Mini NaNoWriMo

Following a tiny push from Terry, I’ve decided to throw caution to the wind and sign up (in theory) for a Mini NaNoWriMo. In other words, I will not be registering as an official participant and I will not be aiming for 50,000 words in 30 days, but I will be in the shadows bashing away at the keyboard with the hope of reaching a predetermined word count.

What is that predetermined word count, I hear you ask. Well, I’m glad you asked. Whilst most NaNoers will be attempting to reach 1667 words a day, I will powering towards a huge daily count of 835 words.

Sounds dead simple, but I bet it’s not.

Anyway, this means that my planning must be completed by 31 October, which means I have…a total of 12 days! Eek! I better stop talking about writing, and start planning so that I can actually write.

Hang on, I haven’t finished the post yet.

At 10am this morning I opened the three sentences (of the five I need) for step 3 of Snowflake. I just have to write two more sentences to complete the picture for the plot. Over three hours later, I haven’t written a single word. The fifth sentence will be easy to write because it will show how I intend to resolve the problems presented to my characters, but the fourth sentence is proving to be quite difficult. This is telling me that I have something missing, but my mind won’t stay on track long enough to figure out what that is.

I need to ask myself a lot of questions. Problem is I can’t do this at work because I should be working, not writing (or planning). However, because I’m not sleeping well, I feel exhausted in the evening and my brain just shuts down altogether then. As the day creeps on I can already feel this shutdown starting to happen. This leaves me in a bind. Maybe I should get up earlier, but then I’d miss out on the tiny amount of sleep I am getting.

Maybe I’ve made the wrong decision about doing a Mini NaNoWriMo. No, I want to do this, so I will find a way to keep the mind awake and alert (here are some hints, but I wouldn’t recommend taking medications). I’m determined to find a natural way to get my brain in top gear.

Introducing “Cat’s Paw”

Cat’s Paw is the title of book 2 in my children’s series.

You will have noticed, or maybe not, that I’ve replaced the progress bar in the sidebar. It won’t change for a while yet, because I doubt I’ll start writing for a few weeks. Maybe, and this is just a random thought so don’t hold me to it, I’ll even unofficially use NaNoWriMo to get started. By that, I mean that I’ll use the NaNo idea of writing everyday, but there’s no way I’ll register and there’s no way I’ll force myself to meet a high word count each day. That almost killed me when I did it a few years back. To be honest, I’d be happy if I could write two pages a day. That’s doable.

I digress. Back to my planning.

I have my one-sentence summary written using the Snowflake method. As I said in a recent comment, I think it’s difficult to write a meaningful sentence under 15 words, so my sentence is 25 words and I’m pleased with the outcome. It sounds interesting, whereas with less words it sounds ordinary.

The cryptic message for the first chapter is also written. Vague and confusing are the key words here. I believe I achieved both, yet all the clues will be right there on the first page of the manuscript. I love the idea of that. I wonder how long it will take the reader to work it out, compared to the characters.

This afternoon, I will move onto step 2 of the Snowflake method – expanding that sentence into a five-sentence paragraph. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? It’s not! Each step of the Snowflake method is designed to expand the author’s knowledge of the plot, characters and motivations. And for me, it works wonders. I’d prefer to find the hole(s) in my plot now rather than when I’m half way through the manuscript. My two favourite questions to ask myself are…why and what if.

I find my mind returning to Cat’s Paw often during the day. It’s not especially good when this happens when I’m at work and I’m typing a report. I’ve been known to suddenly go off track, in the middle of a report – sometimes without even realising. I remember one embarrassing day last year when one of the men I work with came up to me and asked what drugs I’d been prescribed recently. I’d given him a strange look and he handed me a report I had typed that morning. There, right in the middle of all the technical jargon, was a lone word – volcano. It may as well have been highlighted in big, bold letters, because it stood out on the page.

Colour crept over my face. The man laughed, and so did the other four men in the vicinity. I stood there like a goose waiting for its feathers to be plucked. I’d never hear the end of this, I knew it, and I was right. Looking back, I remembered thinking about volcanos that morning. I remember having a mind slip, in more ways than one obviously, as I couldn’t remember how it was spelt. So right then and there I typed the word. Oh, that’s right, that’s how it’s spelt and I carried on with the report…without deleting the word.

You’d think I’d learn a lesson from this. I didn’t. I’ve done it twice more since then. Once with the word “Hawaii” and another time I had a phrase, but I can’t remember the exact wording of that. The men at work still ask me when I plan to go to Hawaii to see the volcano. Very funny. Not!

Green for Danger

Green for Danger by Emily Rodda is the latest book I’ve finished reading. Admittedly, whilst reading I thought there was a lot of “padding”, but by the end I realised that every scene did advance the storyline (in other words everything was there for a reason).

The book isn’t a fantasy, it’s a mystery. I’ve decided to try and read a bit of a variety of genres now. I think you can have too much fantasy. I needed a change and trying to solve a mystery before the characters in the book figure things out is a good distraction for me.

With this book, I guessed one of the “baddies” but couldn’t work out where the jewels were hidden. The ending was tied together nicely and the characters were nicely fleshed out.

I do have another mystery by Emily Rodda, but I don’t think I’ll read that yet. I’m not sure what I’ll read next, I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

When Every Word Counts

You may find this difficult to believe, but I’m proud of the writing I’ve done in the last three days. However, I would like to mention that I’ve only written three sentences.

