Turning Right Instead of Left

Some writers avoid talking about what they’re working on with anyone, and my understanding is that this is because they feel they loose the excitement of discovering and writing the story when they tell it.

I personally find the opposite is true. While I’m writing, especially in the first draft stage, talking out the story can be incredibly helpful, helping me to plan out where I’m going. Of course, whomever I’m talking to often has many ideas of where they think I should take the story (most of them not right), but even hearing the wrong ideas can help me weed out the right ones.

During lunch yesterday, I was talking the story with a coworker and telling them what I had planned. One if my characters is attacked, and my coworker leapt to an assumption about the identity of the “villain”.

I explained that I had originally planned to write it that way, but had changed to another option. “But I’ve been thinking of changing it back,” I said. “Because I feel like I’ve been pulling my punches do it this way. That I’ve been playing it safe.”

“You are,” she said. “Just hearing the first version was compelling.”

“Yeah,” I said, and thought to myself, well, fuuuuuuuuuuu—.

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Because damn it, she was right.

Of course, now all the planning I’ve done has to be tossed out the window and I have no ideas of how to finish this novel. I’m also going to have to make changes in the beginning sections to make these changes work. And the first scenes I ever wrote for this thing before I knew it was going to be a novel, the ones that kicked it all off, will just about have to be trashed entirely. (“Kill your darlings,” the wisdom goes.)

But I’m grateful to have figured this out now. Actually, I’m right at the pivot point in writing the current draft where this change would have to occur. Instead of turning left, I just have to turn right in the plotting. This will save me tones of time during revisions.

Of course taking this plot turn is scary, and that’s how I know it’s probably right. I’m not sure I’m good enough to pull it off, not sure I can make readers believe, not sure I’ll be able to do that much damage to my main character. I don’t really want to twist the knife (metaphorically speaking) once I’ve jammed it into her belly, but I’m gonna have to.

Right now, I’m trying not to flail.

I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening mentally working out how to make the change work, and allowed myself a break from writing. I think I’ve got some of it worked out, but have no idea how to end it. I guess I’ll discover that when I get there.

When you’re writing do you talk the story out? Or do you keep it to yourself until the draft is finished?

Alternatively, have you ever caught yourself pulling your punches while writing a story? Or do you always go for the guts?

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Good Reading

Marilyn Brant posted Following Our Passions: A Dance of Love, Fear, and Change,” which gives some fascinating insight into her career as an author and talks about why as writers we keep writing.

The Daily Post has a great blog up called, Should You Let the Cats Out of the Bag? Blogging About Family and Friends, which deals with privacy and the internet, how much you should share and not share, especially in regards to the lives of friends and family. It has some great questions to ask yourself before posting and some tips on how to handle the sharing of private information in a respectful way.

All the Snow Melts Away

This is an excerpt from Under the Midday Moon, the novel I’m working on for Nano. This bit of the novel was inspired by the prompt “Moved by Music” provided by the The Daily Post. Since it is a first draft, it is likely to contain errors, typos, and other such idiosyncrasies, so read at your own risk. (~_^)

* * * *

Outside tiny tufts of snow flakes drifted, most in a downward direction, but some alighted in drafts of wind, spiraling sideways or even beck up to the grey sky they fell from.

When I was a little girl, my dad and I used to run outside every time fresh snow fell. Not the half rain slush that came down sometimes, but real snow, the light white flakes that floated in and out of the porch light in flurries and drifts. We ran out in whatever we were wearing, pajamas or Sunday dress or, once, wrapped in a towel fresh out of the bath, and stopped only long enough to pull galoshes onto our feet. We would stand out under the cold sky, whether night or day, and let the snow catch in our hair and kiss our eyelashes. We laughed and danced and we stuck out our tongues in the hopes of tasting fresh snow, the cold nothing flavor of winter that was just so perfect.

But those days eventually melted away like snow in Spring as dad’s Black Days took more and more of a toll. He seemed to be more and more tired every year and for more and more days of the month. Sometimes after the moons, it would take him up to a week to recover now. He moved slowly through the house on those days, shifting from room to room, like a scrap of paper kicked up again and again, unable to come to rest. When he finally settled in a chair or collapsed onto the couch, he would just sit there, sometimes for an hour or more, just staring off at an empty spot on the wall.

Read the rest of the excerpt

NaNoWriMo Update, Vol. 1

710f00bb98128a5c11b3d4575560b831Things are going well in Nano land and I’ve met and even exceeded (with the exception of Monday) all my daily word count goals. Over the weekend, I managed this by making writing my priority when I first get up in the morning. Then, once I’ve met my minimum I allow myself to get out of the house and go do something fun. For example, on Saturday I went and played with my niece at the park (a cuter child never existed!) and on Sunday I walked around the farmer’s market with my sister. All good things.

