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One Last Postcard From Camp: Wishful Thinking

This month finds me at a bit of a loose end.

My Camp NaNoWriMo experiment was not entirely successful, nor entirely unsuccessful, so I’ve been left wondering where do I go from here?

Let’s break it down.

I didn’t finish Full Circle. That was the main goal of the month—to finally type THE END on this first draft—and that didn’t happen. It feels like I may have come close, but…I don’t know if that’s just wishful thinking on my part, or if it could possibly be true.

I do feel as though it may be worth my while to finish the FrankenWIP experiment, to follow this thread through to the end. It feels like, though this ending may need more finessing, it is, perhaps, heading in the right direction. Though I may need to circle the block a few times to find an open parking space or whatever, I am at least in the right neighborhood.

Of course, that could just be wishful thinking, too.

Back in June, I made a deal with myself. I had the thirty-one days of July to play around with FrankenWIP and do whatever I wanted—whatever I could think of—to try and finish the story.

Then—win, lose, or draw—the WIP would go into the metaphorical drawer for a while. If finished, it would stay there until January 2022. If not, it would depend upon any progress made on other writing projects (Don’t you love how I say that as though making progress on things is actually something I do?)

One way or another, this WIP was meant for the metaphorical drawer. Either because it was finished and didn’t need me to look at it anymore, or because I’d be so pissed off at my failure to finish it that I would need it to be in a safe space while I threw a world-class temper tantrum. ‘Cuz I’m mature like that.

But here’s the twist…I don’t actually feel the need to throw a tantrum at all. (I know. I’m shocked, too.) Don’t get me wrong—I’m not happy that I failed yet again to finish this stupid story, but I’m not nearly as upset by that fact as I thought I would be. I know it can’t be because I’m being some kind of reasonable adult about it (because that would never happen), so I wonder if that may be a sign that I have, at last, found the right road to the end and just need a little more time to get there.

Or again…that could just be wishful thinking. I could just need one more month. But I could just as easily need six more months. Or six more years. My ability to judge these things is really quite terrible, so I honestly have no way of knowing.

But all of this leads me to my current quandary: Do I stick with the original plan of sticking this WIP into a drawer for however long that lasts while I work on a different WIP? Or do I keep on keepin’ on, working under the assumption that the ending is just around the corner?

I’m leaning toward the latter right now because my preference would be to put a completed manuscript into the metaphorical drawer, but I don’t know that I trust my ability to make a smart decision in this circumstance. I mean, I also seem to think that Dr Pepper is a good breakfast beverage, so, you know…smart decisions aren’t exactly my strong suit.

So now I turn to you, oh wise readers. What choice do you think I should make? (Note: about the story, I mean. Not my very healthy soda addiction.)

Thanks for stopping by.

Stay safe & well, all.

Postcards From Camp: You Can’t Get There From Here

I may have mentioned this a few (million) times, but I am from Maine. In addition to the lobsters, blueberries, moose, and tourists, we have an expression: You can’t get there from here. Said, of course, in a Maine accent.

(Yes, there is a Maine accent. Search for “Bert & I Which Way To Millinocket” on YouTube for a slightly exaggerated-for-comedic-effect example. There are other Bert & I stories, too, but the Millinocket one contains the ‘you can’t get there from here’ line.)

Anyway, ‘you can’t get there from here’ essentially means there’s no easy, direct path between two places. Sure, you can get to Millinocket, but it’ll involve some back roads, dirt roads, a whole lot of road construction, and probably some potholes big enough and deep enough for a great blue whale to swim in. Amongst other challenges.

And that, in a nutshell, is how I’m feeling about this damn WIP of mine these days.

I know where I am. I know where I want to go. But there does not seem to be any damn path to connect the two.

I keep trying things, throwing ideas against the wall—sometimes literally because I have an uncontrollable Post-It Note addiction—trying to figure out how to close the gap. I gain inches, only to lose feet.

One path was rejected because one of my characters said, “I thought you would make this more interesting. Are you even trying?”

Now, she wasn’t talking to me. She was talking to one of the main characters, but it felt very much like she was talking to me. So much so that I scrapped the storyline and went back to Square One.

In theory, each rejected path gets me closer to figuring out the actual right path, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that I am seriously questioning my ability to…well, to do anything, frankly, but mostly my ability to write an ending for this book.

But here’s hoping that I’m wrong, and that my next post will be the sure-to-be thrilling tale of how I managed to get there from here.

Camp Stats

Word Count Goal: 20,000

Where my WC should be: 13,545

Where my WC actually is: 28,705

Average words per day: 1,435

Rejected storylines: Too many to count

Postcards From Camp: The Slog Remains The Same

I’m now two weeks into this month’s session of Camp NaNoWriMo.

