The End is Nigh

Word Count: 36,164
Words written from Friday, 6:30pm – Saturday, 4am: 10,265
Hours Remaining: 44

So, I thought I’d given up on NaNoWriMo half way through the month. That’s roughly 10 days in which I wasn’t writing. I’d caught up on Day 8, stayed level until Day 10, wrote my butt off on Day 16 and then… and then…

Nothing happened.

I procrastinated. I focused on work and life (which every NaNoer knows you’re supposed to avoid like the plague in November) and suddenly it was day 26 and I hadn’t even hit 25K.

Now the real challenge begins! Which is why I’m not going to write much more in the blog, but I AM going to share a scene that I’ve fairly happy with (and for which you don’t need the whole backstory… not really anyway).

Enjoy the snippet of my story while I write until my fingers bleed!


(This scene occurs near the middle. The first part is the end of the previous scene but the gist of everything is there; also, please remember that this is crazy rough since it was written in the span of 20 minutes and only lightly edited… there’s a reason why National Novel Editing Month – NaNoEdMo – exists… and that’s not until March.)

“Sure, go consult with your little cult,” Audrey snipped. A small part of her regretted treating Misha this way, but her anger needed it, needed to be released and maintained. It was either this or sobbing on the road and she’d done that already. He looked down at her, alarmed, wary. He nodded once and walked off. His long strides ate up the ground, so that he was half way to his group of friends before she realized she needed him near her to keep the anger going. She turned, fear and panic warring with her anger, to face the empty stores, no longer wanting to meet the eyes of these secretive people who may or may not have caused the death of several people, people she knew, by their inaction. The stores were just as empty as they were the first time she’d looked at them. The road was littered with debris – glass, plastic bags, a random shoe that had blood on it. Her eyes shifted away from the last one as quickly as they’d landed on it.

She spun around and walked to her car, rolling her shoulders to ease the pain. Her reflection shone back at her from the glinting surface of the window. Her pale face was tight, as if the skin were pulling itself off her skull. Her hair flew in all directions, messy in an unattractive way. She had dirt, she hoped it was dirt, smeared on her face. Sighing, she reached up to rub it off.

Something moved in the reflection. A shape pulled itself away from the roof of the building behind her and scurried down. She spun, looking at the spot where the shape had been, only to see a grey leg disappear behind the corner of the roof. She took a step forward, eyes searching the darkness between the two buildings. Nothing moved.

Within seconds she was at the mouth of the alley. The darkness was too thick, too black for the time of day. She saw the outline of boxes and a dumpster. There were some shapes in the middle, bulky but not big enough to be anything that could threaten her. She stepped further into the alley. Absently, she noted someone calling her name, but the pull of the mysterious shape made the call for her seem distant and unimportant. She took another step further. This shape. This thing. It was familiar. She’d seen it before. Even from the glimpse of the limb, she knew it. She took another step, now fully in the alley. Nothing moved, not even the air. She held her breath, feeling on the verge of some sort of revelation. Just over there, deep in the shadows, that’s where she needed to go. She took another step. Anticipation bubbled up in her mind, blocking out even the anger she’d been using to sustain her calm. Something was happening right here, right now. Something that would make everything better. She took another step. Her arm brushed against the first box. It was large, big enough to hold a refrigerator. It swayed at the touch, leaning back and rocking forward, a slight movement that broke the stillness.

A shape broke away from the wall she’d been staring at. It move silently, creeping around the dumpster that separated her from it. Red eyes glared out in the darkness. She recoiled with a gasp. The shadow moved toward her, one creeping step after another. She waited, for once not afraid. For the first time in 48 hours, she felt certain that this was where she was supposed to be.

I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.

The thought was at once hers and not hers. It came from outside of her, but she felt at the core of her being that she had been waiting for this moment, for this creature with it’s red eyes.

The shadow took another creeping step toward her. She reached a hand toward it, wanting to touch the shadow, wanting to know. To know everything.

The red eyes narrowed. The shadow hissed, a sound filled with frustration and annoyance. The eyes blinked.

“Audrey!” Misha called from the mouth of the alley. She jumped, spinning to face him. He stood in the sunlight, a strong silhouette of a man.

