Your Novel Is Missing Something

Greetings, my lovely inklings! I hope your day is fantabulous thus far.

Since I’ve been posting on so much various and sundry of late, I thought it well to pen for you a few whats concerning writing today. This is also by way of an update on my own Writing Life, i.e. my work-in-progress, i.e. Rethana’s Trial (Legends of the Light-Walkers, #2).

Background Particulars

If you recall, I recently mentioned in passing that I’d submitted the final draft of Rethana’s Trial to my indie publisher. I did not, however, make note that while I considered the draft complete, I did have a few minor bits and pieces to clean up. I figured that I could just work ahead of Aaron and have all of my fantastical ducks in a row before he laid eyes on whatever section of story I’d just finished polishing.

Said polishing, by the way, was to consist of fact-checking Book 2 against Book 1; fixing some linguistic errors in Lirren Eamnaya, the language I invented for this series; and making sure that the redhead in Chapter 2 wasn’t a brunette in Chapter 17. Things like that.

I write my stories in Google Docs, so I’d left myself comments all over the place. And as I went through the document, checking and fixing and comment-resolving and congratulating myself on how well I was keeping ahead of Aaron, I came across the following:

Note to self

Do please click to embiggen and feast your eyes on the note I left myself on the right-hand side of the screen capture.

Yes. I had managed to “complete the final draft” and had left out an entire chapter in the process.

*le sigh*

I sent Aaron an email with the subject line “oh crap,” detailing the lack of finishedness. The good news is that in the Google Doc comment, I’d left myself an outline of the missing chapter. It’s a very rough outline, but at least I’m not racking my brains trying to remember what it was I intended said chapter to contain and accomplish.

The bad news is that I could go into labor at any moment, and if I don’t get that chapter written before this happens, I likely won’t get it written for at least another month. (I am trying to be optimistic.)

How to Add Necessary Wordage to Your Novel

So. Now the goal is to add 4,000-6,000 words to the story. How to accomplish said feat? I know I can’t be the only writer out there to be facing such a task, so I thought I’d delineate a few steps for all of you writerly people. This is by no means an exhaustive how-to; this is just how I’m approaching the problem. If it works for you, too, then I’ve done A Good Thing. : )

How to Add Necessary Wordage to Your Novel

1. Have an idea of what those words need to be.

As I mentioned above, I’ve already got a rough outline of what needs to go into this chapter. Now, by “outline” I do not mean a point-by-point bulleted list, although that might be helpful. I mean I have three or so run-on sentences that say “first this happens and then this and then someone says that and the MC responds and then they argue and blah.” Yes, the “blah” is a direct quote. When I wrote the comment, I needed to remind my future self of the thoughts that had inspired the idea that the story needed this chapter. The Run-On Blah serves as my “oh yeah, that.”

2. Know what the extra words need to accomplish.

In my case — and without providing spoilers — my entire extra chapter serves a dual purpose:
(a) It fleshes out a side character as one of the main antagonists of the story.
(b) It provides my main character with extra motivation for her decisions over the course of the next 2-3 chapters.

Unless you’re in the throes of NaNoWriMo and are trying to pad your word count, you’re never just adding words for the sheer heckuvit. This is not a thesis paper to which you’re adding fluff in order to get your letter grade. This is a novel, in which every word must be absolutely necessary. (Really, you should approach thesis papers the same way, but who does that?) In novel-writing, if a word doesn’t need to be there, you have to cut it. Conversely, you shouldn’t add a word unless you need it, either.

So, before you go adding a couple thou of wordage to your story, be sure of what function you want those words to perform. Fleshing out character? Adding motive? Clarifying action? Tying up subplot? Giving main character another delicious obstacle to overcome?
Decide. And then move on to the last step.

3. Engage butt-to-chair and write the darn thing.

I discovered my lack-of-a-chapter on Thursday. I didn’t get around to sitting down to the story again until Monday. Granted, in the meantime I had baby-related necessaries to accomplish and away-from-keyboard activities in which to engage. But still…I’m a big enough girl to admit to the possibility that I might have been procrastinating a little.

