Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Out of Order Writing and Teenage Romance

Oh, my, Reader... my novel needs some serious editing!

I will note that I did, in fact, technically finish "editing" my novel; that is, I went through and marked things that needed to be changed. As I mentioned in my last entry, there are a good number of conventional errors, especially typos. But the biggest edits are yet to happen. Besides going through every page and making the small changes that need to be applied (which takes FOREVER), I also need to write some more to make my story a little more well-rounded.

See, I used to write in a very linear fashion, e.g. I would write the first scene first and then write in order. I have a weird "thing" about doing things the same way every time. But a few years ago, I sat writing (probably in math class... I do a crapload of writing during math class) and thinking, "I just want to write [scene] so badly!" and then I thought, "Why can't I?" And from that point on, if I wanted to write something, I wrote it. Sometimes it complicates things, as I develop my characters as I go along and things crop up here and there along the way. But it is much easier to go back and change a thought of two than it is to think, "What was that scene I wanted to write three months ago?"
There is one other complication that mars this otherwise agreeable method of writing: I sometimes forget to return to things I decide to skip. So as I waas reading through my novel on day one, I noticed that the dialogue jumped, quite abruptly. One minute, Ruthie and Annie were hearing these voices come out of nowhere and when I turned the page, they were on a first-name basis with the speaker.
After a moment of confusion, I realised that this was one part of the novel that I had been stuck on and decided to come back to. So this is one huge chunk that I need to write anew. I'm just thankful I found it before I got the inevitable "Is something missing here?" note from my outside editors.

Another huge problem I ran into was the relationship between Ruthie and another character, Walker. When I started the story, I never set out to put any romance in it, especially since it's pretty much a YA novel and it's not necessary to the storyline. But pretty close to the start of my novel, it became clear to me that Ruthie was going to develop a crush on Walker; I wrote their first kiss and it was just so cute that I had to put it in. And while I do hint at some forming of an attachment throughout the story (one spiteful character even says it straight out), I realised as soon as I reached the kiss moment that though it was still super cute, there wasn't enough to merit it. It shouldn't be too hard to add some little crush-y hints here and there; as I said, there are already a few, and there are some strong reasons why the two would form such a strong bond so quickly: Ruthie wakes up in an unfamiliar room and panics, only to be comforted by Walker. When she is tortured, she is taken care of by him, as well as her friend Nora, and he feels that her capture was his fault. They make an escape attempt together, which leads to another perilous situation from which they save each other. But unfortunately, I recognise the need to some other small moments that hint at a teenager-y romantic attachment on both sides.

This editing business is tough going... Anyone else going through this?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Talk of Nooks and Editing

Hello, everyone. I hope you had a wonderful Chrismahannukwanzika! I know my Christmas was lovely. Though I love all of my presents, my favorite is the one I have not yet recieved- a Nook! My mom and I had been discussing the possibility of my getting a Sony Reader/Kindle, and it was between those two for many, many months until I was shopping at B&N one day and saw that they had something, as well. My mom was still pretty gung-ho about the Sony Reader until she began to read reviews about the Nook, and by that point, they had already been sold out for awhile. So I will have it before I go back to school but not before I leave for the theatre festival (it arrives the day after I leave!) I am so excited to (eventually) have this because it will eliminate an entire suitcase when I study in England next year! Seriously, I was despairing over which books I would have to leave behind, because I am the type of person who brings fifteen books with me on a weekend trip to the beach in case I feel the overwhelming urge to read page 47 of this or that book.

But I digress. I am very excited about this and that is all. Because I had a point in writing this blog, and that point is this: I began editing my NaNo novel today.

It hasn't been quite a month since I locked my novel away in the bottom drawer of my desk at school, but I had time today and it's close enough. Additionally, I have people waiting to edit it that I am sure will do a far more thorough job than I am doing.

Editing is an interesting process, and actually, almost a brand-new experience for me. Though I have been writing forever, I rarely ever finish my stories, which is odd because I am a person who does not like loose ends. But, as a friend and fellow writer and I were discussing just today, sometimes reaching the end is what we are afraid of. A work in progress is safe because it's still in progress. But if you type that final word of your novel and think, "I'm done,"... well, that's a little frightening.

If course, as I am learning in this editing process, a novel is not nearly "done" once you finish the first draft. There is SO much work to be done on this story... so, so much. I am not a person who generally makes a ton of grammatical and/or conventional errors, but believe me, they are present in my first draft. I have marked so many things I want to change. For it being my biggest writing pet peeve, I repeat words an awful lot. And I discovered about an hour ago a huge chunk of a scene that I just never wrote. I kept flipping pages, looking for the missing part, and then realised that that was a section of the scene I had meant to get back to and just never did. I would have been so embarrassed if I had sent my novel off with that chunk missing.

