Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Muddy Middle of NaNoWriMo

Whether you call it the muddy middle, the saggy middle, the sticking place, or just I SUCK, we all reach the point where writing seems hopeless.

I’m there now. I’m still getting words down, but nothing is getting any clearer. I’m confused, demoralized and starting to think I’ll never understand anything again. Doubt is creeping in, and I’m beginning to suspect that it won’t go away for a while.
However, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s small, dim and is not growing nearly fast enough, but it’s there within this advice.

Struggle is Unavoidable
“Don’t take the easy way out. Don’t let your characters do it either. Great stories are about struggle, and you must endure struggle of your own to create great stories.” –The Write Practice, "I Don’t Want to Write," 10/4/13
Apparently if I’m struggling, I’m doing something right. If I sidetrack, backtrack or skirt the problem I’m facing, I'd be taking the easy way out. So I’m going to barrel through and meet the struggles as they come.

You Have What You Need
“Every theme, and character weakness, and part of the world you've built is a tool that you can use to figure out where the story should go.” –Veronica Roth, "The Sticking Place" on YA Highway, 8/4/11
If Veronica Roth says I have what I need to wrap up my story, I believe it. The parts of my story, the themes I’ve introduced, the characters I’ve created, should/can/will equal an ending. I may have to search a little to find the right one, but it’s there. And I plan on finding it.

Keep Charging
“This is the magic/curse of writing: That in crafting your fiction, you leave yourself open to sudden moments of unguarded truth, and you have to be willing to tolerate that again and again. You have to keep raising your sword and charging, even knowing you could retreat scorched and missing a limb. You have to keep doing it even when you don’t want to. Especially when you don’t want to.” –Libba Bray, "The Ever-Popular I Suck Playlist," 4/28/11
In the pursuit of greatness, you might be burned. You might break a pencil. You might lose a favorite line or scene or character. But don’t stop charging. Keep writing. Don’t stop putting words on the page. That’s all there is to it, really.

Thanks, experienced writers, for reminding me that not only does this happen, it is common. And it can be overcome. It may take time, effort and struggle. It may mean tears and involve doubt, insecurity and a little emotional scarring. But hopefully, it will lead to a full draft a publishable novel.
While in one hand I have doubt that I will ever see the end, in the other I have hope that it is possible. (And multitudes of proof on my sagging bookshelves.) So I put my hands together, and keep typing.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Europe of Inspiration

It’s been almost five years since my last excursion to Europe, but I still delve into the photos often for inspiration. One of my favorite things about going through old photos is finding one I don’t remember and experiencing it as if for the first time. Then letting the image take me down the path to inspiration. As I dance/cry/trudge through the madness of NaNoWriMo, here are some images that inspire me, from my previous trips to Europe.

Antwerp, Belgium

Birmingham, England

Northern France



Mont St. Michel

Omaha Beach


Pointe du Hoc, Normandy

Tervuren, Belgium

As you were viewing the images, did you see the Belgian businessmen? (Though, one looks more like a zookeeper, which would make sense since the Antwerp Zoo is RIGHT outside the station.) Did you see the Irish lovers, embracing at the end of the lighthouse? The English gentlemen at the pub? The French boy studying in the gardens?

The images are beautiful, but it’s the people who make them worth more than a thousand words. Each one is a story in itself, at least 50000 words in length.
Happy NaNoing!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Fiercely YA: Fierce Reads Tour in Cincinnati

One week ago, the Fierce Reads tour descended on chilly Cincinnati. It was a glamorous event, full of laughter, swag and signing! This stop on the tour featured these lovely ladies:

Bathe in the awesomeness of these YA authors? Don’t mind if I do!

