Camp NaNo Win: An extra-exciting accomplishment

Last month I participated, as I have many times before, in Camp NaNo, which is kind of a spin-off of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, in November.  I like doing Camp because you can set your own goals instead of conforming to the “50,000 word in a month” paradigm of NaNoWriMo.

This April, my goal was to write 10 min a day, or 300 minutes total.  Good news: I managed 400 minutes over the month. So, yay for winning!

Even better news: I finished a complete draft of a novel!

This novel, which I have been calling Ash and Team, is one that I have been working on since NaNoWriMo of 2013.  Six long years. I started this as a practice novel, and I know that actually publishing it would require more research than I have time for currently, so while you will likely never see this story in print (or even in revisions), I still feel really proud of this accomplishment.  It has a beginning, a middle, and an end; it has character development; it has some humor and a magic system; it even has some prose that I really enjoy reading.

The draft is about 44,000 words, which is quite short for a novel, but it is after all a fairy tale retelling.  Also, I tend to severely underwrite in my initial drafts, so if I ever finished it I’m sure it would be a bit longer.

You can read some excerpts from Ash and Team here, and in honor of my first “completed” novel, here’s another brief excerpt from the very (happy) end of the story. Continue reading

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Heading home from Camp NaNo

Well, I finally did it!  I won Camp NaNo!

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How did I finally do it?  Well…by setting my word count goal to only 5,000 words. HA!

I’ve written more than 5,000 words nearly every month I’ve done NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNo, so I had a really good chance of winning this time.  But I’m still proud of what I accomplished.  And it was still really gratifying to see this on my screen:

campnano win

My WIP, called Oochigeaskw, stands at 30, 586 words and I’m just reaching the end of Act II or so. I was hoping to get through the end of Act II, but oh well.

I feel like I have a pretty good sense of where I’m going from here, but the scenes coming up are going to be some of the hardest to write.  I don’t like causing trouble for my characters!  I feel bad when bad things happen to them, just like I feel guilty when I have them express my cynical thoughts.

I tend to underwrite on first drafts, so part of my strategy when I start writing for the day is to go back a few pages, read through the end of what I did last time, and add any more details before continuing on.  It helps me get back into the flow of the scene, too.

If I can continue writing 5,000 words per month I stand a good chance of finishing this draft before November so I can start a new project for NaNoWriMo.

My cabin was suuuuper quiet this time. I was in a “fantasy” cabin, but there were only 2 or 3 other people who were active, and I’m not sure anyone else won.  I don’t know if this was beneficial to my writing or not.

How was your time at Camp?

Packing for Camp NaNo

July starts another round of Camp NaNo, as I continue my quest to finish a draft of a novel.

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Time to go camping.

I’ve been working on this draft for, like, three years now, and I just want it finished!  I’m not planning to publish it ever, and I want to be able to move on to another story for NaNoWriMo in November.

So my story is kind of a fairy tale re-telling (a blend of a “Native American Cinderella” and Beauty and the Beast-type), and those kind of female protagonists can sometimes be a little too goody-goody to be interesting.  My MC has this problem.

My MC is also in a domestic abuse situation, which I’m working really hard to get right.  I’ve recently come to the realization that I need my MC to start lying.  Specifically, she lies to her abuser, because one of her false beliefs is that she can control the triggers for the abuse, and she’s trying to avoid mentioning anything that will upset the abuser.  This is not only consistent with abuse psychology, but also makes the MC more complex.

So I’m probably about halfway through the first draft, and I have the rest mostly planned out.  I just need to write it.  Hopefully I’ll do some updates with my word count throughout July.

Anyone else camping this month?

“Well, I’m back,” he said.

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Dublin, Ireland
I’m back from my 11-day trip to Ireland, during which I saw a lot of the country, learned a lot, eat some great food, and met some great people.  I’ll post a little more about the trip in general, as well as some specific parts, soon.  And pictures.  I’m trying to decide if I want to switch to using photos from Ireland for the Weekly Photo Challenges; this week’s “Door” theme would be absolutely perfect for about a dozen photos I took.

Now that I’m back with reliable Internet access/laptop, I’ll be catching up on all your postings that I missed!  I’m also doing Camp Nano again this month, for which I’m obviously already behind on my word count, so I need to get cracking on some writing for that.

Lastly, I read 4 books over the course of my travels (long flights…), so expect some reviews in the next few weeks.

I had a great time on my trip, but it’s good to be home!

What I learned about writing this month

campnanoApril novel word count: 5243

Total manuscript word count: 16890

So, no winning for me, but this word count was about on par with what I’ve done for other NaNoWriMos.  Plus I did a little blog writing, too, so I’m happy with my productivity.

Really, I’m pleased with how my writing went this month.  I spent a lot of time (in the shower, on my commute, lunch breaks) just thinking, and it gave me some clarity about plot points and additional scenes for some characters to give the story some life.  I also found myself drawing parallels to my characters no matter what I was watching/reading, including YA fantasy novels, the Anne of Green Gables miniseries, or Daredevil on Netflix.

I wrote around 100-300 words most days, so at least I tried to make it a habit.  I wrote several scenes that make me laugh, and one that was emotionally difficult to put myself in.

My biggest breakthrough this month was coming to terms with my “planner” personality.  For academic writing, or even blog posts, I always write an outline of the points I want to make, just to get my ideas down and see how they flow and connect.  I did that vaguely with this project, but this month I really started listing each scene in order, with a few key phrases or dialogue or even just want I want the scene to convey.  Then I fleshed out everything writing straight through in order.  That seems to work pretty well for me.

Yes, I wrote an outline for this blog post first. 🙂

I may not work any more on this story until the July camp, but I hope I do.  I think I may be about halfway done, and there are two key scenes revealing some backstory that I haven’t gotten to yet.

I’d like to get this draft finished so I can start on something else for NaNoWriMo in November.  This is not a story I ever plan on publishing, but I’d like to finish it to say I did.  If anyone actually wants to read it, you are welcome to join my husband in that pursuit.  I may post some excepts when I’m done.