Category Archives: Progress

Day Ten: Progress Report

Following on from yesterdays Progress Report, I decided to take a little break and browse the NaNoWriMo website for a few “pep talks” in a vain bid to gain I’m not really sure what: inspiration, motivation or something that just gives me that push to know that I’m doing okay (even though I was convinced that I wasn’t!)

Anyway, I came across the NaNoWriMo “The Office of Letters and Lights” blog, in which they had featured an article titled:

Guerilla Writing Tactics

Writer Ari, who I hope won’t mind me sharing their points, had some excellent pointers that really made me realise that I am in fact on the right path, that the method that I have taken to do NaNoWriMo, might not seem (on the surface of things) to be consistent, especially to outsiders who are reading my work, but it has gotten me writing, and it has gotten me moving the story forward, so that is all that is important.

Ari, tells us why:

  • You want to write an exciting scene, but you have to write a boring scene to get to the exciting scene? No you don’t! Write the exciting part now. Get to the in-between stuff later! Once I wrote a scene wherein someone ate a strawberry. Wanting to bypass the description, I made a note to myself in the margin saying, “Describe a freakin’ amazing strawberry!” and circled it a bunch of times. Then I kept going.
  • Need 200 words? Write a song and put it in your novel. Or find a song that already exists and stick it in. It’s probably best if it’s pertinent to the story, but hey, it ain’t wrong if Tolkein did it! (And he did it a lot.)
  • Need 400 words? Have characters write to each other. Or take a bad dream you had recently and give your character nightmares when he or she is feeling particularly distressed.
  • Need 800 words? Mess around with the weather. It forces characters to interact with one another, sometimes frustratedly, due to the fact that the weather has ruined their plans. And every time you can’t think of a bit of dialogue, you have the option to break things up with thunder and power outages where you force your characters to find candles and trip over things.
  • Finally, it doesn’t hurt to you have your profile open, so every time you find yourself pausing, you can check your word count and update it accordingly. Even if it’s only a 50-word increase, the satisfaction is immense.

Oh, I feel normal again whoopee!!

For more pep talks, please check out the NaNoWriMo blog 🙂

 

 

 

Day Nine: Progress Report

With it being Day Nine, I thought that it was about time that I did a progress report on how I’ve been doing on my 50,000 word challenge. I have to say that I got off to a pretty good start, and even when I wasn’t quite meeting my word counts, I was still feeling pretty happy with what I did have. However, over the past couple of days, I’ve started to find myself struggling in a couple of areas.

The first is steering my story in the right direction, because despite my planning, things are starting to become undone a little as I’ve allowed my creativity to overpower that tight plan. I kinda feel like the story has lost it’s flow as a result.

I’ve also found myself struggling to write narrative, especially feelings and actions, and I’ve noticed that a great deal of my writing has been overtaken by dialogue, which I’m starting to worry about a little. My chapters have also gotten very short.

I think that the cause of these problems is the fact that I’m writing because I have to write, and I have to get something down otherwise I won’t make my daily word counters. It’s getting a bit frustrating, and I am constantly convinced that what I’m writing is complete and utter rubbish. However, I keep having to convince myself that this is just a first, very rough draft and once it is done, I can go back and fill in the gaps.

It’s difficult not to read everything back, but I know that I can’t because I’ll just want tpo edit it like crazy.

7 Days to Go: Book Cover

I decided to have a go at creating a Book Cover, mainly because I thought I needed one, but apparently I don’t! Since I took the time to piece it together, I thought that it would be wasteful to not at least share it, so here you go!

Simplicity. I’d love to say that the cover was not, in the slightest bit, inspired by the Twilight books, but it kinda was, along with the Gone series. But, only in the sense of their simplicity. When you’re creating a cover using only the means available, simplicity is probably the only solution.

The Title. I chose this font because it’s distorted, and I felt that the distortion represented the overall feel of the novel.

The Flower. Anyone who has looked over the character pages will recognise that the flower used, is the one that represents Felicity (which counteracts Alyssa’s daisy, but we won’t go into that one now!).

The Colour. To be honest, I only used the black colour because it was the only colour I could find that didn’t look a little tacky.

