NaNoWriMo Nov 2018: Day 0 (Prepping)

This entry is part 1 of 14 in the series NaNoWriMo

My Life

Let me start and talk about the project I’m working on this year, and the obstacles I expect to face along the way.

In a lot of ways, it’s crazy for me to take on NaNoWriMo this year since I have a 20 page paper due at the end of the month, and while it felt like it was going okay a week ago, it feels less that way now. I have a meeting with my professor tonight to hopefully get the whole thing back on track.

So why do NaNoWriMo? Well, I miss writing, and November usually offers me a chance to get back on track. Going back to graduate school and my job as a substitute teacher usually takes over my life and saps my energy in September and October, and I almost always forget to write. Last year, I did better with that and wrote Mad World and Bittersweet. I don’t think it’s crazy to suggest that making my writing a priority made that semester more bearable.

That being said, I know the best way to get everything done this month that needs to be done is to make some big changes in my life and routine. I recently left my second job that ate up a lot of energy and time at night and on the weekends, so that’s a step in the right direction.

I’ve been lazy lately, sleeping in and not sticking to my list of things that need to be done every day. I need to stop that and get up earlier. That’s the only way writing is ever going to fit back into my daily schedule. At least for the next few months.

I’ll be tracking that part of my routine as well as the actual writing during this month.

The Project

As for what I’ll be writing — it’s the first time since 2016 that I’ll be writing a new project. For the last two years, between Camp NaNoWriMo in July and regular NaNoWriMo, I’ve alternated writing Mad World and Bittersweet. Both of those are done, so it’s time to introduce something new.

I did a poll at Crimson Glass and let my readers choose what they wanted next, and overwhelming Counting Stars won. It was already in the lead in the original larger poll, but it won 50% of the vote in the run-off last month.

Counting Stars is set in 2000 and looks at the aftermath of Jason’s decision to leave town. I revised some of the elements in Jason leaving–no Carly pregnancy, and a few other things–but it’s one of two versions of I’m working on that are set in this time period. What would have happened to Jason and Elizabeth if Lucky had never turned up alive in 2000? Counting Stars is that story with Jason leaving, while Signs of Life is that story if Jason had stayed.

I’ve always been intrigued by the story the show gave Jason and Elizabeth in the fall of 1999. Did they intend for it to be what it ended up to be? At what point did Steve Burton decide to leave? Was the Elizabeth stuff a placeholder–something for both of them to do while they set up Lucky’s return and Jason’s exit?

Expected Obstacles and Challenges

I’ve never really written anything set in this period, so I’m worried about capturing voices of characters who aren’t Jason and Elizabeth.  I was about 15 when this stuff originally aired, and I only half-watched from time to time. We didn’t have DVRs or Tivos in my house until 2005, so sometimes I sat with my mom and watched while she caught up on her VHS at the end of the week but mostly I had checked out when Jonathan Jackson left.

I had watched the show religiously in the summer and fall of 1998 because my school had split sessions — our elementary school had asbestos removal scheduled, so the high school kids went to school in the morning and elementary in the evening. I was home every day until December to keep watching GH, but once the full schedule returned, it was harder to keep up.

I have DVDs but they’re all couple-related (LL2, Liason), so characters like Alexis and Sonny are a bit of a challenge. Alexis, in particular. Late 90s Alexis is a lot different than today’s Alexis, or even mid 2000s. I want to spend some time this weekend looking at old clips to get a feel for their voices and who they were in this period. It’s so important to me that I can hear the actors in my head as I’m writing so that you guys can really feel like this could have happened on the show.

I’m also worried about the amount of story I have to fill sixteen chapters. Those of you who picked Counting Stars did so on the strength of the first two scenes — which I had planned to be both be in Chapter One. When I sat down to outline, I realized I had maybe ten solid chapters (if that) so I needed to change it up. The first scene is still the opening scene, but that second scene between Sonny and Elizabeth is now in Chapter 4.

I’m trying to do a bit of an ensemble piece — with Sonny and Alexis, Luke and Laura, and some Stefan thrown in there. To really build the world as it existed back then. I don’t write a lot of Luke and Laura for some reason, and I’ve never really written Sonny and Alexis. So those are new challenges. Sexis happened mostly while I was a senior in high school and busy with activities, so I’ve never gotten a handle on what made them so popular. I’m looking forward to exploring that.

I’ll be back shortly with an accounting of how things went on the first day!


NaNoWriMo Nov 2018: Day 1

This entry is part 2 of 14 in the series NaNoWriMo

I did not get off to a good start today. I had a crappy night sleeping, so I woke up late, and then my allergies and I battled the whole time. I wanted to get off to a really good solid start with hitting maybe even 2000 words and finishing Chapter 1.

But I wrote, and that’s just as important. I hit the event goal of at least 1667 words and my own personal goal of two scenes a day. I wrote 1777 words, leaving me with 48,223 words.