As odd as it sounds, as I read, I am realising that plot is one of my weaknesses. I am very insecure in my writing and tend to have ideas given to me that I then work my characters around that story, and I feel safe because it's not MY story, it's just my words put together to form that story. But this novel is completely of my own imagining and I am scared that I have no plot. As I mentioned in my very first entry, I failed at NaNo last year because I didn't really had a plot. I had a few good scene ideas, but beyond that, nothing. And somehow, I feel that even though I have over 50,000 words of a plot of my own creation... I feel like I am in the same situation. Am I the only one that suffers from this insecurity?

However, I have been told on more than one occasion that character development is one of my strengths, and I am proud of that. I feel like my MC is a strong character. There are a number, however- Gloria, Mrs. Grady, Suzanne, Billy, Ethan, and Annie, just to name a few- that I feel can be developed further. Only about two and a half of them are main characters, but I come from the theatre world where there are no small parts!

Tomorrow, I shall finish my editing, including my chapter breakdown, and then I will apply those edits to my novel as best I can. I could rush this and do it in a day, but I am making myself draw it out for a few days. I have promised the novel to my editors after the new year, so I am thinking by the third or so, I will send it out. I am very nervous about their opinions, but I know they will be helpful- and I much prefer pages of notes to a passive "I liked it."

And now I must to bed, for it is late and I am tired. Bonne nuit!

P.S. Another one of my presents was a NaNoWriMo t-shirt! I love it!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Returning to Past Projects

Hello, everyone! I am back!

First of all, I wanted to apologise to those who left comments and didn't get any responses. I'm not quite sure how to make this blog notify me when someone comments, and I was quite surprised to see that I had a few comments for a couple of the days. So apologies and thank yous to those who commented! It's nice to know that people are reading.

I've decided to keep this blog going, however irregularly it might be updated. I began to look over the two projects I mentioned in my last entry and I was both pleased and disappointed by what I found.

The first thing was the period screenplay, which I tend to refer to in my mind as "the Caroline Project". I began to write this my senior year of high school and stopped around early 2008. I have a good memory, so this was a good amount of time to help me forget what I had written and return to it with fresh eyes.
One of my writing strengths is character development, and I think I've done a fair job in this one, as well. I really like all of the characters and enjoy hearing what they have to say.
I've edited a bunch of the lines because they sounded unnatural- repeated words, etc. I like to read things I write out loud, whether it be a screenplay or a story, to hear how it sounds when spoken. With this screenplay, lines will obviously sound a little different because it takes place in the early 1900s, but they still need to sound like they could be spoken.

Something that is irking me about this screenplay is the way I begin it. I started it originally by having a college student, a journalism major named Audrey, visiting the title character in a nursing home and asking her some questions about her childhood and what it was like to grow up in that time period. There are a few problems with my beginning that can only have come from my not ever having been in a college at that point: Audrey is nineteen and working on her thesis. Um... no. I'm nineteen right now and nowhere near that stage! Also, it would probably be more accurate if she were a sociology/psychology major; if I want to keep her as a journalism major, I need to figure out what on earth she's writing about that would constitute these interviews.
I'm also not so sure I want to begin it in more modern times (the '80s, in this case, because that was the most recent I could begin it without having Caroline be, like, 105 years old). While I like the dialogue I have between Audrey and Caroline, I just don't think Audrey has enough significance in the story. The only way I can think of making her part worthy enough to keep in the story is to draw some sort of parallel between her and Caroline's story. Caroline's story is all about lost love quiet young, so perhaps Audrey could be choosing some sort of relationship frivolously or carelessly? I don't know... I can write the story without Audrey, but I'm not sure how to begin it without her.

As for Q/Quarantined, I've only gotten a few chapters into my re-read; hopefully I can finish tonight or tomorrow. So far, though, I'm still very excited to continue the story. It's a really cool idea (which I got from the NaNo boards' "Adopt a Plot" section) and I am ready to work on it again. I would be working on it right now, while I'm backstage at my Dance Recital Night #1, but I want to hav completely read the first draft before I add anything on to it.

Storyboarding is definitely not for me. I went through my NaNo prep stuff while I was cleaning up my dorm last night and found my storyboard from both Q and Remembrance... sure, it's great to have it, but I never added anything to it because I knew what I wanted... and then it allchanged so rapidly that I didn't want to stop in the middle of an exciting scene to write what was happening on a Post-It. I wish I could storyboard, but I don't think it will ever happen.

I suppose I should stop writing and focus on what I need to do right now- tap dance to Kelly Clarkson and Michael Jackson mixes... I hate tap dancing, and I'm not sure why I continue to force myself to do it. But whether I hate it or not, I'm here, and the show must go on!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Chapter Thirty: A New Beginning?

At the end of tomorrow, I will lock my novel away for a month. In order to keep myself from taking it out of the drawer (because it doesn't really lock), I will be editing a fellow WriMo's novel and working on a few of my own projects.

