Monthly Archives: October 2013

To NaNo or Not to NaNo…

I’ve really been wanting to find a way to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. Initially, I’d thought—extremely naïvely, in retrospect—that I could draft Book #2 this November. (It’s a sure sign you’re a n00b when  you think you can get from a NaNoWriMo draft to a query-ready manuscript in a couple of months.)

As NaNoWriMo 2013 has crept up on us, it’s become ever clearer to me that drafting a new book at this stage would be a fool’s errand. The one I have in mind is a sequel to my current work in progress; beginning it before this one’s done is risky at best, and disastrous at worst. No new NaNo draft this time!

Yet I got so much out of it last year, I really wanted to participate again. I thought perhaps I could find a way to count words of my revisions instead, but I don’t expect to completely rewrite everything I’ve got, and there’s no way I’ll be adding another 50k words to the current count.

Then it hit me: editing hours!

I don’t recall where I’d seen the idea, but I know it wasn’t my own. Since mature artists steal, I thought I was well within my rights to use it (even if I’m not a mature artist yet). So this year, I’m not going to measure the success of my NaNo month by whether or not I reach 50k words, but whether or not I reach 50 hours of editing.

Keeping track on the site will require a brief daily calculation, using the conversion rate of 1 hour editing time = 1000 words written. Each day I’ll have to add onto the previous total to get my running total for the month, rather than just reading a word count off my document, but I think it’ll be worth it. If I can actually dedicate that much time to the revisions which so desperately need to be done, I have a real chance of getting Round Two of major revisions done before December.

Now that’s an exciting prospect!

Achievement Unlocked: Plot Change #1

Engineer new plot direction #1: check!

When my CPs and I sat down a few weeks ago and had a long discussion about how to improve the plot from where it sat in my latest draft, there were a heckuva lot of new elements to incorporate. I was so energized (and overwhelmed!) by that conversation that I could hardly wait to get back to work. The overall story would be so much better after all these enhancements had been integrated into the novel!

Then Real Life got the better of me, as it is prone to do. Partway into my foray into the first plotting change, I got derailed by a combination of daily minutiae, big news in my fandom of choice, and the introduction of a new dog into our family. Suddenly fixing the transition from the first to second acts paled in comparison to getting bills paid on time, watching recovered episodes not seen in forty-five years, and snuggling with a ridiculously cute canine.

Finally I carved out time to get back to it. Now I had to be conscious of the new perspective from which I was writing, but for the most part, it was the change in direction I’d hashed out with my CPs at the heart of the revisions. It’s amazing how a relatively small change propagates throughout one’s manuscript. ~sigh~

But I’ve done it! I’ve made that first big change and polished up the beginning chapters of the novel to send back to my CPs for review. I’m crossing my fingers that I’ve done enough, and I can finally—finally—put Part the First behind me for Round Two of major revisions. Because I have just made it back into a groove.

I’m ready to write.

Should I “Write the Other”?

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been struggling with an idea. Being completely new to the industry from the content-provider’s side of things, it’s only recently that I’ve paid any attention to SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, a professional organization for authors). I’ve been seeing a lot about the need for diversity in the genre (specifically, via the Twitter hashtag #DiversityinSFF), which got me thinking about my own work in progress (WIP).

As is stands, my WIP has a main character (MC) who is a straight, white, cisgendered, abled, educated, young American woman. In other words, she’s very much like me (with the possible exception of the “young” descriptor, since she’s 10-15 years my junior). So I’ve been wondering: does she have to be all of those things? Is there any reason not to change one or more of those descriptors?

More importantly, is there any reason to change one?

Because I am a brand, spankin’ new writer, working on my first-ever novel, it’s only natural—comfortable—that I would choose to write from the POV of someone very like myself. Writing is hard enough without throwing in something with which I have zero personal experience. “Write what you know,” and all that.

But as I analyzed the story I hope to tell with this character after my current WIP is done (or as “done” as it’s likely to get), it dawned on me that there is a fairly compelling reason to consider changing her ethnic background for the next book. Obviously, that means I’d need to change it now. Is it worth it?

I brought this conundrum to my CPs for advice. We talked about the pros and cons, and in the way I’m developing my particular “near Earth” world for the future of my character. We talked about the dangers of “getting it wrong” (which, let’s be honest, boil down to whether or not I do my research), and how it would serve the upcoming story if I did change my MC.

Oddly, it turned out changing my MC to someone with a different background from mine might actually enhance the tension in my current WIP, too. There’s nothing specifically that hinges on her being a POC—which makes sense, since that’s not how I first wrote her—but certain relationships and situations would, of necessity, affect her differently, coming from an alternate perspective.

My original intention was to challenge my own tendencies to write someone almost exactly like myself, try writing outside my comfort zone, and maybe help add a bit of diversity to the body of work in the genre. If I can do my MC justice as a woman of color, I really think this WIP will be richer for it.

I just hope I hope I don’t screw up.

Attack of the Procrastination Monster

I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything with my writing these last couple of weeks. First it was a slog through weak verbs as I tried to polish Chapter Five, and get it to match some of the changes made to Chapter Four after the last content feedback from my CPs. Then it was trying to shoehorn my existing plot into the fifteen-beat structure of Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat!

As everyone knows, nothing is ever static with a Work In Progress. Last week my CPs helped me analyze the current plot structure in my novel, to see where the beats do (or don’t) fall. It was a train wreck.

Okay… Not exactly a train wreck. There were many extremely useful things said—all in a very supportive, collaborative manner—and the brainstorming session provided me with a wealth of excellent ideas for improving the structure of the story. I’m more hopeful about the eventual shape of the whole thing than I’ve been in a very long time.

But other things seem to keep getting in the way! After our CP meeting, I managed to make a few revisions, but also had to catch up on some household chores and errands. Then the weekend was a wash, what with offspring eagerly using the other computer to drill themselves alternately on Spanish and typing (you try writing while little keys yell “Type on me!” over your shoulder). By Monday, I was inundated with further errands, tidying up the house so we could welcome a new dog into the family later this week, and rampant rumors of Big News about to break in my other blog’s fandom.

In other words, I’ve been a putz.

When I realized it had been nearly two weeks since I’d last posted here (an absolutely shameful amount of time to let lapse, in blogosphere timescales), the Procrastination Monster whispered, “You know, you really don’t have very much time to get into a groove before you have to pick your kids up at the bus stop anyway. You could just whip out a quick blog post. You can get back to your revisions fresh, tomorrow morning…”

Yes, thank you Procrastination Monster. I may just do that. And come tomorrow morning, I’m sure you’ll have another little gem for me. Maybe something like “time to go get your new dog!” Good thing I didn’t want to finish these revisions before the end of the year.

Oh, wait…