NaNoWriMo – final days (11/22 – 11/30) + what I learned this month

So, NaNoWriMo ends today and I just validated my novel on the NaNo website, having written 60.041 words this month (even if NaNo says I wrote 60.144…).

  • 11/22: Today was a really good day: I wrote 3.109 words of Lysander and Rhy fighting (my new hobby when it comes to this novel, it seems). NaNo wordcount: 51.916 from the last three weeks + 3.019, 55.025.
  • 11/23: Did my best but wrote only 1.538 words. NaNo wordcount: 56.563.
  • 11/24: Now that I finally hit 50k, writing has become a lot harder. Wrote only 1.537 words today. NaNo wordcount: 58.100.
  • 11/25: Another lazy day. Wrote only 1.088 words. NaNo wordcount: 59.188.
  • 11/26: Well, I added 24 new words to the novel today. Better than nothing, right? NaNo wordcount: 59.212.
  • 11/27: Nothing written.
  • 11/28: Nothing again.
  • 11/29: Nada.
  • 11/30: Today I gathered what I was left of my energy and wrote 829 words to reach 60k. NaNo wordcount: 60.041.

This week I wrote only 8.125 words. Why? I had no idea of how to reach the next plot point, so I spent days hitting my head against the wall trying to come up with something. Two days ago I finally opened Scrivener and made myself plan the scenes I have to write to finish this story. They are 15, which means that I still have to write ~30k words or so. I’m writing the first one of this 15 scenes right now.

WHAT I LEARNED THIS MONTH

I learned two things this month: first, you can’t edit a blank page, and second, the first draft is shit.

Yes, I know; these aren’t exactly new things, but after spending years trying to write the perfect first draft while ignoring everyone who said that was a bad idea it was liberating to just write and not think about how good the result was going to be. This first draft is shit, and I’m okay with that. I’ll rewrite everything once I finish it (and I’ll finish it by January, I promise), and having the skeleton of the story already done will make things a lot easier.

So, overall I’m really happy with this NaNo. It was my first time participating and I enjoyed it a lot. Will certainly partipate in the future too!

This week’s excerpt:

Lysander blinked. “I think… I think he was a king.” He hesitated. He wasn’t a he, of course, but how would he call him? His mother had told him about how neutral the elven language was, but avronian wasn’t like that. There wasn’t space for genderless people in the human language. He pushed the thought away from his mind. “Maybe the one who built this place, I guess.”

Now by his side, Rhy frowned. “Do you know elven?”

The prince almost snorted. I wish. “No, of course not, but I know a few words. Reading so much about them kind of helps with that,” he added upon seeing the surprised look on Rhy’s face. “There, I can read ruler before what I think it’s his name. It sounds like a name, at least.” It was his turn to frown. He barely noticed that Rhy observed him with a half amused, half confused expression. “Then there is library, his name again, children and, of course, Sakramest, the elven god of mysteries and lord of the night, and I think this word,” he pointed at the last one, and the less visible. “Means enter.” He paused. “Does that make any sense?”

“Library, dead elven king, children, elven god of mysteries and enter,” repeated Rhy. “Maybe he was really the one who built this place, I guess. It’s his library. I can’t make sense of the rest though.” He grinned. “You’re the one who loves elven stuff here.”

Ignoring the last part, Lysander bit his lip. “Maybe it is talking about the children of Sakramest, which were the elves, I think. And apparently only them can… enter here, I guess? But why-”

Lysander stomach dropped and all the air was knocked out of his lungs. He gasped and stepped back, but Rhy was looking at the image of old elven ruler and didn’t notice anything. The prince stayed still, his breathing quickening, and tried to push away the fear, the panic, he felt making its way through his body. Only children of Sakramest can enter here.

That’s how he had opened the secret passage. He had elven blood.

And so had the monsters, apparently.

“I don’t understand why they would need to have a place like this,” Rhy was saying, and Lysander forced himself to pay attention. A panicked scream was making his way up his throat already, but he pushed it away, suffocated it. “How would humans even reach this place before the Awakening? Unless,” he added. “There was some kind of invasion or war before that that I don’t know about, I guess. Do you know anything about it?”

Lysander tried to answer – yes, he did know of the floating elven cities being invaded once by human forces, but it had been so long ago no one really remembered anything about it other than the fact that it had happened – but his throat was dry, and his lips were sealed. Rhy turned to him, eyebrows raised at his silence, and then he frowned. “Lysander? Are you well?”

No. He wanted to scream or run away – his secret had never been so exposed, and he realized with a start, his life had never been so close to what could possibly end it. If Rhy realized what was happening… If he knew… He took a deep breath and cleared his throat, but the words didn’t come out; they seemed to get lost between his throat and his lips, and the Seeker was waiting.

Only children of Sakramest can enter here.

