NaNoWriMo – I’m Looking at You

Hi all,

Last month, I decided, after several years of thinking about it, to participate in NaNoWriMo this November.

NaNoWriMo Logo

For those not aware, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month and is where writers attempt to write fifty thousand words during the month of November. That’s right, fifty thousand hopefully non-rambling words in thirty days. For some, that equates to half a novel. For others, more. As I’m planning to write the first draft of a middle grade novel, I’m hoping it will equate to a full novel (probably brimming with fluffy superfluous words I will slash and burn, come December).

You sign up at the NaNoWriMo website, make friends with equally crazy online writing buddies doing the same, and track your work’s progress. There are also loads of resources and associated events to help keep your motivation up and creative juices flowing – I won’t go into more detail than this; you can check it all out on the website.

So why am I doing it? Well I’ve spent the best part of the last few months developing my story structure, along with detailed scene and character outlines, for the middle grade idea I’ve had for over a year. With a personal preference to lean toward pantsing over plotting, I’ve decided to grit my teeth and try a new approach this time, care of some words of wisdom from author, K.M. Weiland who points out that:

“…a correctly wielded outline can be one of the most powerful weapons in your writing arsenal. Outlines ensure cohesion and balance in the finished story. They prevent wasted time pursuing dead-end ideas, allow you to craft resonant foreshadowing, and, most importantly, provide you a foundation of confidence and motivation.”

And that’s what the last few months of planning and preparation has taught me: the confidence and motivation to write this story. Now don’t get me wrong; it’s not like I don’t usually outline, but in this case it is much more in depth. I’m hoping that translates to a quicker first draft.

Now in terms of NaNoWriMo itself, I’m not delusional. The pace must be consistently fast, averaging 1,667 words per day, every day. And I know I may not reach fifty thousand words – life has an annoying way of throwing up curve balls. But does that mean those who do not reach fifty thousand words do not succeed? Surely any attempt to put bum on seat and fingers on keyboard (or pen to paper) is better than sitting back, waving your hands at your computer, and protesting that it’s too hard. And at least however far I get will be something to continue with once the sun sets on NaNoWriMo 2017.

When I told my husband of my plans, his response was, “Well, I won’t be getting much sense from you in November.” No, probably not, and blog posts may also be scarce during next month. But if I can wave my first draft in the air once the first of December comes around, it’s a small price to pay. 🙂

Well, isn’t it?

Until next time,

Rebecca

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Have you done it before and, if so, how was the experience?

 

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Book Review: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Hi all,

Laini Taylor is masterful at weaving worlds, conjuring characters, and creating conflict, making her one of my favourite authors. Her talent at writing compelling descriptions of scenes and emotions, using words I would never consider stringing together in a sentence, leaves me in awe.

Laini’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy is one of my favorite series, even though it took me the best part of fifty pages to get into the story in the initial book. Strange the DreamerAnd that’s my main issue with Strange the Dreamer, Laini’s latest offering. This one took half the book: it’s so slooow.

Now don’t get me wrong, Laini is such a gifted writer. It’s just that the aspect of her writing that I applaud the most, the one I struggle with most in my own writing, began to grate on my nerves while reading this novel: descriptions, pages and pages of them. Add loads of internal exposition which felt, at times, repetitive and unnecessary, and the plot dragged, bogged down by the length and weight of it all.

Maybe it’s my fault. After all, I’ve read a lot of fast-paced action-fuelled books recently, some of which, I admit, could’ve used a little more description. But Strange the Dreamer is so laden with poetic prose and flowery words that I struggled to read too much of this novel in one sitting, needing to take a break more often than usual. It took me three weeks to read this book, a lot longer than for most. The descriptions came close to overpowering the fascinating plot.

So speaking of plot, Strange the Dreamer starts with the death of a character (it was like, Wow! What a start! when I read it) before falling back in time to the story of Lazlo Strange. Lazlo’s a bookworm obsessed with an “unseen city”, a place whose name disappears in an instant and which becomes known as Weep. Without giving away too much of the narrative, Lazlo’s character eventually becomes intertwined with Sarai, a godspawn brimming with conflict, conflict, conflict!

The characterization of Lazlo, Sarai, and others is fantastic – I especially love Eril-Fane, with his cursed nickname of Godslayer, and Azareen, his long-suffering wife. Saying that, there are an awful lot of secondary characters whose relevance I failed to see. Maybe their relevance will be revealed in the upcoming sequel, The Muse of Nightmares.

Strange the Dreamer’s backstory teems with magic, science, love, and war – such a powerful mix – and the world-building is extraordinary, to say the least.

This novel is a love story unlike any other; the ending pulled at my heart strings. I was hoping against hope that my suspicions would not be confirmed but, alas, they were. I’d guessed how the story ended, or rather, the dilemma to tempt us to read the sequel. Damn, I hate it when that happens…

So will I read it, The Muse of Nightmares? Yes, I’d like to know how the story continues.

It may just take me a while to get through it 🙂

Until next time,

Rebecca