I found a holiday project to do in the week between Christmas and New Year. A small model of a library (although the label says Sam’s Study). I, of course, opened it when it arrived with excitement, but this was short lived when I realized each component – shelves, cabinets, etc. – were not separated, but all mixed together! So my first job was to find the pieces for each item and put them together. The other ‘surprise’ was how fiddly this is going to be! Oh my goodness – frustration beckons, I do believe. Maybe it will not be the relaxing little craft project after all. Time will tell.
I have not planned a word count for the holiday’s, but will utilize some time to continuing writing the second book in my detective trilogy, The Tainted Search. I have over 50,000 words from NaNoWriMo already so another twenty or so is achievable without full time work getting in the way.
As we enter the last week of NaNoWriMo, I thought I would share my experience of the challenge and share some tips.
National Novel Writing month is a crazy experience, whether it is your first attempt or one of many. We all tend to become rather manic as we write to our daily goal of 1667 words (or more if possible). I remember my first NaNoWriMo was back in 2009. At the time my writing experience was minimal, and my longest piece of writing was maybe three paragraphs long, substantially less than fifty thousand words.
The panic I felt at the mind-blowing word count and the deadline date made me completely obsessed. I would race home from work to write, threw the easiest meals together for my family and ignored household chores, for the most part. This was my focus. Now, after twelve years of the challenge, I have become more relaxed knowing I am capable of writing at least 1667 words in an evening. My average daily word count fluctuates between 1700 and 1900 words this year. That is not to say I do not experience some anxiety; I just know how to handle the challenge better now. As with everything – practice makes perfect, or in this case ‘bum in seat’ makes an achievable word count.
Here are a few tips I found worked for me:
Cultivate your story idea before NaNo starts. It may be a character, a location or even a whole scene that propels you into the story.
Jot down notes for plot, character names & personalities, anything that you see being included in your narrative.
Find a time and a quiet place to write that works for you and your family. Designate a time, if that helps.
Don’t make excuses – write first then watch TV or scroll social media.
Use unexpected spare/free time to write, even if it’s only a paragraph. Every word counts.
Try writing bursts – time yourself to write a certain number of words in an allocated amount of time.
Aim to write over the daily word count of 1667 this helps you stay ahead. So, any unforeseen circumstances are not so drastic to your end goal.
Let the words flow – leave editing and revision for later.
Use the word count tracker on the website, it helps you stay on goal.
Mark or highlight a sentence if fact checking is required. This stops you going down internet rabbit holes.
Believe in yourself, your story and your success.
Celebrate the smaller victories – hitting a sprint goal, writing a smashing paragraph, learning a new word.
Make sure you rest, exercise and eat.
Enjoy the process of immersing yourself into creating a world of your imagination.
Even if you don’t achieve 50,000 words you have managed to write a fair amount – that is success. Remember this challenge is only the beginning of your narrative’s journey. The editing and revisions come later.
As many of you know I am plunging into National Novel Writing Month* this month to begin the second book in my detective trilogy, The Delphic Murders. This second book is entitled The Tainted Search. My process is not that complicated -bum in seat – so to speak, and to avoid external distractions as much as possible. This, of course, isn’t always the case, take this past weekend for example. I had a board meeting to attend and a radio interview recording to participate in on Saturday and then Sunday was family time. And as I am working full time that has a major effect on my writing time.
*National Novel Writing Month – write 50,000 words in the month of November* As I write this blog post on Sunday morning my total is 11,748 words, which is on track, thankfully.
The crime fiction genre is a new genre for me to write and I have been enjoying the research process, as well as planning a three book series. There are many sub-genres to this type of fiction as you can see from this list.
Locked room whodunit
Locked room mystery
Parody or spoof
The commonality of these sub-genres is a lot of suspense, hidden clues, a charismatic detective and an elusive criminal. I have added a ‘side-kick’ to my main protagonists, which is a fairly common duo seen in most detective TV shows and movies. The first book has a secondary romance, this second a professional conflict and the third? Well, that remains to be seen, I haven’t started writing it yet!
As a special treat, I am sharing the draft prologue from the first book. An Elusive Trail. Let me know what you think in the comments.
Three vehicles converge at an abandoned farm, the sun-bleached buildings collapsing and twisting into the earth. Melted snow and slush is piled up against the dilapidated structures glistening in the only illumination for miles – headlights and a full moon. Three men exit their vehicles and stand facing each other. A red glow from a single cigarette gives one man a fragmented face, his eyes watching expectedly. The smoke joins the puffs of cold night air emitting from his companions mouths. A middle aged man with a slight paunch straining against his thick coat faces his colleagues as the smoker, Allan asks.
