We’re at the end of November and I’ve wrapped up my journey with National Novel Writing Month! Thanksgiving, post-house move vacation, and the distraction of a new home/studio desperately in need of unpacking proved too much for me to reach the 50k word goal, but I’m excited to have spent some time writing, which has been a personal goal of mine for a long time now. I wanted to share a bit of the NaNoWriMo journey with you all with some thoughts, excerpts, etc.
My Final Word Count: 6,534
Despite not making the word goal, I’m still jazzed to have written as much as I did! I loved spending time with Rabs and her horribly loving and (at times) just plain horrible family. I loved indulging the D&D nerd in me who had an awesome time roleplaying this character and exploring her more through writing, while also getting some excellent practice. TTRPG games have always been a pathway into writing and inspiration, for me! This was just the Muse Vacation I craved before I return to the serious business of Birthstone Goddesses next year.
Writing With Campfire
I also got a chance to play with Campfire’s worldbuilding management tool this NaNoWriMo and I’m absolutely in love with it now that I’ve spent some quality time with it. Not only can I manage all my world and character notes, but their manuscript and research modules help me keep everything all in one place so that my notes and chapters can be stored together.
I’ll be jumping ship from Scrivener to Campfire, as it’s always bothered me how I’ve previously spread my files across Scrivener and Google Docs. It’s too easy to lose things that way! Now, I can point beta readers to a shareable link where they can also leave comments if I grant them permission. This will be SO invaluable when I’m ready for that!
I hope to write a full review on Campfire later once I’m done polishing this story’s entries.
(A peek at my story’s info in Campfire complete with a custom theme I tweaked to match the mood/palette of my story.)
(The entry for Rabs’ sisters. Featuring inspirational images from left to right: Kii Weatherton, Minttu Hynninen, Ashima-Leena, art of Rabs by me, Rachel Denton, and Wabi. These are just placeholders for right now until I can draw my own versions of the sisters, which are bound to look vastly different, as these images were used more for vibes than direct lookalikes.)
My NaNoWriMo Journey
To be quite honest, I didn’t actually write anything of the novel I had pitched in my synopsis, but rather let myself explore the fictional Genasi kingdom my MC hails from with worldbuilding notes, while also experimenting with a novel-planning method from Lisa Cron’s Story Genius book on writing.
The Story Genius Blueprint method tasks you with finding the ‘third rail’ that brings your story to life through emotional resonance and challenges you to explore the internal and external influences on your protagonist in a very in-depth manner through prompts. I’ve always had a problem with pantsing my way through stories, only to result in several rewrites because I didn’t really understand what I was trying to say with my stories, so I’ve been very curious to try this method which purports to save me from my own meandering!
Here’s the list of what I wrote for NaNoWriMo. The links should be clickable if you want to read my raw, rough musings in their imperfect states.
– Story Spine for Flame of the Sultana – Exploring the overall view of where I think my story should go and how it should resolve.
My Story’s Thesis: Who you are is not your fault, but it is your responsibility.
– Story Genius Blueprint Questions (Incomplete) – As I worked through Story Genius, I kept my explorations of the answers to the prompts from the blueprint exercises here. I wasn’t able to make it entirely through, but I really enjoyed how the exercises suggested in Story Genius prompted me to dig deep into my character’s motivations and my story’s themes, rather than getting too caught up in the plot over the emotional ‘meat’ of the story.
– Worldbuilding Notes – A good deal of time was spent fleshing out my MC’s large family, how they’re related, what elements they represent. Seriously, HOW does anyone write a novel with more than 3 characters? Figuring out Rabs’ 4 half-sisters, their moms, and their associated elements took some real brainpower!
I also figured out the core tenets of the humanitarian organization, the Burning Saints, which Rabs joins as an adult to help atone for her family’s sins. The Burning Saints believe in proper actions over proper thoughts and allows those convicted of crimes a second chance by giving up titles and riches to become humble servants of the people. For Rabs, they’re a second chance to divide herself from her past and become a worthy warrior on her own path away from the palace.
– The Origin Scene – A scene exploring the most dramatic moment in the past where Rabs’ core misbelief took shape. A young Rabs experiences a moment of rage that ruins her mother’s carefully planned assassination attempt of their corrupted father, the sultan. This moment of rage costs her mother’s life and haunts Rabs in the years afterwards that lead up to our main story. In history, this night would be known as The Night of Five Blades.
CW: Graphic violence/fight scene. My baby D&D Barbarian’s first Rage as a teenager was a nightmare for her!
– The Misbelief Scene 1 of 3 – The Witness – A scene that reveals an early childhood experience where Rabanne witnesses her birth mother murder her aunt for threatening to reveal their planned coup against the sultan. This terrifying incident informs Rabanne’s misbelief as an adult that she is bound to her family’s history of violence even as an adult.
I ran out of time before I could write scenes 2 and 3 for her Misbelief, but you can read the paraphrase for those incidents in the main Blueprint.
CW: Brief non-graphic violence, psychological trauma
Even if this year’s NaNo experience equates to nothing more than skillbuilding, I’m excited about the epic amount of imagery I have for future art fodder, on top of everything else! It’s my dream to get at least ONE story done in my lifetime and I feel like I’ve taken one more little baby step in that direction after giving myself that permission this month. I’ve written plenty, but have finished very few to a state I’m satisfied with and that’s something I want to change!
Did any of you take on the novel-writing challenge this month? Tell me about your stories (or other crazy dream projects)! Making our dreams come true always starts with voicing them aloud and giving them power. Ramble away, dear dreamers!
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