Camp NaNoWriMo Round Up 2018

pexels-photo-735837.jpegI am participating in Camp NaNoWriMo and will not be making regular updates this month.  This post serves as a general update on Camp NaNoWriMo and some other hot topics I’ve seen online.

Camp NaNoWriMo

I am continuing my rewrite of the novella I finished last year.  It’s going from a 30K word zero draft, to a more fleshed out 90K novel.  It is currently at 50K and I want to complete the draft during Camp NaNoWriMo this month.

So far I’ve written about 6,200 words, I know I’m a bit behind. But, I am going to be spending a good deal of time writing this weekend.

Twitter & Pitch Wars

If you follow me on Twitter you may have noticed that I retweeted about pitching and querying.  I don’t have a strong stance on the Pitch Wars entry fee that created a stir online last week (and which was later replaced with their free model).  However, there were some good opportunities coming out of that which I wanted to share.

The Plan (Currently)

The discussion made me start thinking about my current strategy.

I will be looking for agents only once I have several published short stories, a draft I feel good about sharing beyond the sphere of my writing friends, and proposals for at least five more books.  I have some experience in the business world and I want to make sure I have a portfolio to offer before I look for an agent.

The guiding principles of my strategy are the following:

  • More Stories and Story Ideas = A long term source of revenue for the agent and the author.
  • Published Short Stories = They take less time to create and help me build a platform.
  • Building Platform = Maintaining a blog and actively using Twitter not only informs my audience, but shows an agent I’m willing to learn and actively work on self-marketing.

Ready Player One

I just had to watch this movie once I heard about it.  It was fun and I had a good time catching references and Easter eggs.

Discord Servers

I recently discovered the wealth of writing groups located on Discord servers.  Though admittedly they all vary a good deal, it is nice to find another outlet for connecting with other writers in a chat format.

This Reddit thread is a good place to start looking at the server options that are out there.

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Microfiction: Late Night Study

If you’re new to this site then you might be pleased to discover that every now and then I take a break from my normal writing endeavors and I challenge myself to come up with a microfiction to share with you all.

Today’s was a result of writing a list of about eight words and then challenging myself to link those key words into a common story.

Late Night Study

The steady twap twap of the critter’s tiny pincers against the glass were fraying the young alchemist’s nerves.

The figures and notes from the journal in front of her were just as frustrating as she rubbed her tired eyes. The encryptions within were beginning to dance around her mind like two drunk lovers at the pub during the harvest celebrations.

Sighing, she closed the worn leather journal, accidentally rubbing her finger through the dust left behind on the table. How had so much dust accumulated in so little time?

Turning, she pulled the glass jar from the aging marble counter. “Sorry little guy, you’re not going anywhere until I transmute you.”

The praying mantis was still, sizing her up. Its eyes held her own in a silent glare as if daring her to realize the hubris of that claim.

“He was close.” She made a fist, “But I will succeed where he failed.” The mantis continued its silent watch as the splosh of raindrops announced the arrival of the storm.

Nuts and Bolts: Beta Readers

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Similar to the series of posts called “Tools of the Trade”, “Nuts and Bolts” will be referring to the more analytical and business components of writing.

I have some good news! I am feeling comfortable enough with some of my stories to send them off to beta readers. But, in order to do that I had to determine who these readers should be.

To date my criteria has been simple: Do you you like stories in this genre? Are you willing to read my story? Are you someone I trust? Are you willing and able to get meaningful feedback to me in a timely manner?

Google Forms and Stories

With this in mind, I sent a message to friends who had been interested when I mentioned my stories in the past, but before I did so, I created a Google Form. This Form contained the questions I was most interested in regarding the story I was sending. I then promised coffee and cookies for the effort and sent off the email.

The next trick I used? I put options at the end of that questionaire for what level of readership the beta reader would want to be considered for in the future: Alpha, Beta, Close to publication, Audience (read after published), and Never-Send-Me-A-Story-Again. Thankfully no one has chosen the “never again” option.

It’s still an experiment in progress, but so far I have gotten some beneficial timely feedback. And I’m collecting data on what level of interest these readers have for upcoming stories.

Using the Data for Newsletter Practice

I’m also planning on using this as a way to experiment with newsletters. I’ve now been to enough workshops to understand that an author has to build their platform as early as possible. And, I’ve also heard enough to know that I better learn how to utilize a newsletter now.

So, besides the copious amount of editing left to do, I am hoping that crafting a newsletteresque email just for my beta reader team will not only keep them excited but also give me invaluable practice for when it’s time to send updates to a more general audience.

To be continued…

Tools of the Trade: Staedtler Norica and Pentel Orenz

If you have visited this blog before you’ll have discovered that I am a writer working on my first short stories and novels.  To be more specific I’m trudging through edits and rewrites on those first stories.

And while I do post some microfictions, updates, and reviews from time to time, I also create posts with helpful information for other writers.  The Tools of the Trade series consist of things and programs I have found helpful as I hone my craft.

Today’s post is all about my two favorite types of pencils to date: Staedtler Norica and Pentel Orenz 0.5.  I’ve been finding lately that the further I am into rewrites, the more likely I am to grab a pencil.  Editing has taught me humility and the wisdom that writing a little slower with the ability to erase is inherently beneficial.

Here’s a demonstration and review by Gray Matters on the Norica:

And here’s one by Scrively for the Pentel Orenz:

Tools of the Trade: Paper for Planning

I typically do a good deal of my actual story planning on paper first. I would probably write a good deal more of my stories longhand too if it didn’t take so long.

In college I was around quite a few engineering majors who had piles of graphing paper. There was something about the way it could be used for notes, designs, and calculations without the sense of imposition that regular lined paper gave.

Then, I heard about bullet journaling and discovered the dot grid notebooks.

Both are now my preferred paper for story plotting and notes.

It gives me just enough to keep me linear if desired, without impeding my sense of freedom (though dot grid is a little better at this than standard graphing paper).

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.