“What?” she asked, annoyed. She looked behind her. The shadow was gone.

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Choose your own adventure… Plot Problems

Current Word Count: 17,419
Today’s “Goal”: 25,000

It’s November 15th and that means I am half-way through NaNoWriMo. Last week I’d hit a major snag – my characters had all decided to do things I didn’t plan for.

And yes, I realize how weird that sounds.

I have a plot, which I’d spent a significant time in October ironing out. For all the non-writers, this process means that you think of different scenes and twists to get you from Point A to Point Z. In order to make it a good story, each scene needs to serve a specific purpose, from getting your Main Character (MC) out of bed and into the kitchen, to revealing that the MC’s nemesis is really his father (Luke *p-sssshhh* I am your Father). This takes time and no little creativity because, honestly, some of the scenes are just plain boring (she walked down the street). And writers have to think of a way to make it INTERESTING.

ANYWAY, my characters had literally (haha, funny… cuz.. literature) taken my story in a different direction and so far all of my plans have had to be changed (which is why flexibility is a valuable asset in any writer). Which is when I had a revelation:

Writing is very much like a choose your own adventure book, except that if you pick the wrong one, when you flip to the designated page… it’s blank.

Here’s why:

  1. You know the beginning of your book – the setting, the characters, the purpose. So you can write that much.
  2. Then your MC gets to a crossroads – one you planned for maybe or one you didn’t. At this point you have gotten to know your MC a bit better and maybe, just maybe, the original plan you had for them doesn’t fit in their personality.
    For me, it was that my MC wasn’t as immune to panic and fear as I had originally planned (ie. I realized that no sane person would watch her fiance get mauled and kidnapped by giant monsters and then CHASE after the monsters without first having a massive panic attack and getting help).
  3. So you pick the choice that fits with your MC’s personality. It may or may not have been the one that you’d originally planned.
    • If it IS, then the “page” you turn to has text on it that you get to fill out and make your own;
    • If it ISN’T then, more often then not, the “page” you turn to has a vague idea of where you want to go… but nothing more helpful than that.

The blank page comes when you’ve picked “the path less travelled” three or four times in a row… then you’re stuck trying to re-imagine the whole story. And while that would be fine in normal circumstances, when you HAVE to write 1,667 words a day but have a blank page looming in front of you, it’s less than awesome.

For me, it was the fact that my MC wasn’t a heroine in a fantasy tale, which is sort of how I’d pictured her – strong, capable, competent, selfless and courageous. I realized at around scene 4 that my MC is actually just a regular woman – strong in some ways but physically weak and a bit stubborn, capable and competent in her chosen field but subject to panic attacks in social situations, selfish (because who isn’t?) and a complete and utter scaredy-cat. Also, I realized she had to crack before I could move forward with my story. So that’s where I am, cracking my MC like an egg and seeing what kind of omelet I can make. Nom nom nom. 

NaNoWriMo Begins Again

Participant-2014-Web-Banner

Today marks the start of a new NaNoWriMo. It’s an exciting day, filled with anticipation, wonder and the need to do everything but write the novel I’m supposed to be writing. I won’t bore anyone with my strategy or try to make it through another month of blogging-while-writing, because I’ve already done all of that – you can read all of my previous posts on NaNoWriMo here.

Instead, this year I’m going to try to take my own advice my previous years. I mean, I gave some pretty good advice, so I’d be a bit of a moron not to heed it.

Today is also my mom’s birthday. I have exactly 20 minutes before I need to stop writing and start celebrating my mom’s birth. Therefore, I will stop wasting words on my blog and get back to my story.

Current Word Count: 397
Today’s Goal: 1,000 

Half Way with 10K

Preamble: I listened to Christina Perri’s Jar of Hearts for the first time tonight and it’s amazing. Great writing music, especially for emotional sections. Listen here.

November 15th is officially over (it’s 12:06 am as I write this sentence)… and I am, at the moment, a full 15K words behind in my word count. I *should* be at 25K right now… but I’m not. So what do I do? I write a blog about it.

