NaNo ’18: New Projects, Old Projects, and This Crazy Thing Called Life

I have been MIA lately and I am not ashamed.

Between work and the projects I have going on and having a toddler, husband, and household to run blogging is pretty low on the totem pole of importance.

What I have been doing, however, is working on the second draft of my Camp NaNo ’18 project, Changeling. That is an experience. I have been carving out an hour or so every few days to work on it.

After my first read through of the first draft I made notes and the second draft is implementation of those notes. This is essentially just me deleting large chunks of the first draft and writing entirely new scenes to make things connect and make a little more sense than it did before. Besides some glaring plot holes in draft #1, I am also changing place names (turning real place names into fantasy names to give myself more creative license in future drafts), and fixing obvious grammatical errors.

So that has been an experience. I am not done with the edits and I am already marking places where I need to return in the 3rd draft and do some major revisions.

Overall, progressing though slowly.

I am hoping to finish the edits before November 1st so I can begin a new project with slightly less guilt.

Foxface: A Novel. Justice is for the rich, for everyone else there is revenge. Author name: PhantasyCreator90. NaNo 2018.
NaNo signature banner featuring NaNo ’18 project.

As always, the new project is shiny and I am itching to move on. But I think Changeling is worth suffering over so I am committed to the revisions.

The shiny new project is a little different of a vibe from Changeling. For one, the shiny new project is steampunk so right away the time and setting will be vastly different. Tech will play a big role in it which is a challenge.

I also think the characters I am writing are vastly different and it will be interesting to get inside this new creation’s head and soul and see what I can find there. Foxface has suffered much more than Viviane and Rose (Changeling‘s main characters) and she has a score to settle. From my preliminary visits with her, she doesn’t seem content to let anything go.

Foxface, like Changeling, requires a lot of research into the historically relevant aspects of the story. Its heavily inspired by the politics of the Scandinavian region during the 1800’s-1900’s and the oppression of the Samí people in Norway. But its steampunk so its alt-history and I can take a few freedoms with some of the details.

I obviously like challenging myself with these history inspired stories. I think the context of certain events in human history just adds such an interesting significance to fiction. I like grounding my dreams in reality, I guess. Not even sure that means anything.

Anyway, that is the short of my creative projects. I have been sneaking in some reading time where I can. I think since my last review (Girl, Wash Your Face) I have finished seven more books:

  1. A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander Series) by Diana Gabaldon-3 Stars
  2. Troubleshooting Your Novel: Essential Techniques for Identifying and Solving Manuscript Problems by Steven James-5 Stars
  3. Mama Gone Geek: Calling On My Inner Science Nerd to Help Navigate the Ups and Downs of Parenthood by Lynn Brunelle-3 Stars
  4. Arabella of Mars (Adventures of Arabella Ashby Series) by David D. Levine-3 Stars
  5. An Echo in the Bone (Outlander Series) by Diana Gabaldon-3 Stars
  6. 1984 by George Orwell-5 Stars
  7. Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows Series) by Leigh Bardugo-5 Stars

I should have been writing reviews for these books but honestly my mental health has not lent itself to a desire to do that. Taking anti-depressants regularly keeps me sane but it puts a noticeable damper on my ability to write, or write something I feel comfortable sharing.

But I am currently reading three books and I am hoping I will be able to write some meaningful reviews for those. Check my Goodreads if you’re interested in what I’m currently read.

Enough of that, back to work!

Camp NaNo Update: Day 24 (Complete)

Camp NaNoWriMo Progress Tracker Infographic Goal Complete

Camp NaNo Update: Day 23

Camp NaNoWriMo Progress Tracker Infographic Eighty-Seven Percent

Prepping the First Draft: A Second Draft Diagnosis

As Camp NaNo 2018 draws to a close and I wrap up the first draft of my project, I am thinking towards that Second Draft Diagnosis. You know, getting ready for the first read-through of the first draft where you cut every other paragraph. I both hate and love this part of writing. I hate the anxiety of starting the read-through. The read-through is where my low self-esteem shines through. But I like it in that I can begin to polish (more like clear-cutting) the draft and create the novel I intended at the beginning. Something I could visualize in print.

I think like most writers; I am my harshest critic. So, getting through this part of the writing process is make or break for a lot of people. Getting through this part successfully separates the published authors from the unpublished and aspiring.

Second Draft Diagnosis

If you are a plotter, you may not have much in the way of substantial cleanup. I am not a plotter. I have notes, but they are not substantive enough to keep me entirely on track. My first read through will require listing all the characters introduced, their purpose to the plot, whether they should be axed or expanded to have a more significant role (I have one character who will have a more substantial role in the final draft and book two). I will also need to create a way to track any subplots because I had no idea what those were going to be starting out. I only had a general idea of my main plot.

