IMG_0245In a previous blog post, I mentioned a checklist of what I intend to prepare before NaNoWriMo hits:

  1. Chapter Outline
  2. Character Descriptions
  3. Aesthetics/Moodboard
  4. Writing Music Playlist
  5. Milestone Rewards

It’s now the end of October, and I think I did well for myself, although there are still a lot of kinks to sort out and a lot of details missing. However, the missing details won’t hinder me too much and I can work through them after, if not during NaNoWriMo (but I don’t want to spend too much time on them during Nano). Before I proceed with my update, I would like to mention the book that helped me sort out my story – Outlining Your Novel Workbook by K.M. Weiland. I’ve read the book and learned a lot so I decided to go ahead and purchase the workbook.

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I have not completed the workbook yet and don’t really have the time to complete it before Nano, but I enjoyed the exercises. Basically, the book presents exercises through questions that you can answer to flesh out elements of your story more. I have completed Chapter 1 (The Premise), Chapter 2 (General Sketches) is partly done and partly being worked on, and I’ve done a bit as well for the rest of the chapters (Backstory, Character Interviews, Setting, Extended Outline, Unconventional Outlines). Maybe next year I’ll do this same workbook again, but start my prepping in September. (Or earlier!) I am eyeing another workbook about story structure by the same author, which I will probably do when I’ve completed the draft and in revising mode. I don’t know when that will be because, after Nano, I plan to go back to the fantasy WIP I had been working on and shelve this story for the meantime.

Without further ado, here’s my progress so far:

✔︎ Chapter Scene Outline

Instead of a chapter outline, I’ve created an outline for all the scenes in my story. There are 64 in total excluding the Prologue and Epilogue which are just very short scenes and will be written last if I really need them. Of course, I intend to group the scenes into chapters, but for now, the scene list is enough. Here is a glimpse of my scene outline using the corkboard view in Scrivener:

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I’ve numbered and titled each scene but those are for my own use only. I’m definitely going to go with the chapter title (or just the number) once I’ve grouped them into chapters, which will be separated by folders in Scrivener.

✔︎ Character Descriptions

This is definitely still a work in progress along with my setting descriptions (which I didn’t put in my checklist, silly me), but I have properly identified which characters or groups of characters will be present on which scenes (as well as the location/settings). In case you don’t know, Scrivener allows you to link them through document bookmarks. This means that when you click a scene, you can see which characters are in it, and likewise, if you click a character, you can see which scenes this character is in. Below is a quick look at my character list.

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As you can see, it’s still very much in progress, and the names are not final either because they were hastily thought out. But for NaNoWriMo, I will stick to those names. My working title is “Claire of the Corpses” and if I’m gonna keep that, then I’ll have to keep the name Claire.

✔︎ Aesthetics/Moodboard

I went ahead and created a Pinterest board for my story and here’s a shot of it:

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It is a private board so I won’t be sharing it, but it helps me visualize the look and feel of my story. It is also still in progress (and will probably always be in progress?) and I will be putting images in there from time to time if something catches my eyes (or if I find myself going down the Pinterest rabbit hole).

✔︎ Writing Music Playlist

This is a private Spotify playlist I’ve set up for my writing sessions which mirrors the tone of the story.

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Most of the music on the list are instrumental versions of songs or soundtrack from games and anime. I would say it is also still in progress as I intend to add more music to it.

😅 Milestone Rewards

Although I have some vague ideas of what rewards I could give myself per milestone (mostly sweets), I don’t know which milestones to use. Do I do it every 5k increment? 10k? Do I follow the writing badges in NaNoWriMo? In any case, I know what reward I will give myself after Nano, and that is a new iPad. My current iPad screen is broken and since it’s old I’ve decided to get a new one rather than try to see if they can repair the broken screen. I’ve been thinking of getting a new one for a while now, but when Preptober hit, I’ve decided I won’t be buying a new one until after Nano. Note that the iPad can be a distraction, after all, so after Nano will be the perfect time to get one.

So that’s it for my Preptober Update! I still have some time to get that ✔︎ for Milestone Rewards, but in any case, I am now much more confident about winning NaNoWriMo 2019, which is why I’m gonna go ahead and order that winner shirt right now!

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It’s officially Preptober and I am going to be working on prepping for my NaNoWriMo 2019 project for the whole month of October.

I have a fantasy WIP that I’ve been working on, the same project I did for last year’s NaNoWriMo, but that one’s massive. It has multiple characters, multiple POVs, dragons, sorcerers, war(s), fictional language(s), lore… definitely requires me to create a world map, and I don’t even know how to begin with that… Let’s just say the very thorough outline I’ve been (re)working on for that will definitely not be ready by November.

So, therefore, I’ve decided to revisit an idea that I’ve never drafted before and use that for NaNoWriMo. It’s dark supernatural fantasy with — and this is key — only one main character (YAY!).

I’ve started doing some prep work right at the beginning of October, and here’s a couple of screenshots of my synopsis and outline (using Scrivener):

Those are not final at all and I don’t even have a title or any character names. However, I’m excited to plot it for the whole month of October and draft it when November comes.

Can I get 50K words? Even though I was able to accomplish that last year, I’m not as confident this year because my personal circumstances were different. However, I have learned from last year so I guess this year may be smoother and I might actually accomplish it.

Here are the things that I will be preparing based on what I learned from last year:

  1. Chapter Outline
  2. Character Descriptions
  3. Aesthetics/Moodboard
  4. Writing Music Playlist
  5. Milestone Rewards

I feel that drafting will definitely be easier if these things are prepared beforehand. I have a tendency to get off-tangent, thereby ending up with subplots that don’t advance the story. A chapter outline will keep me on track, hopefully. I also spend a lot of time fussing over character names, descriptions, personalities, etc, so preparing them in advance will definitely save me time. The rest are just to help motivate me when the time comes, so they’re not really priority.

Are you planning to join this year’s NaNoWriMo? Will you be preparing for it this month? Do you think my prep list is good enough?

I’ll be sure to give an update on my next post. Thank you for reading!

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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 😊