Monday, October 25, 2010

Nanowrimo 2010

In just a few short days, Nanowrimo 2010 will begin. (Never heard of Nano? Check them out here:

In previous years, I've been a Nano participant, but I've never "won" - ie, managed to stay on track and write the goal of 50,000 words in the month of November.

I won't be participating this year either. Firstly, I want to keep writing my current novel in progress, and the rules state you have to start from scratch. Secondly, I'm pretty sure there is no way in h-e-double-hockeysticks I'll be able to make the suggested daily word counts, and I don't feel like setting myself up for automatic failure.

I am feeling the excitement of the event, however, as I watch my internet writing buddies make mock up covers of their planned Nano books, and make blog posts about their planned Nano adventures.

So I'll try to harness some of that energy, and do my own mini Nano.

The rules? Write 250 words per day on my completed novel. No exceptions.

So Karyn's Nano goal would be:

250 x 30 = 7 500 words

A far cry from 50,000 but that is my minimum goal for the month. If I can write more, so much the better! Bab steps over here, people. Baby steps!

Happy writing to all the NANOWRIMO particpants. :D


Monday, October 18, 2010

My own private Idaho - er - blog

Some things.

First, I've been reading blog advice lately, and one of the key things that successful author bloggers say is not to blog about yourself all the freaking time if you want to build a readership. LOL.

I have a million blogs and sites out there on the internet, including my main one, and many of those are diverse, with larger readerships, or hits from google. This blog is mainly for myself, to track my own writing progress (or lack of it), and for my fellow writing group members/friends to check in on to help keep us motivated.

So sadly, I probably won't be getting many readers to this particular blog, since it's a giant whine-fest. LOL. And that's okay. In fact, maybe that's a good thing. Maybe I need a semi-private corner to vent and angst and kvetch in.

Last Thursday night at my weekly writing session, I was able to get the first scene of Chapter Two drafted. Oh, it stinks, and I have a feeling it will continue to stink until I finish the book and go back with 70,000 more words of character and world building at my fingertips before I'll be able to turn it into a decent scene. I just don't know enough about the two characters yet and their dynamic to really get it out of generic blah land and into a tense, zippy phone call. I need to accept this and move on.

Which is terribly hard for me to do. Not only do I want to pick at it to death NOW until it's "perfect", I can't move forward because I didn't know enough about what was going to happen in the next scene. Like, nuts and bolts stuff, like details about the setting, the name of the joint the MC is heading to, etc.

I had some vague ideas, but they didn't seem fresh. But last night I spent some alone time thinking, and I think I solved the problem. I just need to flesh out some more detail and then hopefully the next scene will start playing in my head.

Lastly, I caved in and checked out a library copy of THE HUNGER GAMES, a dystopian YA novel which apparently is super popular. For those of you who haven't heard of it, here's the School Library Journal blurb about it from the book's Amazon page:

In a not-too-distant future, the United States of America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war, to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcasted throughout Panem as the 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart, Peeta, the son of the town baker who seems to have all the fighting skills of a lump of bread dough, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives. Collins's characters are completely realistic and sympathetic as they form alliances and friendships in the face of overwhelming odds; the plot is tense, dramatic, and engrossing. This book will definitely resonate with the generation raised on reality shows like 'Survivor' and 'American Gladiator.' Book one of a planned trilogy.

 I'm not a fan of dystopian anything, so I'm very reluctantly reading this book. I had it sitting around on my kitchen table for a few days, and finally cracked it open this morning. And so far it's living up to the buzz. Despite myself, I was drawn into the story in the first couple pages. Maybe not page one. But when author Suzanne Collins described Prim's cat, and the MC's history with it, I got interested despite myself. (I don't want to give the details here in case you haven't read it.) It's a short bit of reaction and exposition, but it surprised me, and made me very interested in the MC and her world. Which is a bummer. I was really hoping to dislike it. Sigh. We'll see if my interest holds through the rest of the book.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Using a query to refine your story

I've recently completed chapter one of my paranormal fantasy, NIGHTWATCH, and as I've gotten some early feedback, the story has been morphing from my original idea, which is a good thing. But as I change things like the character's age, which changes her experience level, this makes changes to the plot.

Originally I wanted the character to have years of experience behind her, but now she's only five years removed from the event that gave her power, and still struggling with everything that has changed in her life. This totally altered the plot of the book. I've been able to keep the core conflict, but the side plots have all been scrapped, because they simply don't work anymore (IE: vampires. Buh-bye vampires.). However, I do think they'll fit into sequels - if I ever get that far - so I'm saving all my notes.

So this morning, I tried a trick that I've seen mentioned in a few how to write novel books and posts. Namely, even though your book isn't even finished, try writing a query as if it were. It really puts a spotlight on what your main character's primary emotional story arc is, and what the main conflict is.

So I wrote a three line teaser blurb for my story this morning, and the words "desperate" showed up, and "redemption".

This excites me! Now I have my story's theme: Redemption, and I have my character's main motivation, Desperation. I vaguely knew I wanted to include those two things before I wrote the story blurb. But after writing it, I see that I haven't been infusing the prose with those two things yet.

And that's okay. I can go back in rewrites and tweak. But as I move forward into chapter two, I'll have this in the back of my mind and I know my story will be stronger for it, because hey, desperation just oozes urgency, and urgency is good for plot.

NOTE: Please, please, please, if you want to try this technique, keep the query for yourself as an exercise only. It is a huge no-no to query unfinished novels to agents and editors. I know I shouldn't have to say this, but... just in case you had the urge. Resist!