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Camp Nanowrimo Progress

I’m rebelling again, and it feels odd. The books need rewriting and changes need to be incorporated, so Camp Nanowrimo Progress is happening. But it’s not strictly linear, and nor is it really new words being laid down.

The word count target is set at 40,000 words, but I am counting these as words completed and edited in the new document draft. I did the same last November, and it worked. The Nanowrimo focus and target setting helps make me sit down and work on writing every day. Usually in the evening, but that really does depend on the day.

So this time I am working on the second book in the Portal series. The first is out with test readers awaiting feedback. So far they’ve all been very quiet, which makes me worried, but I have to trust they will all be honest. Some of the group read the first version several years ago, and may not appreciate the changes. Then there are the new faces. I’m not sure which is more nerve wracking?

Also working on new cover designs, and debating retitling the books as well – thoughts?

Camp Nanowrimo Progress

Please do remember that I don’t only want the gushing praise (although that’s nice to hear) I want to hear your honest opinion. If you don’t like it, say so, tell me why. I’m writing blind, with no editor, no publisher. Your feedback is everything.

Camp nanowrimo progress, day 4 – Total edited so far 5651, of around 100k in the original manuscript. There’s a long way to go, and then another 3 books to work on.

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Camp NaNoWriMo 2020

I seem to have signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo 2020, which is a bit of a surprise. I haven’t done NaNo for a few years and only got back into it last November, and I’d forgotten the sheer intensity and drive that the month generates.

Camp NaNoWriMo 2020

The first NaNo I took part in was 15 years ago, in 2005. That long month of November, filled with sleepless nights and intense writing, resulted in the beginning of the Portal Series.

Last year, I decided to rewrite the first book, and I’m much happier with how it looks now. But all the changes I made mean that the second, third, and all other subsequent books also now need rewriting. So, Book 1 is with a select few readers for opinions and feedback (will you all please read faster?), and it’s time to start work on Book 2. They will be retitled, and probably merged into a single volume, but it’s going to take time.

Camp NaNoWriMo 2020, during lockdown, in the midst of a global pandemic… I can’t think of a better use of the time, can you?

I have a job, house, family, to work around, and this will have to be very disciplined if I am to succeed. This is a NaNo Rebel project, a rewrite and edit rather than a fresh new story. So I have the original manuscript to work from. I know the characters, I know where the story goes – although I will likely change that, at least a little. Some characters have already been wiped from the narrative, some have been introduced already.

My plan is to start with a fresh document, a blank page, and take the story one section at a time and work it with a fine tooth comb, rewriting, trimming. In between paid work, family commitments, and sleep, I also mean to add plants to my garden. I’d like an Elder, a Hazel, maybe some Gentian. I think you’ll know why. But no Lilys – Sorry, they’re poison to my cats, I’m sure she would understand.

There may be updates, if I remember. See you on the other side.

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The scary part

In 2005 I wrote a book. I thought that was the scary part. I was so wrong. Writing an entire novel was terrifying, sure. But was in no way as frightening as letting someone else read it!

scary part

Then last year, 14 years later, I picked that novel up again and was shocked. It was messy, large sections had no place in the story. And some of the writing was abysmal.

I’ve not been completely happy with it for a while and decided to rewrite it completely. I tackled most of it during November, as part of the NaNoWriMo challenge that I’ve done for a number of years. When I reached the final chapter, I stalled.

So much had been changed, and I was more focussed on character motivation, and what drove them. The end needed to remain the same, or mostly the same, but I couldn’t get past that block. So I set it aside again. So many distractions to occupy my writing time, but Lily and Kate were there, at the back of my mind.

Half-term came, another couple of months on, with time at home and a week off work. I had space and time to work on it, so I made myself sit and finish the rewrite! I must have gone through the document 4 or 5 times, and the narrative is now 20k words shorter than it was. But I am happier with it, I think.

So, the really, truly, scary part? Now it’s done, I need fresh eyes on it. So, the unpolished document is now out with a trusted few friends who will read it and, I hope, give me some honest feedback.

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Rewrites are evil

For NaNo2019 I decided to be a rebel. I’ve not been completely happy with the Portal series for a long time, and NaNo gave me the push to start work. Can I say, rewrites are evil.

The best way to rewrite a piece, is to literally start with a fresh document and write the story again. So, that’s what I did. In proper NaNo tradition, I opened a blank document on the first of November and started writing. I knew the characters, the story, this should be easy, right? I even had a new cover, that needs changing too.

rewrites are evil

But no, it was hard, really, really, hard. I came across poor writing, did I really think that was good? There were whole sections of filler, pointless action that gave nothing to the plot or characters. I deleted more than I wrote. Characters no longer exist, characters changed gender, appearance. Relationships morphed into something different. Plot development scenes moved in the timeline. Place names needed to be changed when I realised my fictional town actually exists. Sorry, Wingate. With each change, tiny or huge, came an avalanche of other changes.

The sheer volume of characters proved impossible to balance, so several got culled. Some were simply superfluous. Other characters from later in the story would have been present, so they got an earlier introduction. More had to be given more depth, more identity.

It’s like writing the first book from scratch, again, with someone looking over your shoulder and telling you it’s wrong. The cascade of changes ripples through the narrative, washing away large sections, changing the course of the story.

Rewrites are evil, but necessary. I think I have a better book. It’s shorter, by about 20,000 words. In a couple of days it’ll be ready to send out to the first readers, trusted friends who will give an honest opinion.

I’m half expecting, “you changed it, I don’t like it.” But we will see. With luck, the new edition could be ready for release later this year. Then those snowball changes mean the other books will need to be rewritten too. Wish me luck.

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Making maps

When you’re writing, inventing worlds, exploring new places, you will need to map your world. Making maps means you have an idea of where things are. You can keep track of what’s going on.

If, like me, your drawing skills are sadly lacking, then Photoshop, or an equivalent image manipulation program is your new best friend for making maps!

I’ve been using this page as a guide, and this is the result so far…

making maps

Yes, I know, it needs work, and it’s not finished. But, that gap in the trees on the left? That’s where Fin crashes, lands, the ship. That beach on the bottom left corner, that’s where Sean and Joss end up.

Probably. I might make a different one at some stage, when I work out what needs to be on the map.

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