Do as I say, not as I do. In every step of novel-writing, plunking your butt in your chair and just doing the work will ultimately be the only thing that gets your story written. It’s the only thing that will get your story finished — and I mean really finished, not just ready for someone to start reading while you frantically work ahead of said beta reader and hope they don’t catch up to you before you’re done.

———

So, there ya have it. My three steps on how to add necessary words to your novel. Comments, questions, and even disagreements are welcome. What would you add to the list?

How to Burn a Pitiful Omelette

Burnt Omelette in 10 Easy Steps

Ingredients

2 eggs
1 tbsp canola oil
1 skillet
1 stove burner, heated

Directions

1. Place skillet on heated burner.

2. Crack both eggs into skillet. Add canola oil.

3. Scramble eggs (because scrambled eggs are what you intended to cook in the first place).

4. Walk away.

5. Sit down at computer and look at Twitter.

6. Smell something funny.

7. “Run” to kitchen (except that you can’t run because you’re 39 weeks pregnant and everything hurts).

8. Observe “pitiful omelette” smoking in skillet in place of scrambled eggs.

9. Scrape pitiful omelette into trash can.

10. Repeat from Step 1, omitting Steps 4-10.

Insomnia + Twitter = Random

This post is really for those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter and, therefore, don’t get the pleasure of perusing the oddities that spew from my thumbs when I can’t sleep (which is happening more and more often of late). But those of you who do follow me might appreciate having the recent randomness collected in one place, so here it is. Enjoy. ; )

Two Whats of Twitter

1. RT = retweet

When someone tweets something I want to share with my followers, I “retweet” that person’s tweet. This means that my followers will then see the tweet with “RT” and the original Twitterer’s handle attached to it.

2. Hashtags

A “hashtag” marks keywords in a tweet and is preceded by a #. So if I tweet about writing and tag the tweet with #amwriting, my tweet will appear listed with other #amwriting tweets if someone clicks on #amwriting. Hashtags help categorize tweets and make it easier to find information on a certain subject.

Just for fun, some of us like to make up hashtags that no one is going to be searching for. A popular, “legit” hashtag is #firstworldproblems ( = frustrations with luxuries available only in First World countries). In one of my recent tweets, I made up the hashtag #literaturenerdproblems, which no one will be searching for, but it made me giggle as a play on #firstworldproblems.

So. There, dear inklings, is your brief “Twitter 101” for the day. Now you’re ready for the #tweetsomniac weirdness!

@courtcan’s Insomniac Tweets

Oh. Hi, insomnia. Fancy meeting you here. #donotfancyatall #goaway

Hi, I’m Courtney, and I’m a tweetsomniac. #Twitter #insomnia

That sad moment when you have a new interaction on Twitter and realize that you tweeted at yourself. #firstworldproblems

.@JoshuaUnruh “Holy cats” is “heilige Katzen” in German. In case you wanted to start using that.

When you’ve gestated 37.5 weeks, random contractions that just peter out into nothing (instead of turning into true labor) are #notfair.

Tweeting isn’t helping the insomnia. #amwriting wouldn’t help either, but I am sorely tempted to get out of bed and do some.
(For the record, I didn’t.)

Yesterday on Facebook, my dumb phone autocorrected “rood” to “roof.” #literaturenerdproblems

I think The Who’s “Love, Reign O’er Me” is one of the most beautiful songs ever. #music

Aw, now that’s just sad. RT @val_q: Things He Says to Hurt Me #2: “Claire Danes and Jared Leto? What show was that?”

I used to want to be an archaeologist too! RT @YMinisterswife Today I shall embark on an adventure I call “toy box excavation”.

Someday, I really want to throw a surprise birthday party for the next #random person to enter the public restroom.

Also of a good story. RT @CHRISVOSS One very important ingredient of success is a good, wide-awake, persistent, tireless enemy. -F Shutts

RE previous RT: Your story is only as strong as your antagonist. Discuss. #amwriting

I have gephyrophobia. #abouttheauthor #random

#insomnia has taught me that my usual suspects on Twitter are not awake at 5:30am CST. #firstworldproblems

With reservations as delineated by @barryeisler in comments, I added my name to NoSockPuppets. http://nosockpuppets.wordpress.com #NSPHP #amwriting

Look, Ma — no sleeps. #insomnia *sigh again*

‏Are u one of my family members who posts awkwardly personal updates about ur romantic life on Facebook? Please don’t tell anyone.
–@ApiarySociety, retweeted by @courtcan

#insomnia #frustrations #feelingpitiful #readytohavealegitreasonforsleeplessness #legitreasonequalsbaby *sigh*

I cannot describe the depth of my disappointment the day I discovered that #fantasyfootball has naught to do w/ elves, trolls, and dragons.

