Plotting A Fine Romance

So by this time next week, the annual writing challenge that is NaNoWritMo (National Novel Writing Month) will have started, and tens of thousands (maybe I’m exaggerating that number, or maybe not) of writers – newbies, seasoned veterans and everyone else in between – will spend their time working toward the daily word count quota, determined to extract 50,000 word novel within 30 days. I’ve attempted NaNoWritMo twice, and have spectacularly failed both times (though a good amount of plot bunnies and other ideas have emerged from both experiences). I’ve documented my (lack of) progress in this blog, and I will continue to do so, with the hope of officially logging in a higher word count than before [I’ve quasi-given up on the notion of actually “winning” – writing the mandatory 50,000 words – as the odds of that happening have been, and won’t be in my favor].

This year, however, I’ve added (of my own free will) an additional challenge to this year’s attempt, as a way to think inside the box (as, everyone knows, it’s always bigger on the inside) and to (hopefully) improve my writing craft. I’ve mentioned this in previous blog entries, but I’ll repeat it again – the [optional] challenge is to write a story in a genre that is outside the writer’s comfort zone. Two other writers, both NaNoWritMo participants, (so far) have agreed to this challenge, so it should prove to be an interesting month of writing. Interestingly, the out-of-comfort-zone genre for the two aforementioned writers is the genre in which I’m most comfortable writing – mystery – and my out-of-comfort-zone genre is the genre in which they predominantly write:

Romance.

I’m not particularly fond of the romance genre, whether it be in literature, film, TV or other media – I’ve always found them to be formulaic, cliché, and ultimately, predictable. Moreover, I get annoyed when a love subplot (or worse yet, a love angle) is quasi-randomly inserted into or unnecessarily emphasized, ruining the plot – the film Pearl Harbor would have been better without the love story (but that’s only my opinion). I kinda get that romance is a highly profitable and popular genre with the general public, but it’s never been my cup of coffee (or tea, depending on my mood). Having said that, there are exceptions to my apparent aversion to romantic tales (namely if there are British actors involved in the film or TV show, or if the literary series has a romance that is not super saccharine or contrived).

I suppose I’ve become overly cynical about love and romance, though there is not particular reason why this is the case, as I haven’t suffered a heartbreak or anything of that sort – love and romance just haven’t been a top priority for me (if anything, I’ve been oblivious to any kind of romantic signals, so odds are I may have just missed out on the possibility of love and romance in my life).

Anyway.

Last week (I think), I quasi-vaguely listed possible options for this free form romance novel, and my plot bunnies have been sequestered in their own Mind Palace (which resembles a Hobbit hole) to see what they can do to help the process along. I suppose I have the next few days to figure out whether this [Untitled Love Story] will fit somewhere in my series saga or end up as a stand alone novel.

Either way, it’ll be an interesting NaNoWritMo. I’m curious how this twist will turn out.

TTFN!

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Regaining Momentum

For the moment, at least.

After days / weeks of being (metaphorically) stuck on the writer’s roundabout, with a few encounters with the writer’s speed bump, I’ve managed to break free from the quasi-never-ending cycle of pondering, plotting and editing and return to the realm of actually!writing. Well, writing in my head at least – internally narrating scenes and dialogue between various characters, while concurrently [generally] plotting out the rest of the narrative. So, at least in my writer’s mind palace (which is more a Victorian manor house than an actual palace), the first few chapters of Series One, Book One of the MASC Chronicles are written, as well as a pre-narrative scene, as Series One is relayed in first person perspective. As always, the distance from the head to the page/screen [as I’ve taken to using pen and paper as well as typing in Word] is vast. Yes, I’m well aware that I’m probably repeating myself (as I tend not to re-read past blog posts as they’re weekly streams of consciousness musings of whatever’s on my mind at the time I’m writing the blog entry).

Anyway.

As (probably) mentioned before, the impulse to get some actual!writing written (with or without said writing edited within an inch of its life) fluctuates – there are times when the ideas stagnate, and days/weeks go by without a single word written, then there are other times when the ideas flourish, and I spend hours writing, rewriting, and editing as I write. There’s no way of predicting when these states of writing (or non-writing) occur, or how long each will last, which is probably why the entire process has taken so long, and why I don’t do so well with set schedules and timetables/deadlines to deliver a final product/draft. Despite this (apparent) inability to finish writing a specific number of words within a specific amount of time, I still plan on participating in NaNoWritMo, this year with the added (aforementioned) challenge of writing outside my comfort genre.

Also, focusing (most) of my literary-minded attention to one series within the series saga has been beneficial, though every now and then a stray idea or plot twist pops into my head, of which I jot down and file away to be used at a later date. Even within the confines of focusing on Series One, Book One, (slight) changes have cropped up, mostly for character exposition and the relationship between said characters. It is overwhelming at times to pin down what the Canon will/should be, and leaving enough vagueness for fan fiction writers to extrapolate and create AU scenarios. (Yes, I’ve fantasized that far ahead of a fandom for this series saga.)