In my last post, I talked about how I was crushing my word count, mostly because I was writing out two separate timelines because my character has to make a choice (retreat & recover or keep going & kick ass), and I have no idea which choice is the right one for the story. So I’m writing them both, hoping that one timeline will eventually emerge as the clear and correct choice.

But…I’m still not entirely sure. I am leaning heavily toward one path over the other, but I feel like the final determination is coming down to one pivotal (at least to me) scene on which I am currently working.

If this one scene can accomplish all the things I would ideally want it to accomplish, then I can go with Door #2, and Door #1 can go live in the deleted scene file with all the other displaced and obsolete storylines.

But I don’t know if that one scene can accomplish all the things I want it to do. It feels like it’s a lot of emotional whatever for one scene, and at the same time, it feels like it doesn’t have enough emotion in it. It feels like I have all the right pieces to this puzzle, if I can just figure out how they all fit together. But it also feels like these pieces may belong to two entirely different puzzles.

I don’t know what it is about this WIP that just refuses to be finished. Maybe my characters are screwing with me, Home Alone style, in an attempt to keep me from writing the end of the book because they suspect it will only lead to more misery for them.

Which, to be fair, it probably will.

So, on the word count front, I am good. I am better than good because, as you’ll see in the Camp Stats section at the end of this post, I have both reached and exceeded the word count goal I set at the beginning of the month. But, as I have stated in previous posts, the word count doesn’t matter here.

My real goal this month is to finish the first draft of Full Circle. And that?

Well, that’s still a work in progress.

Camp Stats

Word Count Goal: 20,000

Where my WC should be: 9,030

My current WC: 22,504

Average words per day: 1,731

At this rate, I will reach my WC goal by: July 11th

Postcards From Camp: Choose Your Own Adventure

Well, gang, I’m about a week into this month’s Camp NaNoWriMo session, and I am way ahead of my word count goal (I’m already over halfway there). But there’s a simple, if odd-sounding explanation for that…

I don’t know what’s supposed to happen.

In my last post, I detailed my writing plan for this month, which was basically to fuse together parts from two rejected plans to create a new possible path to a possible ending of the WIP that refuses to be finished (AKA, Full Circle, AKA Book Three in my fantasy series, The Coileáin Chronicles).

The plan started off pretty well. I had lots and lots of pages of notes to guide me that detailed exactly what I wanted certain scenes to look like, so it was just a matter of writing them out.

But then I came to a place where the detailed planning ended and became more…theoretical, I guess I could say. More specifically, one of my POV characters was left with a choice: retreat & recover or keep going & kick ass.

(Note: There are a lot of details behind those two choices which I am choosing not to divulge, so even though one option may sound waaaaaaay more interesting than the other, they do each come along with their own sets of merits and possibilities. Hence the indecision.)

I have yet to make a decision on which one of these paths is the right choice, so I’ve been writing them both.

What would it look like if she chooses Door #1? What would it look like she chooses Door #2? Where do each of those doors leads? What subsequent choices will she have to make, and where will those choices lead?

All of this has left me feeling like I’m now writing one of those Choose Your Own Adventure stories that were popular when I was a kid (Note: various forms of this storytelling method do still exist today). You know, the kind that allow that reader to decide where the story goes. At the end of a page, there’s a choice. Do you want to do A or B? And you continue through the story, making choices, until you reach one of the book’s possible 1,000,000 (Note: may be a slight exaggeration…) endings.

I assume, at some point, one of these paths will start to feel right to me. That’s how I usually know I’m heading in the right direction with a story—I just feel it in my gut—but, so far, my gut is all…

Once I make a decision, I’ll delete the imposter timeline and focus on the other one. But until then…at least this multi-verse-esque thing I’ve got going on is doing fantastic things for my word count…right?

RIGHT?!?!?!?!?

Camp Stats

Word Count Goal: 20,000

Where my WC should be: 4,515

My current WC: 11,726

Average words per day: 1,954

At this rate, I will reach my goal by: July 10th

How do you decide which path to take? Have you ever written a Choose Your Own Adventure story? Are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo? If so, how’s it going?

Stay safe and well, all.

The Plan

In my last post, I was trying to decide upon a plan/path for Camp NaNoWriMo, which starts tomorrow.

The following is that plan.

So, here’s the situation: I’m going to focus on Full Circle. My desire to finish that damn WIP has taken over just about everything in my life, so it’s once again getting the nod. It may be a terrible idea—it may be the most horrible idea anyone has ever had in the history of time (I’m pretty sure it’s not, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ) and will only lead to me hiding under my desk, crying into a pint of…something before the end of the month—but I’m determined to do it anyway.

But there’s a twist.

