Writing Wednesday: After the Thorns

As per my last NaNo update, when November ended I had just a bit of my Princess Beyond the Thorns story still to tell.  So I continued at a pretty close to NaNo pace for the next few days, and finished out the story yesterday, on Tuesday.  I’m happy to have the draft complete and concluded!  Now I can put it away for a few months to let everything simmer before tackling the inevitable revisions…

Counting the three days of December writing, I wrote almost 67,000 words since November 1st.  That brings the total draft to about 121,000…which is long, but fantasy novels are often longer than other genres.  I’ll see what happens in revision.  This may turn out to be two books after all, but for now I’m still looking at it as one.

Over the course of 121,000 words, there were three walls of thorns, two adorable kittens plus a lioness, a handful of sword fights, three villains, two deaths, one wedding, one major fight between the lead couple, and a lot of kissing.

I’d offer an excerpt, but I can’t find anything from the last three days of writing that isn’t rife with spoilers…

Now that the big fantasy draft is done, I have other, slightly lower-key projects in mind to tackle for December.  Plus I have some fun Servants and the Beast-related news that should be going live very soon.  🙂  So stay tuned for that!

NaNoWriMo Day 30: Finish Line

Happy Thanksgiving weekend to my American readers!  And…it’s the last day of NaNoWriMo!  I’m excited to share that I reached and passed my goal of 60,000 words this month.

I passed the 50,000 mark on November 25th, and actually finished my 60,000 word goal a day early.  I had my highest word count day on November 29th, clocking in at 4,276 words.  I got together with several writing friends in the evening, including two doing NaNo, and it was especially fun to pass the 60,000 mark while writing with them.

I kept writing today, even though the pressure was off, and ended up with a final total of 63,068 words, a personal NaNo best.  I’m sooo close to the end of the novel too–I have about three scenes left, so maybe 2,000 to 4,000 words.  I hope to finish in the next couple of days, so I can slack off for December. 🙂

Well, actually, I have an entirely different project I plan to start in December, that I may share about soon.  We’ll see!  But that’s how it goes…  November 1st through 30th: write.  December 1st: keep writing!

Here’s an end-of-NaNo excerpt.  My characters have been angsting for a while, but I’ve brought them nearly up to the happy ending now.  There’s still a few things for them to work out, though…

*******

Terrence wrapped his hand around hers and it felt so familiar, so good, that Rose couldn’t make herself feel alarm even as they hurried behind the cats.  She knew Xevrix might appear at any moment, but she couldn’t feel it.

“I know this isn’t the time,” Terrence said as they approached the nearest door to the castle, “but when you left through that mirror, did you mean to leave permanently?”

“No,” Rose said in honest surprise.  “Of course not.  I wasn’t that angry.  I mean, I was angry with you—I’m still angry with you, come to think of it, but we can talk about that later—but I just…wanted to prove I could act for myself, I think.”

“Proved,” Terrence said.  “Very proved.  Maybe prove it less intensely next time?”

“Maybe listen to me next time?” Rose countered, tugging on his hand.

“I’m sorry—I’m very, very sorry, and I will happily be very eloquent about it later when we have the time,” he said, pushing open the door.

NaNoWriMo Day 24: Word Count Downs and Ups

We’re in the final week of NaNoWriMo now, with just six days left.  And it’s going to be a weird week, with Thanksgiving coming so late in the month this year!  I was keeping up very well for my 60,000 word goal, continuing to write around 2,000 words a day, even on workdays this past week.  And then…I got sick on Friday.  And, because I write every day, I clocked in at 306 words, and those were a struggle.  It’s actually kind of funny to see on my word count graph, as everything goes along pretty steadily and then–nose dive.

Fortunately, I had a big cushion in case of this kind of thing.  Despite the rough day, I never quite dropped below my target total per day, though I pretty well ate up my cushion.  If I’d stayed sicker for longer, I would have been behind very quickly for my 60,000 word goal–though I’d probably still be okay for the 50,000 goal.  Fortunately, even though I’ve still been recovering yesterday and today, I was able to spend both days largely alternating writing sprints and episodes of Psych (good show, I recommend it!)  So yesterday clocked in at 1,900 words (and six episodes) and today I hit 2,586 words.

The upshot of all that?  I’m currently sitting at 49,288, very close to the 50,000 mark and probably on track still for 60,000, as long as nothing too cataclysmic happens before the end of the month!

As to the story…it probably didn’t help that I hit a bit of a block the same day I got sick, but I managed to get over that hump and have outlined scenes up to the end of the book now.  I wrote a decent amount of angsting for Terrence on Saturday, which probably helped wrack up words, and today I hit another plot turn that brings us to the final, hopefully faster-moving and easier to write, section of the book.