I intended to come back from the fun times and get back to writing, but found I didn’t have it in me to do any more writing those days. Since I had already met my daily word goals, I just let myself relax — something I really needed.

Current Project: Under the Midday Moon
(Novel Word Count Before Starting Nanowrimo: 13,010)
Goal: Complete 50,000 New Words and Hopefully the First Draft
New Words: 7,635
Total NaNoWriMo Word Count: 7,635
Random Rough Sentences: N/A (laptop got left at home and I don’t have access to my drafts at the moment).

Novelling Notes: I’m still having trouble balancing all  the little threads of plot and relationships. When two characters are alone  in a room together, everything else just disappears. For some scenes that’s okay. For others, I think it makes it so that people forget everything else that is supposed to be going on. Though maybe that’s just my impression, and readers might have a different experience. Now I’m trying to get a better balance of the people and their concern for one another into the scenes.

I’m also getting a better feel for the relationships themselves, which in previous chapters had come off as a bit flat. I’m hoping the relationships seem more interconnected and messy and multidimensional now, but until I get feedback, it’s kind of hard for me to tell.

Advice for Nano-ers:

  • Try to push past the daily minimum in order to build up a word count cushion. That way, if you have to miss a day later in the month, then it’s not such a big deal.
  • Get the writing done first, then allow yourself to get outside and play, or even just relax. I find that mental breaks from all the writing helps me be more focused when I return to the work.

Things To Be accomplished in the Coming Week:

  • Write a minimum of 10,000 words
  • Do three workouts (1/3)
  • That’s it

Good Reading: Over at The Bell Jar is a lovely post called “Learning to Love My Nose,” which talks about body perception. It’s a fantastic read, and one that made me want to try to love myself more and judge others less.

Five Tips and Tricks for Nanowrimo

Since today marks the start of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) — that delightful challenge to complete a ridiculous 50,000 words in a single month — I thought I would pull out an old video for today’s Friday Five.

To summarize:

  1. Don’t Delete Anything
  2. Jump Around
  3. Dares and Prompts
  4. Plot Ninjas Are Your Friends
  5. Be Competitive

While I will be attempting to write 50,000 words this month, I will not technically be doing Nano because I will be working on an old project (the rules of Nano say that it should be a new project). I will be attempting to finish draft one of Under the Midday Moon, so that I can use 2014 to edit it.

The key to Nano, really, is the community and that you are not in this alone. I really appreciate that a lot, especially at moments like now, when I haven’t been feeling very motivated.

For those like me, not technically following the Nano rules, but still wanting to participate in some form, you can do an anti-Nano project. Set your own goal and then post updates on your blog, or if you’re on livejournal join the squidathon and post updates there (they do check-ins on Mondays and Fridays).

I will, however, be updating my progress on the Nano website, under my username blythe025. You are welcome to join me there, if you’d like.


Are you participating in Nano this year? What will you be working on?

"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together." ~ Vincent Van Gogh

Last week was starting to shape up into another nothing-gets-done kind of week, when BAM!  I somehow got smacked with some determination and began cleaning out my shelf, adding items to my Goodwill pile, tossing others, and reorganizing the rest. I even created an itemized list to go with the receipt and then took the bags and boxes to the donation station (follow through? what?).

This new sense of order inspired me to go a step further and attack the craft, writing, and office supplies in my closet. I went through every random box in there, from empty shoe boxes to big bins to get a sense of what was where. I kept finding surprises — stuff I’d shoved into boxes because I didn’t know what to do with it or knew what to do with but didn’t have a place for. I kept asking myself over and over, why? why on earth would I have put this here. I have no easy answer.

My closet is now the most organized it has been since, well, since I’ve had it. I now have access to my painting and art supplies, which have been placed in plastic drawers and easy to reach bins, while putting the things I don’t need as often out of the way.

Goddess, that feels good.

With my exercise goals accomplished and the organization done, I feel good about last week, even if I didn’t move my writing goals forward.

Organizational-wise, I have to get some tools to get my shoes and jewelery under control, but that’s a small thing. My next big hurdle will be to try to bring order to my writing projects (various short stories, poetry, etc.), and I don’t have the foggiest how to do that.

Any suggestions on how you keep stories, novels, and all their notes and drafts in order (both in print and in the computer) would be greatly appreciated.

To be accomplished in the coming week:
– Finish second half of Chapter Six of Under the Midday Moon
– Submit something (poem, story, whatever)
– Workout at least three days with two workouts being running training (0/3)
– Do three morning yoga workouts (1/3)
– Practice my Spanish
– Finish stenciling on art project for niece’s bedroom

– Make Progress on Organization (do one or more of the following):
• Buy shower curtain hooks for organizing scarves
• Find a way to better organize shoes with double shelf or slots
• Buy a tie hangar for necklaces and create rack for earrings
• Shred papers and dispose of them
• Measure pictures and buy frames