However, that is on top of the need to correct grammatical and other semantic issues like repetitive usage of favorite words, cutting excess adverbs, fixing run-on sentences, comma splices, blah blah blah. This type of editing will carry on into third drafts and beyond but I know while reading through I will be noting the apparent grammar issues and correcting them as well.

What I hope to accomplish above all else is to determine whether or not this is a story on which I feel compelled to work. Is this something worth salvaging and pursuing publishing? For as many exciting writing moments I had throughout the process of writing the first draft, I had as many sluggish, just hit the daily word count moments. Those will need to be axed. If it turns out that is the majority of the story, I may decide the story itself is not compelling enough to finish. In that case, it gets shoved in a drawer, and it’s on to the next project in hopes of creating something I want to share with the world.

Characters

My number one concern, focus, and favorite aspect of a novel are the characters in a story. So the questions I need to ask myself the following the questions about each person I introduce in my story:

  • What is their purpose in the story?
  • Is my main character prominent or has anyone else eclipsed them?
  • Is the way they are portrayed consistent throughout the story?
  • If the characters change, is the change appropriate to the experiences they encounter or melodramatic?

Setting

The setting is almost a character in many ways. An appropriate setting will set the atmosphere of your story, establish the genre of your novel, present challenges to and aid your characters along their journey.

  • Is the setting appropriate to your genre?
  • Does the setting provide any obstacles to your characters’ intentions?
  • Is the setting consistent (plants appropriate to the climate, etc.)?

Plot

The plot, of course, is kind of important. A plot is the series of events that keep people turning pages. If it doesn’t make sense, if it meanders unintentionally, people will toss the book and tell their friends it stinks. Which it will.

  • Does each scene propel the reader to the next or establish some valuable information?
  • Is the plot compelling?
  • Do the actions of the characters in each scene correspond logically to the circumstance?

Subplots

As important, in my opinion, as the main plot, subplots take your story from linear to complex. This could be a romance unless your genre is romance or any other element that is not necessarily vital to the progression of the plot.

  • Do the subplots make sense when combined with the main plot?
  • Are the subplots too big/distract from the main plot?
  • Does every subplot have a conclusion or are they addressed in some way?

As you conduct the first complete reading of your first draft you should pay attention to these elements and notate your manuscript. Using different colored highlighters for Character, Setting, Plot, and Subplot is useful for assessing these individual areas after the initial read-through. You can change the highlight in your word processing software, print your manuscript and do it by hand (my preferred method), or use editing software like Scrivener (linked below).

Best case scenario you are left with a heavily colored, scribbled, notated manuscript and you can begin the second draft. Unlike the first draft, you know what the problems are and with a surgical precision you can remove and suture your story to create something worth saving.

Though if you carry on with that metaphor, the third, fourth, fifth, etc. drafts are recovery and rehab. It takes time, patience, and a lot of hard work and study to create a finished book and I hope to see all of your stories in print.

Writing Tools

Scrivener

Cost is $45 to purchase a full, unrestricted version of the software. Scrivener is available for Mac and Windows. Scrivener comes with a very useful template for a novel including sections for characters, setting, notecards. You can split the screens inside the software’s window so you can edit your manuscript while viewing your notes like scene cards or research.

Writer’s Digest

A year’s digital subscription to Writer’s Digest is $9.96 and well worth the investment. Writer’s Digest provides online resources, webinar’s (some are free but some come at an additional cost), contests, forums, and so much more.

Books on Writing (My Read, Currently Reading, and TBR Titles)

  • Revision & Self-Editing: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft Into a Finished Novel
  • Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish
  • How to Write Dazzling Dialogue: The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript
  • Troubleshooting Your Novel: 100 Incredibly Practical Ways to Fix Your Fiction
  • Writing the Breakout Novel

Check out my other posts in my writing series:

A How-To Guide for Writers on Pinterest

Writing Inspiration: How to Trigger Your Muse When All She Wants to Do is Take a Nap

My Favorite Writing Advice

Sneak peeks of my Camp NaNo Project:

Novel Ambitions: A #FlashFictionFriday Sneak Peek at My Current WIP

Novel Ambitions 2: Another #FlashFictionFriday Sneak Peek at My Current WIP

Camp NaNo Update: Day 22

Camp NaNoWriMo Progress Tracker Infographic Seventy-Eight Percent

Camp NaNo Update: Day 20

Camp NaNoWriMo Progress Tracker Infographic Seventy Percent

Camp NaNo Update: Day 19 (Updated Goals)

Camp NaNo Update Progress Tracker Infographic New Goal Sixty-three Percent

Camp NaNo Update: Day 18

Camp NaNoWriMo Progress Tracker Infographic One-Hundred Percent

Camp NaNo Update: Day 17

Camp NaNoWriMo Progress Tracker Infographic Ninety Percent Complete

Camp NaNo Update: Day 16

Camp NaNoWriMo Progress Tracker Infographic Eighty Percent Complete