Make a Wish

magic wandI’ve been re-writing my Nano novel, and am facing a choice: do I want to use a first person narrator?

The last time I wrote a book in first person, I also used present tense, which got tiresome very quickly. After about three chapters, the narrator’s voice began to grate on my nerves.
That is the problem with a first person narrator. To justify using it, the voice has to be unique and interesting. But a quirky voice that pulls the reader into the first chapter may become irritating after a few chapters.

Third person is a safe choice, but I might get bored. For some reason, I want to tell this in the first person. More

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The Ghosts of Novels Past

I have written three entire novels.

I thought I was unique until I joined Scribophile. There I discovered that I was not the only person on the planet to plan a Trilogy of Very Imaginative and Lengthy Fantasy Novels.

Mine weren’t a trilogy, however (though the first one tried). My ghosts came to me one at a time.
I have done some horrendous writing. I have even sent some of it out to publishers. A Box of Shame sits on my closet shelf, whispering to me, “Capable of Doing Better…”

Each attempt was better than the last, but none should have been sent out. I’m sure no one remembers my Space Opera, with a name I’m too embarrassed to tell you. (Okay, I have been, and always will be a Trekkie; but that is no excuse to be cliche.) When printed, it ran over 500 pages, which impressed me greatly at the time. But 500 pages of tripe is still tripe.

I resolved to boldly go beyond that sad effort. More

Scrivening a Novel

Scrivener for OS X For my NaNo novel I used a program I hadn’t tried before – Scrivener.

I have always used Word, making each chapter a new document, copying them to create new revised versions, sorting each version’s chapters into separate folders — first draft, revision 1, etc. When I’m revising, I may want to look at several chapters at once. That means multiple windows, each needing to have changes saved.

Using Scrivener is like having all your documents – scenes, chapters, notes, research, pictures — all of it on your desk in front of you. The screen has three parts- the Binder, where you can see all your documents organized and easily clickable; the Editing Pane, where your writing appears, and the Inspector, which holds a place for notes, status, key words, research citations, etc. The Binder and the Inspector can be closed, leaving you with just the Editing Pane, which can be split to show more than one document at a time.

The thing I like best is the index cards. I have always used index cards for everything – writing, notes to self, contacts, etc. The contents of every folder in Scrivener can be displayed as index cards pinned to a corkboard. The cards can be easily grabbed and moved around, even into other folders. I make a folder for each chapter, then individual documents for each scene. When I look at the corkboard, I can easily move scenes around. So much easier than scrolling through a document looking for the scene you want.

Another feature I love is Snapshots. As I’m editing my NaNo, I can take a Snapshot of each scene I’m changing, preserving the original version. If I don’t like my changes, I can revert to the Snapshot. It’s like time travel — with index cards.

Every day when I sat down to write, I could view a live bar graph showing my progress towards the final goal (50,000 words) and the session goal (1700 a day). I could easily view my total word count without going through every chapter. Some days, just seeing that bar fill up as I typed was all the motivation I needed. I really think it helped me finish.

When I got ready to upload my novel to the NaNoWriMo web site, I clicked “Edit Scrivenings” and was able to view the entire thing. Then I exported it into Word, one of the acceptable formats, though I could have chosen several other formats.

My days of folders and subfolders are over. I don’t have to remember what folder my notes are in or what I named them. I don’t have to think about what to name each chapter document so I can find it again. Scrivener is my new brain.

Nano 50002

I did it. At 6:13 this morning, I typed word # 50,002.
I am most pleased with the ending, which just dropped out of nowhere. As I was thinking that it would take a couple thousand more words to bring it all to a conclusion, I suddenly saw the end. I may add a short epilogue, just to clarify a couple things, but I am happy with the way it turned out.
The writing needs tons of revision.
The plot is fine, and with some re-working, will make a good story.
The characters are okay. Now that I have a better idea who they all are, it will be easier to go back and look at their dialog and actions and fix inconsistencies.
But it’s done.
It’s not five chapters, meticulously honed to perfection and nowhere near completion. It is a complete novel. I have no pretensions about it being a great work of literature, but it has potential.
Now what?
I have several unfinished projects that might benefit from some of the discipline I’ve taught myself in the last 19 days.
As far as the Nano goes, January is National Novel Revision Month, I think. By then I may be ready to look at it again.
Till then… ?

Book Report

“It’s my favorite,” she said, handing him the battered paperback. She didn’t ask, but he knew he was supposed to read it.

“Thanks.” He didn’t know what to say. Books were things he rarely thought about. He didn’t have a favorite.

The book stayed on the kitchen table for a few days. Then he moved it to the top of his dresser. Every morning he looked at it and thought, I need to read this. It made him feel guilty.

book_stackFinally she asked.

“Amazing,” he replied. “Can’t stop thinking about it.”

She smiled. “Do you want to read the sequel?”

Immortal Monkey Writes Best-seller

The universe may be infinite, but good ideas are not, and it seems that we passed the last one some time ago. All Dax can write are sequels to something he’s already written. He has Sequel Syndrome, one of the side-effects of finishing a novel.

The other side-effect is a never-ending cycle of elation and self-disparagement. Part 1: I finished! Yeah! And it’s good! (Imagines himself discussing his book with Oprah.) Part 2: This is no good – I’m a terrible writer! What was I thinking? (Imagines rejection letter that begins: Dear Author of the worst book ever written…)

Everything has already been said. It’s just that everyone hasn’t said it yet. When that happens, we will know that the end is near. The world will end when every person on earth has written a novel about vampires. More

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