Just about every writing site I’ve visited, since I discovered the internet, has told me one thing – make every word count. All writers know (and if you didn’t know this, you do now) that every sentence, every paragraph, every scene must make the plot move forward. If it doesn’t, then delete it. Delete it now!

Today, I finally started reading the book that has been highlighted in my sidebar as “currently reading” for about two weeks now – Green for Danger by Emily Rodda. There were several chapters where I thought, “what’s all this in here for. She could have edited all this out.” However, in later chapters I discovered why it was there so that was fine. But I almost got to the stage where I wanted to write to Ms Rodda and ask why she didn’t understand and follow this simple rule in writing. Good job I didn’t act too hastily. 😉

Anyway, back to my three sentences. It sounds pretty bad – three sentences in three days. Actually, it might be some kind of a record. But seriously, these three sentences were the hardest I’ve ever had to write. You see, in this case, “make every word count” took on a new meaning. The three sentences are a cryptic message for my children’s book. Each sentence has two clues, but I had to make the clues hard to spot. Then, when the three sentences are put together, there is another clue.

Problem was…I didn’t start out knowing what the message had to read or what the clues were referring to. I had to figure that out as I went along. Now that I’m finished, I have discovered that the entire plot for book 2 makes more sense overall. It’s all much clearer in my mind. And now…after all the informal planning I’ve done this week…I can start working through the Snowflake steps. *grins* You thought I’d already started doing that, didn’t you? Well, how can I do step 1 (write a one-sentence summary of your story) if I don’t even know what the story is going to be about?

Now I have a story planned in point form, instead of a vague idea, I’ll be able to write that one-sentence summary. I wonder if it will take me another three days?!?

Planning Progressing

It’s amazing what a difference a few days can make. Earlier this week, I had a vague idea about the plot for book 2 in the series, and no idea (except for how it had to end) for book 3. Today, both books have a draft plan (which still needs to be expanded on).

This weekend, I will continue to plot both books. Why both books? Well, there are things in book 1 that intentionally are there as reference points for book 2. I think it’s important to know where the series is heading so that I can include tiny hints in book 2 regarding the final story of the series. I believe this will tie the three books together much better, even though all three will be stand alone.

Due to the lack of interest from the editor I wanted to send Cat’s Eyes to for a professional edit, I’m reconsidering my strategy. Last night, I found myself drafting a cover letter for submission to a publisher. I’m feeling excited at the prospect of sending this manuscript off. It will inspire me to get moving on book 2.

I just hope the heatwave Sydney is having at the moment doesn’t get too bad that it stops me from obtaining the focus I need to concentrate for any length of time.

Good Intentions

My intentions were good, but I didn’t actually carry through with my plan. I had intended to start planning book 2 (and 3) yesterday. I did buy two nifty notebooks especially for the occasion. I also printed out a summarised version of the Snowflake steps to use in the notebooks. But I didn’t actually start the planning.

At this stage, I could give you a list of reasons, which will only come across as excuses, so I won’t bother wasting my time putting the list together (it isn’t much of a list anyway).

I did, however, think about the plots for both books 2 and 3. I thought about the connection between the three books, and tried to come up with a theme where the titles are concerned. I might have solved this problem, but I’ll have to get back to you after I’ve had the opportunity to start the planning.

Now, I have a question. There are three main characters and there are three books to the series. I am thinking of writing a book from each of the three character’s point of view. Do you think the reader will be disappointed by this? I know children can “fall in love” with the main focal character and they might not like the fact that all three books are not told by the same character’s point of view. Thing is, the main character in book 1 has solved her internal problems. Books 2 and 3 will have the other two characters solve their own internal problem. It will also be an opportunity to learn more about the characters and the world they live in. What do you think? Am I doing the right thing by using different points of view?

What To Do Next?

Now that Cat’s Eyes is complete and I’m waiting to be sent off to be professionally edited, what am I going to do now?

As the weekend is fast approaching, and that’s when I do most of my writing, I’ve been thinking about the second book in the series. I have a rough idea what the book will be about, but now is the time to do some real planning. I might even do a rough plan for book 3 too, as that’s a bit clearer in my mind too.

I will use the Snowflake Method to get started. I never follow all the steps right through, but I find that Snowflake gets my mind thinking outside the box. I like Helen’s notebook idea, and have used it before. I tend to do most of my planning in real writing instead of using the computer. I find it easier all round. I see no reason to change methods now.

I enjoy planning so I’m looking forward to dusting off my thoughts and then trying to make some sense of them. It should be fun. 😀

When a Writer Should Not Have to Wait

Being a writer, I’m used to having to wait for replies from editors of publishing houses and agents. The wait is usually a long one, and although it’s a nuisance, I accept that I have to wait. It’s part of the industry.

However, when I decided to find a professional editor for my children’s manuscript, I expected things to be different. I’m no longer hoping and praying that the editor notices my envelope stuck between the many others on his/her desk. This time I’m paying for their services and I expect to be treated in a professional manner.

I don’t expect to be ignored!

And that’s my experience so far with finding a professional editor. My messages are being ignored. It’s so frustrating. I understand that they are busy. But ignoring potential clients is not a healthy business practice in my eyes.

I’m told by someone else who has used this company that sending an email might be better. He said that most of his correspondence was responded to promptly. I’ll write that email over the weekend. Although I’ve heard glowing reports about the services provided by the company, I don’t like the way they handle enquiries. Why have an answering machine if you don’t intend to return the calls? It’s annoying!