His eyes were back at the words on the wall and he looked away quickly, but it was too late; Rhy was already staring at them again too, the frown in his face deepening.

Lysander saw it happen; saw when his eyes widened in shock, saw when his brown skin turned pale and when he stepped back, surprise and a hint of fear and, below it, disgust, taking over his face, his characteristic grin gone. “You opened the door,” he whispered, voice so full of horror that Lysander couldn’t help but wince. “You have elven blood.

Also:

nano3

\o/

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NaNoWriMo – week three (11/15 – 11/21)

So, the third week of NaNoWriMo is over – and yes, I reached 50.000 words!

  • 11/15: It was a slow day. I’m still sick, but I’m not sure if it’s still sinusitis. Anyway, I wrote 2210 words. NaNo wordcount: 35.368 written in the first two weeks + 2210 today, so 37.578 words.
  • 11/16: Today I wrote a bit more, but still sick. 2.540 words only even with the opportunity to write in the morning since I’m not going to college because of my surgery. NaNo wordcount: 40.118 words.
  • 11/17: Still sick & still not going to college.  Managed to write 2.709 words. NaNo wordcount: 42.310 words.
  • 11/18: Finally (or not) back to college, but surprisingly, I wrote 2.709 words. NaNo wordcount: 45.019.
  • 11/19: Better day of the week. I wrote 3.062 words. NaNo wordcount: 48.081 words.
  • 11/20: The great day! I wrote only 2.06o words, but I hit 50k and officialy won NaNoWriMo! NaNo wordcount: 50.141.
  • 11/21: I’ll keep writing, of course, since my novel isn’t even close to finished. Today I wrote only 1.775 words. NaNo wordcount: 51.916.

So, yeep, I won my first NaNoWrimo (and celebrated by eating a lot at McDonald’s with my brother lol). This week I wrote 16.548 words and, like I said above, my novel isn’t close to its end. To be exact, I’m writing the midpoint right now, so it’ll probably be 90~100k words long, which is more than I thought it would be (and I still have to add stuff at the beginning, so ehhh, this will be though).

I’ll be writing less now that I hit 50k. Maybe 1.000 or 1.500 words per day. I’m tired (and still sick) and my exams start next week, so I won’t be able to focus only on my novel.

Anyway, this week’s excerpt:

The princess was silent for a moment. “If this person wanted to bring the seeds of these flowers and plants to Neora,” she said finally, eyes still on him. “And grow them here, would it be possible?”

“In Neora? No.” He bit his lip. “Not for us, anyway.” Seeing the look on the princess’s face, he added, quickly, “Magic, my princess. The weather of Neora is not adequate for growing these plants and flowers, but with magic someone could, theoretically, change the weather of a small place to accommodate them. But even then, the magic necessary for this would be too great.”

Princess Saoirse’s eye were wide with surprise. “You seem to know a lot about these things, Prince Lysander.”

He gave her his best smile, trying to ignore the alarmed hum of the angels in his mind and how his heart seemed to stop for a second. “I’m sure you probably have already heard about my… health problems, my lady. It gives me a lot of free time, and there is only so much you can do to keep boredom away when you can’t move much. That’s where the libraries come in.”

She nodded, still eyeing him with a mix of interest and suspicion, and then sighed. “Magic is out of the question, as you probably know, my prince.”

“That’s why I said it would not be possible for us, my lady.” Lysander smiled again. “Unless someone can somehow use magic to change the weather, it can’t be done. And, like I said, even if this person could, the magic necessary would kill them if they tried to do it in Neora. It’s too high, and too cold.”

“Let’s say this person can use magic,” the princess began slowly. “If they tried it here, would they probably die?”

“Yes, my lady.”

“But what about other cities? Lower cities?”

Lysander hesitated. “Maybe only in Nevrocata, my princess. It’s the lowest city of all, but even there it would be hard, I think.”

They went silent for some time. Lysander eyed the princess with curiosity, but she wasn’t looking in his direction; she stared at nothing, lost in thoughts. Why was she making these questions? Had someone used the elven poison recently? That would be almost impossible, as he had just said, and Lysander couldn’t think of anyone who could…

He straightened up. “My princess,” he said, unable to keep the shock from his voice. “Do you think the Iron Queen was murdered?”

NaNoWriMo – week two (11/08 – 11/14)

My second week was also great! I had to go through a small surgery on Wednesday, but I could write with no problems. Also, I finished the fanfic on the 7th.

