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Posts Tagged ‘National Novel Writing Month’

  1. It’s that Time of Year Again!

    October 27, 2014 by Kiersi

    What time of year, you ask?

    Well, it’s certainly almost Halloween:


    And it’s also almost No-Shave November! (As a huge fan of the ol’ mustachio and a devout Portlander, this is my absolute favorite time of the year.)

    No Shave November

    But more importantly to our purposes here today, it’s also almost National Novel Writing Month! (God, really? Is it really NaNo time again? I feel like it was just last month. At least, the failure feels like it was last month.)

    And I’m definitely participating again this year.

    nano-participant-2014 (more…)

  2. Why I Didn’t Finish NaNoWriMo

    December 1, 2013 by Kiersi

    Yep. That’s right. I didn’t. You may remember something like this happening:

    – I started a fantasy novel at the beginning of the month. I got about 6,000 words into it.

    – Then, for some reason, I scrapped it and started a completely different book. A New Adult, contemporary romance novel. I wrote the first 31,000 words in four or five days.

    – And then life happened. I had a ton of contract work that had piled up; I met someone (this is a big part of it, I’m sure); I started a part-time job; Thanksgiving; concerts; exercise; and then I lost my way.

    Because I was pantsing this novel (see: no outline, no plan, just writing). Because I had no idea where I was headed when I started besides a final image, a last consequence, and without a road map, I went off-track and tripped in some mud. I’ve been slogging, slowly but surely, trying to re-formulate a plan of attack.

    And I was stressing myself out, wondering: How am I going to get this done by the end of the month? I don’t even know where I’m going, not to mention how to get there.

    Not that I regret not outlining this book. It’s allowed me some great privileges I wouldn’t otherwise have had. It allowed my heroes to go wherever they pleased, to do whatever felt right, to try out new things and push my limits and challenge me in ways heroes of mine never have before.

    Oh, and then somehow, the book had magical realism.

    With all of those things stacked on top of each other, well–I had to make a choice. And I decided it wasn’t worth stressing over. I decided that NaNo had started me on a quest I wouldn’t have otherwise started, that it had done its job and I could finish the job on my own, when time permitted, when life evened out for a few seconds and I could play a little catch-up. So I set a new end date for myself in January, which is perfectly feasible for the last 50,000 words of this novel.

    So, this is why I didn’t finish National Novel Writing Month. I decided that a great book doesn’t have to write itself in a month; I decided it was worth focusing on the important changes happening in my life and waiting for the right story to reveal itself to me.

    A huge round of applause to all my friends who did!

  3. Testing the Waters: A Tale of Two Stories

    October 12, 2013 by Kiersi

    Photo by rickpilot (flickr)

    Photo by rickpilot (flickr)

    I’m stuck.

    So, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) starts soon. Not that soon, not super soon, but soon enough to get me nibbling a fingernail here and there. It’s around the corner, you might say, if months had corners, just waiting for it to be November 1st and for me to be heinously, ridiculously, unfortunately underprepared.

    I mean, that won’t happen. That’s the Type A in me talking, needing everything to be perfect all the time and why would you bother doing it if it isn’t perfect. Yeah, see? She’s in there. That’s Crazy Type A Writer lurking just beneath the surface, ready to jump out and pull you in by your ankles. She’s a freak show, man. Don’t even try her.

    The real finger-nibbling problem is that I have two big, prescient, powerful, sexy ideas for NaNoWriMo. And I don’t know which one to write. (more…)

  4. The Parallel Lives of Beginnings and Ends

    October 10, 2013 by Kiersi

    riding into the sunset

    I had a post go up yesterday on YA Stands about “Preparing for National Novel Writing Month,” where I talked briefly about my outlining process. The most important thing I need to have in my head (or, preferably, down on digital paper) before I launch into a new manuscript? The beginning image of the story, and the ending image.

    I use this phrase “image” intentionally. I don’t think it’s necessary–at least in my process–to know all the details before diving into a first draft. But what I need to know is:

    Point A: Where the story begins. The tone, style, and voice; the immediate image I want to place in my reader’s mind.

    Point B: Where the story ends up–usually parallel to the opening image (Point A) in tone, style, and voice, but changed, now that the character and plot arcs are complete. If the story opens with a man riding into town on a horse, then it makes sense for him to ride out of town on a horse at the end. (Even better if he comes in at sunrise, and leaves at sunset.) He is, of course, not the same man he was before, as a result of his time spent in the town. (more…)

  5. 50,000 Words? Check. NaNoWriMo? Check.

