NaNoWriMo: End of the Month Update

It’s December 1st, meaning NaNoWriMo wrapped yesterday – and I’m pleased to say that I hit my 50,000 word goal!  This is the first time I have since the pandemic and having a toddler, so it feels especially significant to have got back to that level of writing.

I did a lot of planning throughout the month, trying to build up word cushions before days that I knew would give me less opportunity to write, and that worked really well. I wound up with an easy final day, only needing 835 words, or half of a typical NaNo day.  I finished the month out with 50,076 words, so I’m very pleased with that!

I’m also pleased that I’m most of the way through the novel draft.  I think the total will end up only around 55K words, which is shorter than many of my first drafts in the past.  It seems to be how this series works though – the very first “complete” draft of Thorns 1 was a 27K word novella, Thorns 2 was 67K words at first draft, and Thorns 4 is 62K words.  So 55K is a little short, but not by a lot, and I already have ideas of about four chapters I want to insert, just as a start!  This may also be a slightly shorter novel than some of the others, which I’d be fine with too. Continue reading “NaNoWriMo: End of the Month Update”

NaNoWriMo, Day #19

Nearly three weeks into NaNoWriMo already!  I just passed the 32,000 word mark, which puts me right on track for the 50,000 word goal.  Things haven’t been progressing as quickly as they did in the first week, but I expected that – I built up a significant cushion the first weekend because I expected a number of days when I wouldn’t have as much time to write.  So far that’s kept me above the goal all month, though I’ve almost been through the cushion.

The story is still progressing nicely along the outline.  I just finished the section plotting for the takeover of the capital city, and have just reached the night when everything comes together – which sounds like it would be near the end but it’s actually most of the second half of the outline.

For a rarity, I think I may end up with a complete first draft that really is close to 50,000 words.  Most of my NaNo projects have ended up as partial drafts that I then continue through December or January.  I think this one may actually get to the end or close to it – but I can already see places where I want to add chapters and expand concepts when I come to the revision stage.  That seems to be how this series works – my first “complete” draft of Thorns 1 was only 27,000 words, and now it’s 103,000!

I’ve enjoyed continuing to explore the characters and pulling together the pieces of a conspiracy – though I’d like to dig deeper on both aspects in revisions.  This first round is good for getting the shape of the thing together though.

I’m hoping to have more writing time next week with the Thanksgiving holiday, so hopefully I can stay well on track for the final goal.

Meanwhile, here’s an excerpt, as Elena discusses recent events with a questionable ally.

“Apparently some madman broke into the central guard post last night and set it on fire.”

She shook her head in a parody of sadness.  “Such troubled times we live in.”

“The descriptions are vague, but it seems he was tall, bearded, brilliant with a sword.  These things get exaggerated in the telling, of course, but…”

“Doesn’t sound like me, does it?” Elena said, tapping her own cheek.

He regarded her for a moment, then said quietly, “Your husband was good with a sword.  Haven’t seen him in the practice yard in years, but he used to be.”

NaNoWriMo, Day #11

I usually get a NaNo update out sooner than this – but I’ve been busy writing away at my NaNo project!  As I announced in my October Writing Update, I am tackling National Novel Writing Month again this year, my first time aiming for 50,000 words since 2019 (which, as we all know, was a completely different world!)  I’m drafting Book 3 of my Thorns series, and so far it’s going along very well.

As I’m typing, I passed 20,000 words earlier this morning.  I have slightly over 2,000 words cushion ahead of the daily goal, which is a nice place to be a third of the way into the month.  I had a very productive writing time last weekend – I took Friday the 4th off of work to give myself some extra writing time near the beginning of the month, and today is also a convenient holiday for Veterans Day.

Fitting enough time for writing in around a job and a toddler is definitely a challenge, but I’ve been focusing my NaNo writing on 15-minute word sprints for years, so it’s not entirely new.  I approach every day analyzing how many 15 minute chunks of writing I can get in – I know from experience I typically need four per day to hit the word count goal.  Some days I can only manage three, but that’s why I have a cushion built up!

