For Nanowrimo last year, I decided to tackle a brand new story from one of the ideas I had that I’ve never really drafted. My WIP at that time was incredibly ambitious – for me, at least – and I’ve decided to put it on hold for this new project. However, because of what I’ve learned from tackling that ambitious WIP, I realize there are things that seem to be holding me back from fully fleshing out my new WIP.

The most significant one, I feel, is the fear of world-building. I felt that this time, I’m not going to start on the world-building until I’ve fleshed out the plot. Yet even when I’ve completed the outline of my story, I still find myself afraid to really focus on the world-building. In the previous WIP, I was engrossed in the world-building and not so much in the story, and as a result, I built a story that would serve the world-building rather than the other way around. It was a mess (and still is, actually). Right now, I’m afraid I’d do the same thing again, even though I have a somewhat solid outline where I can pull out the parts that need world-building – and do only those parts. This is something I’m gonna have to tackle if I’m going to complete the story.

Another thing holding me back is fleshing out other characters. This is another fear borne out of my experience with my previous (still unfinished) WIP. That one had a ton of characters with POVs and some significant ones without POVs. For these characters, I know their character arcs, personalities, and relationships with other characters. And because of that, I have far too many subplots. For the new project, I found myself afraid to even touch the secondary characters’ backstories. I feel very little connection – or none at all – to the characters aside from the protagonist. A few of them would need some backstory – of which I have a general concept, but only in broad strokes – to sort-of explain their relationship or interaction with the main character, and I’m just afraid to flesh them out, afraid I’d end up with a runaway subplot and create random characters or conflict or scenes for that specific subplot, even though I know better now.

The last thing that I feel could be potentially holding me back is my resistance to writing in first person. Objectively speaking, I’m starting to believe that a first-person POV would enhance the storytelling given the character’s internal struggle, but I refrain from doing it for a few reasons. Let me start by saying that this story idea was inspired by depressing things, and I believe at that time, I was really into dark depressing anime. And for some reason when writing this story, I somehow wanted to preserve that kind of depressing tone which I feel works well with it being a dark fantasy. I don’t want it to end up being some kind of self-insert but in a depressing way, with me remembering how I felt back then when this idea came to mind. Or, I might mess up the tone because, at the time of writing it, I’m not really feeling depress-y. Also, the main character is supposed to have a personality different from mine. Would I lose track of her personality and end up inserting mine instead? I don’t know. Well, this issue is really just a thought and it’s not a big deal. I’m quite comfortable with third person limited and will continue to tell the story that way. (I also suspect these are all based on my own misconceptions of what it’s like writing in first person.)

If you are currently writing, is there anything holding you back?

I was planning to post an update of my current progress but decided on this topic instead because there’s really not much to update as of now. I am updating my outline based on the 50K+ words I’ve drafted and have grouped and regrouped the scenes into chapters. The outline is basically for me to check if everything flows well structurally without having to read through everything, but apparently, it’s not easy to summarize a scene (in paragraph or list format) and not that much fun either. I also can’t seem to make up my mind on which scenes should go together in a chapter. Right now, I’m looking at about 35-40 chapters for around 70 scenes. I hope to complete the draft and the updated outline by the end of Feb this year. We’ll see if I can accomplish that.

 

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I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo last month and achieved my initial goal of 30,000 words a bit early, so I increased it to 45,000 which I still achieved with the final total of 45,349 words!

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Unfortunately, it feels like a hollow victory.

I wrote 50,000+ last NaNoWriMo and realized that I needed to change the outline of my WIP and rewrite some scenes in a different POV.

So I rewrote the 45,000+ words with the previous 50k-word draft as a guide.

But that is only Part I of my novel, which is meant to consist of 3 parts.

It feels like I haven’t progressed at all, even though I did make improvements. But even then I felt that I should have just let it be for the meantime and continue on writing until I complete the whole novel. I would still have the chance to make improvements later on, anyway.