I grew up as an American in Germany. We weren’t military. Pretty sure our phones were tapped during the ’80s. #TCK #adventures

If you didn’t know: #TCK = #ThirdCultureKid = originates in one culture, grows up in another, assimilates them into 1 unique culture.

#TCK advantages: extreme cultural adaptability, flexible personality, independence, broadened horizons, heightened empathy.

#TCK disadvantages: adjustment difficulties, commitment issues, rootlessness, frustration w country of origin, never fitting in anywhere.

For me, #TCK advantages far outweigh disadvantages. I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

I should blog about this. #TCK

Being pregnant is like having eaten the biggest meal of your life & feeling crazy stretched & bloated, but w empty tummy. Also, epic boobs.

#insomnia = #lackoffilters #tweetinginappropriatethingsatsixam

I’ve been reading “Night of the Iguana” by T. Williams. So far: Nymphos = 1, nubiles = 2, lechers = 1, natives = 2, iguanas = 0.

So many blogs with headlines like “This Is Why Your _________ Is a Failure.” <-- Define failure?! Maybe the struggle is just part of growth. Also a spiffy scarf. RT @LukeRomyn: Don't buy roses or chocolate, get her a tank of gas. My phone is dying. Probably a sign I should try sleeping again. Later, y'all. #insomnia

In Which I Misuse Bananas

So. As pregnancy progresses, one finds that sleeping becomes more and more of a difficultness.

Sleep Deprivation

For one thing, there’s the increased size of belly. It gets in the way of rolling over. It gets in the way of finding a comfortable position. And if I don’t keep a pillow under it to support it, there’s pulling and pressure and all sorts of achiness. And yes, I gotta be on my side because of circulation to uterus, blood flow to baby, and fun things of that nature.

Also, there is a small head now continually using my bladder as a pillow. Getting up three times a night to go to the bathroom is pretty standard nowadays.

The thing is, when I wake up to pee or to change positions, it takes me anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours to get back to sleep. The 3-hour thing is especially bad, as the illustration here illustrates in a most illustrative manner.

My Thing with Bananas

Last week, after a particularly restless night (i.e. one of the 3-hour I’m-awake-and-can’t-stand-it things), I felt groggy and blah beyond all reckoning. I fixed my breakfast, ate it, and then started cleaning up my dishes. I’d had a banana in my cereal. I picked up the banana peel and headed for the bathroom.

I picked up the banana peel and headed for the bathroom.

I still don’t know why.

What was I going to do with the banana peel in the bathroom? Let us not speculate. Let us not go there. Ever, ever, ever.

Yesterday, there was another banana incident.

Once again, I hadn’t slept. But still, I eventually rolled out of bed (this is neither exaggeration nor metaphor) and fixed my breakfast. The bacon was in the oven. The raw eggs were in the skillet, awaiting their scrambling. The cereal was in the bowl, awaiting its milk. I picked up the banana, peeled it, and commenced to slicing it.

I looked down.

I had sliced the banana not into the cereal bowl but into the skillet of raw eggs.

As one does.

For the record, I picked the banana slices out of the eggs and threw them out; sliced another banana into the cereal; cooked the eggs; and ate a yummy breakfast.

I’m afraid of what will happen the next time I can’t sleep.

What will the bananas have in store for me next time?

I wait.

10 Things They Don’t Tell You About Being A Baby Factory, Pt. 2

This just appeared randomly a few days ago. 15 week, 5 days.

A little late (but late due to a good cause), here is the second half of my “Baby Factory 10 Things” list. If you missed the first half, check out numbers 1-5 here.