The story itself is going well also – I try not to get completely caught up in strictly numbers in these updates!  This novel focuses on two supporting characters from the first two novels, Elena and Henry.  It’s been very fun to explore them more, especially Henry who is very quiet normally.  I’m sure that he’s had far more dialogue in the 20,000 words so far of this draft than he did in the previous two books combined! Continue reading “NaNoWriMo, Day #11”

NaNoWriMo Day 30: And We’re Done! (For November)

It’s the final day of NaNoWriMo, and time for a final word count – I’m winding up the month with 35,026 words, right on my second goal of hitting 35K.  My highest single day was 2,010, and my lowest single day was 596, which was actually today – I probably could have done a bit more, but I hit the end of a chapter, and I liked the roundness of landing so close to 35,000.  And it was nice to have a light day at the end!

According to my outline, I’m a little over a third of the way through the story, and as to history, I’ve moved from July of 1939 to October of 1939 – though we’re about to move very quickly on to May of 1940 when the war heated up in France.

I’ve really enjoyed this dive into the story and return to NaNoWriMo after skipping last year.  I’m still engaged with my characters and my plot, and I’m planning to continue working on the draft in the next couple of months.  My goal is to do 20K each in December and January, which will hopefully bring me to the end of the story…maybe?  We’ll see if it turns out to be longer than that!

For NaNo, here’s one last excerpt – I’ve been wanting to get Erik’s opinion of the Eiffel Tower into a story for years, but since the previous books were set before the Tower was built, this was my first opportunity!

“So,” Paul said, and I could hear the smile in his voice, “what did your grandfather think of the Eiffel Tower?”  He had learned to ask this whenever architecture or music came up.  I kept offering Grand-père’s opinion, until I realized I was doing it and tried to stop.  Then Paul started asking.

I laughed now, remembering.  “He thought it was a nice idea they should have finished.”

“What do you mean?” Paul asked, looking towards the Tower.  “Isn’t it finished?”

“Everyone else thinks so.  You know the Opera has a steel frame under all that marble and façade?  Grand-père thought the Eiffel Tower was a nice frame and they ought to have put something on it.”

NaNoWriMo Day 23: Exploring the Opera

I’m happy to report that I’m in a really good position for my 25,000 word goal this NaNo – in fact, I passed it on Sunday.  I had a really good writing day Sunday, with over 2,000 words, and that took me across the 25,000.  My new goal is to hit 35,000 by the end of the month, and I currently have a small cushion for that.  So that’s feeling good as we enter the last week of NaNoWriMo.

The story is going well too – I’m currently up to the night of September 3, 1939, several hours after war was declared.  Maggie stays late at the Opera working on a costume, and encounters Paul, who is photographing the building while it’s empty.  He convinces her to give him a guided tour, so some 25,000 words in we finally go exploring the parts of the Opera that the last series centered on, like the Grand Stair, the Grand Foyer, and the auditorium.  I got to bring in my favorite random trivia (not all the gold in the Grand Foyer is real!) and another reference to the Phantom when Paul asks about Box Five.

Today’s excerpt is from just as they’re about to end the tour, and encounter a twist that sends us into the next chapter…

When we reached the front doors, we encountered a new wrinkle in this day – or night, rather.  The doors were locked.

“I suppose they would lock the building so no one could get in,” Paul said slowly.  “I didn’t expect that a person couldn’t get out though.  There must be other doors – maybe something around the side…”

“They’re probably all locked,” I heard myself say.  “We probably can’t get out until they come to unlock in the morning.”

Chapter Twelve
September, 1939: Paris, France

Of course I could have got out.  Just like you can’t keep a Rouen out of the Opera Garnier, you can’t trap one of us inside of it either.  The police had tried to do that to my grandfather decades ago, and it never worked then.  I knew how to unlock almost any major door in the building, and I knew a variety of secret exits too.  I could have got a side door unlocked without Paul even realizing there was anything strange going on, so I didn’t have to worry about giving away too many secrets.

But in a sudden moment of possible madness, it occurred to me that I just might prefer to be locked into the Opera Garnier tonight.  With the right company.