The first project is the novel I began around September to keep myself from starting my NaNo novel early, entitled Q (or Quarantined... I haven't quite decided). It's about a fourteen year old girl, Eliza, who is afflicted with the Attentuate Virus, or AV. Only 24 people worldwide have ever been affected and no one has lived longer than three years with it in their system. Eliza was diagnosed at age twelve and as her fifteenth birthday approaches, Eliza can only hope that a cure will be discovered. On the eve of her fifteenth birthday, she is visited by Jonah, a seventeen yesar old high school drop-out who announces that a team of chemists (of which he is one) has found the cure to AV. Eliza is not sure whether to believe him or not, but she decides that between death and adventure, she chooses adventure. I've already got 25,000 words of it and I really like what I've got so far. I can't wait to get back to it.

The second project is a screenplay I started a few years ago, untitled as of now. It was inspired by a monologue I performed in a haunted lantern tour. My character was named Catherine, a woman of 80 years old who had had nothing to live for since she was about twenty, when her fiance was killed in a trolley accident. She ends up marrying a guy who's nice but not terribly interesting (or interested in her). I renamed the character Caroline in my screenplay and had lots of fun creating the characters of her fiance (who I eventually fell in love with) and her two best friends, Keladry and Minnie. I haven't touched this screenplay for a really long time because it's so sad and I just looked at it tonight for the first time in awhile. I really want to work on it again.

Now, I must ask you, Reader- are you interested in hearing about any of this? Or shall I close down this blog until next year's NaNo? I'll have a lot more to write about since I'm working on three projects as opposed to one.

And now, I must to homework!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chapter Twenty-Nine: The End of the Line

Word Count: 50,237/50,000

It has been a very interesting journey, Reader. While some people are still journeying, I finished my novel yesterday around 9:30 pm. It was bittersweet. I really like my novel's plot and the characters, but I definitely need to distance myself from the story. I feel like towards the middle of the writing, I began to repeat myself a lot. Now that it is finished, I need to lock the story away for a month or so and not look at it. At the end of December, I will take it out again and edit it before I send it off to a person or two for heavy editing.

I wish I could say I think this story is so good it will be published one day, but I feel like I let myself down, writing wise. Don't get me wrong, I am very proud that I wrote so much in a month- it was really hard, but I did it. But while there are parts of my novel I love, there are parts I really don't like. It also feel incredibly short to me, which is odd since it's just as long as anyone else's who has reached 50,000 words. And this over-analysation, Reader, is why I need to distance myself from it!

So tomorrow I will print it out, give it another once-over, and lock it away until December 30th (or so... might take it out Christmas Day or something since I will have time).

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Chapter Twenty Six: Is The Light Still At the End of the Tunnel?

Word Count: 45,023/50,000

My brain has become a mushy pile of overcooked spaghetti, dear Reader. I am so close to the finish line and yet I feel like it is so far away. Things that relate to my story are just becoming a blur. I can no longer tell if I am ahead or behind (I think I'm a little ahead...)

I find it odd that I am finding this part the hardest. I was definitely overtaken by the 30K Curse, which is an ailment that befalls those stomping through the wilderness of 30K- you feel like you're losing steam. But then I pulled out of 30K into 40 and... it got harder. I just have these huge chunks of writing that I like and I feel like I am just filling the spaces with piles of steaming crap.

But I did get an exciting offer to read my novel today from my friend Nicole (a.k.a Nim). It makes me a little nervous that someone will be reading this novel, so I made sure to ask her to wait until the end of December when at least I'll have the chance to read it over a bit. I really need to step away from this for a bit so I can absorb it fully when I return to it. I know there are details I've left out and I want to get them right. But the good thing is that she likes to edit, so I am sure I will get some good feedback.

(Wow, have you noticed how few contractions I used there? I am a true NaNoer now!)

I hope you all have a wonderful Turkey Day- I know I did! And now that I've reached my word goal for the day, I must go to bed. (I will NOT be waking up for Black Friday. There is nothing I need so much that I am willing to wake up before the sun to get it. If you are going, I wish you the best of luck!)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Chapter Twenty-Five: Write or Die

Word Count: 43,076/50,000

I am exhausted, Reader. I was so blocked today that I resorted to a few Write or Die sessions.

Write or Die, if you aren't aware, is this website that allows you to enter a word count goal that you will reach in a certain amount of time. My usual one is five hundred words in fifteen minutes. You can choose different levels of "tolerance" by the system, which determines how quickly it will begin to reprimand you about not typing fast enough. It starts by turning the screen around the text red, and if you fail badly enough, an alarm of sorts goes off. It is terrifiying.

I didn't want to have to resort to it after my first experience because to be honest, I was not a huge fan of what I had written. Sure, I got five hundred words in less than fifteen minutes, but they weren't good words. And I know that's not really the point of NaNo- you are welcome to write crap. And I've written a lot of crap, but I feel like Write or Die was encouraging that even more.