I still can’t tell if reaching 60,000 words will also bring me to the end of the story.  I think it may be a little longer than that, but hopefully not by much.  I doubt I’ll try for a final push to finish the novel by the end of the month if it’s longer than 60K (maybe) but it should be possible to finish in early December.  And I think I’m good with that.

Here’s an excerpt from Terrence’s angsting chapter.  I think I last posted about Rose and Terrence arguing and…yeah, that didn’t end very well for them!

**********

It was almost as though the entire interlude of the last few months, everything from the day Terrence had set out to rescue the Princess Behind Thorns, hadn’t happened.  Except that Gregory was gone and he was treated as the heir in his place.  There was that.  But all the steps to get there seemed to have been neatly brushed away, as though he had simply stepped into a more welcoming, more accepting alternate world.

Terrence found, to his own surprise, that he hated it.

He didn’t want to pretend that Rose didn’t exist.  He wasn’t sure he wanted to talk about her, especially about how it had all fallen apart, but he didn’t want her existence to be swept away as though she had never been, as though she hadn’t mattered at all except as the reason he could claim the throne.

As though she really had only been the legendary Princess Behind Thorns, easily set aside now that her purpose of securing a new heir was complete.

He was glad every day that Emerald Eyes hadn’t left with Rose.  The small black cat stuck by his side with a stubbornness that overcame closed council room doors and his father’s dark looks.  Terrence brought the cat everywhere he was permitted, and if he was shut out of anywhere, he invariably turned up anyway.  If not for the black cat, Rose’s cat, Terrence felt he might have started to question himself if she’d ever existed.  If not for the tangible, furry shadow left behind, he might have started to think he’d only dreamed up a fantasy that had turned on him at the end.

Writing Wednesday: Hurtling Towards NaNo

I’m still preparing for NaNoWriMo, starting on November 1st – so just over a week away!  I’m on track at the moment with revising the first half of my Princess Beyond the Thorns novel, so that I can write the second half during NaNoWriMo.

I’ve also realized that, on some days at least, my pre-NaNo goals are more ambitious than my NaNo goals.  I intended to revise one chapter a day, but some of those “revisions” actually mean writing an entirely new chapter from Terrence’s point of view.  And a couple of those chapters have stretched over two days, which felt like I was getting behind…but the two days’ worth of writing was more words than would be a two-day goal for NaNo.  On Monday, for example, I felt like I was just trying to wrap a chapter that was taking too long–but I ended up by writing 2,400 words, well above NaNo’s 1,667 goal.

On the whole, I’m finding that encouraging…

I also think I’m past the most difficult revision sections, so hopefully this final week should be an easier slide towards NaNoWriMo.  For today, here’s something from a new scene I wrote yesterday–Rose fainted and Terrence brought her back to her room, and I realized that in his POV, I had a chance to do a bit of a play on the whole Sleeping Beauty aspect of the story.

************

Terrence got Rose inside her rooms, laid her down on the long couch, and knelt next to her to study her still face.  “Rose?” he tried again, touching her cheek.  What did he do now?  Should he get her water or put a blanket over her?

Silvertips seemed more confident, leaping up onto the couch and settling down across Rose’s stomach.  A moment later Emerald Eyes emerged from the bedroom and scrambled up onto Rose’s skirts.  Fine, that was fine, but she still wasn’t awake…

He had the sudden, slightly absurd idea that maybe he ought to try kissing her.  This was, more or less, what he had expected when he had first plunged into that thorny tunnel.  A sleeping princess, waiting to be woken up.

Before he could decide if the idea was a good one or just strange, the door burst open and Elena rushed in.  “Terrence?  What’s going on?  What’s wrong with Rose?”

Writing Wednesday: NaNo Is Coming

NaNoWriMo is fast approaching!  With only half of October left, I’m getting ready for November’s writing in earnest now.  I’m set up on the NaNoWriMo website (add me as a writing buddy, if you’re writing too!) and am putting the pieces together to be ready to go on my next project, The Princess Beyond the Thorns.

I already have 35,000 words written for this project, but those words are in a somewhat complicated shape.  I essentially wrote two novellas some months ago, which are now Parts One and Two of the planned novel.  I revised Part One before my September writing retreat, but I still need to finish revising Part Two, so that everything is lined up and sorted before I dive in to completing the novel for NaNoWriMo.

