Look, it says it at the top of the website, the first sentence you read — Hi, I’m Kait, I kill plants and characters.
I can’t say exactly *why* I’m this way, but there has always been something about the self-sacrificial protagonist, the vulnerable hero, the character who pays the ultimate price that’s caught my fancy. From childhood, some of my favourite characters were Sirius Black, Trystan (of Trystan and Isolde fame), Hoban Washburn. Spoiler alert. They all die. Somewhere between Rowling and Whedon I got it in my head that the only way to satisfy your audience was to make them feel *pain*, and sadness, and insatiable grief.
And hey, nothing’s changed.
Except for one thing. I had a realization — sometimes, the hero doesn’t have to die.
You may recall, or have noticed since arriving, that this blog began as a place to share not just about my own writing but about equality and equity in popular culture, specifically video games. I’m very passionate about the conscious consumption of culture, and this video perfectly summarizes why it’s so important!
Although the below video addresses music and musical artists specifically, I think it is applicable to all artists and art, including movies, television and games. Check it out:
I finally reached my goal for draft one of The Tower Project this month, with a little over 70,000 words written. It was an accomplishment that felt both bitter sweet, and immensely satisfying. With draft one in the bag, where does that leave me?
November has come to a close, and Nanowrimo has drawn to an end. My goal this year was around 12,000 words — a mere fraction of the 50,000 some of you brave writers committed to. If you succeeded, congratulations! If you fell a little short, don’t be disappointed. I’ll leave a tweet below from the official Nanowrimo account that perfectly captures my feelings:
For me, November had a bumpy start. I didn’t start writing until the month was already half over (oops) but when I got going, I wrote every night for 45 min-2 hours. I used writing sprints, roughly writing 800-1200 words per night. It ended up requiring quite a bit of discipline, there were multiple evenings when I just didn’t feel like showing up. Taking that time to work on my goals gave me a small sense of accomplishment which kept me coming back.
So, did I make it? Just about. I find myself about 200 words shy of my 70,000 goal for this draft of The Tower Project. This is the farthest I’ve come in the 10 years I’ve been writing.
But I’m having a hard time crossing the finish line.
You’ve already met Thomas, the main character from my current WIP (The Tower Project). I thought I would spend a little time introducing some of my other characters over the next couple weeks.
Today, allow me to introduce Margot Powell. Margot’s look was inspired by a picture of St. Vincent (Annie Clark), who I’ve since discovered is a super cool human. Just don’t ask me about her music, I have no idea ;p.
Margot is a character foil for Thomas, she’s dependable, strong as a shot of vodka, inquisitive, and has a strong sense of justice. She is a critical thinker who always does the right thing. To Thomas, she’s everything. He’s completely blind to her flaws, a fact that’s not lost on her. She’ll do anything it takes to protect him.
70,000 words is the goal for my first draft. It’s a carefully chosen word count, a minimum amount of words for my carefully chosen genre. The average number of words in my genre is somewhere around 100,000, so there’s room to expand in my second draft. Hopefully I gain words, and don’t just lose them. In the past, I’ve made it to about 30,000 words in a project before petering out, so trust me when I say that minimum goal is still ambitious.
Nanowrimo is National Novel Writing Month and, although I’ve participated in the past, I’ve never “won”. The goal for the month is to write 50,000, a feat which previously seemed impossible. I’ve only ever come “close” once, when I wrote 28,000 words.
I have a hard time staying motivated. I’m a planner, a plotter and inevitably, when my project veers away from my careful plot, I get overwhelmed and frustrated. A feeling that shortly leads to abandonment.
So you can imagine my feeling of excitement as I mosey into Nanowrimo with a tiny little goal of 12,000 words. That’s it. That’s all I have left before I reach my goal of 70,000 words, and it’s only taken three years to get here. Three years on the same project, with the same characters in the same world. It feels impossible to me that it’s taken so long, and it feels equally impossible that I’ve come this far. 12,000 words — I think that makes this my official home stretch.
All this to say, keep going! Don’t lose momentum and, if you do, don’t give up.
Drop some encouragement in the comments below! November might not be the month everyone manages to write a novel, but I move to make it National Cheer on a Writer Month! If you have a writer friend in your life, now’s the time to send them some love!
Hello, yes, I am not a fan of exercise. There is, however, one form of sprinting I can get behind.
What is a writing sprint?
A writing sprint is a timed activity in which you write without distractions. Follow that up with a short break, then sprint again. Repeat for as long as you desire. Similar to the Pomodoro productivity technique, which breaks work into 25-minute segments separated by 5-minute rests using a timer, writing sprints can be customized to fit whatever time you have available.
When I get stuck sometimes I need to get away from the word processor and use other parts of my brain. I’ve found that keeping focused on my WIP, but trying something creative other than writing, can be a great way to get myself unstuck! Lately, I’ve been venturing over to Pinterest where I spend time wading through the many many images and curating the ones that most clearly encapsulate my characters and plot. This has helped me flesh out some of my minor characters, as well as keep up my momentum and boost my creativity!
Writing exercise (kinda): creating character aesthetics.
Thomas Tower is the main character in my WIP (now that placeholder name ‘The Tower Project’ makes sense, huh?). He’s blind, has a rebellious streak, and a mop of curly dark hair. He’s a big coffee drinker, his sister is his prime motivator, and oh ya… he might be haunted by a ghost.
In my third year at university I took a writing critique class. We each submitted a chapter or short story on a rotating basis and were responsible for critiquing the weekly submissions. I have never learned as much — or been as productive — as I was with a bi-weekly deadline and the expectations of my peers looming over me. The feedback made me a better writer and gave me big-time motivation that rolled over week to week.
After I graduated and found a desk job, my productivity fizzled. Almost ten years later, I randomly crossed paths via Facebook with a writing group setting up shop near my house. In the first couple of months participating I struggled to get a chapter done every month. I would often be writing furiously the night before the deadline (or still writing the day after the deadline had passed…). As time went on and I continued to write one chapter a month — shocker here — it got easier!
Why you need a critique group
Learn to accept, and to give, critique and constructive criticism
Learn about the craft of writing
Learn about what readers want and expect
Connect with like-minded people with similar goals
After a brief separation from my WIP, The Tower Project, I recently re-committed myself to finishing this draft. As I do, I’m collecting inspiration and actively plotting draft two. One of the things that’s helping me get ready for this next phase in the writing process is … Pinterest boards. Specifically character aesthetics/moodboards.
Pinterest can be a powerful tool for writers, from collecting character inspiration through portrait photography, to world building and writing craft tips. I’ve started to deepen my understanding of my characters through collecting images that remind me of them and thus, the challenge: What’s in your Characters Pockets? was born.
Above: the things that I have said, over the last 50,000 words, Thomas Tower is carrying in his pockets. I may have even gone so far as photoshopping a fake ID and custom business cards. The depths of my procrastination truly knows no bounds.
Here’s the list:
A wallet with a California ID and paper money, folded for ease of identification
A ring of keys
Several stubs of candle
A stainless steel lighter
A pocket knife
A deck of playing cards (with raised braille)
Your turn, it’s time to turn out your protag’s pockets. Tell me what they’re carrying in the comments!