Though I didn't want to do it, in the end, I did use it about five more times today. I knew there was no way I was going to make the limit for today if I didn't. I'm still about two hundred words shy, but I'm tired and that is easily made up. I was just not inspired today, and it was extremely frustating. The problem, I believe, is that I have huge chunks of the beginning, the middle, and the end- the most exciting parts, if truth be told- and now I have to go fill in the parts between them. The good thing is that I have most of that planned, but the bad part is that they're not planned intricately. Another trouble is that writing out of order means that you have to remember stuff that comes later so you can either mention it or just remember a detail. for example, when the kids are stuck in the basement of the creepy couple's house, there is only one dim loghtbulb in the biggest room. The makeshift bedrooms do not have ceiling lights or lamps of any kind, only a flashlight per room. But before I had decided this detail, I had written about there being a ceiling light in each room. It was much creepier for them only to be allowed a flashlight, so I had to go back and fix that.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, but I think I should be able to do some writing at night, as I believe my relatives will be leaving early-ish. For any Americans reading, Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chapter Twenty-Four: Race to the End

Word Count: 38,975/50,000

Reader, we are closing in on the final week. This is terrifying because, while I'm caught up (well, I'm slacking a bit tonight, but as of last night, I was spot on), I'm still in the 30,000s. 50,000 just seems to very far away from that.

While I am really enjoying this story- I know it will take me to 50,000, no problem- I am starting to feel like parts of the ending are repetitive. When Ruthie gets out of the House, she has bruises around her wrists from when she was tortured and every time someone notices them, she gets asked. It's only three times, but each time, she is made uncomfortable and tries to shoo the issue away. It just feels redudant... and yet, I feel like that's how it would work in real life. However, a writer should be able to write something in a way that makes it interesting. Hm...

I am hoping to get a lot of writing done in these next few days because I started my fall break this afternoon. Thursday and Saturday will be difficult, as Thursday we are hosting Thanksgiving and Saturday I am filming a movie with my friends, but nonetheless, I should be able to hammer out a thousand words or so on those days.

On that note, I guess I'll post an excerpt for today. I don't have one planned, so I'll just pick one at random.

“You can stay with me,” Nora said. “Come on.”
Nora led Ruthie down a make – shift cinderblock hallway and to a doorless threshold. The room inside was small but not cramped, painted a soft yellow and trimmed with flowered wallpaper. Nora’s hairbrush and a wash basin sat on the small night table. Slippers were tucked neatly under the bed and a quilt lay across the end. The sight of these touches made Ruthie stop short in the doorway. “
Are you all right?” Nora asked, rushing to her side. “Ruthie? What’s the matter?”
Ruthie could just shake her head, leaning against the cold stone of the entrance.
“Ruthie, talk to me. Are you dizzy? Do you feel like you’re going to faint. Here, sit down.” Nora grabbed her arm and tried to pull her to the small ottoman in the corner. But Ruthie couldn’t move. Or, more accurately, she wouldn’t move. Seeing those homey things, those little Nora touches, showed her something she had not expected, something terrifying. She swallowed, trying to calm herself down.
“Nora,” she said slowly, dreading the answer. “When did you give up hope?”
“What?” her friend looked confused. “What are you talking about?”
“This room … it’s like you actually live here.”
“Well … I do. I mean, I sleep here, but – what do you mean?”
“You’ve settled here, Nora, do you realise that. When did you begin to think you might never go home again?” She hadn’t realised it when it was happening, but her volume had risen considerably.
Nora took her hand off of Ruthie’s arm like she had been burned. “Ruthie, you’re scaring me. I know waking up in that room like that was not fun, but you came here voluntarily – to help the rest of us who weren’t so lucky. What are you worried about? They take good care of us here.”
Ruthie could have stomped her foot. “It’s not me I’m worried about, it’s you! You talk about Gloria like she’s a nutcase, but looking at this place, you might not be far behind. When did you start referring in your head to this room as ‘my room’?”
“Stop it!” Nora spat. Her concerned look had been replaced by a glare. “You don’t know what you’re talking about at all. You have no idea how things work here. You came here by choice – Danny and Suzanne told you what to expect. You have no clue what it’s like to find yourself trapped down here, realising too late that you were too stupid or na├»ve to save yourself or even suspect what was going on. You think we don’t try to get out of here every day? Sure, the Gradys feed us and clothe us, but we don’t leave this basement. I haven’t seen sunlight since the day we went to the cinema. I have three dresses. We’re all miserable down here, except for Gloria. We all want to get out, but we’ve tried everything. And after weeks of trying everything you can think of, you start to wonder if you’ll ever find a way. So I haven’t given up hope, Ruthie. But I’ve started to be realistic. This place is like an interminable prison, and unless you really can get all of us out of here, we just might be stuck down here. I’d love to hear any plan you have after being here for half an hour. Because when you’re here for weeks with no escape possibility in sight, you can’t help but start to think that you might never get out. It’s not like we want to believe it, but when it comes down to it, should we spend all our time crying about not being home? Or should we face the reality and realise that this could very well be it and try to make the best of it?” Despite Nora’s speech, Ruthie was still dumbfounded. “So you’re just going to forget your parents and everything else and become Nora Grady, just like Gloria?”
“Stop it!” Nora said again, and now she was shouting. “You have no idea what you’re talking about!” She looked like she wanted to throw Ruthie out of the room and slam the door in her face, but that was not an option. Instead, she turned her back on Ruthie and busied herself rifling through her nightstand drawer. Ruthie was still frustrated by Nora’s ridiculous standpoint, but at the same time, she realised that she also didn’t have anyone else.
“Nora?” she ventured.
“Just go away,” came the hard reply.
Ruthie didn’t know what else to do, so she backed out of the bedroom and retreated down the hallway toward the main room. There were most of the kids, engaged in various activities. She found an empty chair and sank into it, upset by the exchange she had just had. She had only been sitting there for a few minutes when Walker strolled over to her.
“Where’s Nora?” he asked, and though she knew he couldn’t possibly know what had just gone on, the question felt pointed.
Ruthie kept her eyes on the cinderblock wall. “In her room.” She said the latter two words angrily.
“Aren’t you staying in there?”
“Maybe not anymore.”
“What do you mean?”
“She’s angry with me. I told her I thought she was getting to used to life here.”
Walker nodded. “Ah.”
Annoyance flared inside Ruthie. “What do you mean ‘ah’?”
He sighed. “Ruthie, I know you don’t want to hear this, but I think I know what Nora said to you and I have to agree with some parts of it.” He saw Ruthie open her mouth to protest and held up his hand to silence here. “No, listen. Eventually, whether it’s consciously or unconsciously, you fall into a routine. You adapt. You’ve got to. We don’t know what’s going to happen to us, Ruthie. The Gradys might accidentally leave the door unlocked one day and we all get out. Maybe they’ll simply let us go. Or they could come down here without warning and shoot every last one of us, or burn the house down with us inside. You just don’t know.
“Danny and Suzanne were here for four months, Ruthie. Do you think they thought they’d ever get out? They got out because the Gradys trusted them to get groceries and they made a run for it. The Gradys will not make that mistake again. This place went into complete lockdown once that happened. They took all the doors off the walls so we couldn’t have private conversations. There’s only one room down here that has a door and it’s always locked, so we can’t get in.” He pointed up to two black squares by the ceiling. “We used to have windows there. As soon as Danny and Suzanne vanished, the Gradys painted them black, inside and out, Did Nora tell you we look for an escape every day?” Ruthie nodded.
“Well, we do. Every day, we look for weaknesses in the door or the walls. We get everyone to call for help at the same time, hoping someone walking by will hear us. We once tried to stack all of the chairs to get up to the window; the stack toppled into the girl who was climbing it. We try, Ruthie, but so far, we haven’t succeeded. That’s why we need you”

