NaNoWriMo 2017

Project: Renegade

My project for NaNoWriMo this year was to work on the rewrite of Renegade, the novella I finished drafting in March of this year.  What had happened was that during my review of the first draft, I discovered that I liked the story better in a completely different POV and that it was a premise that worked far better as a full length novel.

My goal for this rewrite is in the range of 80K-100K words.

While I must confess I started the rewrite prior to November I did not hit the 50K goal for the month of November.

The Takeaway

I made a rather important discovery through all of this: rewrites do not work well for NaNoWriMo.  The entire goal of NaNo is to write a first draft in a month, which truly is a feat in and of itself, but a first draft lends itself to this time constraint, a rewrite does not for the following reasons:

  1. Copious note checking – I was constantly going back and forth between notes in several file locations to ensure I was keeping characters in, well… character.  I know a weak point in my first drafts is consistency as I’m discovering the characters and the plot.  I did not want to deal with the same quantity of this in a rewrite.
  2. See the above
  3. No really, see the above.

Worldbuilding Questions and Writing the Second Draft

I did run into a couple other world building issues that I needed to think about as well.  For instance: Is sitting upright on a flying griffin the best way to fly on a mythological creature?  Am I really using feet and inches as measurements in this completely made up world?

I think you can see why this is taking longer than I had hoped.  And while I know the second draft does not have to be perfect either, I would rather put in the hard work now so that I can get the story out there sooner than later.

In Summary

While I did not “win” NaNoWriMo this year, I did have a fairly reasonable average word count of 713 words per day (though probably closer to 500 given the extra words I added prior to November).

My NaNo lifetime count over the past two years has increased to over 90K.  And Renegade rewrite has come up to 21,000 words.

All in all, I’m a little disappointed, but I am pleased with what I did complete last month.




A Novella

“I’ve got a jar of dirt! I’ve got a jar of dirt, and guess what’s inside it!” –Captain Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

I started a fantasy novella last July as a means of giving myself a break from my first novel. It was meant to be completed in the month as part of Camp NaNoWriMo in conjunction with watching Brandon Sanderson’s BYU classes on writing. Unfortunately, I got busy and the plot was giving me a few issues, so it remained in stasis for a while.

Part of my reason for writing it was to get a microcosm of the writing process, like learning to bake a cookie so that I can eventually go on to creating a soufflé. Another reason for writing it was also because I’ve spent the last ten years putting the pieces of my high fantasy work together, I needed a break and proof that I was more than just a one idea and done author.

So there you have it, the main reasons I’ve been exploring short stories and this novella over the course of the last year is because I need the practice before I go back and work on my high fantasy trilogy.

So why am I going on and on about this?

I finished the novella yesterday! It doesn’t necessarily mean it will be released any time soon, but it is another step forward. And I’m looking forward to what the story can teach me about the editing process.

The reason I love the Pirates of the Caribbean quote above is because that’s exactly what I have in this draft.  It is what amounts to a jar of sand that I’ll use to build my sandcastles. (Writing as related to sandboxes is a popular metaphor shared by at least both Ted Dekker and Shannon Hale regarding writing.)

What should be coming sooner than a published novella however, is news about short stories: the rest of this month will be committed to the backlog I’ve created of short story and flash fiction drafts. I’ll be cleaning them up and sending them off for submission.

For tonight though, I’ll continue celebrating that another major rough draft is finished.




(Here’s the first in the Sanderson lectures if you’re interested:)

Tools of the Trade: Dr. Grip 4+1 Pen

Dr. Grip 4+1 Mint Green

I bought a version of this pen not long after I finished the draft of my first book.  The idea was that I wanted a precise pen as well as something I could carry that had multiple colors for note taking and editing without taking up a lot of space.

It has quickly become my first choice for on-the-go moments.

The grip is wide and comfortable and while my light version I got off of ebay feels a little flimsy it has held up well so far.

If you are also a writer who is often traveling I feel pretty safe recommending this pen/pencil to you.

The Nature of my Work

I have always enjoyed epic tales of fantasy.  There is an element of escapism in them captured in the moments where we identify with the protagonist and feel as if it is possible for us to also save the world.

It’s always hard coming back down to reality.

The story I’m working on is similar.  I have taken elements from the normal realm of fantasy and mixed them with our present reality.  In so many ways the result is reminiscent of my own life.

About six years ago, we found out my grandfather had cancer.  Up until that time, cancer and death had really only visited friends of the family, distant relatives, and pets.  I was woefully unprepared for depression, fear, and anxiety of the coming months.  As is so often true in life, it was also a time of a spiritual deepening and appreciation of life and love.

It was a moment where I realized to the core of my being, life is not a fairy tale.  Crap does indeed happen.  It cannot be planned, out of the blue a phone call can come and surprise you.  It can throw you a curveball that will quite literally knock you off your feet.

And I’m incorporating this into my story.

Over the years I have seen a lot of hard stuff occur.  Friends of our family lost two of their three children before they were the age of 18.  One in an accident in the woods and the other as a suicide.  I’ve been out fishing when a teenager drowned, the boy was pulled under and pinned against a log until there was no life left in him.  Onlookers were desperate to locate him but by the time we found him it was too late.

There is death.  There is a curse.  And we as humans are left wandering through it all, with the joy of life, but also the terrible grief of our existence in this world.

So my stories are not necessarily happy.  They are about good versus evil.  And they are very much about characters who have their options taken off the table.  Characters who continue on anyway because their hope is in the light as they scream their defiance into the void.

So yes, even I find myself a bit surprised with where I take my writings, but as I’m editing, I hope to be able to effectively communicate both the darkness and the hope.