Week Two was a total bust. You can read the Week One recap here.

Now I understand why some folks spend an entire month prepping for NaNo. Not that I didn’t get anything done but much of what I’m doing now, could have been done before NaNo started.

Anyway, instead of feeling dejected over how much needs to be done, I’m just diving in with the revisions.

Week Two Recap

I made a list of the main character arcs with flow charts of what needs to happen. Don’t get excited about the flowcharts – ain’t nothing fancy. Just some hand drawn charts in my notebook, showing the major events and the impact on the character. I’m a visual writer (hence my propensity to procrastinate on Pinterest) and it really does help to have the facts laid out on the page. By using these charts, I can pinpoint areas where the manuscript has gone off-track

I’m aiming for a voice-y middle grade. Voice is what hooks the reader. It’s also what ultimately catches an agents attention too. The reader must fall for and root for the main character to the end. My challenge is, keeping the voice consistent throughout the novel and ensuring that this voice is authentic to the character.

Dialogue should be the focus of a separate draft. Is the dialogue compelling enough? Reading dialogue out loud is weird but a good way to determine how natural it sounds.

A few things I’ve noticed with my dialogue:

  • I tried to be clever by using info dumps under the guise of dialogue
  • Unnatural sounding dialogue – letting go of grammar rules for more natural exchanges
  • Not enough tension or conflict in the dialogue
  • Too many action beats to the point where it hinders the flow of the dialogue. Action beats are necessary to help convey emotion and add impact but too many can easily overwhelm the narrative
  • Characters sound the same. I’ve got an ensemble cast of 5 and while I’m trying to avoid overusing names, I need to find a way to alert the reader to who’s speaking without necessarily dropping names

Number of chapters revised: 5

The target word count is a maximum of 53,000 words.  I started with 64,813 which is too high for middle grade. I started out with a skeleton draft which became over inflated, now I’m trimming again. I’ve noticed a tendency to over explain – as if I don’t trust that the reader will get it. I’m constantly reminding myself that readers are smart and know how to read between the lines. Still, cutting 11,000 words sounds daunting. Guess we’ll see how it goes…

Until then,

Happy writing!!