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Chapter Twenty One: You Are Not Alone

Word Count: 34,008/50,000

Well, Reader, I have accomplished much this day. It was slow going for awhile there, but once I buckled down, I ended up almost reaching my goal for the day. Even though I didn't end up reaching 35,000 words, I'm prety proud of what I've done today. I've just checked the home page of NaNoWriMo.org and by tomorrow night, we should all be at at least 36,674, which I can definitely do!

The great thing about NaNoWriMo is that everyone, no matter their writing experience, skill, or plot, is dedicated to what they're doing. I'm sure many teachers wished they could get over 120,000 (or even 12) or their students motivated enough to write 50,000 words in one month! And with so many participants, you know that you're not the only one freaking out because of uncontrollable characters or celebrating because of your soaring word count.

I know it's short today, but hey, I used my word count raising abilities on my novel!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Chapter 20: To Outline or Not to Outline?

Word Count: 31,047/50,000

Oh, Reader, I swear I started this post before 12:15 in the morning. Unfortunately, my comp went berserk and I had to start over.

I have never been a fan of outlining, ever since elementary school. We were always required to do it, so my trick to avoiding it was telling the teacher I wasn't finished yet, write my story without it, and THEN write the outline, making it look like I'd followed it very closely. I feel that while outlining can give you the confidence of having some sort of structure, it can sometimes act as a corset, forcing your story to bend and curve in places that seemed like a good idea at first, but not giving you the freedom to breathe and experiment as your story goes on. Don't get me wrong- I do not scoff at those that outline. In fact, I admire their discipline. But I like the spontaneity of writing with as little outline as possible because sometimes, my characters take me to unexpected and wonderful places that I would never have gotten to with an outline in front of me.

With this year's NaNo, I started with the vague outline of an idea, but I gave myself permission to throw it all out the window if I felt it was necessary... and so far, though some parts have stuck to the letter, others have changed radically. The torture, for example, was something I would never have expected to show up- it's certainly nothing I've ever composed before- but it fits. And the part I just wrote a few minutes ago. In the very beginning of the story, one of Ruthie's schoolmates and his brother go missing. I was still waffling back and forth about whether I wanted them to live or die. Near the very end of the novel, there's a form of happy ending (with a touch of hopeful romance) and I couldn't decide if I wanted to sprinkle some more sugar over an already cheerful ending or if I wanted to hit the audience with reality.
This morning, as I was *ahem* writing in Sociology, the missing boys' mother decided to pay Ruthie a call. I didn't know what was going to happen. Ruthie was very hopeful- she knew that because the mother was at their door and thanking her for her brave efforts, the boys were alive. She began planning a celebration. But then, Mrs. Henderson opened her mouth, the boys were confirmed dead and her world fell apart. None of that was planned, but I'm really liking how it's turning out, and it's comforting to know how my story will end- now I have a solid point to work towards.

