Nanowrimo 2016

This was my third time participating in, and winning Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) where you commit to writing 50 000 words during the month of November.

I am what the Nano community calls a Plotter, meaning that I have my story pretty much figured out before November 1st rolls around. Other people, called Pantsers, might have a general idea, but they don’t necessarily know where the story is going. I have not only done the November challenges, but the April and July ones as well, referred to as Camp Nano, where you choose how many words you write. Every time, I have gone in knowing the people in the story, with chapter descriptions, a plot, and knowing what the story was about. Except for this time.

I was still a Plotter, in the sense that I knew my characters and exactly what happens in the story; the timeline was solid in my head. But if you ask me, I can’t really tell you what the story is about. I can tell you what happens, and who’s involved, but this was when I found out these aren’t the same thing.

My goal is usually to write 2000 words a day, and I am very often ahead of schedule. Both previous years, I validated my word count almost as soon as winning started (the 21st of November) with more than 50 000 words. This year, I barely made it over 50 000 and validated on the last possible day. I got a bit behind in the beginning, but I wasn’t worried; it wasn’t unusual for me to write 4-5000 words in a single day. Then this year came along and I was struggling. I would write for hours and only come up with a couple hundred words.

I usually write for me, so I don’t think about following a plot outline or whether the story is one that other people would want to read, as long as I do. I’m not saying this is something I should change, because if you always write what you want to read, then you can be sure you’ll always have one happy reader 🙂 but in the future, when I am writing something I would like to get published, I will spend a little more time plotting a cohesive story rather than just knowing a timeline.

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature.”

-Ernest Hemingway

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My First Writing Post

Okay, not my first post in this category, but the first time that I am sharing my writing with you. It’s from a story I still refer to as Prologue, because of a habit I used to have of saving things under the first few words instead of actually finding a title. I finished it for the July NANOWRIMO, and am currently editing it for possible, eventual publication. This actually really terrifies me, putting it here for the world to see, but here it is, my first piece of fictional writing on the blog 🙂

Prologue

I watched the raindrops hitting the windshield, listening as the rain pounded on the roof of the van as we all waited. It was easier to concentrate on that than to think about what had just happened, or to try and look while our imaginations ran wild. Everything was quiet other than the rain, remarkable since we were five of us just sitting there, but no one dared to put their thoughts into words. I could tell that even though no one was saying anything, they were all just as terrified as I was. When mom had run into the building, I had been the one who had grabbed onto my brother’s hand, but Kyle was holding on pretty tight now too, and not just to make me feel better. He was looking for the same comfort I was. We were the only ones in the complete back of the van, and while we usually sat on opposite sides, with the empty seat between us, I had moved closer once we parked.

I had my eyes on Billy, who was sitting in the passenger’s seat. He had one hand running through his curly dark hair, while the other was keeping him propped up on the armrest. I could see that he was biting his thumb nail, something he had stopped doing long before I was even born. As the oldest sibling, he was the one who was supposed to have everything figured out, to know that everything would be okay, but seeing him just as worried as I was…it didn’t inspire much confidence.

I was biting on my bottom lip to try and keep from crying, because crying would mean I thought something bad had happened, when Katie, my six year old niece, broke the silence. “When is nana coming back?” she asked, playing with her little yellow soccer ball. The fact that she had lasted that long meant this was serious, because that kid never stopped talking unless she was sleeping or eating.

Billy looked at his daughter like she was speaking a foreign language, and Donnie wasn’t much better. I was the second youngest in the car, so I felt justified in just quietly ignoring what was going on, but Donnie was the second oldest. He had taken Katie out of her car seat a few minutes after mom left, but other than keeping her in his lap and holding her close, he didn’t really know what to say.

“She’ll be back in a few minutes sweetie, don’t worry.” Kyle, who was usually the funny one, assured her. He was smiling to support his words, but it was the kind of smile you would use to make someone feel better, not the genuine smile that portends the truth. Still, Katie nodded and accepted it, because we had never given her a reason not to trust us before.

Kyle looked at me when Katie turned away, the fear in his brown eyes telling me that he was just as worried as I was. My niece was still young enough to think the loud noises were thunder, even though there was no lightning. As for me, I flinched every single time we heard a gunshot. The silence was unnerving, but the sounds that ripped through the rain and chilled my bones were so much worse.

“Is she going to be okay?” Katie asked after another series of gunshots. She was used to noise, because our house was normally bursting with all kinds of arguments, telephone conversations, loud music, video games, the TV as well as some occasional singing. This noise was different though, and the silence wasn’t helping.

I couldn’t tell how long it had been since my mom went into my high school, but it felt like hours. I knew it was probably less than 10 minutes, because I still didn’t hear sirens and we had called the cops as soon as we knew there was a reason to. Katie had continued asking us questions every minute or so, whenever she got the courage to disturb the silence, and we took it in turns to tell her everything would be okay, that she didn’t have to worry or be afraid.

“Is nana ever coming back?” she asked when the rain and gunshots stopped. This time, none of us spoke. It wasn’t that we didn’t know what to say. We just knew, or rather felt, that our assurances wouldn’t be true. It was like we knew that nothing would ever be the same again. I couldn’t tell you the exact moment that it happened, or which gunshot did it, but we all knew that at some point between the last reassurance and Katie’s final inquiry, our world had fallen apart.

Another 50 000

No, not money. Although that would be lovely. Instead, today marks the end of my second November participating in the National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO) 🙂

Winner 2015 - Web Banner

I was going to post throughout the month with updates, but ultimately decided to put the words into my story instead of into talking about the story. Which leads to me having been able to finish another novel in a month. Or, a novella. Still, a major accomplishment for someone who hadn’t been able to finish more than a play within a story before last year. I now have two NANOs and two Camp NANOs under my belt.

My next mission is to edit one of those 4 stories to the point where I feel confident to send it out and possibly get it published. I am definitely my own worst critic, but at the same time, you don’t get a second chance at a first impression.

This Writing section of my blog has been pretty neglected, and I was considering removing it entirely, but I want to start posting samples of my writing, either as a continuation of a story from month to month, or just random short stories or poems whenever inspiration strikes. It terrifies me even mentioning that I am thinking of sharing my writing with the world, which tells you why I have so much trouble even beginning the process to get myself published. Still, I have come so far in the past year and a month, and with baby steps, there is still a lot that I can do 😉

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

-Ernest Hemingway