NaNoWriMo Day 12 and the Hunt for a Plot

We’re almost halfway through November–but not quite!  NaNoWriMo is rocking right along for me.  I passed 20,000 words today, which puts me right on target.  Next week is particularly busy though, so I’m expecting to slip behind somewhat.  We’ll see.

So much for quantity, as to quality…I’m having a mixed NaNo.  There are some parts I’m writing that I like a lot.  I still like the premise and the world, and I’m discovering more about the world as I go.  But this is starting to feel more like very intensive world-building than noveling!  I’m writing scenes I can probably use in a final version and probably more or less in this order–but it’s still not coming together as tightly as I would like.  I feel like there’s a lot more that should be here, and I don’t know quite what it is yet–like I may not have just the right angle, or have the right scenes to tell the story I want.

So!  More clarity may emerge, or I may end up with a rougher first draft than has happened in some previous years.  Although with a brand new world to explore, I suppose it’s not that surprising.

In the meantime, here’s a scene I do like reasonably well.


The airlift opened on the seventh level and we stepped out.  Gil went to the edge of the balcony to lean over the slender carved railing and look down.  I did not join him.  I had tried that my first trip here and regretted it.  Depths are more dizzying than heights.

I walked purposefully over to the second archway on the left, this one unusual in its carved grating.  The silver key slid easily into the lock and the grating swung silently open.

This wasn’t the entire literata section, of course, just the most advanced, most obscure books.  Maybe a little part of me was pleased to have an excuse to go exploring here. Continue reading

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NaNoWriMo Day 4 and the Roller Coaster of NaNo

We’re several days into NaNo by now, and my word count looks like a nice smooth ride.  This is an illusion.

It really has been a good run in terms of words.  I started the month with 2,181 words on the first day, well above the 1,667 goal.  I always want to start strong—I have a slightly superstitious feeling that if I start out behind on day one, I’ll never catch up again.  I’ve hovered right around the daily word count, if slightly below, ever since, putting me almost exactly on target here on day four.

The content has been a bit more of a roller coaster.  I didn’t have much plot, remember, so I started out throwing some “how we met” scenes together on the first couple of days.  And that went reasonably well, even very well since I enjoyed my protagonist’s friend and love interest quite a lot…until this morning, when I realized I had themes I needed to build slowly and character reveals I wanted to do gradually and no idea what my characters should be doing while all that happened.  I needed a plot framework to hang all the rest of this on.

In a way I feel I have three novels here—one is a whimsical fantasy world we’re exploring, another is a school story, the third is a politics/resistance story, and I’m having trouble merging them together.

So I had my first NaNo freakout, and threw some random ideas around, and talked to a writing friend, and finally settled on a plan that meant going back and inserting a new chapter two.  I can probably keep the original chapter two (and all words count whether they stay in the final version or not), but I needed something earlier.

I decided I was too focused on the politics and needed to bring more school in.  And then I hit on a way to combine the two with a politically-motivated head of school, and now things are beginning to seem clearer, at least for a while…until the next NaNo crisis!

In the meantime, have an excerpt.


The door swung shut behind her, suddenly cutting off the light that had been falling across the room.  Indirect light still came from the doorways at either side, but the room at once grew shadowy and dim.  And she hadn’t yet spotted the light source.

“Illumination,” she said aloud, and was rewarded by a faint glow extending a few feet around her.  It was enough to find her way to the left-hand doorway.  She looked inside, had a murky impression of a kind of lounge area.  Curtains were apparently closed over any windows.  She tried the opposite doorway and found a much better-lit kitchen space.  She went that way.

Good words like health and tasty lined the upper walls, and the room seemed to have ample counterspace and a good sized ice-box.  She circled past a jutting counter, noticing Illumination written across its top.  She reached out a hand, touched the word and concentrated.  The entire support part of the counter lit up, amply lighting the dim room, and Alyse let the glow around herself fade.

Beyond the counter was a long wooden table.  Under it lay a very large sheepdog.

