Nano Debate and Two Pro’s Advice

Since my last post, I decided not to do NaNoWriMo, and then today I decided to do it anyway. I’d like to thank Robynn for her post, because that was the turning point. I didn’t want to be the one inspiring someone to do it, and then drop out. I had some pretty justifiable reasons for reconsidering the plunge.

I currently have three editing projects needing my immediate attention. The first is my Team PYP flash fiction. I have an unfinished piece from last quarter that needs one last polish before submitting. My piece for this quarter is only in 2nd draft, but needs to be worked on this month for my submission to my mentor, Cat. I put major work into the first piece in September (10 drafts/7 rewrites), and as a result, I only put 12k into my novel. If this were my only project competing with my novel for time, that’s 38k difference in words that I’d need to do in November that I didn’t in September.

My second editing project is based on winning a free comprehensive edit from Lane Diamond of Evolved Publishing. It’s on the first 5k of my novel, and it has been overwhelmingly helpful. The thing is, I’m not done yet. His process was to edit the first chapter, send me his notes, and then have me make those corrections on the rest of the piece. The only problem is, his changes really threw my writing style for a whirl.

Lane pointed out three areas in need of attention: use of infinite verb phrases (Sitting on the couch, Tim watched Terra Nova); overuse of proper nouns and subsequent confusion of pronouns; and paragraph breaks utilizing subject/pov rules.

The infinite verb phrases (IVP) correction was hard to take because I use them often, and without them I start too many sentences with the subject. Too make matters worse, one of the novels I’m reading uses them too. The author is published by a major publisher, and so I was confused. I was frustrated at this point, because not only was I unsure how to write without these, but my reading was also taking forever because of my analysis.

So, I decided to send Lane some examples of this author’s prose. In the process of transcribing from ebook into Word, I gave my attempts at how the paragraphs could have been better without the IVP. To my surprise, I actually came to see Lane’s point. See, Lane says that IVPs throw the reader off. He wrote a blog post, “Infinite Verb Phrases Give Readers an Act without an Actor.” In my example above, “Sitting on the couch” does not place the reader because they don’t know who is sitting on the couch. The solution of starting the sentence with the subject, “Tim sat on the couch watching Terra Nova,” goes back to my problem of starting another sentence with a subject.

editor extraordinaire

In a recent Google+ hangout with my mentor, Cat, she said there are “5 Elements in a Well-Rounded Scene: description, dialogue, action, interior emotion, and interior monologue.” So, I’ve got work to do, but cheating with IVPs is not it.

I’m still working on my pronoun use and understanding how each paragraph having it’s own subject can be a rule to help me not use so many proper nouns. I’m 3k into my 5k owed to Lane, and I still have questions about the overall POV having default “he” status, so that if I start a new paragraph, I don’t know if I have to start with my POV’s proper name, or if I can just use “he.”

My other unanswered question is when multiple people are acting in a sentence, who is the subject? My best guess at this point is to look for any POV signs, like use of senses (i.e. Ehli touched his arm, letting her warm touch linger…). The person feeling her warm touch is the POV/subject of the sentence and paragraph.

I considered these adjustments to my writing style and how it would make sense to get comfortable before writing 50k in November. I also considered that Nov. 1 is tomorrow and I still haven’t finished my assignment for Lane, or worked on his forthcoming response.

And then I read that my original inspiration, and teammate in Ti/ym Alliance, is not starting till Nov. 2. Both times I tried NaNoWriMo I won by over 5k, and at least the last time, I had around 4 days without writing that month. This means, if I work as hard as last time, I will have a few days to spend on other projects.

Another bonus of being part of the New Authors Fellowship, is our monthly requests from Paul for our WIP stats and goals. Above and beyond NaNoWriMo, is my goal to finish my novel’s draft in November. I have no idea how long it will end up being, but if it is 75k, I still have 28k to write. I see NaNo as being the push I need to get that 28k or whatever to finish. If I have words left to spare, I’ll use them to jump start my next novel, which is great motivation to get this novel finished ASAP.

http://www.nanowrimo.org/en/participants/tim-ward is the link to my nano page. Add me as a buddy and we’ll push each other.

Thank you, Lane, Cat, and all my other writing buddies for your encouragement and advice. You help make this dream possible.

p.s. My third editing project is a requested edit for my zombie novelette from the publisher. For those keeping track, that’s my first non-rejection response. I’m excited to apply all that I’ve learned from the aforementioned pros to get that story published.

About Timothy C. Ward

Timothy C. Ward is a Hugo nominated producer for Adventures in SciFi Publishing, who has been lost, broke and surfed with sharks on the other side of the world. He now dreams of greater adventures from his keyboard in Des Moines, Iowa. This summer he released two novels: his second Sand Divers book, Scavenger: A.I., where two parents use an ancient technology to fight a reproducing A.I. while trying to resurrect their deceased infant; and Godsknife: Revolt, an apocalyptic battle for godhood in the rift between Iowa and the Abyss.

13 comments on “Nano Debate and Two Pro’s Advice

  1. Hope it goes well, have fun! 🙂

  2. Yay! We can slug along together. Nothing like a little challenge to force us to use our writing time wisely. Write on!

  3. Sounds like you got some good feedback from Evolved Publishing. One of the co-founders of the organization attended a mentoring workshop I went to last spring, so small world, eh? From what I could tell, it looked like a good group of movers and shakers getting EP off the ground.

    May the Lord bless your NaNo efforts and everything you are doing to tighten up your writing. I’m with you on the verb phrases…I tended to abuse them in an effort to vary sentence structure. You’re not alone!

    Write on, friend. 🙂

    • Thanks, how about the subject pronoun stuff? Ever have problems with that? I feel like it’s an elementary part of grammar, but in fiction it is very confusing – especially with paragraph breaks.

  4. Good luck Tim. I’m, doing the NaNoWriMo as well this year for the first time (although I’m calling it NaNoFiMo as my aim is to finish my first draft, having 50k left to write). Hope to see you at the finish line!

  5. Glad to hear the IVP issue makes sense to you. The last thing we ever want to do is pull a reader out of the scene, even for a moment. It requires thinking differently about how you structure your sentences to create well-rounded and non-repetitive paragraphs, but some dedicated practice will get you there. Once you establish that new habit — once that light bulb truly lights up — you’ll have it licked.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Lane. It does make sense, and I agree that it takes dedicated practice to work around. I’m excited to see another evolution in my writing, no pun intended – well, maybe a little.

  6. Aww…the photo caption earns you internet chocolate, Wildcat. 🙂 Glad all this stuff is helping.

    Lane, that’s a great way to put it. Very nice to cross paths with you here.


    • Well, you are. And isn’t it funny you doing your best to spread Chila’s funny nickname.Glad I could introduce two of my cherished editors.

      When I told Cat that you didn’t like IVP, she said she liked you already. With the two of you helping me out, I expect great things. Thank you both.

  7. Inspiration all around! Since I’ve been writing, this is my first chance to do a little reading. As one of my writer buddies would say, write on, bro!

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