30 October 2013

The Excitement is Back!

My husband gave me some feedback on my outline that correlated to what I'd thought was missing: the fear and reality of the witch hunts. Sure, the protagonist runs and hides from witch hunters and gets caught by one and escapes, but the outline didn't include the other aspects of having witch hunts: the trials and executions. How to fix that hole?

I researched via the trusty internet and found useful tidbits in Wikipedia and different Scottish history sites to help me better understand witch hunts. The best source was The Great Scottish Witchhunt of 1661-1662. This PDF, while expensive for this non-income earning writer, was exactly what I needed. The paper dovetailed so perfectly with my story (or is it the other way around?) ...

  • The majority of my story is set exactly in those years.
  • The witch hunts were centered in Midlothian, Scotland, just south of where my characters spend most of their time.
  • George MacKenzie, who helped free many of the "witches," is the same age as one of the major characters. Perfect for some fictional artistic license: he'll be an old school buddy of a main character and help the protagonist's cause.
The author of the paper listed several references, so should I need more info, I could search for those documents. However, I suspect they aren't as available to someone out in Arizona without a substantial fee. (Had I been in England, I could've popped into Cambridge and made a copy of the document. Would that I had a revenue stream large enough to do research on site.)

With this new information in hand, I've been amending and adding scenes that bring the trial and execution nose-to-nose with the protagonist. An added bonus: It made the story and process exciting again. It's been a while since I've felt this way with this story. Definitely full of Make-Me-Smile moments.

Now, to finish the outline so that I'm ready for NaNoWriMo in two days.

(Don't worry, I'm not going to rush through NaNoWriMo like always. I'll be thoughtful as I work this revision while trying to get as much done as possible. There is something about that looming deadline that motivates.)

02 October 2013

To NaNoWriMo?

It's that time of year: the month before NaNoWriMo. The fine folks at NaNoWriMo.org have emailed past participants, reminding us that the first of November fast approaches. Writers from all over tweet/post/G+ tidbits about their preparations for the game that starts in just a few weeks.

All the chatter raises the question: To NaNoWriMo? It's like a big, red, question mark.

Before NaNoWriMo 2008, I'd been studying fiction-writing books, completing exercises, flirting with writing. Eventually I figured it was time to stop talking about writing and to just write. So I took the leap in 2008 and signed up for NaNoWriMo. With the mantle of "Writer" around my shoulders, I forged ahead with an outline, a new laptop, and family that gave me time to write in the interstices of our life.

Two drafts of that story later, four other novels, and a new bio focused on my writing endeavors, the question is back. To NaNoWriMo?

I can think of a few reasons why NOT:
  • After working with my editor, I've learned that just getting words on a page can be helpful to achieving a 1st draft. However, the adventure can lead to a never-ending, torturous revision. (As I found out.)
  • Working on a NaNoWriMo story, no matter how exciting it is to create something from those blank pages and clicks on a keyboard, means that my other stories continue to languish in the recesses of my hard drive.
But the temptation of NaNoWriMo calls...
  • To be part of a world-wide community in which each person commits to write 50k words in one of the busiest months of the year, without all the messy social entanglements.
  • A game against myself... Can I win this year? How good/cohesive can I make the story?
  • NaNoWriMo is the rabbit hole that brought me to this writing world, so it holds a soft spot in my heart.
  • Those dang t-shirts.
To get that infernal red thing out of my head, I've decided to NaNoWriMo this year. 

But I won't be following the rules exactly. I won't be writing a new story per say, but working on the revision of that 2008 NaNoWriMo adventure. The 3rd-draft outline is nearly complete, and the second half of the story deviates from the 1st-draft. The story is different enough, I think, to be a "new" story.

So, short story long, that's my declaration: To NaNoWriMo.