NaNoWriMo Check-In + Ethandune Snippets

HAVE I BEEN ABLE to keep up with the daily wordcount?  Pfft, noooope.  Have I been writing?  Yes.  Am I content with that?  No, but I probably should be.  But you don't want to hear all my excuses because THAT'S BORING & probably you have excuses of your own which sound a lot better than mine (I'm still partial to mine, though).


You have twelve days until the end of Nano!  I want you to remember three important things & I am not making up their importance.

1.  if you finish nano with the 50,000 wordcount, you accomplished the goal of completing nano!

2.  if you don't finish nano with the 50,000 wordcount, YOU. STILL. WROTE. ON. YOUR. STORY. which means it's that much closer to being finished, & that is no small consideration.

3.  if you decide(d) to drop out of nano because it's just too much for a story which needs more time + care, you are exhibiting the mark of a mature individual in recognizing what you + your story need.  quickly-made trash is still trash.  do what's best for you! <3

ethandune

I always manage to write my novels in the season opposite to the one I'm experiencing.  Take Ethandune, at the start of summer, while I'm prepping for the holidays & it's getting into winter (by "getting into winter" I mean today wants to be a high of 78 because the sc piedmont is bipolar).  However, many years of writing in this kind of wacky dichotomy has made me better at compartmentalizing them in my head, so hopefully summertime Ethandune will not wind up in the first draft to have suspicious overtones of Christmas...

snippets

...like a wound which does not hurt until you notice it, the smell of the thing hit me two seconds after I realized what I was seeing. It was jumbled together at impossible angles; it took me another moment to see that it was no longer completely connected with itself.
ethandune

All the rest of that day I had a grey, light-headed sense of being always on the verge of vomiting, but the vomit never came. Dammerung looked up as Goddgofang and I entered the sitting room; there was a sidelong glare of light over the chamber, muting everything, stinging my eyes. I heard Goddgofang’s voice coming from somewhere hollow. I saw the Overlord’s face, without moving, suddenly had a peculiar colour to it which felt like my stomach.
ethandune

...with a sigh, he put down his book and hefted his lean frame out of the chair, eclipsing the glare into a cruciform shape and muting all his features into a halo grey. 
ethandune

He seemed a good deal older then, coming away from the leper’s bedside, than he had even when we had approached. I wondered if he was truly always that age, that peculiar blackened weight which had little to do with the silvered hair at his temples, and if he had a kind of off-hand glamour at most times thrown over the dark to hide the drag of it from our eyes.
The lull came with us as we went down to the hall, broken by Goddgofang once, coming down behind me, with his father behind him.
“Do you ever get used to it?” he asked quietly.
And from above and behind on the stair, Dammerung’s voice in the dark: “No. You just get better at hiding it.”
ethandune


Think Tank Followup: What Editors Have to Say About Editing

how do you edit?

I ASKED & YOU ANSWERED.  I'm a mental muddle when it comes to editing, so I was thrilled to get some awesome feedback on my think tank post for editing.  As promised, I'm going to showcase these answers & break them down as I've thought about them.

One thing I've found helpful when figuring out what to keep and what to cut, is to evaluate what the story would look like if you didn't have that scene. Would the story survive? Would it still make sense? If not, it's valuable enough to keep. If it's unnecessary, either cut it or alter the scene so it pulls it's own weight.

This is some of the best fundamental advice. Your story is made up of the scenes you collect + weave together, & people notice how odd it is when there is something extraneous included.  People save up the scene in their minds, waiting for the revelation of its importance...but the importance never comes - & that leaves a bad impression.

As Tracey pointed out, though, it isn't quite as simple as does this work or does this not work.  Oftentimes, scenes are obviously crucial to the plot; sometimes, scenes are obviously random & need to be hacked out.  But occasionally you'll write a scene which isn't quite what the story needs, but it could be, & you have to find a way to "alter the scene so it pulls it's own weight."  So your options are:

yes - it stays
no - it goes
renovate scene
ugly crying

I actually love the process of perfecting, and changing words, paragraphs and scenes/characterizations and details to build a richer world and picture. If you need to edit as in CUT scenes, get a third-party involved.
Also give your writing space and then coming back and reading it to oneself as if it was a novel from the library. The flaws pop up strongly at you and often one can see what should be changed.

A huge help in editing is to leave it alone for awhile. While you are writing a manuscript, you are geared into conquer-virgin-territory mode: you're ploughing ahead into the semi-unknown, often leaving a battered trail behind you.  When you are done writing, give it a rest: let your mind wind down from ex nihilo mode.  Once things have cooled, you'll have a chance to go back & look critically at what you've written.  You're in a separate frame of mind, this time for editing + refining, not blazing a trail.  Don't underestimate the importance of this break.  You need space from your first draft to be able to assess it fairly, & it's very hard to do that when you're still gung-ho for the writing stage.

...All the same, you're always going to be the writer of that first draft, & you're unlikely to completely forget what it was like writing it.  Despite your best intentions, this can cloud your judgment, so having another person look over your work, with no prior explanation, to see if the story communicates itself rationally, is SUPER helpful in getting a day-old colt of a draft on its legs.

My biggest tip is to read it aloud to myself. This helps me catch repetitive words/phrasing, and make sure it's flowing properly.

What you may or may not have caught on to yet is that I am an abysmal writer.  It's true.  When I am writing, I am 99.9% blind to "what I've done," & focused on "what comes next."  So when I happen to go back & look at my writing, I've been known to find the most outrageous mistakes in grammatical construction, & even have missed a word or supplemented an entirely wrong word in the fever of my scribbling.  And this is only with the occasional glance back: I dread to think what I'll discover when I really sit down to edit.

The problem is, your brain is really good at adjusting for mistakes when communicating to you.  Is a word missing, or a word duplicated?  Don't worry about it!  Brain's got it handled.  You won't even notice a thing.  But if you set yourself to reading out loud, you're much more forced to pay attention to the text & take care that the cadence is correct, you haven't used the same description more than once in the same page (*guilty*), your dialogue isn't as stupid as a drunk squirrel on a highway, etc.  This is definitely an embarrassing exercise, especially when you flub up as often as I do, but it's also really helpful so here's some humble pie to go with that Thanksgiving dinner I hope you scheduled time for in the midst of Nano.


thank you, ladies!  your advice is phenomenal.  <3