Prepping for my first April Camp NaNoWriMo

Screenshot 2014-03-10 10.23.32It is coming up to a year since I started writing my first novel. This time last year, I hadn’t even heard of NaNoWriMo. I just sat down at my computer one day, inspired to write a story and got on with it, by the seat of my pants. Then I heard about Camp NaNo coming up in July and decided to set myself a goal so that I would keep writing. By then, I already had 70,000 words but I was finding it tough to keep going. I had no idea that writing would be so hard 😉 So, I set myself a modest goal of writing 10,000 words last July which seemed manageable whilst I was still working full-time. Once I had a goal and it was written down somewhere, I knew I would meet it and I did.

In November last year, I used my first proper NaNoWriMo to start my second novel and wrote just over 50,000 words on that story in the month. Since then though, I have written nothing further on it because I have been busily rewriting my first ‘pantser’ novel. Next month’s Camp is going to be for novel number 2 then but before I can go back to it, I must do some PLANNING! Having written one story and half of a second one, the most important lesson I have learned in this past year, is that I am a natural planner when it comes to writing, as with all other things in my life. I so bitterly regret not having planned my first story. So when it come to starting the second one, I tried to outline what I was going to write before getting started. I did write an outline of sorts but what I then wrote did go off at a bit of a tangent and I know there is a lot to fix in the 50,000 words I have already written. Aargh!

I am therefore going to have to spend a bit of time this month getting myself ready before I write again. The thing is, I don’t really have the time to do lots of rewriting before I start but if I just carry on, there will be a ton of rewriting to do when I get to the end! I have decided to start by re-reading what I’ve got so far in order to identify any potential plot-holes, making notes on my Scrivener file where they occur so that I can pick up on them later. After that, I’m going to just get straight on with writing. I have read a lot of advice about outlining before writing and the common theme that comes up is that you are ‘allowed’ to veer off course from what you originally planned and so I’m going to give myself the freedom to do that. It’s not like me but maybe that will be good for me, to just follow my characters and see where they take me. I’ll just have to hope they won’t take me so far off course that rewriting further down the line becomes a nightmare!

Are you taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo this April? If so, what are you doing to get ready? Leave me a comment in the notes below. It would be great to hear from you. As always, thanks for reading 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rewriting, Time Travel and Van Gogh

DSC_2216I am about a third of the way through the rewrite of my debut novel. Since I wrote my synopsis after the first draft and realised where the plot-holes were, it has been a long slog rewriting the story to be what I want it to be. Had I written an outline before writing that first draft, I know that things would have been a lot easier but it’s simply too late to worry about that now. However, I have learned that lesson for next time (I hope!)

So now, I am trying to move on to the next part of the rewrite and I was hoping that things would be a bit easier from here on in, that there wouldn’t be so much to change in the story but sadly, I was wrong. It’s becoming a bit like time travel, as in the lovely Richard Curtis film, ‘About Time,’ which I watched with my family recently. The main character finds out he can travel backwards in time but when he tries to put past wrongs right, he affects the future in other ways and then has to rearrange all his changes. Well, my story is feeling a bit like that because if I change when the characters make love for the first time for example, it will affect many chapters before and after in many different ways. Suddenly, what seemed like a small change becomes a nightmare!

My current problem is that in my first draft, my main character, Rachel, made a demo CD with Jackson, her love interest, in London before he went back to Nashville. He then took it back with him to play to his colleagues at his record label before she comes out to join him there. In this draft though, she goes out to Nashville to make the demo CD. So, I have to condense many chapters down and get her to Nashville much more quickly so she can make the demo CD and the rest can follow. Since I know this is going to be hard, I am putting off getting started but I am under some pressure to get this all rewritten now, having set myself a deadline of finishing by the end of March if possible.

I’ve been wondering what can I do to push myself to make a start? Well, yesterday, I had a lovely day out with my friend, as we always do when our birthdays are coming up (they are a day apart, later this month). We visited the National Gallery in London to see Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. I have always loved Van Gogh’s art and always feel so saddened by the tragic life he led, despite being such a talented artist. The two paintings we saw yesterday were painted only months apart and for some of the time, he was in an asylum, yet the beauty he managed to create during such a terrible time in his life is remarkable. With Van Gogh’s example as my inspiration, maybe it’s time to tackle this next phase of rewriting head-on and who knows, I might end up with something good at the end, not in Van Gogh’s league but something I am pleased with when I finish.