I wrote an Elizabeth scene and then a Sonny/Alexis/Carly scene which was fun, but I’m not sure I’m nailing the Sexis banter, so I’m marking it for review during the revision process. Your soundtrack for Chapter One is Before I Cry by Lady Gaga:

Particularly this set of lyrics:

I can’t believe the things you said
Right now I wish that you would try
Try to stay near me
Try to be near me
Before I cry
‘Cause I am gonna need a well
To catch the pain and lift the spell
Like you won’t hear me
Can you try to heal me?
Before I cry

I’ll be back tomorrow!


NaNoWriMo Nov 2018: Day 2

This entry is part 3 of 14 in the series NaNoWriMo

Another crappy start for the day, though the fact that the cold I thought I was getting has finally shown up so at least I have something to blame.  Wasn’t able to get up early, but I dragged myself out of bed and drank my weight in tea so I was able to get on with the day.

Finished Chapter 1, wrote a Luke/Laura scene and then a Jason scene. It was fun to write the Jason scene because I set it in Miami and had to do a little research to find a setting.

Spent about an hour and 18 minutes writing today, finished two scenes and 1735 words. I’m not hitting the totals I wanted to yet, but I’m keeping pace and that’s important. My total is 3512 words so far. I hope to be able to double it tomorrow and start having better days. We’ll see.

I did finish the soundtrack this morning so super excited to have that to listen to. Your song for today is not on the soundtrack though. I wanted to add it, but I couldn’t find the right place for it.


NaNoWriMo Nov 2018: Day 5

This entry is part 4 of 14 in the series NaNoWriMo

So Day 4 never happened. I was sick all day, struggling to get through family and school obligations so writing just never made the schedule.

Today, I made it a priority to get something done. I turned back to what helped me write during July’s event — I used a timer and wrote in 25 minute spurts, about 3-4 a day.  When things are clicking, I can write between 1000-2000 words in 25 minutes so having the timer really does help.

I set that timer today, and I wrote about 1358 words in 30 minutes. I wrote two scenes, both Elizabeth centered. I like both of them, but I want to go back during revision and amp up the emotional stuff. I feel like I just did paint by numbers on this first go through.

No soundtrack for today because I just want to go to bed.


NaNoWriMo November 2018: Day 6

This entry is part 5 of 14 in the series NaNoWriMo

My cold is still kicking my ass, but I got better cold medicine today so I was able to get some more writing done today.

My new word count goal is 1800 words a day to get myself back on track and hit 50,000 by the end of the month, which averages out to 900 words per scene, which should be fine. I don’t know. We’ll see where we are at the end of the week.

I’ve finished two chapters so far, and I’d be lying if I said I was completely happy with them. I feel like I haven’t hit my groove with this story so far, but I guess that’s not surprising. I got sick almost as soon as I started writing, and my writing has felt super stilted.

But I’m going to remind myself that the first few chapters of most of my stories feel a bit rough until I get a feel for the characters and the settings. Mad World’s first two chapters definitely felt like I wasn’t going to get what I needed from them. Then I hit my stride in Chapter 4, and I wrote the rest of the story in 21 days, so it’s all about finding that sweet spot.  Then I went back and punched up those first few chapters.

As pretty much every writer on the planet has said, you can’t fix a blank page.

So today, I wrote for 50 minutes and added 1841 with two scenes.My total word count is 7348.


NaNoWriMo November 2018: Status Update

This entry is part 6 of 14 in the series NaNoWriMo

I haven’t done a post in the last six days and that’s an accurate reflection of how much writing I managed to do since Tuesday. I remain at 7300ish words and two chapters.

I had one of those annoying colds where I didn’t get too sick (not a ton of coughing, sneezing, etc) and I treated it pretty quickly with meds, but it just sucked all my energy straight out. It took some time to bounce back, and then once I had done that, I had real life stuff to get caught up with. Getting a cold the first week of NaNoWriMo was pretty much the worst.

I’m not giving up though. By November 15 (Thursday), the idea is to be about 25,000 words in. I’m roughly 18,000 words from that goal.  In order to be completely caught up, I’d have to do about 4500 words a day. I’m not insane however, haha, so I’ve set a goal of writing 3000+ words a day for the next week. That will give me 21000 words, letting me hit 3000 by next Sunday. Basically, I’ll be writing roughly a chapter a day which isn’t a terrible idea anyway.

That would get me back on track and back on par to finish on time. I definitely didn’t feel that great about a lot of the stuff I wrote while I was sick, so it might have been a smart idea to take some time and relax, get myself back into good health.

Today, the plan is to edit chapters of Mad World so I can prepare the next two weeks of posting and get Patreon scheduled and then get myself all situated with school work and make a realistic schedule to stick to for the next two weeks.

I feel a lot better today than I have all week and I’m ready to get back into it!


NaNoWriMo November 2018: Day 12

This entry is part 7 of 14 in the series NaNoWriMo

I did it! First day on the new schedule, and I smashed my goal. I wrote 3,225 words and three scenes. Going from 7348 over a six day period to 3225 in just one day–that makes me feel really great. My total is now 10, 573 words.

