Camp NaNoWriMo Update #5

Camp NaNoWriMo for April 2022 is over. Did I reach my goals? Yes and no.

No, I did not reach my word goal of 15,000 words. I got to 11,600 words.

And I’m happy with that. I had a blast discovering more about my story (a better goal than word count). I learned more about the craft of writing (another better goal than word count). I also practiced a method of writing I think works for me (yet another better goal.)

Camp NaNoWriMo offers more flexible options to writing goals than the regular November NaNoWriMo. I probably should have explored them, but for me, the ultimate goal for NaNoWriMo is to have fun writing.

And that I did.

What are some other goals I reached for this Camp NaNoWriMo?

  • I completed a working draft of my novella, Traption.
  • I developed the last dozen scenes of my novel, Oblivion’s Hope.
  • I more perfected my method of daily writing, what I call the scratch pad method.

I just wrote scraps of dialogue for the scenes in Oblivion’s Hope. To my surprise, the dialogue tied in neatly with earlier scenes from the book I’ve already written. Maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise, but in almost scene, the dialogue I wrote offered solutions and solved issues from earlier scenes, some from way in the beginning of the story.

So, for now, I’m promoting the idea of starting a scene with bits of dialogue. This is especially helpful for the writer who has no idea where to start. So, here’s a recipe for that problem: on my scratch pad document (not a literal scratch pad, but Word document or text document of some kind) I write a line of dialogue. Just one. No description. No action. Just dialogue. And I format it like a screenplay.

Here is an example from my scratch pad. My protagonist, Jad (using the fake name Jaxx) is in dialogue with the host who has taken Jad and part of his crew into his home. But the host, Zarus, has a different perspective:

Example:

Jad: They’re friends of ours. They stayed behind on the ship.

Zarus: They are of course welcomed here.

Jad: Oh, no, Zarus. Thank you, but they’ll be staying on the ship.

Zarus: Nonsense. Plenty of rooms in our home.

Jad: Your hospitality is so appreciated, but they’ll be maintaining my ship. They already have quarters there.

Zarus: “My” ship? Friend, Jaxx, there is no longer “my” but “ours”. The ship now belongs to Sanguine. To Rapturr.

Jad: Um, but …

Zarus: You won’t be needing the ship anymore. You know this. You, all of you, now live in community. The Sanguine community. 

Hartma: I mean, y’know, you’re all here forever, right? You know this, right?

I write just one line of dialogue. I don’t have to write anything else. But more dialogue springs to mind inevitably. I found a response from another character comes so much more easily. Later, I’ll add in other fiction elements: action, description, inner monologue, and so on.

Also, I completed my April scratch pad document. I started a new one for May today. In my May scratch pad document, I will write the same thing I wrote in my April document. Things like blog posts, scraps of dialogue, descriptions, ideas, thoughts, notes, rewrites, whatever. When I’m done for a day, I’ll copy what I’ve written and transfer it to a more permanent location: Scrivener, WordPress, whatever. Then I’ll rewrite when the time comes.

The idea of a writing scratch pad is psychological: it’s just a junk place to throw words together and not worry about how good they are. That comes later.

So, I’ve gotten off topic. Camp NaNoWriMo was a success for me in so manner intangible ways. As far as word count, I didn’t make 15,000 (and I even lowered that from 25,000), but it has been a month of exploring my writing craft in so many ways.

But, hey, 11,600 words is more than I had before.

Photo by Amine M’Siouri

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