And a long rambling tale that goes with it. (But of course there is. I am the one telling this story, after all…)

Right. Okay. Anyway, each installment in my fantasy series, The Coileáin Chronicles, is written in three parts. I don’t know why, really. It just kind of happened that way.

With Full Circle, I’ve been mostly happy (for now) with the first two parts. I know there are things that will need to be addressed and fixed and perhaps outright cut and/or changed, but it’s first draft done and has been for a while now.

The problem is Part Three. I’ve had a plan for the ending but haven’t had any luck with its execution. I think that may be because the original plan involves introducing too many new ideas/characters/whatever too late in the game. Meaning that Part Three has been reading more like the start of a new book, rather than the end of the current one.

As is the case in many things, accepting there is a problem is the first step in dealing with and maybe even solving said problem. So I set out to devise an alternate plan. If the ending was actually a beginning, where did Full Circle actually end?

After some time spent staring at my storyboard, I came up with a possibility. It involved redrawing the lines between the first two parts and the need to write a fourth book in the series, but it was a possibility.

It was also a possibility that survived almost twenty-four hours before I kicked it to the curb, but really, the fact that it made it that long was quite the achievement.

After which, I went back to the original plan. I was all determined to make it work. Because I liked the original plan (and I really didn’t want to write a fourth book…). Which was fine except for one small detail…

It doesn’t work.

But anyway, all of this leads up to the actual, current plan. (You were beginning to think I forgot about that, weren’t you?)

Let me introduce…FrankenWIP.

FrankenWIP is meant to be a (hopefully) successful and happy (well, ‘happy’ being a relative term. No characters will be happy because this is an M.J. Fifield story and she doesn’t do happy, but she herself will be happy if this damn WIP actually gets written) hybrid of the two rejected plans.

I think there are good elements to both of those plans that can be extracted and cut and pasted together into one functional plan. (Hence the name ‘FrankenWIP’ because I’m super clever like that.)

Here’s the process:

First step: Create a new version of the novel for experimentation’s sake. This way, if FrankenWIP is ultimately deemed a failure, nothing is permanently lost. If FrankenWIP is somehow a success, then the original draft will go live at the ‘outdated draft’ farm upstate with all the other outdated drafts.

Second step: Make a massive amount of notes (thirteen pages and counting…) on proposed changes to the plot and character arcs and the domino effect those changes will have on every damn thing in the book. Also note any scenes that can stay as is (I think there may be one so far) or need to be tweaked slightly to reflect the coming avalanche of changes, scenes that could possibly be merged into one new and improved scene, or scenes that need to be outright deleted because their storylines are now obsolete.

Third step: Make a list of all the scenes/dialogue exchanges I would reaaaallllllly like to repurpose for the new Part Three, if I can find a way to pull it off. There are a lot of darlings on the chopping block here. (If they have to go, they have to go, but I will be immensely sad about it.)

Fourth step: Build a new storyboard to reflect the FrankenWIP experiment while keeping the original storyboard intact for reference because I am a visual learner, dammit, and seeing the entire project laid out before me is an integral part of my process. Ignore the significant other when they ask, “How many damn Post-It notes does one person really need?” because the answer is ALL OF THEM.

Fifth step: Delete the now-obsolete scenes (and by ‘delete’, I mean ‘safely store in a separate file, in case this damn thing doesn’t work or I need to strip old scenes for parts to build new scenes’) and don’t freak out when the deleted word count crosses 35,000. Or, rather, don’t freak out too much. Remember that (in theory) those deleted scenes will be replaced with scenes that will lead to the end of this damn WIP. (And a fourth book, apparently, which I’m not psyched about, but that’s a problem for later. Much, much later.)

Sixth step: Start writing those new scenes, following the aforementioned pages upon pages of notes. Typing with my fingers crossed may present a challenge, but I’ll figure it out, I’m sure.

Seventh step: Celebrate when the first six steps lead to a completed novel, even if that celebration looks like me taking the world’s longest nap because holy hell, I’m tired.

So that’s the plan. I don’t know if it’ll work. I don’t know if it can work, but I am currently working my way through steps 1-5, so it’s at least giving off the impression of accomplishment, which is…not nothing?

Step six will begin tomorrow.

My goal was pretty arbitrarily set for 20,000 words in 31 days, which averages out to approximately 646 words per day.

I may write more. I may write less. I don’t know. The word goal itself doesn’t particularly matter. The real goal is to finish the WIP. Regardless of how many words that takes. (But I’m pretty sure it’ll be more than 20k. Because of course it will. I’m writing it, after all.)

I really hope this works.

Stay tuned to this channel for updates…

And, as always, thanks for stopping by. Be safe and well, all.

Are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this July? If you’re looking for buddies, you can find me under the very clever user name M.J. Fifield.