It’s just that Part II is so daunting because of the scenes that it requires. So I guess I chickened out and revised Part I instead (and it’s not even finished, some scenes are incomplete!).

Actually, the whole book is so ambitious! For example, I have a spreadsheet full of made-up words because the seventeen-year-old me — who started this whole thing — decided I needed a made-up language. Now I feel compelled to translate anything “ancient” that I come up with. I can’t just name random characters normally because all the other names are made-up — again, courtesy of seventeen-year-old me — and I have a shit ton of characters. And there are three magic systems. Not one, but three.

41sc1mtntjlRight after Camp NaNoWriMo, I started reading Save the Cat! Writes A Novel by Jessica Brody. The first part talks about the hero… and with my multiple characters, I’m kind of stuck. But I am enjoying the book and learning a lot from it. I love the exercises at the end of each topic but I want to do them in sequence. I’m still stuck with handling the character arcs of the potential main characters, and choosing the one true main character from among them. According to the book, “If you’re writing a story with multiple main characters and/or multiple points of view and you’re still having problems figuring out who the hero is, or whose arc is the biggest, try asking yourself, Which of my main characters is most like my reader?” and this is definitely helpful for me.

The title itself is also a struggle for me. At first it was supposed to be “The Moonseeker’s Medallion”, then I changed it to “Davathad” which is supposed to mean war in my made-up language, but I’m not quite satisfied with either of these. But I’ll leave it be for now and I’m definitely coming back to it once I’m done with the first draft.

Like the title, I’ve now come to the conclusion that it might be better to write or rewrite the prologue and first chapter of my novel once I’m done with my draft. I’ve probably revised both of them 10 times or so, wondering if they set the right tone or if they provide a good hook. Instead of worrying about them, I should just continue on for now and by the time I get back to them, I’ll be a better writer with a better grasp of my story. Here’s hoping.

Last week, I let my fiance read my prologue and first scene of the first chapter. When I told him the story verbally, he seemed quite bored and I felt quite bored telling it. 😬 Not a good sign. I had ended up telling him a bunch of backstories and when I realized he was bored, I just stopped and decided maybe he didn’t need to hear it right now 😅 When he read the synopsis, he said it’s too generic it could be written by an A.I. 😂 It’s true because I feel that the not-so-generic plot points are spoilery so I just gave a broad overview of the story.

With aid from a mysterious medallion, the Dragon King and his forces invade the Elder Kingdoms to prevent a dreaded prophecy, while a secret society aims to stop him and restore balance. 

This has got to change. I want to change the term “Elder” as well but I can’t think of a replacement. (Off the top of my head, “Elder” has been used in Harry Potter “Elder Wand”; in Skyrim/”Elder Scrolls”; in Witcher “Elder Blood”, “Elder Speech”, “Unseen Elder”; in Monster Hunter “Elder Dragons”; and I’m sure other places as well! I use “Elder Kingdoms” and “Elderblood” in my book but if I could change them into some other term I will.)

Anyway, before I let my fiance go, I asked him to read the prologue and the first scene of the (very long) first chapter which was only a few pages. I was hoping to get some constructive criticism and maybe some idea on how to improve it because I’ve been revising them several times already. He was able to provide some good feedback, and surprisingly he actually liked them. He said I shouldn’t change them and that they give enough reason for the reader to continue with the story. But note that he himself did not continue because he wants to play his MMORPG already 😂

Something else on my mind is getting a Critique Partner. I don’t have one. But I don’t know how much I can commit to writing my own work and critiquing others because I’ll be going back to work as software engineer in June. My writing time will be decidedly limited then. My very ambitious novel will probably take a long time, considering I won’t be satisfied with one draft. It has to undergo at least five revisions before I will be satisfied to even get to the beta reading phase. I have to plan out my timeline first as well as what I intend to so for July’s Camp NaNoWriMo and November’s NaNoWriMo because I’ll be participating for sure.

This post is meant for future me more than anyone else. But if you’re reading this, I give you my thanks 😊