Nanowrimo November 2018: Day 18 (Mea Culpa)

This entry is part 11 of 14 in the series NaNoWriMo

I think one of the most important traits a writer can have is the ability to stop and admit that it’s okay that what you’re writing is not going well. Every time I write a story, I learn more about my own process and hopefully what mistakes to avoid in the future.

When I planned NaNo for this November, I had a lot of projects in my head and I couldn’t decide exactly which ones to put in the poll, so I put them all in there — including projects I hadn’t really outlined.

If I had outlined Counting Stars from beginning to end rather than just having a simple plot sketch, I would have quickly seen I didn’t have enough for a full-size novel. By the time I realized it, it had already won the poll and so I felt like I had to pursue it and figure out how to make it a bigger story.

And that was obviously insane, because I don’t think my readers would have been annoyed if I said, hey, on second thought — there’s not enough here to even write 50,000 words. Let’s do a quick 24 hour poll with projects that are more suitable.

So instead, I went into the outlining process trying to make my story longer and more ensemble like which has made writing it actually a lot more annoying. I’ve had some real life issues keeping me from really writing as much or as well as I’d wanted, but you can usually tell when you’re forcing it. I added subplots and characters that I’m not really interested in writing.

So eighteen days into NaNo, I don’t think my project is worth completing in its current form. Does that mean I give up entirely?

Actually, this isn’t the first time this has happened to me. A few years ago, I was writing Mad World in July. I had started it with my old outline (based on the version I started in 2004) with Sam/Sonny baby, the Ric/Alexis/Kristina situation, etc. My Liason version was Jason and Liz in a secret relationship about Cameron, etc.

I got about ten days in and just–nothing was working. So I stopped, rewrote the outline, and made the decision to move the entire story a year earlier. What I wrote that summer ended up being what I worked on in the fall as well. I ended up rewriting Mad World again, but that was a super important to step to getting the version that you’re currently reading.

So I’m going to stop, think about the story I really want to tell and let the length be as long as it needs to be. Am I going to end up with the 33,000 words I need to win Nano? Maybe. The great thing about NaNo is that everything you write this month counts as work towards the novel, reoutlining is going to let me boost the word count as well.

So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to regroup, refocus, and report back to you guys tomorrow how this is going.


Nanowrimo November 2018: Day 19

This entry is part 12 of 14 in the series NaNoWriMo

All right, so yesterday, I re-outlined the story and today, I did the storyboard (I laid out the scenes to see how best to structure it.) It looks like I have roughly 47 scenes. Now, that’s about 11 chapters if I were to my traditional 4-5 chapter structure. What I’ve decided to do is to write it in the style like Shadows, First Do No Harm, and If I Don’t Try With You which were all pretty long but didn’t quite fit into natural chapters.

I don’t know if it’ll be 2 parts or 4 parts. It will depend on how long the scenes are once I actually start writing. So what does my writing schedule look like going forward?  With the reoutlining and storyboarding, I brought my word count total to 20,744 words. The NaNo site tells me I have to write about 2500 words to finish on time which is completely within my range of skills.

The only thing that slightly worries me is that I have a 20 page paper due next Thursday and I’m planning to spend most of next weekend tackling that. The hope is that I’ll be able to double up a few writing days on both projects and basically ignore everything else in my life for about a week.

I don’t know. We’ll see. I’m not giving up 😛


Nanowrimo November 2018: Day 21

This entry is part 13 of 14 in the series NaNoWriMo

Today was the first day I dug into the second draft of Counting Stars and so far it’s working for me. I wrote five scenes and 4,005 words. This brings my total word count to 24,750. If I can write 2500 words for the next nine days, I’ll be eligible to “win” for the month. My hope is to write 5 scenes a day and not worry so much about the word count — if I can manage that, then the story will be finished which is what I really wanted for this month.

I said in the last post that I had changed the story structure from a typical novel to my short story format of First Do No Harm, Shadows, If I Don’t Try With You, etc., and I wanted to expand on what that means.

These are the stories I write with scene numbers. I can’t remember why I started writing that way, only that I did it with First Do No Harm in 2007.

I approach those scenes slightly differently — they’re usually more brief (less than a thousand words) and the story ends up being more like snippets from a life than a full-fledged story. These are good for plots that don’t lend themselves either to a full All We Are story or even a short story like Other People’s Truths. It also takes pressure off me because I don’t do a lot of world building in those stories. I jump into a timeline, don’t change much, etc.

