The End is Nigh

NaNo-2015-Winner-Banner.jpg

Tomorrow is the last day of November and hence, the end of NaNoWriMo.  It’s been another winning year for Team Unicorn: I finished the two novels that I planned, and S got her 50,000 words last night, though her novel is going to be much longer than that eventually.

Since finishing my second book back on the 22nd, I’ve been revising.  I’m checking for consistency of voice and just generally smoothing out any wording that seems a bit rough.  Sooner or later, S and I will read through what we’ve done, and then I might revise some more based on that.  It’s funny how no matter how much revision you do on your own, when you go to read it aloud, suddenly there are glaring errors that you can’t believe you missed.

I’ve also been updating some of our reference materials.  For example, we keep a running list of all the in-verse music and literature that we’ve made up over the years for our books.  That way, if a character in some future book needs to hear a song, or read a book, we could look through the list and see if there’s something that already exists that would fit the bill.  That kind of consistent imaginary world of arts and literature gives the ‘verse a sense of realistic depth.

Anyway, both of the novels I wrote this November mention some of the in-verse books that we’ve mentioned before, and I even included summaries of them and even “excerpts.”  Those were fun to write.  So now I need to update our list of literature so that it indicates where I can look, in the future, to find those summaries and excerpts if I ever need to find them again.

Hopefully, if you did NaNo, you’ve won or are at least close to winning.  And if not, then there’s always Camp NaNoWriMo in April to look forward to!

J

Three Weeks In

Plot Ninjas

As of today, S and I have been working on our NaNo novels for three weeks. I finished my second one, A Meager Education, at our local write-in today at Panera Bread. If you do NaNo, and you don’t go to your local write-ins, you really ought to. Of course, yours probably will never be as awesome as ours are, because our ML (Municipal Liaison, or the local person in charge) is the best. She gives out plot ninjas, for example, and there’s really nothing more badass than a ninja. But I’m sure whatever your ML does will also be fun, even if it will never be as cool as a ninja.

S continues to press on toward her goal. She’s making excellent progress this weekend—so much so that she doesn’t have time for her own update. No doubt she will soon post here to let everyone know how she’s doing.

So carry on if you’re noveling. And if you’re not, what’s wrong with you? Get started!

J

One Down, One to Go

It’s time for an update on our NaNoWriMo novels.  I finished my first novel, In a Womanly Fashion (that’s the title, not the manner in which I wrote it), on Saturday, Nov. 7, with about 70,000 words, having hit 50,000 words on Thursday, Nov. 5.  I’d never done fifty thousand in five days before, so I have to admit I’m pretty pleased with it.

I’ve spent the week since finishing reading through it and doing a preliminary revision, while also reviewing the outline and reference files I’ve made for my second novel, A Meager Education.  Over the past few days, I wrote my character prompts to get a sense of who the main characters are.  Tonight at our local write-in at Panera Bread, I started it, and I’m nearly done with the second chapter.  Hopefully I’ll finish that tonight before going to bed.

As for S, I’m sure she’ll stop in to give an update on her progress sometime soon.  The way she started one of her chapters tonight was particularly clever, I thought.

J

Outline, Meet Reality. Reality, Meet Outline.

A White Walker from Game of Thrones

A White Walker from Game of Thrones

At Midnight sharp, J and I and a couple dozen WriMos in our area started writing our NaNoWriMo novels together at the local Denny’s. I managed to churn out 1,100 words before bed, which isn’t a bad start, since you need to average 1,667 words a day to reach 50K by the end of the month, and I will surely write more before November 1 comes to an end. However, when I pick my journal back up to start writing, I probably won’t be continuing with Chapter 1. Instead, I realized I need an Ice Monster Prologue.

The Ice Monster Prologue is another plotting idea we picked up from Dan Wells and his Seven-Point System for structuring a story. If you remember, we discussed the system during our outlining series, but we did not mention the Ice Monster Prologue, so let me explain it now. Rather than beginning a story with the Hook, sometimes a story needs a prologue to make a promise of things to come. Dan Wells uses the example of Game of Thrones (the novel). The way the novel and the entire Song of Ice and Fire series are constructed, there’s not a lot of magic in the early going, so George RR Martin opens the story with a magical Prologue–corpses in the frozen North come back to life to kill everyone they see (the White Walkers). With this tease of things to come, GRRM can now start telling the less magical story of political wrangling between the Starks and Lannisters and the rest of the houses.

Because an important part of the NaNo ethic is to just write, get something down, I plowed on with my outline in the early hours of today at Denny’s, but I knew something felt off. It felt, frankly, a little dull. Now, I need to get some important information across in the first chapter, and I need Oleg to be happy so as to contrast how miserable he will be later, but none of it is a compelling way to open a novel. So on the drive home, when I couldn’t be writing, only thinking and discussing the issue with J, I realized what I need is an Ice Monster Prologue. I need to introduce the villainess, who is a wizard, doing something cruel and magical. But what exactly? We started asking those important questions I always like to ask about my characters: What does she want? Why does she want it? What is she willing to do to get it? And voila! I knew precisely what to do in my Prologue to introduce this character and the eventual tone of the novel, as well as making it an opening to pull the reader through the more leisurely pace and happy tone of the first chapter.

And now, I need to go write it!

~S