What or who is your inspiration when you get stuck in your writing? Do let me know in the comments below and thank you, as always for continuing to read my blog 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trying to Write a Synopsis for the first time

forest-175221_1920The New Year started very well for me when I found out that I had been accepted on to the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme. This means that I have until the end of August to submit my manuscript for assessment, which will follow by the end of the year. So I have plenty of time to get my first draft ready, right? Well, not if writing the synopsis is anything to go by 😦

I have written before about whether there is such a thing as too much advice:

https://juliestock.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/is-there-such-a-thing-as-too-much-advice/

There is no doubt that the internet is a wonderful research tool but sometimes, it is really difficult to see the wood for the trees. As you know, I finished reading my first draft aloud at the end of last year. Since then, I have been inputting those edits to my manuscript and now that I have finished, I have turned my attention to trying to write a synopsis in an effort to see where my plot-holes are. You may remember that I wrote my first draft as a ‘pantser’, which is why I now have plot-holes!

I have got into the habit of bookmarking all the useful articles I read about writing so I can come back to them later and today, I decided that it was time for me to pick out all the articles I had found about how to write a good synopsis. There were at least a dozen articles in total when I started re-reading them, although I am sure there are many more out there. There may even be a whole wood 😉 I have read them all and distilled them down to the ones which I found to be the most helpful for me (the trees). I really would encourage you to read these three articles at least. I have kept some of the other links on my ‘Website Links I find Useful’ page (see tab above).

http://writersinthestorm.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/dont-shrink-from-synopses/

http://janefriedman.com/2011/10/25/novel-synopsis/

http://www.caroclarke.com/synopsis.html

So now all I have to do is go and write it! I am starting with my scenes and trying to précis these down first. This was already a great shock to me because I have 157 scenes in total, whereas the received wisdom is that 60 – 80 is normal for a novel :o) And so the learning continues…

Tune in next week to see how I got on 🙂 I hope you find these articles helpful but if you have a tried and tested method for writing a synopsis, please do let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m a NaNoWriMo 2013 winner and it feels great!

I finally finished NaNoWriMo 2013 last Friday, having written a grand total of 50,007 words of the first draft of my second novel, provisionally titled ‘Seeking Approval’. It felt so good to meet the goal I had set myself of writing a minimum of 1,667 words every day during November. I think there was only one day when I didn’t write and so I was able to catch up again quite quickly. I worked really hard to follow the advice and keep my ‘inner editor’ at bay, only changing what I absolutely had to in order to keep writing. Some mornings I would wake up, knowing there was a massive plot-hole and that I wouldn’t be able to write any more until I had fixed it so I did that but nothing else in terms of editing. The final story is pretty solid so far and I think that’s partly because I wrote an outline, this time. I haven’t stuck rigidly to it but it certainly helped me when I found I was getting stuck and gave me the push I needed to keep going on several occasions. I suppose that I had a certain clarity of vision when I wrote the outline and that helped me when things got a bit ‘blurry’ further down the line.

I took the weekend off from writing to recover a bit, and to put up Christmas trees, you know, essential stuff like that. 😉 We have a family tradition of putting the tree up on the first Sunday in December (lucky for my kids this year!) and so I had an obligation. It was fun though and allowed my brain time to think about what I needed to do next in my writing life.

So, today, I have gone back to editing my first novel, ‘From Here to Nashville’. I am still in the first phase of self-editing, which I have designated the ‘reading aloud’ phase, following all the advice I’ve read. This has flagged up lots of little things that I will tidy up afterwards. I’m still only about halfway through though – it really takes a long time to read aloud, which I’d forgotten. I reckon it will take me to the end of the year to finish this phase and then I’m going to have a go at all the editing levels suggested by the other writers I follow on Twitter. I will post links to these as I go through, in case it’s of help to anyone else.

In the meantime, I thought I might try my hand at a Christmas short story, taking inspiration from many other writers out there who seem to be doing the same. I’ve never written a short story so I think it would be a good discipline. It will also take my mind off the two things I’m waiting to hear back about: a first chapter critique for ‘Nashville’ and also, whether it has been accepted for a free manuscript assessment. Busy, busy, busy.

What’s your writing life like post-NaNo? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Bye for now.