The ramblings of a freelance writer, novelist and avid reader.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Week Three – Hitting My Stride

You’ll be happy to know my characters have decided not to be so flat anymore. They had some very interesting dialogue today and I even wrote out the murderer discovered scene. As I hit the 28,000 word count mark I went to the math and realized I might actually be able to get to 50,000 words by Nov. 30! Woo hoo! I work better under pressure, so I’ve also developed a head cold just for the extra obstacle’s sake. But still, if I crank out 2,000 words each day from here on out, I’ll make it. Now, I will still try really hard to type out more than 2,000 words in case some other obstacle rears its ugly head, but 2,000 a day is totally do-able!

This past weekend I attended a mystery thriller conference/ writing festival with friend and fellow nanoer, Matt. You can just make up a whole ton of words with nano as the pre-fix, I’m not sure how much each word actually weighs, but I promise at the end there is a ton. It was nice having someone I knew there while I kept learning – or not learning –things. Talking through everything in between our break-out sessions was more helpful than I realized at the time. We had different breakout sessions, so that was like a two for one deal really; each sharing with the other what we learned in our separate sessions. And, even though I can’t believe I’m saying this, it was nice to take a whole day away from my novel writing – and such a pivotal day: The half way mark/end of week 2, beginning of week 3.

Since I had a current nanonovel (See!) in mind, I used it all weekend as we did little exercises to give our writing some momentum. In the end, I was just really excited to get back to writing it, I couldn’t wait to dive in and use some of the new techniques I’d just learned – some I already knew, but the refresher course was nice. Well, the words are just flying now and like I said – my characters are going places again. They are having complex thoughts even.

In one of my sessions this weekend we discussed knowing more about your characters than you can ever put down in your novel to make each of them multi-layered, and really just more interesting to both writer and reader. We took about five minutes to write out the items currently in our MCs garbage can, trying to involve a couple different senses in the list. I was surprised to discover that my character, Teagan “Tea” O’Meara had a bunch of junk mail envelopes in her trash. Just the envelopes and not the contents, because she collects the families junk mail (she is the youngest sibling, with three older brothers – all currently at home for one reason or another) and mails it all back in the return envelopes. Realizing the companies only pay the postage if the envelopes get mailed back, she’s trying to be as annoying as they are. Her trash even contained some spirals off a notebook, because she sometimes mails blank paper and cardboard back in the envelopes to make them weigh more. This is probably not something I will ever add to my book, put it is nice to know that Tea is resourceful, vindictive and a little bit of a mother hen even though she’s the youngest. It actually helped me understand why, at 17, she’s so willing to get involved in a murder investigation at her place of employment, and that I CAN use in my novel.

So what’s inside your characters trash can? Do they recycle, do they not but try to hide it. Is their trash can empty and spotless, has everything landed on the floor around the bin? Is it overflowing, full of torn up photos? Is it sticky, smelly, or infested? What is your character trying to tell you by letting you see their trash?

XI. Thou shalt not self-censor at all during the first draft.
This draft is yours for the adventure of finding out what you think. Future drafts will be for others. Hold off your critical self until those future drafts.
- Gillian Roberts’ You Can Write a Mystery

Week three: things are already brighter, but there is still so much to get done in the two weeks left. Happy nanoing all!

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