  • 11/08: Goal was at least 2.000 words, like always, but I hit 3.004 words so yay! NaNo wordcount: 17.005 written last week + 3.004 written today, so 20.009.
  • 11/09: This wasn’t a good day, but I managed to write 2.050 words anyway. NaNo wordcount: 22.059.
  • 11/10: I didn’t write anything today. I had to do some stuff related to the surgery, so I didn’t have time to do much. First day since the beginning of NaNo that I didn’t write a single word. NaNo wordcount: 22.059.
  • 11/11: Surgery happened today, but I went home a little after lunch and had the time to write more 2.079 words. NaNo wordcount: 24.138.
  • 11/12: My best day so far. Wrote 5.017 words. NaNo wordcount: 29.155.
  • 11/13: Not a good day because sinusistis, but managed to write 2.066 words. NaNo wordcount: 31.221.
  • 11/14: Sinusitis is still kicking my ass, but I wrote 4.147 words and now there are less than 15.000 words left to 50.000! NaNo wordcount: 35.368.

I wrote 18.363 words this week. Last week I wrote 17.005 for my NaNo project + 2.749 for another things. Overall I wrote less, but I’m really satisfied with my wordcount so far! I hope I’ll hit 50k this week instead of only on November 31th.

This week’s excerpt:

“It didn’t attack me. It could have reduced my face to shreds if I wasn’t fast enough to stop it, but it didn’t even try.” Lysander stared at him as if he was insane. Maybe he was. He coughed. “And anyway, I already told you and later I’ll be telling the princess, and it didn’t attack anyone yet, so…”

“Fine.” Lysander sighed. Rhy kept staring at him and the prince met his eyes, arching his eyebrows again. “What is it?”

Rhy coughed again. “I need your help.”

Lysander stared at him some more. “My help?”

“Well, yes,” he said with a smile. “But if you keep acting like that I’ll start to think this is an awful idea.”

The prince snorted. “Not an awful idea. Just… unexpected.”

Rhy grinned. “One of my qualities,” he said. “Always doing the unexpected thing.”

NaNoWriMo – week one (11/01 – 11/07)

 So, my first week was great. I wrote a lot. Of course I think most of it is crap, but for now I’m focusing on writing only. Editing and rewriting comes later.
  • 11/01: My goal was to write 2.000 words because I knew I would probably spend my whole friday away from home and wouldn’t be able to write much. I ended up writing 2.082 words, all by hand. Then when I turned my laptop on I wrote more 1.046 words for a “fanfic” of my own NaNo project. NaNo wordcount: 2.082. Fanfic wordcount: 141 words I had written a few days before + 1.046 written today, so 1.187.
  • 11/02: From now on I started writing on my laptop and this was my best day so far. Goal was to write 2.000 words again, but I wrote 4.013. It’s was holiday here in my country, so that probably helped. NaNo wordcount: 6.095. Fanfic wordcount: Still 1.187.
  • 11/03: Goal was still 2.000 and I wrote 2.036. I thought I wouldn’t be able to reach 2k because of uni, but I did so yay! Also wrote more 459 words for the fanfic. NaNo wordcount: 8146. Fanfic wordcount: 1.646.
  • 11/04: Goal still 2.000 and I wrote 2.019. Also wrote more 1.244 and finished a short story I’ve been writing since september. NaNo wordcount: 10.165. Fanfic wordcount: Still 1.646. Short story wordcount: 3.600 I wrote between september and october + 1244 I wrote today, so 4.844. FINISHED.
  • 11/05: Goal still 2.000 and I wrote 2.305. NaNo wordcount: 12.470. Fanfic wordcount: Still 1.646.
  • 11/06: Goal still 2.000 and I wrote 2.070 (and I spent the day away from home! Yay!). NaNo wordcount: 14.500. Fanfic wordcount: Still 1.646.
  • 11/07: I thought I would write a lot today because it’s saturday, but nope. I was really tired all day and ended up writing only 2.505. NaNo wordcount: 17.005. Fanfic wordcount: 1.646.

So I wrote 19.754 words in a week. This is amazing for me. I mean, it took me two months to write 3.600 words of the short story I finished this week.

I’m starting to feel tired though. And my story is a mess. I’m trying not to care about it, of course, but I’m the person who spent eight years rewriting the same story and still didn’t finish it, so…

This week’s quote:

“Then tell me, Kaligna,” she said slowly. “Why was there a monster inside my castle’s walls? In my city, the dead gods know how far from the surface? Why it focused on me instead of killing mindlessly like all reports say they do, no matter how smart?”
Rhy grinned. “I don’t know, my princess. I’m only a common Seeker.”
To his surprise, the princess snorted. “Right. That’s why you have such a huge reputation at twenty four years old, and that’s why you were one of the three survivors from that cave. Because you’re a common Seeker, of course.”
“Why, my princess, you flatter me.”
It was her turn to grin, her words like a whip. “I aim to please.” (Masked Queen, chapter 4).

Anyway, I’m still excited.

Writing Diary: NaNoWriMo!

So, NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow and I have to be honest: I was excited, but then I wasted days trying to plot my story and going nowhere. I had the begining, an idea of the ending and no middle. My excitement faded. I almost gave up on this year’s NaNoWriMo because seriously, I’m a planner. I don’t work well without a good, detailed plan to help me along the way. So I was going to quit.
But then yesterday the bus I take to come back home from college got stuck in a intense traffic (it was raining and my city kind of stops when it rains, so) and, with nothing to do, I started thinking about my project. And let me tell you, in a span of five minutes I had not only my middle, but the overall plot and titles of the two other books of the trilogy.
It was fantastic.
I have no idea of how it happened. I’m just glad it did.
So, when I got out of bed this morning the first thing I did was drag my father to the nearby store (someone had to drive, after all) and buy two new notebooks. And the I spent the whole day plotting my story, creating new character profiles and planning the scenes I’ll be writing tomorrow. I write by hand and because of that I’m really slow, so everything has to be planned well.
I’ll try to post weekly about my progress. You can find on NaNoWriMo’s website here and below is my project’s synopsis. Ah, and it is called (for now) Masked Queen.

Stories say there was a time when humanity ruled the earth.

Saoirse knows them pretty well. She is the Masked Princess, the heir of humanity’s last kingdom and it is her duty to remember the time before the monsters and the shadows, before they were forced to give up living on the surface to seek refuge on the long-abandoned floating elven cities. Her ancestors were chosen to protect what is left of the human race and she’s been training for it her whole life, but now her mother, Searra, the Iron Queen, is dead. And Saoirse knows she was murdered.

Rhy’s father used to tell these stories to his siblings when he was a child training to face the horrors that almost destroyed humanity centuries ago, and now, as a general famous for his skills with the sacred weapons, he doesn’t give them much importance. But after a campaign gone terribly wrong he is forced to give up the battlefield to fight for his people in a different way: marrying the soon to be queen and, as the new king, bringing justice to those who live near the surface, where the battle is endless and where his family’s bones lie. But he soon finds out that there is more to those stories than he had ever imagined.

As the only son of a once royal – and now poor – family, Lysander knows all of them by heart – and knows more. He knows about the five human kingdoms, and the red war and the new empire, but he also knows about the old elven rulers and their ancient gods and their genderless society. His mother made sure he knew about her people before his father took her away, and now, years later, Lysander has to pretend he doesn’t know the forbidden stories the human race chose to forget. But he has more to hide; from his father who wants him to be the new king the fact he doesn’t like women, and, from everyone else, the day he called for his mother’s people’s gods – and the day their angels called back.

Stories say there will be a time when humanity will rule the earth again, but there is an enemy to be defeated first. Something lurks in the streets of the capital, Neora, and when a ball in honor of the late queen ends in blood and darkneess, Saoirse, Rhy and Lysander realize they are pawns in a bigger game, a game the Iron Queen started – and one they might not be able to win.

So that’s it. Wish me luck. I’ll need lots of it!

On writing what you love

I’m working on my NaNo project right now and because of that I’ve been thinking about what kind of story it is going to be. I know it’s fantasy, I know it’s set in secondary world where elves once lived and where magic exists, but there is one thing I still didn’t know: who the enemy is.

Don’t get me wrong. I have one or two antagonists and there are creatures, monsters, that are “evil”, but who is their “boss”? Who is the main villain/antagonist? Who my MCs have to defeat?

To answer these questions I stopped and thought about who would eventually read my novel and what kind of villain these readers would like, and it was with them in mind that I came up with my first idea: the “boss” would be human, a cunning, manipulative minor lord. It fit the story nicely and for a moment I was pretty happy with it but after some time I realized something wasn’t right. When I tried to imagine the story in my mind I… didn’t like it.

And I love this story. I started working on it when I was disappointed with myself because of other projects that weren’t going forward and it was supposed to be something fun/not serious to write since I’m not even planning on publishing it for real (maybe post it on Wattpad or Tumblr, I don’t know). So why wasn’t I liking it?

It didn’t take long for me to realize it was because of the villain. The villain my imaginary readers would (probably) like? I hated him. I like my fantasy big and full of fantastical/magic stuff, but for some reason I tried to make this story… smaller, less magical, and a human, mundane villain was part of it. Sometimes these more down to earth fantasy stories are seen as more serious, less childish, and when thinking about potential readers I somehow tried to reshape my story to fit what I thought they would like based on this mundane/less magical = serious thing. When I let go of it I found myself liking my project again.

It’s kind of funny because, like I said, this story was supposed to be fun. It was supposed to be formyself first. But I ended up letting what people think get in the way of what I want and what I find interesting and worth reading. And I can’t imagine myself writing something I don’t find worth reading, but fantasy stories full of fantastic beings, magic and gods it’s why I read fantasy. Why I write fantasy.

So, lesson learned. Writing for other people, even my (potential, imaginary) readers, won’t get me anywhere. I need to write for myself first and maybe then someone else will enjoy what I love too.