I’ve already gone through Part Two and determined where I need to add a chapter or reorient an existing one.  The biggest changes I need to make are to bring Terrence’s perspective in (because the original version was all Rose, and now I want it split more evenly between them!) and to add in details and context that weren’t important when this was a smaller piece.  So I need to rewrite around three chapters to put them from Terrence’s point of view, and add in about six more (mostly Terrence, but there’s some extra Rose stuff I need too).  Plus do any revision on the remaining, less heavily to-be-altered chapters.

As I calculate it, if I take care of one chapter per day, that will get it all done before NaNo starts (with three days to spare).  And if that turns out not to be feasible, there are less significant changes in the final portions, so it won’t be too big a crisis as long as I get most of the way through.

We’ll see how that all goes…  In the meantime, here’s a bit I expanded in a Rose chapter, now that I have a better sense of her character growth over the span of the novel.

***********

Instinctively, automatically, she reached out for Terrence’s hand again.  She had known they’d be separated eventually, but she still wasn’t ready for that, not yet.  Only after their fingers were entwined did it occur to her that the entire room, and the king, had seen that gesture, had seen her reach for Terrence.  What would they read in it?

Without even looking at her, Terrence’s fingers tightened around hers and he said evenly, “I’ll show Princess Rose to her new rooms.”

A longer look from the king this time, and did she hear a faint murmur in the crowd?  But finally the king said, “My youngest son has grown suddenly bold.  How…remarkable.”  He turned away, to return to his throne, everything in the movement speaking of dismissal.  “Very well then.  I expect to meet with you directly after.  We have much to discuss.”

For just a moment, this felt like a solution.  And then some little part of Rose rebelled, maybe the same part that had been so angry when she thought she was going to die.  Because this was a solution, but it was a dismissal too, and she didn’t want to be that girl anymore, the one she had been in the before time.  The girl who was sent off into another room while the men discussed important things.  While they discussed her.  And if she had just showed the king and all his court that she couldn’t stand without Terrence next to her—it felt suddenly as though, if she didn’t make some kind of gesture right now, right at the beginning, she would never be anything more than she had been.

Squeezing Terrence’s hand, wanting him to know she wasn’t exactly rejecting his effort to help, she very carefully, very clearly said, “I appreciate Prince Terrence’s kind offer, but I would like to attend that meeting.  To discuss my return to court.”

This prompted a louder murmur among the crowd, and the king stopped a step away from his throne.  He turned very slowly back around to look at her, eyes narrowing.

Writing Wednesday: Plans Revisited

Before I went on a writing retreat in mid-September, I put up a list of writing goals.  I didn’t get to most of them on retreat, but I’ve been working away at projects since then.  I thought it might be fun (and good for me to keep things straight!) to come back and see where projects stand now.

Here was the list…

  1. Finish revising Guardian III for beta-readers – I completed this on retreat, my main goal!
  2. Guardian II revisions based on second-round beta reader feedback – This got done as my first project when I came back.
  3. Guardian I revisions based on read-aloud review – I started this on retreat, and finished it within a few days after.
  4. First-round revisions for Thorns I, Part Two – This is my next project, and planned focus throughout October!
  5. Beta-read a friend’s novel (due by mid-October) – I sent this off to her at the end of September.
  6. NaNoWriMo prep for Thorns I, Part Three – Closely related to #4, this is my other October focus, especially as NaNoWriMo gets closer.
  7. Continue drafting short stories for planned “Bookstore Anthology” – My main project of late September, I made some good progress on my story of a ballerina falling into Leroux’s Phantom.
  8. Stonehenge Circle Writers’ biweekly blog prompt short story – Well, this is ongoing…

So that’s five out of eight complete, which is a nice feeling.  I don’t usually have quite this many things going all at once in different stages. 😀  It’s been interesting, but I’m looking forward to being more focused again…

Writing Wednesday: Down Once More?

I’m having a bouncing-around kind of period for my writing right now.  Until I dive into NaNoWriMo, I’m working more casually on a number of smaller projects.  One of these is my short stories for a planned anthology, in which characters magically enter books.  I wrote about my plans to send a character into Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera before.  I wrote roughly the first ten pages some months ago, moved on to other projects, and now have circled back to write a bit more.  Because obviously the weeks before NaNoWriMo should be spent writing!

Michelle has been at the Opera overnight, and in the morning is ready to hunt for the Phantom.  She just isn’t sure exactly how to go about that.

*********

I thought about trying to find a way below the Opera—if I descended enough stairs, would I find the underground passages the Phantom had led Christine through?  Could I eventually find my way to the Phantom’s rooms?

Somehow I doubted it.  After all, it couldn’t be that easy, or the Opera Company would have found the Phantom long ago.  Unless that was authorial suspension of disbelief.  Maybe Leroux’s story just wasn’t that plausible.

Yeah.  It was weird being in a book.