And now, let me show you the point:

Ruthie was reading in her room when she heard a distant knock on the door.
“I’ll get it!” she heard Noah shout from downstairs. His feet pounded through the hallway and she heard the door open. A few seconds later, Noah called, “Ruthie! It’s for you!”
Wondering who it could be, Ruthie laid down her book and went downstairs. When she saw who was at the door, she froze on the bottom step.
“Mrs. Henderson?” she asked. She wasn’t even sure if it was Jimmy’s mother, as she had not seen her for several years. But the woman nodded. “Oh!” Ruthie exclaimed. “Come in, please,” she said, pulling Noah back to allow Mrs. Henderson to enter the house.
“Is everything all right?” she asked, taking note of the expression on the woman’s face.
“Oh… yes,” Mrs. Henderson said, fiddling with the clasp on her purse. “I just wanted to – might we sit down?”
Ruthie shut the door. “Oh, of course. Noah, run along upstairs while -”
“Oh, no, please let him stay. He can hear what I’ve got say. In fact, I think he should.”
Ruthie suddenly got very excited, because she knew all at once what Mrs. Henderson was going to say. Jimmy and Arthur had been found at last! She hurried her brother and Mrs. Henderson into the front room and rushed into the kitchen to prepare some tea. Maybe she would bring out some of Mum’s biscuits will jam in the center to celebrate once Jimmy’s mother told them the news.
Once they were all settled in the family room, tea on the table, Mrs. Henderson spoke. “I just wanted to say thank you, Ruthie, for all you have done in the way of searching for Jimmy and Arthur. I know you looked for them and that part of the reason you went into the terrible house was because of my sons.”
“It was no trouble. I was worried, and I wanted to help,” Ruthie said shyly, looking into her tea. Mrs. Henderson’s hand fell over hers and Ruthie looked up at the woman.
“I have… heard some things about what went on their, Ruthie. Horrible things…” She hesitated. “Is it true that they… tortured you?”
Ruthie nodded, looking at the ground. She wanted to talk to Mrs. Henderson, but not about that. She hoped she wouldn’t ask Ruthie for more details; she still got nightmares about those days. Her eyes fell on her healing fingers, which were still tinged with blue and purple. But Mrs. Henderson didn’t press the subject any further. She just clutched her tea cup and shook her head in veneration. “You are just the bravest girl.”
To avoid the self – conscious feeling that was creeping over her, Ruthie said, “Have the police gotten any leads about Jimmy from the House kids?”
Mrs. Henderson paused before nodding.
“Well, that’s wonderful!” Ruthie exclaimed. “When will they start their investigation? Maybe we could get the Blitzers to help them for an allowance. How strong are the leads?” She stopped when she saw Mrs. Henderson’s face. The woman’s eyes were filled with tears and her lips were pressed together.
“Oh, no,” Ruthie said, dread washing over her. Suddenly, she realised that she had assessed the situation completely wrong. Mrs. Henderson had not come to tell the Halperts about the finding of her sons, she had come to tell them – “Please no.”
But Mrs. Henderson’s falling tears confirmed her fears and she knew it was true. Jimmy and Arthur Henderson were dead. She felt tears fill her own eyes as the finality sunk in.
She heard a sniff beside her and remembered that this news affected Noah, too. But before she could make a move to comfort him, he had slipped his small hand into hers and squeezed. She had never been more thankful to have a little brother, and she held his hand tightly.When Mrs. Henderson stood to take her leave, Ruthie and Noah accompanied her to the door.
“Thank you so much again for everything,” Mrs. Henderson said. She leaned down and kissed Ruthie’s cheek. Ruthie watched her as she walked down the street and turned the corner toward her home. Once she was out of sight, Ruthie closed the door and looked around. Noah was nowhere to be found, so Ruthie went back upstairs to her room. She picked up her book again, but try as she might, she couldn’t seem to get back into the story. Her gaze strayed out the window, at the sunshine that didn’t seem to coincide with the news she had just gotten.
A knock on her bedroom door took her out of her thoughts and she turned to see Noah peering at her through a crack. “What’s wrong, sweetie?” she asked. Noah continued to look at her. “Come in,” she insisted, and her brother came into the room. He looked troubled standing in the middle of her floor. She moved over in the chair and patted the seat. “Come sit with me.”
He did. It was a tight squeeze, but somehow, they both managed to fit in the chair. Noah was too big now to hold in her lap, so she wrapped her arms around his shoulders. They sat like that in silence for a few minutes and Ruthie was beginning to wonder if what she had been dreading wasn’t going to happen, but then Noah finally spoke up.
“Are they really gone?”
This was exactly the conversation Ruthie had been hoping she was not going to be asked to have. Why did Noah have to choose her to pose these questions to? She was the worst possible choice. She was fifteen. She had experienced so little of life. This was her first experience with this, too. And she was just as confused as Noah was. Who was she to answer his questions?
She wished she could say all this to him, but looking down into her brother’s expectant face, she saw how full it was of hope and trust. He was begging her, pleading with her, to give him something concrete. She would have to do the best she could, for his sake.
“Yes, sweetie,” she said in response to his question. “They’re really gone.”
Noah paused as he took this in, and Ruthie hoped that was it. But he was nine and full of questions, and she saw another one forming in his eyes. “What happens when you die?”
Though her answer was the same one she would have given him a year, a month, a day, or even an hour before was the same, the inflection behind it was new. “I don’t know.”
She wished she did. She wished she could tell her brother that angels waited at the pearly gates to lead to you to an eternity of happiness and joy. That any sorrow was unleashed upon people on earth in the form of rain as he had been told, that thunder was God stomping his feet over their heads – in anger or exaltation, it was never revealed. She wished she knew for certain if there was a God. They went to church, certainly - they sang, they prayed, they knelt and asked for forgiveness for their sins, but she could only hope that there really was a Him – bearded, mustached, and dressed in a white robe, in her imagination – sitting in some sort of throne beyond those shining doorways, waiting to welcome his children to the Kingdom of Heaven. She wished she could tell him that Jimmy and Arthur were right now feasting with the past kings and queens of England, not missing their lives at all because they were having such a wonderful time.
She could say this if she wanted to. She could tell him that all these uncertainties were fact. She could, but she did not. Because right now, in this moment, she too was nine years old and scared and wishing that someone would tell her that it was all true so she could stop wondering herself. Wondering if the planes had been flying a different course, it would be Jimmy and Arthur sitting in Jimmy’s desk chair like this, him trying to try not to look as scared as he felt, to be brave, for his little brother’s sake, as he thought about Ruthie and Noah’s fates. If she knew for certain, maybe she wouldn’t feel so sad.
“I don’t know,” she said again.
She expected more questions, but none came. So they sat in silence, slightly uncomfortable in the chair but neither one complaining. To have someone you loved too close was preferable to having them irretrievably far away.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Chapter Nineteen: In Which I Am Lazy

