NaNoWriMo 2015 – Day 1 (2667 words)

It’s been said that the only difference between a writer and a non-writer is that a writer writes!

It has been a long time since I’ve posted anything on here. Way too long.

If you know me at all, you know I’m a HUGE fan of NaNoWriMo. It’s what got me to finish the first draft of my novel. Granted, I bent the rules just a little, because you’re supposed to write a new novel each time. But, I figured that the real goal of NaNo is to write, and that’s what it got me to do.

I didn’t compete last year, which means I’ve gone a while without writing. Nothing forces you to sit your but in a chair with your hands on a keyboard like the looming daily word count requirement of NaNo.

I’ve been toying with the idea of competing again this year for a couple months now. November is always a special month for me when it comes to writing. The problem is that I have a first draft of a completed epic fantasy novel that needs revising. I’ve been wanting to get that finished for a long time so that I could either submit it for publication or epub it myself (yet to be decided). Putting that off for another month to do NaNo, and then having 2 manuscripts needing revising seemed a bit overwhelming to me. But, at the same time, I really, really wanted to start writing again. It has just been too long.

Earlier today, one of the members of my writing group sent me an email, and I replied with this same general dilemma. Only, I told him that I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to NaNo so that I could focus on revising my 1st draft.

Alas, it wasn’t to be. The call of NaNoWriMo proved too great. Before I knew it I was seated in front of my mac, Scrivener open, and a black cursor blinking repeatedly on a blank page. I had decided to do it. I would compete. Only one problem: I didn’t even have a concept for a book, let alone a thought-out storyline.

In fairness, I find that I am a discovery writer. But, even for me, this was a bit scarce. After sitting there staring at the blinking cursor for 10 minutes, I finally decided to just start writing. I knew it would be YA, but that’s it. I wasn’t sure if it would be fantasy or dystopian (I’d been toying with both). So I literally just started hitting keys. I didn’t know if my main character would be male or female. A few keystrokes later I learned it was a girl. A couple paragraphs later and it turns out it’s a dystopian story. The fantasy YA will have to wait, I guess.

I really, really didn’t know what I was writing about, but I kept writing. All I knew was that I needed to at least hit the daily NaNo goal of 1667 words. At about the thousand word mark an idea started forming in my head. However, it meant I had to go back to the 400 word mark and delete everything after that and redo it. More keystrokes, and the story started to take shape.

Before I knew it, I had written 2667 words and have a really fun idea for a story.

I have so many questions. Where will it go. What will happen. I’m so excited to find out. I finally reached a point where I had a major decision to make that will affect the entirety of the story. It wasn’t coming, so I finally shut down. I’m going to let it percolate and sleep on it. Hopefully I’ll know by tomorrow when I get home from work.

Anyway, at least I’m FINALLY writing. I’m a writer again.

I’ll keep you updated on NaNoWriMo progress.

Wish me luck!!!


rules of magic

As you know, I’ve started working on the first round of revisions on my novel.

You have to understand, this isn’t just a normal novel that I wrote over the course of a few months.  This is something that I have worked on for a few years now.  Each year I would devote a burst of time to it, and then it would sit stagnant for many months until I started working on it again.  It is easy to see, over the course of the book, how my writing style changed and skill level increased.  The first many chapters are horrific.  Those are going to take a lot of work.  I’m excited about this next challenge!

In my final push to finish, I started making a list of things that I knew were going to need some work when I started revisions.  That list wasn’t for things like grammar or even poor story telling early on.  I’m talking about genuine problems with my story.  One of the biggest of those is my magic system.  I love it and I hate it.  I know it needs a lot of work.  Part of the reason it needs so much work is that I didn’t sit down and create a set of rules early on like I should have.  I’ve actually written on this before, but now that my story is finished, I thought I would touch on it again.

Those of you who have read my blog know I am a huge Brandon Sanderson fan.  One of the things I enjoy so much about his books are his amazing magic systems.  He actually wrote a really cool article called Sanderson’s First Law.  It talks about the importance of having real, definable rules for magic systems.

In my story, there are five different types of magic.  Persons who are lucky enough to get magic are selected for one type.  My protagonist ends up with all five, something that has never happened before.  When I first started on this story several years ago, I had never heard of Sanderson’s First Law, or anything like it.  I didn’t take the time to think about limits on magic or consequences for using it.  I jus thought it would be really cool to have a super powerful guy.  But the problem, as most of you picked up on far quicker than me, is that if a guy is just too powerful, it breaks the novel.  There is nothing he can’t do.  And that does me no good.  You can’t ever build any genuine tension if you know the hero can just magic himself right out of every problem.

