Sit Up Straight, Kids

Last week, I told you I reached 10,000 words for NaNoWriMo.  Today, I’m happy to report I’ve hit 21,762!  I am finally out of Act I, and my character is running away.  Flee! Flee for your lives!  I don’t think it is going to work out for her, sadly.  I still need Acts II and III.

It has been a busy week, but I’ve remained ahead of the target word count and I’ve learned about several more aspects of writing.

Laptop Ergonomics

Weren’t expecting this one, were you?  Neither was I!  My chiropractor could have told me though, if I’d asked before I went in with terrible neck pain and a headache.  The recliner is not the best place to type away on your novel, head down and shoulders rolled forward.  I should have guessed this, as I spent a lot of time on my desk at work.  I just didn’t apply those lessons to my home life!


This was my temporary solution, as the show must go on.  Or rather, I needed to keep writing while at the same time avoiding daily trips back to the chiropractor and/or massage therapist.  You can see Aragorn approves. Faramir was scoping it out from afar, plotting to take it down.

On Thursday, I received a desk from Amazon that will crank from sitting to standing.  I have the same one at my work office, though this one is smaller.  It was a disaster to put together, taking around five hours total with four extra people.  It is a great desk, but the instructions were Ikea-level ridiculous.  They led to a slight misunderstanding right out of the gate, and we built it backwards and didn’t realize our mistake for two hours.

Good thing it works.


Character Language

This one takes a little more explanation.  My employer has offices worldwide, and I’ve recently had the opportunity to work with people from South America, Europe, and Asia as part of a special project.  They all sounded different.  And that is the extent of my appreciation of language differences – we have them.

If I get on the phone with someone and they sound different, I might think, “they’re from somewhere else.”  I don’t really care though because we are exchanging information, and as long as the language barrier doesn’t prevent that task, it is irrelevant they sound different or are from “somewhere else.”  The only reason location is important is so we can manage the time zone issues when setting up conference calls.

On one hand, I’m fairly certain this means I’m not overtly discriminatory.  I’m happy to work with whoever, from wherever.  Diversity at work leads to far better results than we’d have if we only talked to people just like us.  And to be clear, I do care about where they are from as I get to know them.  I enjoyed speaking with my coworkers from across the world during the project last year, on both professional and personal levels.  We had terrific (and calm) conversations about religion and politics when we’d go out to dinner.  I just never stopped to consider our languages and how they sounded.

This week, I read some of Brandon Sanderson’s annotations on the Mistborn series. I won’t spoil any of the details, but I discovered that the characters from the one of the cultures were written to have the same language structure.  Their voices sounded similar because they had similar backgrounds.

Mind.  Blown.

I know this seems obvious, but I have never considered this.  Oh sure, I knew characters were all supposed to sound different.  I’ve concluded I’m pretty terrible at that right now and it is something I’ll need to tackle in revisions, but I hadn’t thought about groups of characters sounding somewhat similar.  I’ve never noticed this in other people, so it didn’t occur to me to plan it into my writing.

Questions for you!

  • What does your writing setup look like?  Have you had problems with a poor setup?
  • Are there other authors out there with annotations/notes on their books?  In addition to being interesting, I found it educational.
  • How is your NaNoWriMo coming along?

All the Numbers

Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 12.33.57 PM

NaNoWriMo Statistics & Graph

I told you there would be graphs!  As we begin this beautiful Sunday, I have 10,000 words added to my story since November 1.  That means I’m 20% done with my NaNoWriMo goal!

It has only been four days, but I’ve already learned quite a bit more about writing and my novel than I did on October 31.

I’ve added 10,000 words to what I started with, which was just over 9,000 words.  I have close to 20,000 words, and I’m still very much in the middle of Act I.  I guess this means I have more words than I thought, or my Act I needs some editing!  Probably a bit of both.

I was concerned I wouldn’t have enough words because I don’t explain things well.  Setting?  What setting.  I have no idea what my characters are wearing, though I assume they aren’t naked.  I’m envisioning trees and hills and grass in my head as I write the scenes, but frequently forget to write that down.  People have five senses, but my characters only talk about what they see.  It is a problem.  Thankfully, I still have a lot to write about!

This many words presents a challenge to my plan.  Revising will take longer than I expected, which is made more problematic by the fact I don’t know what to expect.  And I need to add trees and clothes and smells to the scenes.  There will be plenty of work to do after I’m done writing this draft!  I’ll have to wait to worry about that until then though.

