NaNoWriMo Success (ish)!

I started National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) with about 54,000 words written in Book Six of the “Stasis” series. At this moment the book is 85,300 words. That means I fell 18,700 words short of the NaNoWriMo goal of writing 50,000 words in one month.

In decimal form, I accomplished 62.6% of my goal. If this had been a class, I’d have a D minus. The worst passing grade you can get.

In picture form, my hopes of reaching 50,000 words had a progression something like this:

Bright optimism
Winter of discontent
Mushy despair

It’s much like when I took Calculus 112. I listened in class, I did all the homework, and I studied for the tests in order to achieve my goal of getting an A. But my grades kept coming in worse than I’d hoped. As finals approached, I determined that I needed a 69% on the exam in order to have a “B” for my semester grade. I crammed, I went to the testing center, I worked through every minute they allowed me, and at last I turned in my final. Then I gathered with the crowd of students waiting for their name and test score to appear on the screen. The dread in that little vestibule was palpable.

Finally, my name flashed on the screen, accompanied by a huge “69% D.” I yelled, “YES!” and happily left the room, to the perplexed stares of the other students.

Circling back to NaNoWriMo, I’m happy with my D minus there, too. I really like those 31,300 words I wrote this month. The book has taken some turns that completely surprised me. I’ve loved getting to know some of these secondary characters that have troubles and passions all their own. I wish the end of the book were already in existence because I can’t wait to see what happens next. And, I cut out several thousand words I didn’t like.

Yes, I didn’t meet my goal of having 104,000 words by the end of this month. My hopes, like the Jack-o’-lanterns, turned to mush. But unlike the Jack-o’-lanterns and Calc 112, instead of ending up with something nasty or barely passable, I think I ended up with something like this:

Pumpkin Pie Happiness

Congratulations to everyone who had a NaNoWriMo success (or success-ish) this year!

When you start researching instead of writing…

The game “Nine Men’s Morris” was popular throughout Europe from roughly the end of the Roman occupation up until Shakespeare’s time. The fourth book in the Stasis series is taking place in Ireland, and a few of my characters decided to have some polite (sort of) conversation over a game, and one of them let me know that this is what they were playing.

Naturally, I researched the rules, went to Hobby Lobby and bought materials to make my own game, and dug through my rock collection for samples of labradorite and rainbow moonstone to use as counters. Having played with my son this evening, I attest that the game is simple enough to allow for some conversation while playing, but strategic enough to hold a person’s attention.

Basic rules: Try to get three in a row. When you do, you take an opponent’s piece off the board. If your opponent has no legal moves (is boxed in) or has only two pieces left on the board, you win. Each player starts with nine stones. The game opens by players taking turns putting one of their stones on any unoccupied circle on the board. After placing all nine stones, on your next move, you slide one of your stones one space onto an unoccupied circle. You may not make the exact reverse of your last move on your next move (i.e., no sliding the same stone back and forth to keep making a row of three on alternating turns). When a player has only three stones left, on that player’s next move, the player may put one of those three stones on any open circle on the board.

(This is my excuse for not having met my NaNoWriMo word count today.)

Materials: 1/2 yd fake leather fabric, opaque metallic markers, ruler, hole punch, 3 meters cord, pinking shears, 9 stones of one color, 9 stones of another color.

Directions: double the fabric, cut out as big a circle as possible with the pinking shears, punch an even number of holes around the edge of the circle, and thread the cord through. Cut off the excess cord, set aside. (Your game board is now a drawstring bag.) Cut out a 9-inch paper square, fold it in quarters, unfold it, trace around it with the markers, mark the midpoint of each side using the fold lines of your paper square as a guide. Cut 1 1/2 inches from the outer edge of your square (to make a 6-inch square), center it, and trace around it and mark mid points. Do that one last time (the innermost square is 3-inches on each side). Draw four lines connecting the midpoints. Using a different colored marker, draw circles at all corners and midpoints. Let dry. Using remaining fabric and cord, cut a smaller fabric circle, and punch an even number of holes around the edge. This is your little drawstring bag to hold your stones. It goes inside your big drawstring game board so everything stays together when you’re not using it.


NaNoWriMo Day #13…


For all you crazy NaNoWriMo people:

We’re supposed to be at 21667 words, today. I’m at 19,738, which wouldn’t be so bad, except that the number includes 6,020 words that I had before the month began (couldn’t wait to begin, you know).

I’ve run into issues– the setting I had originally chosen turned out not to be perfect based on a certain character who decided to show up and mess up my plot outline, so I had to go find the real perfect spot. I like it so much better than the first place, I’m already missing it, knowing they’ll have to leave it so soon.

I also had to pull out my giant timeline and cross-check some things, and then reset the historical moment by a few years. But everything’s settled, now, and we can get back to what I scripted out.

That last phrase was a joke, by the way. Something I do, when I need a laugh, is pull out my little plot outlines I’ve made along the way. These are relics of moments when I was inspired as to what should happen in the next few scenes. I’d grab the back of an envelope or a receipt or a napkin (writing around the grease spot left by a renegade salt and vinegar potato chip) or something meant for the recycling bin, and sketch it all out. Looking over them, perhaps 10% of what I wrote actually happened in the pertinent book.

Speaking of crazy things happening in your book, today’s entry on the trusty NaNoWriMo Calendar by Migratory says, “There’s no shame in adding zombies to your story.” I’ll have to think about that one. I think there’s the back of an envelope around here, somewhere…