Tag Archives: NaNo ’11

I’ve Jumped Fandoms


Image by Little Phoenix ♥ via Flickr

It’s not so unusual. Lots of us write for more than one fandom, and I know many many authors who write both twific and HPfic, but I feel as if this moment is a kind of turning point for me.

I wrote completed a Harry Potter fanfiction.

Yeah, I started this fic way back… February? It’s a gift fic, for my darling venis-envy, but it took me a while as I was doing it in fits and starts, and I’d get distracted by something else, I would get disheartened (because I don’t know the canon, I’ve never written in that fandom before, I’d read something by Sara’s Girl and decide my shit wasn’t worth the paper it was written on) etc etc.

But thanks to NaNoWriMo, I completed it today. Yep, I finished my NaNo novel a few days ago, and then lost for something to make up my 50k word count, I grabbed my long neglected HPDM fic and kept on writing.

And I finished it *dances* I’m sure venis-envy is doing a little dance herself. That’s gotta be the longest wait for a birthday fic ever (I’m just gonna hide now, because I still have a WIP going on that was originally for mynameisserendipity for her birthday, and a one-shot that needs editing for sapphirescribe’s birthday. I obviously suck at birthdays).

So. Um, yeah. If you’re into Harry/Draco fics, watch this space :) I’ll probably post it as a one-shot because it’s only around 16k. It’s angsty and porny. Surprise suprise ;)

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The road to hell is paved with adverbs.

A lazy middle-of-NaNo picture post today. I’ve been re-reading Stephen King’s On Writing. This is one of my favourite quotes from the book.

the road to hell is paved with adverbs

NaNo 11: Calendars and Timelines

I suck at timelines. I usually end up with scrawled lists on bits of paper and so far I haven’t inserted a timeline in any of my story bibles except for the one that spans 5000 years (and that’s just to keep track of my vampire family trees). But as I was picking through my day planner while planning my latest (and hopefully ‘the one’ since I have what? A day to get distracted?) NaNo plot bunny, I realised what I needed was a calendar.

So I went to FreePrintableCalendar.net and printed off six months worth.

100_6645 Oh. My. God. So freaking easy to plan out the major events in my book and so bloody logical I have no idea why it’s never occurred to me before. I’ve pasted these into the back of my story bible and once again, I’m filling them in as they come to me.

This will possibly be my last blog post (except for Flash Fiction Fridays—I’ll keep doing those as long as people keep writing for it) before NaNo. I start writing at midnight tonight (but that’s past my bed time, so perhaps first thing in the morning) and I don’t know how much time I’ll have for blogging.

I’ve decided to write under my original fiction penname for NaNo this year. Some of you know it already, if you do, you’re one of the lucky few ;)

Anyway, thanks for hanging about during the lead up to NaNoWriMo, it’s been heaps of fun :D

Creating Your Own Canon: Moving from Fan Fiction to Original Fiction

My friend Kerry Freeman is having a go this week. I’m kind of in awe of Kerry half the time, this girl sold her book! She’s published! It’s all very exciting, and I’m so damn proud of her. Here, she tells us how it happened :D

For me, it started like this:

SIL: (sitting at computer, reading my latest one-shot)
Me: (biting nails)
SIL: (turns around) This is REALLY good. Why don’t you publish it?
Me: It’s fan fiction, so it’s someone else’s characters. I can’t publish it.
SIL: Then why in the world aren’t you writing something you CAN publish?

By the time I had this conversation, I’d written fan fiction for over a year. I’d completed two multi-chapter stories of my own, one multi-chapter collaboration, and a few one-shots. My life outside of work had become centered around writing about someone else’s characters, and I was convinced that I couldn’t write anything that wasn’t based on someone else’s canon. I wasn’t that creative, you see.

A few months later, I met a great group of fandom friends in Chicago to see Eclipse. Not only had I talked to these women online for a year, I’d also used them as sounding boards, betas, and collaborators for my fan fiction. The last night there, we all sat around a table at an Irish pub and talked about the movie, which quickly moved to discussing fandom and fan fiction.

When I mentioned trying to write original fiction, every one, without exception, encouraged me. They thought I could create my own characters, with their own history and quirks, and write a new story. Their encouragement gave me the confidence to really give this original fiction thing a try.

Then I did the one thing that all new writers do: I bought a crap ton of books on how to write. Every one of them told me something different. It took a while, but I finally figured something out.

You won’t find your voice or your own method in a book.

Sure, you can learn about grammar and wording and outlining and the Snowflake method. But you have to know when to put the books down and write it your way.

