What now?

I am sorry to report that I have not added a new post to my blog in quite a while. Two months and 10 pounds ago, in fact. In the meantime, I finished NaNoWriMo with 50,075 words in the month of November. Not all of those words were in my novel, but all of them moved my novel forward because I found free-writing before working on my novel actually clarified my thoughts and allowed my writing to move smoother and more clearly than when I did not free-write. The National Novel Writing organization allows all words written in the month of November to be used toward the 50,000-word goal. I have not yet combined all of my chapters into one document to find out how many words my novel has, but I would not be surprised if it is over 120,000. I started November with 60,000 words.

I wish I could say I finished my novel in November, but alas, I did not. That’s all right. My goal was to finish by Dec. 19. I missed that too. By a measly 2,000 words or so. However, after we returned from vacation and my brain had an entire week to work on the problem of the final scene of my novel, I finished the Saturday after Christmas. Missing that deadline tortured me. Newspapers seldom stop the presses. Mother Theresa and Princess Diana were the exceptions in my newspaper career. I’ve always abided to that deadline, seldom late, and only a few minutes at that. Putting down my writing and letting it sit for a week, drove me crazy, creating anxiety for really no reason at all. I just broke a promise to myself, and I do that every day by hitting snooze on my alarm that I ignore anyway. However, I am quite please that I did finish the first draft of a novel. That truly is a big deal. It’s not finished yet. It needs at least one or two rounds of re-writing, then move to alpha and beta readers, before the serious editing begins. I expect three to five layers of editing after the readers. My goal is to be ready for that stage by late summer.

But now, it is January, and I am between projects. I’m letting my novel sit and simmer for a month before I take a stab at the re-write. It’s a time of new beginnings. I’ve been resting, thinking, researching, reading, enjoying a bit of time off, yet strangely anxious to start the next project. No resolutions here. I set goals. I write them down. I let my tribe know about them. I reach most of my goals. So instead of resolutions, I’m working on reflection and education this month. What worked? What didn’t work? What is changing? I’m asking this about my entire life, but I am also changing my career focus from only homeschool to homeschool and writing for a living, which means I’m educating myself on how a lot of other people do this so I can figure out what may work best for me in this next season of life. Sometimes we don’t know what our options are, so I’m listening to podcasts and reading blogs to find out how other writers make writing work while they also do life. 

Learning about Plot and Structure takes a bit of time and note-taking.

As I reflect on the past year, I’m also starting the plotting process for the my next novel, which will be the second in the trilogy that my last novel started. I’ve read Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody and I’m working through Plot & Structure: Techniques and exercises for crafting a plot that grips readers from start to finish by James Scott Bell. Before I started my last novel, which is the second one I’ve written but the first one I’m aiming to publish, I read at least seven books and did a ton of research about how to write and structure a novel, but during the writing, I felt that my structure was a bit weak. I asked for these two books for Christmas and am planning to use them make my structure stronger, because I know that is an area that my novel is weak. 

If you wonder why am I doing this research and self-education, think about the difference between a letter to the editor and a college essay or the difference between a newspaper article and a novel. It is easy to think that following a structure is formulaic, but honestly, every type of communication has a structure, a form, and not following it weakens the writing even if most everything else is strong. Think about the difference between a text and an email. My son always complains that I use texting for emailing, and he is correct. Email is for lots of detail and depth. Text messaging is a quick conversation. 

I didn’t believe my Mass Communications professor back in J-school, but Marshall McLennon was correct: The medium IS the message.

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.