Overall. I’m happy with how it turned out. In a way, the forced simplicity worked nicely.

8 Days to Go: First-Person Narrative

Yesterday I was fretting over the decision of whether to write “Felicity” in first or third person. Needless to say, I’ve spent a huge amount of time pondering and have effectively been set on one and then five minutes later completely changed my mind. So, as of yet, I’m still unsure which way to take my novel.

So, instead of worrying about it, I’ve decided to dedicate today’s post to some of the novels that I’ve read over the past five or so years that are all first person-based, but have been written in a style of writing that’s a bit different to the typical first person scenario, or that just does it incredibly well. Each of these books are in my Top Reads, so if there are any that you haven’t yet read, consider them a personal recommendation 😉

First of all, what is First Person? If an author writes a story in first person then the “narrator” is effectively someone within the story. Generally, they are the eyes and ears of the reader, and they are typically very much involved in the main events of the story. First person allows the reader to become more connected emotionally to a specific character.

Our first novel, is an excellent example of how to get First Person spot-on:

Knowledge is Power

Novel: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Narrator: Katniss Everdeen.

Style: The style of Katniss’ narration is pretty much the traditional idea of first person. Everything that happens in the novel, is solely from her point of view. Everything that she sees and experiences are what we know.

Why this Style works: In The Hunger Games, this style works perfectly because the narration is the only way that the reader can figure a sense of knowledge about the story. And by being 100% from Katniss’ P.O.V. we are only given access to the same information as her. She explains her world from the outset, and then from the moment we’re up-to-date with her life, we are as in-the-dark as she is about events occurring around her.

The Problem with this Style: The only real problem with only experiencing what Katniss does, is that I sometimes felt like I wanted to know what was going on with other characters: Katniss’ mother and Prim for example.

However, as the plot evolves, especially throughout the second book in the Trilogy, you begin to understand the importance of it being written in first-person, because there are a lot of twists and turns that are predominantly possible because of the lack of information that Katniss can offer us.

Keeping Distance

Novel: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Narrator: Nick Carraway

Style: Nick Carraway’s narrative style is different to traditional first person, because unlike most novels written this way, Nick is not the main character. He is not The Great Gatsby. He is not really even a major part of the overall story that takes place.

Why this Style works: Nick’s background presence as the neighbour of Gatsby, and the cousin of Daisy allows the reader to see important characters in an interesting light as the narrator is able to share things, people and events as he sees them, in a way that isn’t involved. This could be important, because involved characters may have their bias towards information that is being given.

The Problem with this Style: Without being truly involved in all situations and events, it’s impossible for a character like Nick to truly give a wide idea of what is really going on. It’s sort of like Chinese Whispers, where one person might tell Nick something, and he is effectively passing us second-hand information.

The Unreliable Narrator

Novel: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Narrator: Holden Caulfield

Style: The traditional first person style

Why this Styles works: The same reason most first person novels work: Because it allows us to get firmly into Holden’s head, and experience everything he does.

The Problem with this Style: Holden is a very unreliable character, whereby everything he says you initially trust, but when looking back, the reader should question how honest a narrator Holden actually is; take note of the fact that very early on,  in the opening line of the third Chapter Holden (quite bluntly) offers evidence to the idea of being an unreliable narrator:

” I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life.”

This, however, isn’t necessarily a “problem” as such, but more something that makes you think and question about the novel.

The Collective

Novel: The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

Narrator: The local boys

Style: Whilst traditional first person narrative comes from one character, the narrative in Virgin Suicides comes from a group of local boys who have observed the “virgins” from a distance.

Why this Style works: It works because it allows the reader to see how these girls were viewed by others, to the extent that they became this “enigma” of speculation, rumour and fantasy. It works because it shows how cut-off they were from the rest of their neighbourhood, in the sense that these boys wanted to get to know them, but couldn’t.

The Problem with this Style: I constantly felt that I wanted to know more about the girls. I was intrigued by them, but that is what this book is all about. You’re meant to crave more, just as the boys did. And for that reason, the collective narrative works perfectly.

The Varying Narrative

Novel: Love in the Present Tense by Catherine Ryan Hide

Narrator: Leonard, Pearl and Mitch

Style: Love in the Present Tense uses traditional first person narrative, but each chapter is from the differing points of view of the three main characters: Pearl, Mitch and Pearl’s five-year old son Leonard.