I’m feeling good about this change. I hope you guys feel good about it, too.


Nanowrimo November 2018: Day 28

This entry is part 14 of 14 in the series NaNoWriMo

So Nanowrimo was a bust this year. I managed around 24,000 words but, honestly, none of it is all that great, and the story is going in the discard pile for me. I’m going to try to figure out why this didn’t work out and what I learned in this process so I can avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

Development Hell

Counting Stars is a story idea that I’ve been playing around with for a long time. If I go back into the archives of my story status posts at Crimson Glass, it first showed up on my radar around March 2014. This means I’ve literally been thinking about this idea as long as I’ve been back writing.

My first note about it was that I had mostly storyboarded (meaning I had laid out the scenes) the plot, and I would probably be writing it in my free time since it wasn’t going to be very long. Then I wrote that it would be going back to outlining because I felt like it would be too superficial.

It remained in what I call “development hell” for four years. That should really tell you something. I have a bunch of projects that have been hanging out there almost as long, but most of them are outlined and I just haven’t gotten to them yet since I spent most of 2016 not writing at all.

Story ideas that I keep outlining, hoping for something to change, usually end up in the discard pile, and that’s where Counting Stars is going to go. Why?

The Story

Let’s look at what the plot was. Here’s the synopsis I posted for the Nanowrimo Poll:

Set in April 2000

When Jason Morgan left Port Charles in January 2000, he left to protect himself from the machinations of ex-lover and current sister-in-law, Carly Quartermaine. He also left to protect Elizabeth Webber, a close friend who saved his life and put her own at risk for their friendship—and because he knew their relationship was changing in ways they weren’t ready for.

Several months after his departure, Elizabeth has tried to keep her secret hoping he would contact her or even come back. But it becomes impossible to hide anymore, and she goes to Sonny Corinthos in hopes of contacting Jason. Sonny, however, and Jason weren’t on great terms when Jason left town, and he’s only heard from his friend a few times. He promises to get in touch as soon as he does hear.

Luke Spencer, worried about Elizabeth, decides to track down Jason on his own and convince him to return. He finds Jason who seems interested in coming back—but then Jason is nowhere to be found when it’s time to return to Port Charles. Has he run away to avoid Elizabeth? Or is something else more sinister preventing his return to Port Charles?

The answer to that question is yes, there is foul play, and it was Nikolas. Nikolas kidnaps Jason, holds him hostage until Luke and Alexis rescue him. Spoiler alert.

The Epic Fail

Okay, let’s talk about why this didn’t work.

I’m not saying the plot itself couldn’t work. I absolutely think that with time and patience, I could have written a story where this plot fits into a larger Cassadine v Spencer war, and I’m not ruling that out. One of my ideas that still sits in the idea pile is rewriting the 2001 Spencer/Cassadine war that didn’t last long because some of the story elements veered too close to the anthrax scare of 2001.

I just don’t want to write it right now. It requires A LOT more time and research than I have right now. That’s from a GH time before Youtube and DVRs so a lot of those episodes I saw once, if that. I don’t know the characters, I don’t know their voices, and it just isn’t something I can do right now.

And that’s honestly why this story doesn’t work. Without a longer buildup, Nikolas’s decision to kidnap Jason feels out of character to me. And I *know* I have readers who do not give a damn about those kinds of things because I’ve read other writers who do completely bonker things with the characters, and people lap it up. That’s not a read, it’s just a fact. For me, I need my characters to be motivated properly, and I would need to do a lot more with Nikolas and the Cassadine side of things.

I also think this kind of story doesn’t work just as a Liason story, which means my audience would be limited. As originally plotted, Jason is basically off screen after the first chapter until the final scenes. I write ensemble stories, but my readership is the Liason fanbase. I know that.

I also didn’t have a great ending for the story. Basically, Jason was going to be set free, work things out, go home to Liz, await the birth of the baby (who I never ended up naming) and Nikolas was going to be left behind in Greece to be let out of the cell by Helena who would show him Lucky (in my version Lucky didn’t come back in the winter of 2000).  That’s just not a satisfying ending to me, but anything else required a lot more outlining.

What I ended up with was a plot bunny that probably should go into a larger story. It’s not just not feasible to stand on its own and be up to standards I hold myself to.

But I learned a lot about what stories I should be putting in the poll. No more crossing my fingers and hoping it will work out. 😛