I worked on Chapter Three today and wrote three scenes: Jason, Sonny/Alexis, Laura/Bobbie, and this was the first time I felt like I came close to nailing the voices and the patterns I wanted to hit. I said I was having trouble finding my groove with this story, so I needed to do something to change the mood.

I went through the scenes planned for this chapter and instead of plotting them simply by story beats (this happens, then this happens), I wrote a short synopsis of what the characters would be feeling. Then I pulled out a book that has always helped me dig into my writing more deeply, The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. It basically lists a bunch of emotions, gives you some cues for phsyical, internal, and mental responses, and helps stimulate the writing. I definitely recommend it if you get stuck. They’ve written a couple of a good writing resource books.

So today was a good day 🙂 And to celebrate, here is an excerpt from today’s chapter:

He’d woken up from the accident with brain damage he’d long accepted. He didn’t dream the way other people did—the way Robin and Carly, even Sonny had described with dreams and worlds that felt so real that it was disorientating when someone woke up.

He had a good memory for details, but not for visuals. He had never been great at picturing people in his head, at recognizing photographs, though he’d gotten better at pictures over the years, and now—

Now it looked like Jason could think, even fantasize, in images. Everywhere he looked, he saw colors and thought of her.

In New Orleans, he’d gone to the French Quarter, and he could actually see Elizabeth laughing with him, dragging him to have his portrait painted by one of the artists that populated the area. In Texas, he’d gone to San Antonio and thought about her attempting the spicy cuisine, her face flushed, eyes sparkling.

He didn’t know why he could think of her so clearly with him all the time—why everything about this trip felt so…wrong without Elizabeth. Jason had been good at putting things away. Even when it hurt, he could get through his life.

But walking away from Elizabeth hurt every bit as much as giving up Michael, and there were moments when Jason could feel Elizabeth with him so strongly that looking at the empty space next to him felt like punch in the gut.


Nanowrimo November 2018: Day 13

This entry is part 8 of 14 in the series NaNoWriMo

I didn’t get a chance to write this post yesterday — I was going to do it when I got home from class but then I got home late, and I didn’t feel like pulling out my laptop.

Today was a good day — I didn’t hit the 3000 goal, I stopped short at 2562. I hadn’t expected to get that much out of the two scenes left in Chapter 3. I thought I’d get about 800 words from each, and then I’d get the other 1500 or so words from a larger scene planned in Chapter 4. Then Luke and Carly started talking to each other,  and we were off.

I didn’t have the time to write the larger scene in Chapter 4 because I had class, so I just stopped for the day. It’s only 450 words away from what I had planned, so that’s not bad at all.

I’m starting to feel like I’ve got a firmer handle on the voices of these characters. I still want to watch some clips during the revision process, but writing these scenes doesn’t feel as stilted and painful as they once did.

I wrote 2562 words, which brought my total to 13,135. I’ll be writing later today — there’s some studying and stuff I have do in the morning, then I have a doctor’s appointment in the middle of the time I’m usually writing, so hopefully it won’t be too painful to write later.


Nanowrimo November 2018: Day 15

This entry is part 9 of 14 in the series NaNoWriMo

So I’m actually hoping to get a second session of writing in later today because I wasn’t able to write yesterday thanks to my dentist appointment taking a lot longer than I thought it would. I have an assignment due at 3PM that I absolutely have to get done, so I stopped writing for a little to concentrate on that.

I started Chapter 4 today, and fought the urge to revise the Sonny/Elizabeth scene that had already been written written. Instead, I wrote the long group scene with Luke, Laura, Liz, Bobbie, and Nikolas–it ended up being 2784 words, bringing my total to 15,179.

I’m about 4000 words below where I wanted to be at this point in the week, but I’m not mad. If I can finish this chapter later (there are two more scenes), I should be able to get another 2000 words out of it.  I’ll write Chapter 5 tomorrow, and that should take care of it.

Hopefully, I’ll have a second post later tonight with some good news 🙂


Nanowrimo November 2018: Day 15 (Part 2)

This entry is part 10 of 14 in the series NaNoWriMo

I did it! I came home and had myself a second session so I could finish up Chapter 4. I added another 1663 words, bringing today’s total to 3707 words, and overall is now 16842. That’s about 9000 words under par but if I keep writing 3000 words over the next five days, I’ll be caught up.

That’s actually doable now that I’m on Thanksgiving break. I don’t have to do a ton of studying outside of my research paper, which I an only stand to work on for a few hours at a time, and I don’t have a crazy work schedule. I might even be able to punch it to 4000 words a day which would be awesome.

I wrote a Sonny/Alexis scene, and another Elizabeth scene. I’m finished Act I, the set up, and now we’re getting into Act 2. The next two chapters are kind of a stalling pattern, so I’m going to be doing a lot of character work. One of the things I want to do in revision is really punch up the supporting characters. I’m trying to tap into the Luke of the late 90s who was a VERY different animal than post-Lucky resurrection Luke, so I’ll have to watch some clips.

We’re making progress 😛