What has been keeping me from writing? Well, thank you for asking. The following are a list of all the things that I like to blame for my not writing, even though I know that the only person (thing?) to blame is myself:

  • Work. 9-5 is draining. Yes, yes, I realize there are people out there that work 9-5, have three kids, social functions and whatnot and are STILL writing. These people are amazing. These people are busy. These people are not me. I’d say work is the least of my reasons, but it still keeps me from writing because I have to be working. Besides, I had the exact same job last year and I kicked word count’s butt (I think at this time in 2012 I was at 35K or more by the 15th).
  • Freelance work. This one is an “it’s ok” type of “distraction”. It’s much like work, except I’m choosing to do this because this is my future I’m developing. That being said, I’m actually having trouble sitting down to do Freelance work as well… (hope none of my clients read this).
  • Soccer. For about four hours a week I’m out playing soccer. I’m also the captain of my co-ed team and that takes up another hour a week, just to write emails and coordinate things.
  • Pinterest. Have I mentioned yet that I’ve discovered Pinterest and now I’m hooked? Originally I didn’t understand it (no outsider does) but now that I do understand, I find myself on it for hours just looking at things. And I don’t even realize that time is passing. It’s a very very very dangerous thing, Pinterest. (Also, I’d like to make a public apology to all of my friends that follow my Pinterest account – I’m so very sorry for the sheer number of geeky Doctor Who and Firefly things I pin. I’m pretty sure no one will understand them… And that’s ok.)
  • Procrastination oh max. I wanted to name this particular entry “Writer’s Block” but writer’s block is just a myth we writers like use as a scapegoat. “I’ve got writer’s block” gets a lot more sympathy than “I opened up my word document, took one look at the crap I wrote yesterday, saw how many more words I needed to write today and decided I would watch Supernatural instead.” Yeah. No one’s going to give you any sympathy there. So anyway… I have writer’s block.
  • My boyfriend. He’s very supportive and does his best to keep me from watching Supernatural for hours on end and tries to push me to write more. But I’m a stubborn person and when he’s home, I like to spend time with him. So there’s that.

So that’s what has been keeping me from writing. Well, that’s not ALL there is, I’m sure there are a million other excuses I could come up with. Instead, I’ll share some of the Pinterest images I’ve found in the last 15 days that have *almost* convinced me to open up my Word document and work on my story. Almost.

This one just made me chuckle and say “No”

ANNNND we end with Neil Gaimon. Because Neil Gaimon is the be all that ends it all. Or something like that.

Post-script: I also didn’t mention that I changed stories COMPLETELY after I’d written my first NaNoWriMo blog. I’m now writing a fantasy with a whole bunch of characters and magic and stuff like that. It’s fun. It’s also a fantasy story I’ve been planning for something like two years, so it’s really intimidating. Which is ANOTHER reason why I’m not writing as quickly – my plot and characters intimidate me. That’s weird right? Things I’ve made up scare me. I don’t want to give them life because they might jump off the page and bite me! Or maybe I’m dreaming right now. That is entirely possible.

NaNoWriMo Begins…

2013-Participant-Facebook-Cover

It’s been a hectic year. In a good way of course! Now it’s November (boy did that ever sneak up on me!) and I’m participating in NaNoWriMo yet again… Though I’m using the word “participating” very loosely. I’ve only got about 600 words so far in my “story” which currently has a prologue, one character and absolutely no plot or setting. The only thing I know for sure is that it will take place in the future because my character is, apparently, driving a flying car.

Yup. This is going to be fun.

Of course, all of this has to wait until after I’ve finished some work.

For all of my NaNoWriMo friends, I wrote quite a few “helpful tips” blogs last year – feel free to browse the NaNoWriMo catergory and I’ll add more blogs when I can. :)

Without further ado, here’s an excerpt from my current NaNo project (the prologue):

The elusive “they” say that when you die, your life flashes before your eyes. In an instant, you relive everything significant, embarrassing and horrid you’ve ever experienced or done.

They’re half right.

Your life does flash before your eyes, but it’s not the life you’ve lived… it’s the one you could have lived. All of the moments of happiness and joy – the unfulfilled potential of your existence, whisking by one frame after another.

