenes so that I don't stall once I start writing. I don't want to do much more than that, because I find that plotting the whole story up front takes all the fun out of it for me. If I've written the story outline, then what point is there in writing the story? It's just repetition.

  4. I've re-read an article I found some years ago on (geared towards teen writing, but the article doesn't appear to be on that website any more so I'm glad I printed a copy at the time!) to keep in mind how to go about creating a gothic, dark, look-over-your-shoulder ambience in the story

  5. I've drawn up a wordcount spreadsheet so that I can track whether I'm on target, behind and need to catch up, or ahead and can afford to take a day off.

  6. I've got some images of elements of the story to keep me inspired - images of my hero and heroine, the haunted house, a villain, the ghost.

  7. A floor plan of the house and grounds so that I can decide what happens where; this will also help to inspire ideas for further scenes.
And that's it.

I'm looking forward to the challenge and can't wait to get started!

Sep 12, 2008

GothNoWriMo progress

The How to Think Sideways course has helped me:
  1. Create a story concept on demand

  2. Name and get to know my characters

  3. Outline some critical scenes
That's as far as I've gotten just now. (I've done all that and more for my fantasy WIP - I'm working on two things at once at the moment!)
I was thinking of putting together a scrapbook page with some images that relate to the GothNoWriMo novella and gathered together some pictures of Victorian women and men and houses. Then I went looking for a ghost and came across image no. 4 on this site. Scared the life out of myself - and I was looking at it in broad daylight!

Aug 4, 2008

Oh ye gods!

Despite my earlier post, guess what I've gone and done?

Signed up to write 20K of a gothic novella in October.

I'm Belladonna over on GothNoWriMo.

And I seem to have discovered a secret goth in my depths. (I love the avatar I found on photobucket.)


I was browsing the NaNo website and came across a post on the Gothic Novel Writing Month which will be taking place in October.

I didn't know very much about the genre, so I read the recommended research links and began to really get interested in it. It brought me back to my childhood when I read a lot of ghost stories in this genre.

My thoughts on the gothic novel coupled with the exercise I'm working on for Holly Lisle's How to Think Sideways course produced an idea for a short story which my muse is still contemplating.

I'm actually quite excited about this project!

I'm not sure if I'll participate in GothNoWriMo as NaNo is taking place the next month and two months of hard slog might be pushing it a bit, but it was well worth browsing the site and re-discovering the genre. There are also some links to books in the gothic genre and a lot of them are available free on

Jul 29, 2008

NaNo 2008 - free writing all the way!

I'll make this short.

I'm seriously thinking of free-writing my way through the 50,000 words during November.

If I do, I will not be doing any plotting; there will be no major characterisation and no background filling-in.

Why would I do this?

'Cos it's plain mad! And isn't NaNo all about madness?

This is going to be fun!!