My time writing fan fiction was valuable in finding my voice and figuring out what works for me. I realized that I’m not a pantser. Even when it comes to writing a short story, I need to know my characters’ histories: where they came from, what they do for a living, what their hobbies are. I may never use all that information in the story, but I need to know it to know my characters.

Fan fiction also helped me find my genre. I started out writing het, and I liked it well enough. But I couldn’t write canon Bella. I had to make her tough, self-reliant. A tomboy.

Then I read my first slash. When I read Underneath and Say Something Else, I was blown away. Both stories were beautifully written, and I wanted to write like that. I also was intrigued by the different feel slash had. I found I enjoyed reading it more than het, and, when I tried my hand at writing my own slash one-shot, I found I definitely preferred writing it.

The hardest part about moving from fan fiction to original fiction is the loss of instant feedback. Every time you post a new fic chapter, you get reviews and comments from your readers. You find out quickly what works, what doesn’t, and what completely throws the reader for a loop. When you write original fiction, you generally work in a vacuum. You don’t send every chapter to a beta or post it somewhere for comments. You have to be confident that the story is going how and where you want without consistent feedback along the way.

Then again, this could be a good thing. When writing fan fiction, I often found myself wondering if I should change my vision based on what the readers seemed to want. It’s hard to stay on your path if every week people are telling you they want you to go a different way. When you write original fiction, you’re in a bubble that allows you to get what’s in your head out on the page before anyone gets a chance to sway you.

Once I put down all the writing books, I opened my head to new voices. Not Edward’s or Jacob’s. New voices of people I’d never met before. I looked at situations, every day occurrences, current events, and I tried to imagine what the people in them were thinking, why they were doing the things they were, what the small touches and glances were really communicating.

And then it happened. I saw two kids and thought, “I bet when they grow up…” Suddenly I was creating their pasts and their futures. I knew who they were going to be and who they would love. The voices I heard were new to me and were more than willing to tell me what I should write.

I was creating my own canon.

There are plenty of websites to help you write a query letter or find an agent or an editor. You’ll find lots of great people who will give you virtual hugs when you get your first rejection letter. The same people will sing from the rooftops of Twitter when you finally get a contract. You can create online critique groups of people you’ve never met in real life and who you tell your deepest, darkest fears about writing and publishing… and life in general.

But none of them can make you believe in yourself and in your own characters the way just going for it will. NaNoWriMo starts on November 1st. Make a decision that you will only write characters of your own design for one month, 50K words. Even if at the end of November you have 50K words that you never show another soul, do it. Finish it. Show yourself you can.

Who knows. Maybe, after a few months of edits, you’ll have a book someone wants to publish. I did.

KF_WhatWeDeserve_coverlg Kerry’s book was released today! It’s an m/m/m romance called What We Deserve, and you can find out more at the product page at Loose Id. Kerry’s website is here, or you can check out her blog here, and you can follow her on twitter and Goodreads.

NaNo 11: The Wisdom of Mr. Vamp

So I’ve been brainstorming this dystopian not-too-distant-future thingy for NaNo. 50 years before my story starts I’m having the Y2K bug fuck things up, cos really, in real life it was a bit of a pussy. Hubby lets me bounce plots and shit off him as long as I don’t mention the man on man part of what I write ;) so I started bouncing.

He sits there at the kitchen table as I pace the floor, gesturing with my hands and losing track of my thoughts.

And he stares.

And I stop. And I stare back.

And then he speaks:

“Don’t be a wuss. Grow some post-apocalyptic balls and kill the fucking world! Fuck them up something good! Then let the survivors pick up the shit that’s left over.”

That’s about the gist of it. A wee pearl of wisdom from my darling husband.

Thing is, he’s completely and utterly right. I dunno whether it’s because I’m a girl, or because of my penchant for sticking as close to reality as possible or just that I’m a fucking pussy, but I do have a tendency to pull back from the cataclysmic shit. So I’m gonna fuck them up good. I’m gonna bring that cataclysm *nods*

*deep breath* I think I’ll be looking for lots of ‘bring that shit’ pep talks in November…

NaNo 11: Get Your Shit Together

Me, I’m a pantser at heart, but some preparation is key. Obviously. If you’ve been playing along at home, we’ve made a few million story bibles, we’ve got characters and badnesses and ideas and shit.

Do you know how you’re gonna write yet? Where?

Maybe this is a gimmee. You always write on the computer. First thing in the morning. Late at night. On your lunch break. On your smartphone at your kids soccer game. Sitting on the back doorstep, fag in hand, with a pen and paper.