As the blood drained from my body onto the pavement, coating the shards of glass that surrounded me, I saw what my life could have been, had I not made the one decision. I saw myself in a beautiful white gown, the long sleeves trailing along the red, silk carpet spread before me, my face radiant, happier than I’d ever been. I saw myself holding a newborn in a white room, the boarder of dancing brown bears mocking the real me. My face is sweaty, my hair plastered to my forehead, my smile wide and relieved.

Tears leak from my eyes, tickle the bridge of my nose and drop onto the pavement, mingling with the thick, dark red coating. Cold grips me as the final moments of my life flash; shivers send shooting pains through my back. I’m old, lying in bed. My face at peace. I’m looking at a photo of a family, but I am by myself.

I slip away quietly, knowing I am loved.

The reality hits me harder than the pavement had hit me seconds ago. I will never have that life. My shoulders shake, pain lancing down my spine to my tailbone.

I wish I had made a different choice.

The Week After NaNoWriMo

This is my Winner's badge. Isn't it pretty? I think it's pretty.

This is my Winner’s badge. Isn’t it pretty? I think it’s pretty.

It’s been a week since NaNoWriMo ended. Well, almost a week. Ok, technically over a week, since I officially hit the 50K mark last Tuesday. But that’s besides the point.

I’ve spent the last eight days avoiding my computer at home (I’m sort of stuck in front of my computer at work, so it’s hard to avoid there) and ignoring my brain when it nags me to write more. I guess that’s one disadvantage to binge writing – when the binge is over, you really don’t want to do it any more.

For a week.

Then the craving sets in again and your fingers start to itch. Your mind tumbles through millions of plot twists that could be implemented in your next story. Your life seems a bit… boring… without the drama of word wars, the psychedelic images created by random prompts  and the interesting social engagements that come with NaNoWriMo.

Writing is an addiction people.

More specifically, I think NaNoWriMo might be an addiction.

But it’s one of those “good for you addictions”, like being addicted to milk, or running, or fruit. If those addictions are even possible (I feel like they should be). Oh oh, or being addicted to vitamins – though I’ve heard that too many vitamins are bad for you… something about your liver.

Moving on….

NaNoWriMo was a great experience. A majestic and wonderful month of meeting new people, and challenging myself as a writer. Quite a few of my NaNo buddies succeeded – they too are proud owners of a NaNoWriMo winner’s badge.

I learned quite a few things participating in NaNoWriMo…
  • A Writer’s Network is one of the most important things a writer can have to strengthen not only their writing skills, but to help create more dynamic and believable stories. I’ve discovered how different it is to have people in the same room as you who are as excited about writing their story as you are about writing yours. Asking them a question about plot is easy and painless because they’re doing the same. This blew my mind a little bit. Not a lot though, because I still needed my mind. So here’s a shout out to all of my NaNo buddies who helped me get over that massive writer’s block and gave me to the push I needed to succeed! You know who you are… and you are awesome! :)
  • Writing every day is NOT easy & you will constantly feel like you should be writing even when you’ve hit your daily goal. This is a good thing. This is a thing that should carry over to every day for the entire year. And it sort of has. I still have that nagging feeling that I’m supposed to be writing (and I guess technically I should be) but it’s not as strong. I’m actually worried that it’ll fade and eventually the nagging will be gone and I’ll be left with no drive to write. Perhaps I should set myself my own personal monthly goals (not 50K though… that’s a November thing and will remain a November thing). Hmmm… I should get a buddy involved.
  • Writing for the sake of writing is the best thing a writer could do. This is so incredibly true and I think it’s why NaNoWriMo was invented in the first place. Your story/novel/whatever will be edited. A first draft IS NOT a final draft (and never should be). Editing is the second step. Writing is the first step. So why go back and edit AS you write? That’s counter-productive and yet EVERYONE does it. Well, that’s a broad generalization. Let me rephrase… yet ALMOST EVERYONE does it. I’m doing it right now. If there’s is one thing I will take away from this whole experience is that I need to turn my personal editor on mute for the duration of the first draft. Then, once I’ve got the whole draft out of my brain, I can go back and edit.
  • Writing for the sake of writing is the best thing a writer could do. This point needed repeating because it’s true for two reasons. The first, as stated above. And the second because that dreaded “writer’s block” can be overcome by writing. Just writing. Look outside and write about the weather. Describe the room your character is in. Just WRITE. Your plot will come in, grab your brain and yank in the direction you need to go next. Or, set yourself a time limit and type as fast as you can – I can’t guarantee that it’ll get you passed that writer’s-block-that’s-really-a-hump, but it’s incredibly likely that by the end of your set time frame, you will be inspired or at least back on track.
  • Random Prompts & Character Quirks make your story more dynamic and thus, more believable. Throughout the month, my ML (Municipal Liaison) posted these prompts that we were supposed to include in our story. In addition, there were random prompts provided by my NaNo buddies during word wars and what not. Incorporating these required some skill and imagination – when you succeeded, you realized that the scene you’d created was a great way to add depth to a side character or make your world just a little less linear and a little more real. That, my friends, is important. You want your world, your characters, to all be real and relate-able. Prompts do this. Or they completely mess you up. Either way, it’s fun!

