Category Archives: Manuscript

Winning NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo 2011 is over. Finally! I’m so happy to say that I wrote more than 50,000 words in the month of November. What did I win? The privilege of posting the winner badge on my page. I can also buy a winner a t-shirt. But I gained so much more than that.

I turned off my internal editor for an entire month. Her name is Mrs. Peabody and she’s loud and mean. (Do I sound like a nutcase for having named her?) She’s the reason it can sometimes take me two hours to write one paragraph only to delete it the next day. Without Mrs. Peabody, I worked faster and there were several days when I wrote 1,000 words in an hour.

I have a few more chapters to write before I reach The End of my NaNo manuscript. The 50,110 words I do have are rough, but I’m not stuck at the end of Chapter One, unable to move forward with my story. I have 165 pages for Mrs. Peabody to edit. I wish she’d be more gentle in her criticism, but she’s pretty good at her job.

She’s been on vacation for a month, so I’m hoping that she’ll come back to work with a better attitude. If she doesn’t, at least now I know how to shut her up. I’ll just give her more vacation time.

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Filed under editing, free writing, Manuscript, NaNoWriMo, novels, Writing

Point of View

My “new” novel is one that I wrote during National Novel Writing Month a few years ago. (It was a great experience. If you’re considering trying NaNoWriMo this year, I highly recommend it.)

I wrote that story based on characters I first met in the pages of my notebook. I’ve been working with my 50,000 word NaNoWriMo draft and with notebook entries about these characters who have been running around in my head for a while. We’re old friends by now.

Before I start my next draft, I want to solidify the plot so I won’t wind up without one like I did with my last novel. I’ve been focusing on creating conflict and drama. So far, I have a villain, a mystery and I’m toying with a love interest for my main character, Jenny. I know how the story starts, how it ends and, although I’m still working on the middle, I’m making progress. I’m almost ready to dive into the next verson of the manuscript.

What I haven’t figured out yet is what point of view to use. A few of my freewriting exercises have been in first person, but it usually feels more natural to me to write in third. Until last week, I thought I’d be writing this draft entirely from Jenny’s point of view. Now, I’m not so sure.

The more I work on this novel, the more I feel like the secondary characters have interesting tales to tell. Jenny is still my heroine, but the story is beginning to feel like an ensemble piece.

I’ve been told that if a scene isn’t working, try writing it from another character’s point of view. I’ve also read that the best point of view character in each scene is the one with the most to lose. If I confine myself to Jenny’s point of view, I’ll lose that flexibility, but if I use multiple points of view, I run the risk of diluting Jenny’s story.

As a reader, I don’t have a preference for first or third person. I enjoy stories with one narrator as well as stories that shift point of view from character to character. What about you? When you read, do you have a preference? Any pet peeves? I’d love to hear your thoughts on point of view.

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Filed under free writing, Manuscript, novels, Plot, Writing

Abandoning My First Novel

I “finished” my novel for the third time this spring and I’ve been preparing to query agents or perhaps to submit my manuscript to publishers.  But I’ve come to the realization that this novel has no future.

The goal of my  most recent round of revisions was to tighten the scenes and add depth to the characters.  I wanted to bring my story to life, but my plan backfired and the plot flatlined.  Is there a way to resuscitate it?  Maybe I could revive it if I were willing to spend another year on revisions, but I think it’s time to let it go.  I’ve spent six years on this project and it seems I’m not willing to invest any more.

Does six years seem like a long time to spend writing a novel?  It does to me.  Maybe I’m just slow.  Or easily distracted.  Or maybe that’s just how long it takes.

I’ve thought about taking my impractical BA in French back to school so I can become a teacher or a librarian.  I think I could be happy doing either of those things.  The trouble is, I’m not ready to give up on writing.  My first novel may be dead, but my second one is waiting to be born.  New characters speak to me in the pages of my notebook and I want to find out what they’ll do.

I have no idea how long it will take me to write my next novel.  I hope it won’t take another six years.  Perhaps I’ll never publish a novel, but I still love to write.  That has to be enough.

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Filed under Manuscript, novels, Plot, Writing