Word Count: 29,422

Oh, Reader... I have been slothful, I regretfully inform you.

However, I do not plan on this dry spell lasting for long. I have a completely free weekend (an amazing thing after having rehearsals on Friday, Saturday, AND Sunday for the last two montha) and I will crack down.

The good thing is that I am still all in for my story. By this time last year, I was plodding along adding maybe 100 words a day, not the 1,000 or more I've been adding for the past few. It's a good feeling to still be excited about this story.

I've actually been focusing quite a bit on the end, possibly because that's where all the exciting stuff happens. Exciting stuff happens in the beginning, too, but it's just not as exciting.

My story has been developing. Possibly as a result of writing a good amount of words during a show about death row, it has become much darker than I anticipated. It scares me a little, to be honest. I didn't know I could go to these dark places. Where do I come up with this stuff? I had planned Ruthie's time in the slightly creepy house to be much shorter- she'd go in, she'd stay a few days, she'd break everyone out. Yay, Hero Ruthie. But now, she's completey ticked off the couple that live in the house and they attempt to persuade her to comply with their rules in a rather cruel way. Where does this stuff come from?

Reader, I just realised that I basically have ten days to write many thousands more words. I'll get on that. In fact, I should do that now.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Chapter Sixteen: Projects Past and Present

Word Count: 27, 878/50,000

I think it's safe to say that I've been a writer all my life. Obviously, I'm not talking about publishing anything here, but I remember writing as far back as age six or seven.

My Writing Through the Years (Shortened for the Sake of Brevity):

The Early Years
The first thing I remember writing is a play about ballerinas. As many young girls are, I was obessed with ballerinas, though I suspect I loved more the sparkly costumes and the shiny shoes. I forced my sister to be in it and we used our dolls to play the remaining characters.

Elementary School
I was very proud of my writing during these years; I was not the humblest of children. My school "published" a sort of literary magazine starting when I was in second grade and that really sparked something in me. I had a piece about a pet dinosaur in there in second grade and continued to submit things for the next two years until it was discontinued. In fourth grade, I was known as the best writer in the class and I prided myself on my long and descriptive stories.
I began a series in fourth grade, the first book running twenty pages and titled The Magic of Nature, about a girl who could talk to animals. I continued working on this series into sixth grade, my goal being to write at least one story about each girl featured in the first story. I did not accomplish this goal, but I did write quite a bit of a few of them.
In my fifth grade year, my class did a lot of writing and my favorite thing I wrote during that year was a story featuring the adventures of a cat and dog team. We also did this cool poetry program where at the end of the day once a week, we traveled around the upper grade wing (grades 3-5) and learned about different kinds of poetry. I really enjoyed it, and in fact, one of my poems was published for real in a national synchronized swimming magazine.

