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.

NaNoWriMo Day 20: War Is (Almost) Declared

We’re two-thirds of the way through November now, somehow!  According to my plot outline, I’m a quarter of the way through my novel, which lines up with my goals pretty well.  I’m right around 22,000 words, and my first drafts tend to come in around 75-80,000, so that’s about right for a quarter of the way through the story.

I’m also in great shape for my goal to hit 25,000 words!  I expect to pass that in the next few days.  I’ve actually been holding pretty steady to land around 35,000 words, so that’s my new target – although we’ll see if Thanksgiving week is easier or more difficult for writing than normal weeks!

Meanwhile in the story, events are heating up in the world situation.  I’ve just got up to August 23, 1939, when the Nazis and the Soviets signed a non-aggression pact.  From my research, that seems to be when war between France and Germany became inevitable, although it wasn’t actually declared for about 10 days.  The romance moves along in parallel to the war situation, so that’s also beginning to pick up.  I’m righting something of the calm before the storm right now, with more excitement coming on September 3rd. Continue reading “NaNoWriMo Day 20: War Is (Almost) Declared”

NaNoWriMo Day 13: Bastille Day

Did you know the 150th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille was in 1939?  I didn’t either, but the book I was reading for research on occupied Paris mentioned that they put on an enormous military parade in July, 1939 – before they were invaded less than a year later.  Apparently the Germans didn’t take the intended message!  I mention this because that was the scene I’ve been writing for the last several days.  With two million Parisians lining the Champs-Elysses, clearly I needed to send my heroine to the parade too.  And I thought it was a convenient place to bump into Paul, the romantic lead, a photojournalist who obviously would have been photographing the spectacle.

After the parade, I went to another flashback to Maggie’s childhood – that went more slowly than the last one, but I did figure out her entire extended family (fifteen people!) so even if it ends up being more of a workshop piece and I substitute a different flashback during revision, it was at least useful.

I’ve been able to stay above 1,000 words each day – until today, but I’ll write some more later this evening, so we’ll see what happens.  I’m just short of 15,000 words, well ahead of where I need to be to hit 25,000 by the end of the month – although I’d be behind if I was going for the 50,000.  I’m happy with where I am, though, and with how the story is progressing.

Here’s a glimpse at the conversation during the parade.  Paul is doing his best to guess Maggie’s name, but since he’s basing his guesses on her gold necklace with the letter G, he’s not doing very well!  We pick up the conversation after a slightly ill-advised comment that landed badly…

He grimaced.  “And now I suppose you think I’m exactly the uncouth sort of American you expect, right?”

I shook my head.  “No – I sort of expect all Americans to be Fred Astaire.”  He was the only movie dancer my mother found acceptable.

He snapped his fingers.  “Ginger!” he said with sudden enthusiasm.

I smiled.  “Still no.”

“Oh well, I couldn’t have lived up to Fred anyway.  How about Gabrielle?”

I hesitated on that one.  It was, after all, the right name for the clue he was using.  My Great-aunt Gabrielle had been the first to own my necklace.  But it wasn’t my name.  “You’re not going to guess it.  And you’re missing the parade.”

NaNoWriMo Day 7: Off to the Cinema

Our first week of NaNo is down, and so far I’m still on track for my 25,000 word goal.  I had a really solid weekend and am at 8,120 words, which puts me a couple of days ahead on my word count goal.  It’s nice to have that cushion, because babies are unpredictable and I don’t know how future days will go!

I wrote about 1,800 words yesterday, which gave me a lot of my current cushion.  It helped I was writing a particularly fun scene.  The bulk of the novel is set in 1939-40, but I plan to drop in periodic flashbacks to Maggie’s childhood.  Partially that’s to build more dimensions in her character, but it also lets me feature Erik and Meg as characters, even though they’ve died by the beginning of the book.  So I spent Saturday writing a flashback sequence – Maggie goes to the cinema with her grandfather, the Phantom of the Opera, to see Lon Chaney’s Phantom of the Opera.  They don’t altogether react as intended…

The movie was fascinating.  It gave me a queer feeling to see my familiar opera house on the flickering screen, though it wasn’t always right about the details.  The whole story seemed so removed from anything real that I could enter into it with a spectator’s enthusiasm, though it seemed to me that Grand-père was laughing and sighing in the wrong spots.

I watched mostly in rapt silence, but couldn’t help myself when we came to the unmasking.  A great gasp of horror rose up from the audience when Lon Chaney’s face was first revealed, enough to mostly cover my indignant, “But that’s not right!”

“Shh,” Grand-père said absently.

“But his face is wrong,” I whispered.  “And she shouldn’t have snatched his mask off – you don’t do that.”

He laughed then too, and tousled my hair.  “Quite right.”