So, as my story grew and this problem became apparent, I started trying to limit the ways in which he could use his magic.  Sometimes it worked for him.  Sometimes it didn’t, and he couldn’t figure out why.  But, through it all, I still never had a set of rules.  Even I, as the author, had no idea how it worked.  Now that’s not necessarily a shock to me because I do not outline my stories. I write as it comes to me.  But, for something like this, you can’t just wing it.  You have to have a plan.

So this is something that I need to figure out. How do I give my protagonist all this power in a way that doesn’t allow him to just solve every problem and get out of every situation with magic. Do I place physical limitations? In Eragon, for example, there was a physical toll every time he used magic. A great idea, but far too overused at this point. In the Mistborn stories, allomancers had to have an actual supply of fuel (metals) for magic. That is a pretty freaking cool idea because it allows them to be very powerful when they have the supplies, but if they run out or it is taken, they are as weak as everyone else.  And each fuel powers a different type of magic.  Brilliant!

Obviously not every system has rules. Take Gandalf, for example. Tolkien never gives us any idea as to the limits of Gandalf’s power. We know that at times he can be very powerful. But, for some reason, he rarely uses that power. And sometimes using that power creates more problems. And, frankly, it works. But, I’m not Tolkien, so let’s not go there. 🙂

So this is what is going to occupy my thoughts for the next few days. I don’t think I can get very much further into my revisions until I get this figured out because the issue of magic inserts itself very quickly.

For those of you who write, what do you do? How do you define the rules and limits of your magic systems?

Wish me luck…

decisions and committments

I had an epiphany, if you will.

I’ve spent a lot of time talking with a friend of mine lately about money and business. He has a regular job but has also created a successful business on the side which is doing quite well for him. I’ve asked him many times to give me ideas on how I could do the same. I would love to have a little something on the side that I could build up, make some money with, and hopefully with time reach the level where I could shift completely into it.

Over lunch a couple weeks ago he made a comment that didn’t sink in until later that night. He said that no matter what I choose, it has to be something I’m passionate about, or I won’t ever be dedicated to putting in the time required to make it work. I thought about that as I considered various business opportunities, one very seriously. And then, one evening as I was looking at it, it hit me. I have something that I’m passionate about–WRITING. It’s something I know I can be successful at, but it’s going to take time and dedication. As I sit here, I can’t think of a single other thing I would rather do more than writing full time for a career. I absolutely love it.

So, I committed right then and there to get back on the horse and start making it work. I’ve been talking about this for years. Frankly, it’s disgusting that I’ve spent that long complaining about wanting to be a writer and yet not doing anything about it.

I have gotten involved again with my online writing group. It’s a great resource that I have been foolish enough to ignore for almost a year now. I also decided that it’s time to start submitting stuff for publication. I wrote a short story a year or so ago, and I’ve been kicking around the idea of sending it to some magazines to see if I get any nibbles for publication. Or perhaps even epublishing it myself onto Amazon and Barnes and Noble. In the end, I have decided for this first one to send it to some magazines. While I am anxious to give the ePub world a try, I’m just not ready. One of the things I’m missing is cover art. Nobody is going to buy a book with just words for the cover. I need to find a way to get some good art created so my book will look like, well, a book.

In the meantime, I am going to be continuing to work on my novel as well as some short stories. I would like to shortly have several short stories submitted to various magazines. That’s not going to make much by way of income, but the experience of it will be invaluable. Even if they get rejected, if I can at least get lucky enough to get some comments as to how I can improve, I’ll consider it a victory. With time, hopefully I can get several of them published and then start generating a little bit of name recognition within the publishing world. All the while, I’ll be finishing up the first draft of my novel and then begin the revisions process on that.

I just watched an interesting video from a class taught by fantasy author Brandon Sanderson (one of my favorites). You can check out his website at Anyway, he walked the class through his revision process which includes somewhere around 8 revisions. WOW!

Well, this has gotten a bit long winded, but I hadn’t really posted since I was in NaNoWriMo last November. I just looked and realized I never even posted that I had won. It was tough because of how slow a start I got, but I made it. And I’m super happy I did.

More to come soon…


NaNoWriMo day #28

What a crazy week it’s been.  I have written 30,000 words in the last 6 days.   Below is a screenshot of my NaNo word tracker.  The tracking graph has just skyrocketed over the last week.  I’ve never written so much material in such a short time in my whole life.

I don’t know about you, but by the time I’ve written 5-6000 words in a sitting, I am exhausted.  I feel like my creative juices have dried up, and I have nothing left.  I only wrote 3300 or so today, but I am tired.  I’ve had a lot of late nights and early mornings this past week.  I have a TON I have to do at work tomorrow.  Plus, I have a meeting tomorrow evening that is going to take me away from writing for a few hours which means I’m going to have to get some of it done during the day.  The only way I’m going to make that happen is if I get an extra early start on my work in the morning so that by early afternoon I can be done to start writing.