Why this Style works: This style works because it allows you to understand character motivations, and sometimes be more aware of events than other characters might be. Having Pearl’s narrative, for examples, gives us an insight that neither Leonard nor Mitch are ever likely to know. But, by allowing us to know, the reader is able to feel a deeper sense of sadness to the future that faces other characters.

The Problem with this Style: I don’t think that there are any problems with this style. I love it so much, that this is often the style of first person writing that I choose for myself. It is even the style that I used, in the past, for “Felicity”, but as I have so many more characters than this novel, it starts to get confusing.

That is the reason this narrative works: There are only three characters, whereby it doesn’t get confusing for the reader.

It really is interesting to analyse novels that use first-person, because it allows you to see how it can be used to great success, either pushing the story forward or forcing you to question the narrator.

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9 Days to Go: Jitters

The other half and I spent ages this afternoon organising my Flash Cards into order, and trust me when I say that was incredibly difficult. The main chore was piecing each characters personal story together, and then weaving it in among each other, spreading it out so that there was enough focus one everyone, without focusing too heavily on one for too long, and ignoring others. For me, this is important, because it’s hard not to make it obvious which characters I feel closer to emotionally.

I think that I have pretty much organised the order of things, in general. I just need to add more detail to each of my 27 sections and then I should be ready to start writing.

Jitters

Half way through organising my Flash Cards I started to get some real jitters about my overall story, as my confidence waivered and I began to question whether my story had enough in it to keep readers interested.

Another major issue I’ve had with my story, is the fact that I haven’t included any real focus on the grief that the characters would be feeling about losing their friend, and I worried that readers might not like that. But, fortunately I had the other half to point out that people don’t talk about their grief. That it’s a personal thing, and he also pointed out that “life goes on” and despite the loss, people still have to get on with their lives. Our conversation made me realise that “Felicity” is about how her death made her old friends re-evaluate their lives, and face things that they’d been avoiding.

So, you’ll be glad to know that I haven’t changed any parts of my plan despite my first jitters, and I feel really proud that I’ve stuck to my guns and kept what I’ve done, and not throw it all away.

Personal

My latest big challenge has been whether to write my novel in first or third person.

Originally, the story I wrote for “Felicity” was in first person, but I’d found that writing it that way, had led to chapters being too short. So, I’d decided to change it over to third person, allowing me to focus on more characters in one setting.

However, my problem with switching to third person, is that I worry that I won’t be able to connect quite so closely with each character on a personal level.

So, I keep changing my mind about which way I should go. Any thoughts would be great 🙂

Don’t forget that I’m doing this 50,000-words in 30-days Challenge in aid of the Cats Protection, so if you’d love to sponsor me (go on. You know you want to ;P) then just click here.

11 Days to Go: Scheduling

Only eleven days to go until the challenge starts, and I’ve just realised that whilst I’ve established characters and a basic plot that I’m intending to follow, I really need to set a more solid plan, otherwise I’m just going to keep writing, and probably getting nowhere productively.

This sounds terrible, but I have done absolutely nothing with those flashcards that I scribbled on a while back, so I really need to put them in an order, so that I can set myself some solid goals to aim for.

The plan is to break down each characters story into three sections, which will probably be:

  1. The Introduction and character build-up
  2. A changing event of realisation
  3. How each character overcomes the obstacle that occurred during that event (in the second part), and how their story concludes
With the novel split into three, it’s easy to figure out that I have ten days to dedicate to each part, but then it’s an issue of will I really need to dedicate the same amount of time to each part, or will certain ones need more attention than others?
Don’t forget that I’m doing this challenge for the Cats Protection. Click here to sponsor me, and I’ll love you forever 🙂

Sponsor Me

As part of my personal challenge to write 50,000 words, in the month of November, I’ve decided to use this opportunity to raise money for an excellent charity; the Cats Protection.

All money raised will go to helping look after cute, fluffy and adorable little kitty cats, so please dig deep and support both me and the fluffy ones, with as much as you can afford.

The Kitty’s Thank You    x