From left:
Gennifer Albin, author of the Crewel trilogy
Leigh Bardugo, author of the Grisha trilogy
Jessica Brody, author of the Unremembered trilogy
Ann Aguirre, author of the Razorland trilogy
During the Q&A, one of the attendees asked this awesome question:  
What makes your book(s) fierce?
Here are the answers:
Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy is fierce in SETTING
Ravka is a tough land to live in. It’s a country almost on the brink of collapse and it’s been in an economic stranglehold for years.
My interpretation: In the Grisha trilogy, the setting is a character in itself. The unrelenting attributes of Ravka, the Unsea, the Permafrost and Os Alta all play a part in the story. Living in Ravka requires one to be tough, adaptable and ultimately: fierce.
Jessica Brody’s Unremembered is fierce in PLOT
There is a really big, fierce plot twist at the end of Unremembered. Throughout the book, there are clues leading up to this twist.
My interpretation: In Unremembered, the plot leads to a climatic twist. Even though clues are mingled throughout the book that foreshadow this twist, it is ultimately meant to surprise the reader in a fierce, unputdownable way.
Ann Aguirre’s Razorland trilogy is fierce in CHARACTER
There’s a lot of killing with knives and guns in this trilogy, and also the characters are fierce in spirit and attitude.
My interpretation: In the Razorland trilogy, the characters are living on the brink of apocalypse and struggling against the once mindless but now cunning Freaks. To survive, the characters have to be fierce in attitude and intelligence.
Gennifer Albin’s Crewel trilogy is fierce in CONCEPT
The main character, Adelice, manipulates the fabric of reality.
My interpretation: In the Crewel trilogy, the concept that girls can weave time and matter on looms is an incredible yet complex one. Adelice can manipulate time and matter without a loom which makes her unique and coveted yet it also puts her in danger. How fierce is that? Very.

 Read fiercely. Write fiercely. Live fiercely!
Disclaimer: This post is an unofficial account of the Fierce Reads event with the aforementioned authors on November 3, 2013 at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati, OH. The views that I present in this post are my interpretations of the event and are not direct quotations of the author's comments. These paraphrases do not necessarily represent the opinions of these authors or their publishers.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013: An Almost Novel in a Month

It's that time of year again! Nope, I'm not talking about winter, or even the holidays. I'm talking about NaNoWriMo! Happy Month of Writing to you! May the word count be ever in your favor!
This is my second NaNoWriMo experience. Last year, I successfully completed the challenge by writing 50000 words in 30 days. And then I threw out the whole draft when I realized I didn’t like the plot line. *shrugs* Isn’t that the life of a writer?

So, this year, I’m trying it again. Same characters, similar story, whole new plot. Except this year I’m fudging the rules, just a bit. It’s my story, so I figure I’m allowed.

This past spring, I revamped the plot of my story, starting it at a completely different point, changing all the scenes and drastically overhauling the climax. To make my WIP more manageable, I divided it into three parts. My plan was to write each part as a mini-novel, because facing one whole novel was just too overwhelming.

When I was ready to write, November was a couple months away. I didn’t want to wait to write, and I couldn’t set the story aside to write something else for NaNo. And I definitely wanted to give NaNoWriMo another go. So I crafted a plan. Muh ha ha. (That’s an evil laugh, just so you know.)

If I wrote Part One in the months leading up to November, I could write Parts Two and Three for NaNoWriMo. I made it my goal for each part to be 25000 words, meaning my almost-novel for NaNoWriMo would be 50000 words. Perfect, no?

And, in total, my WIP would ideally be 75000 words at the end of November, which is the suggested length for a solid YA novel. Am I an evil genius? I think so!

I know, technically, I will not be writing a novel in a month, in the terms of inciting incident to resolution. However, I will be writing the majority of a novel in a month (from a little way into the rising action to the resolution). And I will be writing 50000 words. (I started my word count on November 1st. I did NOT include the words I had already written in Part One in the count. Now that would be cheating.)

But I wanted to be honest with the world. I may not be following the rules in the strictest sense, instead bending them a bit to fit my needs. Thanks, NaNoWriMo, for understanding.

*takes deep breath* Now, let’s go a-writing!