Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Over the Hill (NaNo Related)

So we've finally passed the halfway point for NaNoWriMo and I am finally caught back up to that ever-demanding daily goal line (I fell behind last week).

This is the point where many people typically lose focus as to how to advance the plot or lose steam or interest all together.  For me though the story is just now picking up.  This is a good thing and a bad thing.

On the good side: I don't have to worry about where the story is going.  With some pleasant divergence from previous plot points, the main characters have finally encountered the Kai'us' and things are steamrolling along as everyone gets to know everyone else and their motives.  A character they thought was dead will be returning soon and more secrets will be revealed.  Juicy stuff awaits!

On the bad side: I need to slam the reader with TONS of information about this alien culture so they know just what's going on and why without it bogging down the plot flow or boring the reader.  There's a lot of subtle work on my part to slip in useful information without the reader really noticing.  It often means going back as I remember a particular little piece of information that needs to go in a certain place and making "quiet" little tweaks here and there.

The natives also speak their own language and though I have previous glossaries to borrow from, I'm always reconstructing their grammar on the fly and so a fair amount of thought needs to go into every word spoken in the Kai'us language.  That slows me down a little.  I suppose I could just plow through and put in English placeholders or simple gibberish and just clean it up later, but I can't write like that.  Their language is part of their identity and for me a simple turn of phrase or euphemism can subtly change the feel of a whole scene.  How we speak is how we think and vise versa, so hammering out how these beings verbally communicate gives me (and therefore the reader) a subconscious insight into how their minds work and allows for a connection to happen that's so crucial to good story telling.

Maybe I'm over-thinking it and making more work for myself, but it is quite satisfying!

Given where I am in the story compared to what's still left to tell, it looks like I'll probably be crossing that finish line with plenty more story waiting, but that's okay; I've got the hardest part written (the beginning).

The interesting thing with is rewrite is the change in pacing.  In previous versions the characters get days, sometimes weeks before the next big thing happens to them.  In this version they're not afforded a moments peace (yes, I'm apparently turning into a sadistic writer mwahahahaha!)

Right when they catch their footing, think they've got their situation stabilized and they can settle in to a new "normal", the bottom drops out again and they have to figure out how to stay alive all over again.  It's kind of mean to the characters, but makes for some great, heart-pounding reading!

So here's to an amazing second half!

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Second Go-Around (NaNo-related)

You may have heard (once or twice, lol) that I'm participating in NaNoWriMo this year.

This is my second year doing it and I must say there's some major differences between my approach this year from last.  Last year my decision to join was semi-last minute (within the last week or two before November 1st).  I was terrified about finishing "on time and on budget".  I broke down the various sections of my story into word-count goals (which actually did help).  I participated in the forums; I watched pep-talks and videos about tips and tricks on youTube and I was so freaking exhilarated when I crossed the finish line!

This year I made my decision to participate weeks in advance.  I kept stalking the NaNo home page, waiting for it to reset so I could put in my novel info for this year.
This time 'round I don't need the pep-talks and the "you can do it!" support from the forums.  I have the rough outline I threw together the last time I tried to jump-start this project (again).
As expected, I still need to go hunting for information I never thought to jot down earlier, but you know what? I'm okay with that.
Though I take the daily word counts very seriously, I have no desire to run ahead of the daily quotas.  Get your 1,667 words in and stop for the day - don't kill yourself (unless some burst of productivity seizes you).  I'm not going to freak out if I reach the end of the story and am falling short by a few thousand words.  I really have no idea how long this beast is going to be (I never do).  But I don't care honestly.  I want the story written.

I may blow past 50k words.  I may not.  What matters more to me this year for NaNo is getting this damned story pulled together, preferably devoid of those stupid plot holes that have been plaguing me for years.

I see the differences between this year and last as being a parent for the first and second time.
With a first child you do all your research and try to do everything right.  You hover, you worry, you lose sleep.
With baby number two, you're an old veteran at that point.  You know what matters and what doesn't.  You still care, but not in the hand-wringing, worrying sort of way.  You're more inclined to let things happen in their own time on their own terms.

I'm rather liking baby number two ;)