Nevertheless, with the comeback return of the actual!writing Muses (and such), I should wrap up this blog entry and get back to the actual!writing – who knows how long this stint will last.

TTFN!

 

 

Writing Challenges

Another week of pondering and plotting, yet not so much actual!writing about NaNoWritMo, the various WIPs and the writing prompt project (a project I am determined to complete by year’s end). I’m (still) pondering on what I should (attempt to) write next month – whether to build upon one of the many novels in the series saga or just make up an entirely new story, independent of the series saga. I’m (still) sorting through the jumble of plot twists, character relationships and overall sequence of events of each series – removing extraneous elements deemed cliché (and in doing so, opened up a new/old tangent in character exposition). So that’s a quasi-win.

In prepping for NaNoWritMo, I’ve decided to add an additional (rather optional) twist to the already challenging… well, challenge: for this year’s effort, I will attempt to write outside my comfort genre. I’ve already made a quasi-binding pact with two aspiring writers (whom I met via a writing group on Facebook) to raise the stakes (if only for bragging rights). Interestingly, the literary genre that is outside the comfort zone for the aforementioned writers is mystery (which – as the title of this blog can attest – is my strong suit, or at least the genre I’m most comfortable); conversely, the genre in which they mainly write (and feel is their strong suit) is the genre I don’t particularly feel comfortable.

Romance.

It’s not that I’m totally opposed to romance (there are some romantic films/TV shows/books I enjoy), but it’s the kind of romance novel/film/TV show, etc. that is prevalent these days that makes me roll my eyes: the overly sentimental, cliché archetype mainly used in YA [young adult] stories, usually within the dystopian universe. Also, it seems to me that most adult [meaning with non-young adult characters, and not necessarily smutty] romance novels are essentially the same, but with time/location differences and the characters have different names.  I never understood the appeal of romance novels (Harlequin or the 50 Shades ilk), but then again, I’m the romantic/overly sentimental type.

All the more reason to attempt to challenge myself to write one – I’ve had fleeting thoughts on including romantic elements in the character exposition, even though they fall closer to the tragic side than the “and they lived happily ever after” side of the spectrum. Many of the characters I’ve created (thus far) are either widowed, divorced or have had failed relationships (some with children, others without), so at some point there must have been a whirlwind romance/courtship (or at least the illusion of such).

Whether or not this ends up a stand-alone novel or part of the series saga remains to be seen.

Either way, this year’s NaNoWritMo should be interesting.

I hope.

Pondering about NaNoWritMo…

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWritMo for short) is less than a month away, and in relation with the recent musings about the many distractions side projects I have going on concurrently, it seemed (quasi) logical to think about what I should write (and hopefully complete) next month. Of course, the act of pondering and plotting out what to write for NaNoWritMo seems contrary to the intent of NaNoWritMo, which is to just write a [50K word count] novel within 30 days – no editing, pondering or plotting. Nevertheless, I’ve attempted NaNoWritMo twice, and the second Camp NaNoWritMo session, my process/progress (or lack thereof) has been detailed in this blog (well as detailed as possible), and I’ve failed (miserably) in each attempt.

Well, kind of: I haven’t abandoned [completely] those first two NaNoWritMo attempts –  the first attempt is one of the “back burner” side projects mentioned in last week’s blog, and the second attempt ended up as a quasi-template for Series One, Book One of my [Epic] Series Saga [the version I had started during NaNoWritMo has since been relegated to be adjusted for Series Three, Book One]. The Camp NaNoWritMo attempt (a sort of prequel story within the Epic Series Saga) has since been abandoned [at least for the moment].

I am determined (really, I am!) to actually complete the task of writing a 50K word count novel within a month – I know it can be done (I’ve had friends “win”), but knowing how I work (or not, depending on your point of view, and clearly as illustrated in this ongoing blog), I spend far too much time thinking, plotting and pondering each minute detail [and not that I’ve started to use the Hemmingway App and ProWritingAid – two very good editing tools], the process has slowed down even more.

Hence my pre-pondering/pondering my NaNoWritMo strategy before the Main Event. Whether or not that will help or hinder my progress this year remains to be seen. As I can’t (or am not allowed to?) write about a previous year’s attempt, I need to think of something else to write, which is the challenge, as the current WIP is last year’s attempt [Series One, Book One], and I do plan on working on the year before last’s attempt [the DOTV fan fiction novel] so time in the near future.

So.

My options [thus far] are as follows:

Write Series Two, Book One: (loosely) based on the first [unfinished] novel I ever wrote [half a lifetime ago], and in need of a major rewrite anyway (if only to remove the OTT melodrama)

Write Series Three, Book One: (loosely) based on a few plot bunnies and (subconsciously) based on the smatterings of short fiction posted using those Writing Prompts, yet another [time-sensitive] project  I need to finish

Write something completely new: perhaps something outside my comfort genre – I’m [quasi-seriously] contemplating adding this additional challenge as a possible motivator; the genre in question would be a schmaltzy romance .

So therein lies the challenge.

Well, at least I have a few weeks to figure all this out.