Well, those are the things I had on my mind today about NaNoWriMo. I’m pretty sure there are a few other things I’ve learned that I’ve forgotten to include here. But that’s ok, because this post is pretty long.

If you’re a writer and want to participate in monthly writing goals, let me know! I can set something up here so that we can all keep track – maybe on the first of every month I’ll post the month’s writing goal, then we can chat in the comments and what not? Whatever works!

That Moment When…

Today I had a moment… and it turned into many moments. I tweeted the first moment… then realized the second moment needed to be shared. This turned into an all day affair that I, personally, find amusing and thought I’d put here for all of my readers who don’t follow me on Twitter.

If you follow me on Twitter than you probably have already read this. :)

Without further ado, this is my “That moment when…” series:

  • That moment when you realize that you only have 9 days to write 15,000 words #panic #NaNoWriMo #morepanic
  • The next moment when you realize you haven’t seen the Hunger Games movie #panic #whatswrongwithme

(that was 1/2 way through my morning coffee, so my thoughts were a bit fickle)

  • That moment when you realize that the world will end in one month#panic
  • The next moment when you realize that if the world doesn’t end, Christmas is in one month & three days #panic
  • That moment when you realize that it’s going to be dark outside when you leave work… for the next 5 months #panic
  • The next moment when you realize that it’s going to be COLD & dark when you leave work #panic

(I’d noticed that it was getting to be that bright, false light that the office gets when it’s dark outside. You know that lighting… it’s not QUITE bright enough to see, but at the same time it seems too bright? Well, that’s what set off those last two realizations)

  • That moment when you realize you’re no longer at work #relief
  • That moment right after when you realize it’s not Friday #panic
  • That moment when you realize the store is closing & you haven’t found what you’re looking for. #panic
  • The next moment when you realize the other store you need to go to is probably closed as well #panic
  • That moment when you realize that the fry you ate was all salt & very little potato #panic
  • The next moment when you realize your fav “candy” is salted black licorice (from Holland) so it’s all good #relief

(Explanation of the last two tweets: I decided that instead of sticking my hand in the fry container to get the last little fry, I’d dump the container over my hand to get it. Before I realized what happened, I popped the fry into my mouth. Thing is… when I dumped the fry out, I also dumped the half a pack of salt into my hand… which subsequently flooded my mouth with salty goodness. The second tweet, well. You’ll understand after you’ve tried a “dropjes”. ;)

  • That moment when you realize a night shopping after straining your ankle in soccer was probably a bad idea #pain
  • That next moment when you realize that you aren’t even half way done your christmas shopping #panic
  • @juliebug77 That moment when you realize it’s not even December yet. #relief
  • Phew! But the nxt moment when u realize it is nxt Sat #panic RT@juliebug77 That moment when you realize it’s not even December yet. #relief
  • & the following moment when you realize u have 9 days to write 15K#panic #nanowrimo #fullcircle #imdonenow

And that, my friends, is how you tweet yourself full circle in less than 12 hours. From panic to relief to pain and back to panic, this is the roller coaster of my life. Or at least of today. Now… if only I’d spent this time working on my NaNoWriMo story, then I’d probably be a bit more relaxed right now.

That moment when you realize…. what? Share your fun realizations!