My characters are developing nicely.  My main character has informed me she’s calmer than I planned, even if she’s got serious anxiety.  She’d also like me to know her parents were more brutal than I expected, which is kind of awesome.  And a secondary character is showing herself to be far more charming, and also more sneaky, than anticipated.  She’s going to be surprising at the end; I can already tell.

Did you know you can subscribe to this blog via email?  Check out the link on the right under “Follow the Quest via Email.”  Hint: this is a good option for my family who wants to know how the quest is going, if I’ve updated my blog, and how the cats are (they’re fine).

How is your month going?  Hitting those word counts?  Let us know in the comments!


Eating an Elephant

Tomorrow is the first of November, and Aragorn already loves my story! It is almost National Novel Writing Month. I’ll be joining writers across the world in trying to bang out 50,000 words in 30 days.  That’s 1667 words per day, if you do the math.  I did all the math, and will be updating it as I get ahead or fall behind on the total count.

Tonight, the word count for my novel sat at 9,953.  This means by November 30, I will have 50,000 more words, or 59,953.  Hopefully, I will not be done with the novel then and will continue to work on this draft into December.  If all goes according to my master plan, I’ll finish this draft for the New Year.  What hurdles await?

So how does one write 1,667 words per day?  My main resource in tackling this question for November is 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron.  I recommend the book, but if you’re starting NaNoWriMo tomorrow and just want the 2k to 10k part, you can check out her blog post here.  I’m uncertain it will work perfectly, but I’ve been using the tips for the last week and have found my word count increasing as I stare at the page blankly for less time each day.

My schedule will call for writing in the morning as often as possible, because I’m the most productive then.  Morning may not be your time, but it is likely you’ll have better results if you schedule your writing sometime instead of starting the day and hoping for the best.  Here’s a hint: timer set to 30 minutes before you wake up, attached to a space heater in your bedroom.  Thank me later.

The next strategy I’m using has nothing to do with writing.  I’ve learned that all goals I pursue are better accomplished if I feel well.  What does this mean for me?  Quality sleep, quality food, quality exercise, and quality time with friends.  These things will keep me feeling well so I have the mental energy to tackle that word count goal daily.  Yes, this is a busy month.  Yes, there will be snacks aplenty all around us.  Yes, it is likely cold.  Taking care of our health is worth it though.  I’m no expert on writing, but I am an expert in efficiency, and you will be 100% less efficient in your writing if you are out cold because you are sick.

What strategies do you have for staying on track with your word count this month?  What are you doing to stay healthy and happy in the process?  Good luck, writers!

The Call to Adventure

I’ve been reading how important the first page of a novel is, so I assume this first post is super critical to my entire career as a writer and possibly my life as a human.  That seems like a lot of pressure though, and if you’ve looked at my “about” page, you know I’m not yet qualified for such a hefty task.  Perhaps once I’ve learned more I can revise this page so it becomes the epic introduction everyone expects.  Until then, you may have to deal with my information dumping and incomplete character development.

I’m also going to spoil the ending right now.  I’m going to finish a novel by the end of October 2018.

Now that I have the beginning and end of this adventure, I need the middle.  I don’t know enough about writing to plan the middle yet, so that’s where this site comes in handy.  I’ll be keeping track of “Act II” of the quest to complete a novel here, chronicling what I assume will involve a whole bunch of problems.  These problems may include misidentifying my “Act II,” but we’ll burn that bridge later.

I’m starting my second-ish draft of my project.  It has gone through several revisions, false starts, near-death experiences, and abandonments over the last decade so I’m not sure what to call its current state.  We’ll go with “second draft.”

This week, I’ll be starting in on National Novel Writing Month to help me add another 50,000 words to this draft.  Most people will start a new project at the beginning of the month, but as a ferocious rule follower, I’ve concluded I can start where I’m at so long as I only count the words written in November for my NaNoWriMo total.  I hope to put weekly updates here, and be warned!  They will involve graphs.

I hope you will follow my quest and provide assistance.  The hero always has friends, sidekicks, mentors, and random secondary characters who give them food.  I like bacon, just FYI.  The role of antagonist is already filled by impersonal forces working against my success though, so no need to apply there.


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