And so! Now that you’re all caught up, let’s proceed to…

10 Things They Don’t Tell You About Being A Baby Factory, Pt. 2

6. There is this thing. It is called “food.” You will not like it.
It will taste funny. It will smell like feet. Your favorites will suddenly turn into cardboard or charcoal and make you gag. (As an aside, brushing your teeth will make you gag, too.) Even the much-praised saltine, upon which you munch to keep something in your stomach at all times, will eventually crumble to ashes in your mouth. This is not happy.

The reason this happens is, once again, Our Favorite Friend Progesterone. It changes the chemical composition of your saliva, which alters the taste of food. This is MADE OF WEIRD.

This is also frustrating and demoralizing, and you will get in trouble with your doctor for losing 9 lbs. between Weeks 5 and 8.

7. There is this thing. It is called “food.” You will crave it like a hyena craves a wildebeest.
The good news is that around Week 12, the flood of progesterone becomes less flood-ish. Bit by bit, things start to taste normal again. Sadly, some of your favorites will still taste and smell like feet. (I still mourn peanut butter.) But in general, you’ll start liking food again. Food will no longer bring on nausea at every longed-for bite. Suddenly, the vegetables you loathed in Week 11 taste like ambrosia in Week 14. This, my dears, is glorious, and you shall rejoice!

You shall also begin gaining weight like your doctor told you to do back in Week 8.

8. If this is your first, THEY are all experts.
THEY are women in your family. THEY are your female friends. THEY are your female acquaintances. THEY are women who’ve had babies. Sometimes, THEY are even women who haven’t had babies.

One and all, they will tell you what it is you’re experiencing. They will tell you how much they hearted being pregnant. They will tell you how grateful you should feel that you’re sick. They will tell you horror stories of bleeding and cramping — their own and other women’s. They will tell you all of these things even though you don’t ask to hear. And you will sigh muchly. And try not to freak out.

(The good news is that when you actually *do* request stories from some of them, there is much loving commiseration as soon as it becomes clear that this is what you need. When this happens, you will be quite glad to have so many experts in your life.)

9. At night, you will have an IMAX theater in your head.
Once upon a time, the husband said that because I’ve always has such vivid dreams, I must have an IMAX in my head at night. (He, on the other hand, is blessed with a calm, sleep-preserving, empty warehouse.) Well, Mr. Sandman seems to be taking hits of that famed, illicit drug Proges Terone — because now my dreams are more vivid and convoluted than ever. At times, I wake up to a flood of emotions that don’t even feel like my own. This, too, is a WEIRDNESS.

So far, the most memorable dream was the one where civilization had mostly recovered after the zombie apocalypse hit. I was waiting for my grandparents outside a convention hall because I was their driver. The convention was for The Church of the Protection of Zombies or somesuch; apparently, my grandparents had joined a cult that preached against the killing of zombies. Being a killer of zombies whenever opportunity struck, I disagreed with this religion and so chose not to enter the convention hall.

Yeah. So there’s that.

10. Your brains will fall out.
This, fortunately, has nothing to do with zombies — although it might seem like you’ve turned into a zombie, what with the bleary eyes, the slow shuffle, and the random bouts of feeding frenzy.

But no, what we’re really talking about here is the Infamous Pregnancy Brain. I guess it’s the hormones. Or maybe it’s the lack of sleep. Or maybe it’s that your entire being is subconsciously focused on assembling a brand-new other being inside of you. Whatever the cause, the effect is that you can’t think straight, you can’t process information in a logical manner, and you can’t remember squat.

Except where the ice cream is located. You can remember this perfectly well.

The bad news, THEY tell me, is that Infamous Pregnancy Brain doesn’t ever really go away. It turns into Infamous Newborn Brain and from there morphs into Infamous Toddler Brain. By this time, I don’t think we can blame it on the hormones anymore, so it’s gotta be the lack of sleep. And THEY tell me this doesn’t stop until the kid moves out.

Will I recover my brain then? Some say yes, some say no. I’m banking on the kid turning out a nightowl just like me, in which case we should be able to let each other get as much sleep as either of us could possibly want.

Shut up, experts. Lemme have my delusions. They ain’t hurtin’ nobody. ; )

BONUS
11. When you hear your baby’s heartbeat for the first time, you will sob like you did when Bambi’s mother died. Only happier this time.
: )