That last one might be mine. For the Americans, a fag is a cigarette, and for those of you with class, I have none. Bite me :)

Whatever. But if you’re like me, NaNo is less about the finished product than encouraging good writing habits. Generally by the time November rolls around I’m woefully out of the habit of writing every day. NaNo serves as a bloody great kick up the bum for me. When the only writing that gets done is on the back porch on a smoke break, when I care more about my blogs than my fiction, when that dream of being a real published author fades yet again into impossibility, NaNo puts my ass back in the chair and makes me write.

To help in that goal, I need the right tools. This year I’m handwriting, so I bought a special ring binder with ‘chapter’ dividers. I have ruled, punched paper and a clipboard to press on. I’m going to buy some more cool pens with an ink colour to suit every mood.

But I also need to know when and where I’m going to be writing.

When I’m writing on the computer its generally only late at night. Last year I’d sit down at 10pm and write solid till midnight, and that netted me about 2000 words. Definitely enough to make my target. Anything I did during the day was gravy.

This year I’m aiming for a more holistic and yet casual approach. I’ll always have my clipboard with me, and as long as I fill 5 pages a day, I’ll stay on track. This will allow me to write in short bursts rather than long hauls, which really is a more natural way for me to work.

As for where… well the reason I write on the back doorstep and late at night is because I live in a very small house with two kids, an enormous puppy, and a very opinionated husband with no respect for my need for concentration :) Its a very very noisy and distracting environment! When my daughter is at school and hubby is at work I can sometimes tune out at the kitchen table because it is just Mr3, me, and the dog.

But only sometimes. Hubby works shifts, so he’s home more days than not, and my little girl is the quietest in the house next to me.

So when I am not the main child carer I plug my ears in and drown out the noise with my playlist of choice. Problem is, if I’m sitting on the couch or at the kitchen table I’m fair game for Mr3. ‘I want get up, Mummy.’

Not so good for writing ;)

So this year, to avoid smoking too much, I’m planning to spend some time in hubby’s man-shed when he can watch the kids. It’s set up with couches and a stereo, and if I rearrange some stuff I might even be able to carve out a little office space out there.

My real office, and where i wrote most of my NaNo words last year, is in the corner of our bedroom. I’ll give that a tidy up, too, for when i need to be a little more available.

What are you doing to get your shit together for NaNo?

ETA: Just to be a little different this time, I wrote this blog post on my smartphone, sitting on the back step with fag in hand. Still no class ;) Also, between writing and posting this, I went out to hubby’s man-shed and carved me out some office space. The hum of the freezer is surprisingly good for concentration O.o

NaNo 11: Writing By Hand

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Yes, this year I’m writing by hand.

I actually write most of my stuff by hand anyway, then transcribe onto the computer. For a short or a one shot, I’ll generally write the entire thing and treat the transcription process as the first rewrite, making the first digital copy of a story the equivalent of a second draft. For longer stuff I generally let it pile up until I get blocked and then rewrite till the muse hits again.

For NaNo, I generally transcribe in a mad dash at the end of the day in order to get my word count updated before midnight – but this results in more typos and fuckups than I would get on a normal computer written piece.

So this year I’m going to save myself a half hour of work a day during November and not bother with the transcription part of the process.

Yeah, you can legally do this for NaNo. They ask you to get ‘someone you trust’ to validate your word count. I trust me better than anyone else to count my words. I know for a fact that I write something between 360-400 words per foolscap lined page, so when I’m looking at a word count I go by 350 per page and count it that way. Fill 5 pages per day and that’s my safe minimum word count for the day.

Once I hit my NaNo target of 50k I’ll generate some text of the correct word count and validate that, and then I’m done and dusted with the complicated stuff.

Writing by hand requires a completely different tool set. Normally I grab a pen, my clipboard, and some paper, and just go for it. But I’m going to end up with about 90 sheets of paper at the end of the month, so I needed some way of organising it. I feel like I’ve gone back to school, but I bought a ring binder and some subject dividers (10, I should really have bought another packet of them) and I have a 100 leaf refill (hole punched, lined, foolscap sized leaves) pad ready to go.

All I have to do now is toddle along to jetpens.com and get me a whole bunch of fountain pen refills in different ink colours so I can have a whole new ink colour every time I run out ;)

I wonder how many refills I’ll go through O.o

I think it’s quite interesting how I’ve done pretty much all my outlining by hand, as well this year. I wonder what that says about me? That I prefer the tangible over the digital? That would be weird, considering how much of a geek I am.