NaNoWriMo Challenge Met

I didn’t think I’d ever make a proper start on this story. It’s been kicking around in my head for years, and aside from dabbling in the idea for my Honours project (a work of interactive fiction, coded in PHP/MySQL/jQuery, combining the stats of an RPG and the choose-your-own-adventure format – damned awesome stuff, albeit too labour intensive for a single writer), I haven’t had the time to invest in any real effort. I mentioned in an early entry how Novembers tend to be busy-as-Hell months, and how I keep really wanting to participate in NaNoWriMo, but generally get swallowed by everything else.

I’d like to see an Antipodean NaNoWriMo (and Halloween, while I’m putting in requests with the powers-that-be – our Samhain is April/May, a much better time of year for costumes! And Christmas in June would make traditional wintry imagery less ridiculous, and I’d feel less sorry for the fat guy in red flannel in the middle of Summer). A NaNoWriMo in May would be good. May is a slow month.

Another thing I’d like to see is the NaNoWriMo bunch putting a stop to this ‘winning’ crap. I achieved 50,000 words and I’m thrilled! But I wasn’t competing against anyone! Sure, the gamification of novel writing is a great way to get a novel written, but I’d still rather see ‘win’ substituted with ‘achieve’, cause I’m a grumpy curmudgeon who FUCKING HATES competition (and competitive people). I like to challenge myself, but I’m not competing with myself.

Anyway, Dragonsfall, the first installment in what is likely to be a three-part series (at least), is finally started! Fifty thousand words in, and I still haven’t really moved into the story. In fact, some of my key characters haven’t even appeared yet! There’ll be a few more NaNoWriMo’s worth of Dragonsfall before it’s done, and I can start the next part – Dragon Stones. And after that, part three: Dragons Rise!

NaNoWriMo has also helped me to realise what a marvellous tool OneNote is. I’m reluctant to buy Scrivener, though I keep hearing so many great things about it, mostly because it looks like a one-trick pony, and I don’t have the sort of time to put into writing novels to justify buying software specifically for that task. After watching a few tutorials and guides to see how it looks and how people manage their work, I can definitely see its appeal, but aside from exporting to epublishing formats like mobi, there isn’t much Scrivener can do that OneNote can’t. And, maybe because I’ve already been using it for a while and have formed a natural bias, I much prefer OneNote’s interface.

I didn’t check if Scrivener has cloud capabilities, though I suppose saving files in Dropbox would work if it doesn’t. Anyone know?

OneNote is definitely not specific for novel planning or writing, but it lets me arrange and rearrange my work, create notebooks, sections (like tabs), categories (collections of tabs), pages, sub-pages, sub-sub-pages, insert images, lists, tags. The corkboard everyone raves about with Scrivener is easily replicated, and I made one for myself with very little effort, and no revolting corkboard background. :p

I’ve created pages for each of my principle character profiles (mostly just messy notes and inspiring pictures at this point), and sub-pages for each of their scenes. So far each of my scenes have been generally linear, but I do a lot of hopping about between character stories, because, although they’re all integral to the plot, they’ve each got their own story mostly separate from the others – for now. Having so many characters to work with definitely helped keep me going – I was never short of something to write! And I still haven’t written for all of them!

One of my favourite OneNote features, which I haven’t used much yet, is to turn any text between double square brackets into a link to a page by that name. If the page doesn’t exist yet, it will prompt you to create one – just like you’d expect from a wiki! Now that I’ve made a start on my story, I’m going to start another category for a wiki of information, and make some templates for character sheets.

I’m silly-excited by the prospect! :D

I’ve saved all my writing to GoogleDocs, originally intending to share, but I’ve since become so shy about my rough draft effort. I want it to be read, but I don’t want to spoil it with crap first-draft writing.

The NaNoWriMo Effect: The desire to share all your amazing words in direct conflict with the desire to hide away all your crap words.

I’m not sure I can maintain my momentum without NaNoWriMo. Novel writing isn’t like RP, which I used to enjoy because there was always someone waiting to read and respond to what I write. There’s a great long time between writing something and getting someone to read it when it comes to novels, and that lack of feedback is my biggest challenge. Happily, I’m getting better at enjoying creating things without needing external validation, and maybe I will be able to go on without NaNoWriMo to motivate me.

Fingers crossed!

This post brought to you by a brain simultaneously too fried and too excited to make any rational sense. I think I blew a fuse a few paragraphs back. Going to sleep now.



  • sleepydwarf

    Fantastic job :-) You sound very organised. I should try that next time, when I have an actual story instead of a whole lot of pent up words to get out!

    • Amelia Beare

      Hey, NaNo as therapy!

      But yeah, OneNote definitely helped me get through this. It’s also helping me manage my dissertation, so I love it twice over. :D

      Thank you! Achievement bubbles soon! \o/

  • Katie

    Nice work! I’m almost at the 50,000 word mark, although I fell behind this week thanks to a migraine eating away my plans.

    I enjoy using Scrivener because it’s so laid-back and I love having a folder of random images and maps or quotes that apply to a project all sitting there ready for whenever I need them. And I also love the cheesiness of the corkboard with the actual cork background! Actually, the 50% off Scrivener code was one of the main motivators for my NaNo ‘win’ last year.

    We do need an Antipodean version of NaNo. This is a terrible time of year for anyone in education, too – it’s all exams and reports and end-of-year shenanigans. No-one has time for writing then! Plus, who wants to be stuck inside when it’s (occasionally) warm and sunny outside? We definitely need a May/June equivalent.

    Good luck with the rest of your story. I hope you keep making great progress on it, even though the pressure of the NaNo deadline is gone.

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