Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sitting on the fence...

WARNING: Long - can I count it towards my June total??

Hi, I’m Rachael, I’m a writer and I sit on the fence – I’m not a plotter like Suz or a panster like Sandie… I jump between them both. Just thought I should get that out of the way, before I tell you about NaNoWriMo, well, at least my experience of it thus far.

I finally took the plunge and signed up for NaNoWriMo in 2007. I’d wanted to do it since I first heard about it in 2004… but each year something BIG came up. First year – baby two months old, second year – early pregnancy with #2 and I get REALLY tired, third year – baby 2 only four months old and I just didn’t have the energy or inclination to try. But in those years between 2004 and my sign up in 2007, a lot changed in my life (aside from the growing litter).

For almost ten years I’ve been writing, but aimlessly writing. Focusing on writing what I suppose was chick-lit. I’d like to think I had a voice but I didn’t know much else. Then, in 2006, I joined Romance Writers of Australia. In these past few years, I discovered a love of category romance and also learnt a whole lot about how to make writing stories easier. For me, some of these things include having strong characters with clear goals, motivations and conflicts. I’d written two attempts at category since joining RWA but was still (am still) learning so much.

The week before I sat down to the keyboard, I did a lot of preparatory work on my characters. I had the idea for two ex-lovers – a magician and a comedian, but I needed more to their personalities. For the first time, I chose character archetypes for my hero and heroine before starting. From this I learnt a lot about how they’d react in different situations and how they’d react to each other. I thoroughly recommend checking out the site of the author of ‘16 Archetypes for Heroes and Heroines’ and if you’ve got a bit of spare cash… buy the book.

After this, I sat down and worked out what each character thought they wanted in life. In the case of my novel the ‘thought’ part is very important, because both characters in the end, realize thanks to each other, that their goals are misguided. I also worked out why they wanted these things so badly (their motivation) and then created things/people/each other that would get in their way (their conflicts).

From somewhere I had the first scene of my novel, which also led me to picturing a scene in the middle and the end. All three scenes are to do with a wedding dress. That’s about all I had. But, before actually starting I did a little more work. I made sure I knew what points my novel should be at by certain word counts… I wrote down where I’d need character/plot turning points and where my black moment should be. I put this all on an A4 piece of paper and when inspiration about scenes struck throughout the month I jotted them down where I thought they’d fit.

Oh and I also chose pics for my characters using celebrities. See photos on this page of Zoë and Cameron.

I believe having such strong characters really helped me during NaNoWriMo. I did have a crisis point about 35,000 words and did a big NaNo No-No… I took a few days off writing and reread what I’d written. I thought it was going AWOL and as time is precious, I didn’t want to waste it and ruin what I knew was forming up to be my best story yet. Luckily I still made the word count. I scraped in at 49897 words about two and a half hours before the month was up. But I’d deleted about a 1000 over the month, so I know I’d made it.

Since then I’ve edited this novel a bit and it placed 8th in the RWA Emerald Award. I’ve changed its title and changed it back again and am now editing a little bit more.

For anyone who’s doing this for the first time… GOOD ON YA and may the writing fairies shine down upon you!!



Diane said...

Sitting on the fence with Brad there's a thought.

Sorry, words written in May cannot count towards your June total. If you blog in June, however we can maybe be lenient.

And Nano no no's? I thought you were channelling Mork from Ork for am moment there. Perhaps we should make a list of Nano no no's - but we need to call it something befitting out challenge....50 ways to lose the plot?

Rachael Blair said...

Love your NaNo No-nos list!!

1) Don't reread.

Let's see how many rules we can make and how many we can break!!

Sandie Hudson said...

Rach fantastic post. It's great to see how we all approach our writing. And I remember well your last two and a half hours. You did so well.

Have to agree with Diane on the Mork from Ork, Nano no-no, LOL.

Thanks for taking the time to write the post.


Diane said...

Whoops better post it over here too.

2) Don't lose faith that your subconscious knows what it's doing, even if you don't.


Sandie Hudson said...

3) Don't give up on yourself, even when the going gets tough.

Diane said...

4) don't let your inner critic out of her cage no matter how hard she's screaming, begging or cajoling you.

Eleni Konstantine said...

thanks for posting about sitting on the fence Rachel. and i'm laughing with the Mork from Ork references! loved that show as a child.

Remember to click the mute button on your internal editor!! See you in June :)

Barb said...


Just wondering how to sign up for the 30 day challange.


bec_s said...

Thanks for that Rach! You've done so well considering the kiddos. I'm sure you'll make it this time, or at least pull something trying...
Do you think it was the pressure creating diamonds that made your NaNo novel such a special one?

Christina Phillips said...

OMG Mork from Ork! That takes me back!

Great post Rach. I honestly don't know if I will be able to stick to Rule #1 (should I be admitting that this early?!) but I'll do my best! I definitely need a good kick in the butt to get this story moving again. Been stuck at the same point for weeks! (though i have been editing the first six chapters. constantly...)

Sandie Hudson said...

Ahh, Christina, the only re-read allowed is the paragraph before to see where you're up to, Say's she who spent last night re-reading her current challenge project then doing some editing. LOL. See we are all naughty at some stage.

Barb sent me an email and we'll fix you up.

So we have some Mork from Ork fans. Hehehe I have to say I loved that show as well, up until they had their kid and then I lost interest. LOL.


Sandie Hudson said...

Errr.... that was Hugs from me not Jugs. Had a Mork moment. LOL.

Amanda Reynolds-Smith said...

Oh Rach what a great post... just love your process. I am freaking out a little as my planning for June isn't going as well as I had err, well, planned!!! Bloody life getting in the way... great site with the archetype breakdowns...

I have a date with myself to get the basics down next week (nothing like last minute)... however, I only have the hero/heroine - their conflict (and maybe goal/motivation) - still reading Debra's book and getting my head around that one!!... and the ideas for the opening pages!!! Yikes - hope I have a pit more soon - not really a great pantser!!!!! I have my hero well sussed, but not heroine - finding her a bit tricky!!!

Love the rules everyone - I MUST remember those... and Mork will be flashing in my mind on and off to remind me!!! (What ever happened to Mindy??!!)...

Angie said...

Fantastic post, Rach. I love reading about other writers' processes, and your account of your first NaNo experience was absolutely fascinating.

Well done on coming 8th for the Emerald - that's a fantastic achievement!

I'm the same as Christina ATM - I'm just stuck on my current WIP approx. 42,000 words in, but have so far resisted temptation to go back & edit. Have been considering trying the plotting thing (shock, horror):)


Sussan Marz said...

Thanks for sharing Rach and it's a great achievement to have finished writing the book under those conditions.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sandie
My tiny little contribution today is just 678 words. Up since 4am but couldn't get to the page until 7pm.
Neely Lyon