Alyse sighed.  She had agreed to a house that permitted pets, but she had hoped this wouldn’t happen.  “A dog.  Phinny is not going to like you.”

The dog cocked his head to one side, opened his mouth with a hint of lolling tongue, and asked in perfectly intelligible tones, “Who’s Phinny and why not?”

Alyse did not actually collide with the counter behind her, but it was a near thing.  “Oh—sorry, I didn’t—you must be…”

“A shape-shifter?” the dog prompted.  “Or a hudjinn, either term is fine.”  He lifted up to his four feet, furry back barely clearing the bottom of the table, and pushed out past a chair.  Out from under the furniture, he rose impossibly onto his hind feet—or would have, except that his front paws had barely left the ground before he seemed to shimmer.  Alyse instinctively blinked, and by the time her eyes were open again a tanned human about her own age was extending a hand.  “I’m Gil.  And you are?”

“Alyse,” she said mechanically, just as mechanically shaking his hand.  She had heard of shape-shifters, of course.  There had been one or two at her last school, but she didn’t think she’d ever spoken to them.  She’d certainly never seen them shift.  Not that it mattered, they were people just like anyone.  But it was slightly disconcerting to find one under your kitchen table.

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NaNoWriMo 2017

Happy November, everyone!  The first of November means the start once again of NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month, when thousands of writers set out to write 50,000 words of a novel in the month of November.  This will be my sixth year participating.  Two of my published novels (The Storyteller and Her Sisters and The Lioness and the Spellspinners) started out as NaNo novels.  It’s hard every year, but always a lot of fun too.

This year I’m launching into a new fantasy world.  My working title is Not the Chosen One, a story from the point of view of the very smart female friend of the prophesied Chosen One.  If it sounds like Harry Potter, yes, I think my fondness for Hermione influenced this idea–but from that germ of an idea I anticipate a more original novel as it grows.

I have a complex magic system to start playing with involving eight different disciplines, including literata, magic involving words.  I’ve read several books where word magic was at play…and never liked how it was done!  Clearly I should explore this myself.  I also decided this world has four sentient species: humans, dragons, jinn and sea serpents.  They have not always got on. Continue reading

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Movie Review: Ghost

I’m reading a lot lately, but nothing I feel moved to review…so let’s do another movie this week!  I was a little late to Guardians of the Galaxy 2, but much later to Ghost…which came out in 1990 and I watched for the first time last week.  And I guess it’s appropriate for the day before Halloween!

The movie centers around Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze), who dies early in the film.  But he stays around as the ghost of the title, watching his girlfriend Molly Jensen (Demi Moore) mourn for him–which is heartbreaking enough, but it all gets more serious when he realizes foul play is afoot and he needs to warn Molly.  He can’t make contact with anyone, until he encounters Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg), a con artist psychic who is shocked and displeased to make real contact with the spirit world.

In a very strange way, Ghost is two movies.  I liked both of them in very different ways, but they’re not the same movie.  You see, Demi Moore is acting in a heart-breaking tragedy, while Whoopi Goldberg is in a broad comedy.  Patrick Swayze plays off of both of them, adjusting as-needed.  Somehow it works–but it’s a slightly odd viewing experience.  I’ve seen this before, once.  In The Apartment, Jack Lemmon is in a comedy and Shirley MacLaine is in a heavy drama, sometimes literally in adjoining rooms. Continue reading

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Blog Hop: Snack Time…

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Candy Corn, a chocolate bar, or Popcorn. Which of these snacks are your favorite to eat while reading?

Definitely popcorn.  Kettle corn specifically, which makes it much more like candy-like, I will admit.  Chocolate is of course wonderful, but I don’t often eat chocolate bars–Reeses cups, ice cream that involves chocolate, and one slightly infamous chocolate bunny (we got attached, so it didn’t get eaten for a long time…) have all come up recently, but I don’t often eat chocolate bars.  And I never liked candy corn.  I don’t hate it, but it’s just kind of tasteless, and more trouble than it seems worth to get out of my teeth!

What’s your favorite snack while reading?  Will you be eating it on Halloween? 🙂

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