I’m not going to lie to you, following through with this challenge this past week has been one of the biggest trials of my self-control and level of commitment ever.  I have wanted to quit SO many times.  Who would know if I fudged the numbers a little, right, as long as I write all the words (even if it’s after 11/30).  But, I just couldn’t let myself.

My family has sacrificed by not having me every night this week.  They are waiting for me to put up Christmas decorations.  My kids are having a hard time understanding why I have to write for several hours EVERY night after being gone all day at work.  But, I made myself a promise, and I’m too close to quit now.

I only have just under 6000 words to go, and 2 days to write it.  I’m gonna make it!!!

The biggest bummer is that i’m not even close to being done.  I thought for sure at the beginning of this month that I would tie up my novel by the time NaNo was over.  Not even close.  By the time I finish I’ll probably have another 25-40,000 words to go, easily.  That’s going to put my finished first draft manuscript at approximately 160,000-175,000 words.  That’s too long for an intro novel, so my rewrite is going to have to include some serious cutting.  I would like to get it down to the 135,000-150,000 range, but we’ll see how that goes.  In two days, my total novel word count will be at 145,000.

NaNoWriMo Day #25

Wow.  Another 5,208 words written today.  I can’t believe how quickly it is coming along now.  In the last three days I’ve written over 17,000 words.  That’s crazy for me to think about.  I hit 31,846 words today.  I should be at 41,666, which puts me just 10,000 words behind schedule.  Because I’ve hit it hard, I only have to write about 3,600 words per day for the next 5 days to make it.  That’s much more manageable than the 4500 or so I had to write when I first got going again.

Even better than seeing I’m closing in on my goal of winning NaNo again this year is seeing my novel progress.  I’ve never generated so much new material in such a short amount of time.  I can’t believe how far my story has come in the past three days.  I’m getting excited because the end is in sight.

Today I had an interesting experience.  All of a sudden I found myself in a situation where I had written myself into a corner.  I had two different story arcs which converged and I realized all of a sudden that the two could not work together.  I tried to think of how I could go back and change either one, but neither could be changed.  I sat staring at my computer for almost an hour trying to figure out how I was going to reconcile these two conflicting fact patterns.  A solution finally presented itself, and I’m very happy with it.  I had to try to be honest and not let it simply be magically fixed.  It required a solution that was real and could fit into the story.  Overall, though, I’m happy with it.  I do think that when I go back through and do my rewrite that I’m going to have to do some tweaks in this regard to make the solution seem less arbitrary, but it’s easily doable.

Anyway, this entry is going to be short tonight.  I’ve got some tired fingers after typing so many words the last few days.  I wanted to throw in a screenshot of my current NaNo progress, but for some reason it’s not letting me upload tonight.  I’ll put one on tomorrow.

More good stuff to come tomorrow!  Thank you to everyone who has been reading and following along.  Your “likes” are encouraging.

I can’t wait for you all to read this someday.


NaNoWriMo Day #25

I almost gave up today, I’m not going to lie to you.  We didn’t have any plans today, so I thought I would get an early start (and by early I mean starting around 6 or 7  instead of 10:00 like I normally do).  Every word seemed to drag out.  I would type and type and type and then lose heart when I saw I had only typed 300 or so words.  Not that 300 is a bad little chunk, but when you have a daily writing goal of 5,000 to catch up, it’s just not even enough to put a dent in it.

The first couple hours seemed to just trudge by.  I took several breaks.  Watched a little tv with my family.  I felt like I had to fight for each and every word.  Finally I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.  And then the material started flowing.  I didn’t even realize it, but part of the problem was that I was just writing a difficult scene that I wasn’t sure how to play out.  I finally hit the 5,000 mark, and then didn’t want to stop, writing another 1,085 words before finally quitting with 6,085 words on the day.  That’s two days in a row in excess of 6,000 words.  That’s without a doubt a record for me.

I crossed the 50% threshold tonight, ending up at 53% of the NaNoWriMo goal for the month.  As of right now I have a total of 26,638 words written.  The target goal for today is at 40,000 words.  So, I’m just over 13,000 behind.  With 23,000 and some change and only 6 days left to go, that leaves me at just under 4,000 words a day I need to be writing.  3,894 to be exact.  I”m hopeful I can make another good dent in it tomorrow since it’s my last weekend day before  the end of the month (NaNo ends on Friday of this coming week).  Thankfully I have a pretty relaxing week as far as evening commitments go, but I don’t want to leave anything to chance.  I WILL win this!