“What’s so important you drag us out at this time of night in the cold, Craig?”
“We have a problem, Allan, Travis and his name is Detective Daniel Markum.”
Allan stamps out his cigarette before asking.
“How much of a problem is he?”
“I’d say the biggest. He’s been reviewing some of our old cases.”
“Shit! How did you find out?”
“I’d set up an alert on our contrived cases and nine have popped up in the last three weeks. We have to eliminate this threat and real soon.”
“I can set up something with Raul. Can you make sure Markum is on scene first, Travis?”
“Shouldn’t be a problem, Craig, I can patch through to a false call. It’s not like I haven’t done it before, right?”
“You meet him there soon after and Allan and I will set up the ambush. It’ll be easy to make it look like an ‘in the line of duty’ incident. I have several unmarked, untraceable handguns stashed away.”
“How soon can this be set up, Travis?”
“Is next Tuesday soon enough, Craig?”
“Sure. Then we need to consider lateral transfers. We can’t all stay in Edmonton. Raul has been asking for assistance in Red Deer and Calgary to expand his drug operations. This might be the time to do it.”
The three detectives shook hands, returned to their vehicles, and drove away from the remote meeting place. Their plan set in motion, their victim unaware of his fate.
Do you read crime fiction? What do you like about the genre? Who are your favorite authors in the genre?
With a complete read through this weekend of the manuscript for the first book in my detective series, An Elusive Trail, I am fairly happy with the edits and revisions. The new word count is 61,626 – a far cry from the ‘finished’ story of National Novel Writing Month in November last year of 50,156. This shows how a manuscript changes and grows over the course of revisions. Scenes are added or cut, moved or changed and information researched in order to improve the content. Not only for accuracy but also to ensure the characters and story reflect the trope expected by readers of the specific genre.
I recently attended a crime writer’s week long presentation course online. The most interesting and helpful sessions were with a retired detective. His insight and knowledge gave me several pieces of information I have included in the manuscript to enhance the police and forensic procedures. There are a couple more months of revisions to be done, (an author has a hard time relinquishing a manuscript!) but the first book in the series is well on its way to being ready to submit to a publisher for review.
Writers and authors research their specific genre through books but also movies. My choice of movies to watch has been said to be eclectic. I can watch and enjoy action, romance, sci-fi, fantasy and many others, it all depends on my mood at the time. Take several I watched during April for example:
The Father – Anthony Hopkins was spectacular. Hillbilly Elegy – Glenn Close was exceptional. Penguin Bloom – as a natural lover this true story was heartwarming and wonderful in so many ways. Diana – I always feel my heart break a little reading or watching anything to do with her. The Age of Adaline – I have watched this movie several times because I love the premise of it. Elizabeth and Margaret – because we can only glimpse their lives. Coroner – this series was for my book research mainly. Monty Python -In the Beginning – I grew up with Python and still recite sketches to this day. Ladies in Black – life in 1959 Australia a merging of cultures within the structure of society expectations. It shows how a person’s life is affected by the era’s limitations put upon them. Elvis Presley – The Searcher – I learned more about his life, but also that if he had broken away from the Colonel, his fame would have been even greater, such a shame he was so manipulated. As you can see some are factual, some research, while others are pure escapism.
The most unusual and surprising movie I watched was FAMILY, at first look it is a workaholic woman asked to look after her brother’s daughter for a short time. However, what is so unexpected is the unknown (to me anyway) cultural phenomenon of Juggalo. I have never come across this group (and I listen to an even more of an eclectic selection in music). The Juggalo’s are fans of the group Insane Clown Posse. They dress in clown-like makeup and fantastical outfits. Their motto is ‘I shall not judge. I shall love my Family. I am a Ninja.‘ You may not enjoy their music but their inclusiveness to all is inspiring.
Have you discovered something new through a book or movie?What was it?
We all know our planet is slowly dying and in consequence us! I read an incredible novel by Nina Munteanu, which uses the diary of a future personality to highlight the nearsightedness of the previous decades of politics and big business. Yes, I understand it may seem like a heavy topic, however, the narrative carries you through an incredible journey, through the eyes of the protagonist.
The rise in books covering climate change has increased in the last decade or so. They have been a positive eco-political influence on their readers allowing them to imagine potential climate futures. This in turn, persuades those readers of the gravity and urgency of climate change.
Through research, it has been discovered that the most popular readers of these books are younger, more liberal, and more concerned about climate change than nonreaders of climate fiction. It is our youth, who will have to live with today’s decisions after all.
Please consider reading about climate change, whether with non-fiction or non-fiction books. We can make a difference.