Every week during Camp NaNoWriMo, I will be breaking down everything I did and didn’t do during the week. Last Saturday marked the beginning of Camp and I was just ready to start writing since I hadn’t finished my first draft yet.
The clock struck midnight and I decided to go to bed. I’m a wimp that loves sleep. Also, I had been writing for a couple hours up until midnight, so I guess I thought I had done enough.
But then I woke up in the morning ready to go. My goal was to finish my first draft at the end of the weekend. I have a schedule in my head of where I want to be with this MS by the end of the month and finishing the first draft as soon as possible was riding on how my entire month was going to go.
I’m sitting here trying to think what was my word count on Saturday morning, but I can’t remember. Everything has now kind of blurred together but I want to say I was in the low 90k range. I was also starting to write slower on Saturday because I wasn’t sure which option for the end I wanted to take. I had an original idea for the ending months ago that I really loved, but the closer I got to the end, I was wondering how that was all going to fit. Plus the visuals and all that for… reasons. I should say two of my main characters are light skinned biracials because I am a light skinned biracial so I wanted to put some of my experiences with identity in this. So, I’m trying to work on a lot with these characters as they go to their father’s homeland where everyone is darker than they are. But honestly, that is all for another post. I could talk for days on what it’s like to be a light skinned biracial person.
Back to day one. I was writing slow. I got through these scenes that kind of freaked me out horror-wise that I’m really excited to make scarier, and then I started dragging my feet because the climax was coming and I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I took out my legal pad and I decided to outline these different endings to see what one I liked best and made sense and set up for the next book possibly. I wrote out option one, which was the one I envisioned months ago and for some reason, outlining it out instead of trying to figure out all the steps in my head really helped and by the end of it, I was looking at an outline for an ending that wrapped everything up. teased a sequel, and ended on a semi-cliffhanger.
Aesthetic board posted to my Twitter.
I took a break to Twitter and posted pictures Camp-related like my aesthetics board and my work space and sat on the outline and watched some Buffy, did some writing sprints, got Olive Garden To-Go and felt pretty good about the outline. Then I stayed up late, went to sleep with excitement of writing this ending in the morning.
I woke up at 8:30AM. I never wake up this early on the weekends but I opened my eyes and damn, if I didn’t feel excited to start writing.
I wrote until around 2:30PM with a shocking realization that I HAD FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT!! (weeeee!!!)
At 102,844 words, it was done. One ink cartridge later, the 360 page Word doc was printed and on my desk.
And I wasn’t allowed to look at it or read it.
I needed to take a break from it. I plan on starting my read-through on Friday night (weekends are when I get the most done.) Regardless, I needed to distance myself from this project I had been writing for five months. I am happy this is hard for me. Every time I walk by my office, I see it sitting there on my desk and force myself not to start reading.
Another reason I decided to not look at it for a week is because I had made a story binder filled with writing worksheets that is supposed to help me better know my characters, the world, the rules, etc. There are things I changed about the world half way through the MS. Writing all the rules down will help me better understand the world I created so when I go back for the first read-through, I know what is wrong and how to fix it.
I could have started the story binder on day two, but once again I was wiped from finishing the first draft, printing it, and also editing my March Writing Vlog
. Plus, I needed to shower and I looked rough, so I relaxed the rest of the night.
The magic of the weekend was over. I had to go back to work and hold off my excitement of working on my story binder until later that night.
By the time I got home, it was 5:30PM and I was ready to ham the rest of the night.
I decided to work on the character worksheets first. I have four main POVS and writing out each of these characters hopes and dreams I realized that one of my characters is why more well-rounded as of right now than the others. I have one character that I’m not sure what exactly are her motives. One character needs to be way more mysterious in the beginning. And the other character has motives, has his own sub-plot, but I’m not sure if that’s enough for his character.
Filling the character worksheets out made me definitely realize that I have a lot of eggs in one of my character’s basket and not enough in the others. However, I’m trying not to be discouraged by this because my first draft was entirely plot-driven. I wanted to get the story down more than anything in the first draft, so because of this, my characterization suffered a bit, so at least I know I really need to hit that hard on my first round of edits.
I still want all four perspectives in this story, but I need to really break down the other three and figure out their character arcs for this book, or else they’ll just be seen as fillers and that is 100% not ok with me.
All about world-building. My story features two completely different countries. The first is inspired by America’s industrial revolution. So, smokestacks, pistols, brick roads, immigration, and factory life. My second country is a melting pot of ancient Babylon, Egypt, and Greece. These aren’t my cultures, but I’m trying hard not to come across as appropriating them at all. I studied ancient civilization a lot in college (yay history minor!) and these cultures always fascinated me the most. So I’m pulling from these different cultures to make my own. From architectural standpoints to religious beliefs and myths, I’m trying to do this world right by honoring what has inspired me.
Since these worlds are nothing alike, I did double the work for world-building. I printed two of every work sheet related to world-building because they both need to be fulling fleshed out and feel real since they are both huge features in the book.
I got so much done world-building wise! So I filled in my map more, which is still a terrible drawing because my fingers’ only talent is making words, not art. I focused mostly on my Industrial Revolution-y country. Talking about different cities, finally coming up with names so I can change all those [CITY NAME] in my first draft into actual names. Also came up with the royal family for this country, which I didn’t talk about at all in the first draft, so this is another layer I’ll be adding in draft 2.
I still got stuck on some things and not wanting to lose my steam, I skipped things I can always go back to, but overall, I have a much better understanding of what this country is like.
LaineyTip: have a long list of names next to you when you decide to build the world.
This list never stops growing, but it’s easily accessible. I often divide names up by first names/last names, but there was a point I stopped doing that.
I filled in my map which included six countries. Capitals, cities, rivers, mountains, seas, etc. can easily get overwhelming if you’re constantly stopping to look for names. Pictured here is my on-going list of names I’ve been gathering since October that I already really like and fit the book’s aesthetic. Once I use a name, I cross it out so I don’t use it again.
Also, damn, I went to Target and bought a lot of cute shit from the $1 section relating to writing and office-type things. You’ll see me haul it in my writing vlog going up at the end of Camp.
World-building again. This time, I focused entirely on the second country, the one with the most intrigue and mystery, and I still didn’t finish everything I wanted to do. There’s a timeline I still need to map out that leads up to this country’s destruction prior to our main characters going back to it. I need to know that part of the history completely even is these characters don’t know the whole story.
However, things I did accomplish were two major things for this country: the religion and the magic system. Super proud of myself on how all that turned out.
I organized the hierarchy of the gods in my story on a tier-level and then I felt completely knowledgeable enough to start my read-through. I read a total of 30 pages and marked it up with all my notes. It took me about 3 hours to go through these thirty pages. I definitely wish I was faster, but my goal is to edit about fifty pages a day (I didn’t start until 10pm, I’m letting this day slide.) This means it will take me about a week to read through it. Considering the last book I wrote took me months to get through the first read through, I am very satisfied with this goal and think I can easily get to it if I work hard.
Also, five months later and I am still just in love with my first chapter as I was when I wrote it. I’ve read so many author interviews that mention how their beginning is never the same from their first draft to final. I know this isn’t me. I always have a very clear beginning for my projects (even the unfinished ones.) My first chapter remained largely the same for my Red Riding Hood retelling and that wasn’t awful.
Anyway. With my goal for the first read-through to be done my next weekend, that will leave me two more weeks of Camp to apply those changes and I’m excited my timeline is shrinking from what I originally thought. This is good for me considering it took me so long to write the first draft.
How was your first week of Camp? I’d love to know.