    November 29, 2012 by Kiersi

    This was my first year doing National Novel Writing Month and it was a wild success. I just finished the last keystroke of my 50,497th word and I feel like I could walk on the sun in my bare feet and come away with the perfect tan.

    Since I hit the 50k-word mark for a middle grade novel titled Gryphon, I am now supposedly a “winner,” though anyone who completes this feat of caffeine and bruised fingertips counts as a “winner.” And, in reality, 50,000 words is short even for a middle grade book.  Nonetheless I’ve entered the third act of the story, a.k.a., the sprinting stage, where all the really big “oh no you di’int” stuff goes down; from here I know every twist that comes next, and it’s just a matter of time (much like a train wreck) until the end arrives.

    As a writer, I’ll often map out big twists or moments in advance, and then anticipate (and also visualize, often on endless repeat like your kid watching Lion King ten million times) a particularly important scene for days and sometimes weeks. Here’s one from the second act. I was pretty gratified to finally put this baby down on the word processor:

    He didn’t push her away, and for that, she was grateful. It was awkward at first; their lips trying to find purchase against the other, their hands unsure of where they should go, but nevertheless it felt perfect, more perfect than any other thing Rheya had ever done. It was right, if a little strange.

    Then she realized she couldn’t breathe and broke away, and the two of them sat there, panting, staring only at each other as if the entire world around them had vanished into the dark. And who would have minded? If the world were gone, and only these two left, everything would probably be as it should.

    A prickle of light poked its head over the distant hills. It was dawn. But neither of the two children could let the other go.

  6. NaNoWriMo, Day 6: 9k, and The Moment

    November 6, 2012 by Kiersi

    National Novel Writing Month is in full swing and I think I’m getting along well enough. The weekend was tough, what with travel and work and all those grown-up things, but I’m back in the saddle and up to 9,000 words so far. A little below expected for Day 6, but I expect to catch up quickly.

    Nothing else to report, other than an unfortunate misstep this morning/last night where I randomly switched point of view from third person to first. Easy enough to fix, but a little disconcerting nonetheless.

    Here is an excerpt from chapter five of Gryphon. Both Rheya and Frost are coming along nicely. Even better, I’m almost at the inciting incident–though it could be said the below is the beginning of the end.

    “You are human, Frost. You can’t stay here forever. I certainly can’t stay here forever.”


    She ran the fur over her head again. “Because I have to get back what’s mine. What he stole from me.”


    Rheya nodded.

    “And I need your help, Frost.”

    It was hard to tell what was going on behind those white-blue eyes, but his hands stiffened at his sides.

    “I can’t help,” he said. “I am… I am…” He searched the cloud of words he didn’t know yet and for the first time, he was getting frustrated with all the things he was missing. “Rheya, I am… I am nothing.”

    That wasn’t what she’d expected.


    “Hands,” he said, wiggling his fingers. “Feet. Mouth.” He moved each one in turn. “Not claw. Not paw. Not beak. No help. No help to you.”

    She blinked. So that was it. He had an inferiority complex, did he?

    She could use that.

  7. NaNoWriMo Day 1: Exploring Point of View

    November 2, 2012 by Kiersi

    National Novel Writing Month got off to a very optimistic start yesterday. I’m working on a novel tentatively titled Gryphon, a middle-grade fantasy with two alternating points of view.

    I’m using a third-person limited, so while told in third person, each chapter focuses on one character and his or her thoughts.

    I’ve been experimenting a little with alternating/rotating points of view, as my writer’s group knows who have been reading Codename: Gossip Tolkien. Instead of first person, which I use in GT, I chose third person for Gryphon because my heroes are young–12 and 13. Writing in third person, I am able to reveal a lot more about their personalities, motives, and feelings than I would if they were telling the story themselves, and I don’t have to worry about keeping the tone and voice “authentic” to the age of the character. (more…)

  8. Something Scary Comes: NaNoWriMo

    October 31, 2012 by Kiersi

    National Novel Writing Month logo

    It’s pretty apt that National Novel Writing Month (codenamed NaNoWriMo) follows right on the heels of Halloween–there is something truly terrifying about the prospect of cranking out that many words in such a small amount of time, and also, somehow, achieving a moderate level of coherence.

    What is it?

    In the month of November, masochists around the world hunch over their laptops and try to write 50,000 words in 30 days. It’s a test as much as it is a motivator–it’s for all those people who want to write a book, but just can’t buckle down and do it. (more…)