Middle School:
I continued writing in middle school. I got very into journaling, inspired by the Abby Hayes series. I wrote in my journal all the time. I continued to write plays until about sixth or seventh grade, but I soon began to feel that my ideas were dumb and stopped writing them. My confidence in my writing skills in general was very much diminished, especially when I was accepted into a very advanced communication arts program and found out that there were people better than me... much better than me. My stories, however, were still very much in progress. I wrote my first successful mystery short story in seventh grade and delved into the supernatural in eighth. I also wrote adaptations of a few books and movies I liked.

High School:
I don't remember doing too much creative writing in ninth grade, but I definitely returned to it the next year. I returned to scripts and also experimented with screenplays. In eleventh grade, I entered a screenplay into a state-wide writing contest and recieved an award for it. I composed a screenplay based off a period monologue I did in a show- it made me cry and was so sad that I still haven't finished it.
Starting in tenth grade, my friend Katie and I began writing a screenplay about a time-traveling reporter named Monica Crosse. While it started as a school project, we've continued it to this day; it is still being fine-tuned. I also wrote a screenplay based on Clue which my friends and I filmed.

I have worked on a lot of projects since I started college in August of 2008. I attempted NaNo last year, worked on a few short stories, and wrote even more during my English class second semester. I also completed a period screenplay in March that I had started in June of that year that was later titled Requited and which the same core team that worked on Clue is filming starting December of this year. To distract myself from writing Remembrance before I was allowed, I started another novel entitled Q about a girl who is broken out of a hospital to have her terminal illness cured. I am excited to return to that when Remembrance is sitting in a drawer in December, waiting for revision.

And now, time for bed!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Chapter Fifteen: In Which I Return

Word Count: 26,008/50,000

Wow, Reader- it has been a crazy, crazy couple of days. Beginning on Tuesday, I had a whirlwing of stage management duties as we opened and closed our show- in fact, I've just returned from striking the last one.

But I promised I wouldn't talk about that stuff on here. This blog is about WRITING. So let's talk about writing. Today, I'd like to discuss some of my writing inspirations. Here they are:

LIBBA BRAY: A bundle of awesomeness (and I know- I've met her) in both person and writing. I don't really know what it is about her books, but all of them are so incredibly well-written. While I prefer the gothic-ness of the Gemma Doyle Trilogy, Going Bovine was funny, touching, and shocking. I supposed I like her writing because it's so fearless... and yet, she's admitted to crying while writing it. She's a brave writer, I suppose, and I strive to be like that. I also love her dark humor- Gemma and I are like twins in our sarcasm.

MAUREEN JOHNSON: Another awesome YA writer. I love Maureen's writing style. Her humor is always laced into the story but in a different way each time- Jane in Devilish is a darker than Scarlett in Suite Scarlett who is much different than Ginny in 13 Little Blue Envelopes. I have yet to be disappointed by one of her books. She is so skilled at mixing quirky comedy with serious dramatic events- such as the death of May's father in The Key to the Golden Firebird- in oe book. I admire her so much!

IAN MCEWAN: I've only read one of this books, Atonement (and yes, before the movie came out!) and I love his attention to detail. He is also in the category of fearless writer. Amazing.

EMMA THOMPSON: Wonderful actress, yes, and just as wonderful of a writing. Her adaptation of Sense and Sensibility is so great and Nanny McPhee was a great film too. I really want to do what she does- act AND write.

DAVID AUBURN: Playwright, author of Proof. I love Proof- it's so true to life. I just love how true his dialogue is.

NEIL SIMON & TOM DUDZICK: Amazing amazing amazing. Dudzick has often been called "the Catholic Neil Simon" and it's so true. They write completely real scenes with real life problems and are funny as they do it.

There are a bunch of other writers that I admire, but those are the main ones. I strive to their level of greatness.

Now, even though I have been crazy busy with the show, the great thing about being the stage manager of this show was that I didn't have to do anything. Most shows have lots of light and sound cues throughout the show that the SM has to call, but since I didn't have any, I wrote. That's at least an hour and a half of writing- usually around five pages or so- for four days, and on these last two, we did two shows a day. And wow, did I get a lot of writing done. I am ahead of the recommended word count.

My novel keeps getting darker and darker... maybe it's because of the show I was writing during (The Exonerated... lots of death), but my poor main character, Ruthie, has now been tortured. It is not pretty, and I don't know where it's coming from.

Now, an excerpt:

For a week, life went on as usual, which struck Ruthie as incredible. How could they all manage to forget what had begun just seven days before? How could they forget that every second, their lives were at risk?
She wondered, and yet she did it too. She talked and laughed with Nora and Annie. She teased her brother. She complained about small things like homework and chores when people were making much greater sacrifices not so far away. And when she swore she saw Jimmy in the library and the soda shop and grocer’s, she told herself that it was just her imagination and looked in the other direction.
As much as everyone managed to return to their normal lives, however, there were reminders of the losses that had already been suffered all over the city. The buildings that had been hit were still in shambles. Ruthie overheard someone on the street say it could take months to clean up the wreak age, and only if no other buildings fell victim to the Germans. The air raid drills were constant and could happen at any moment. People were now using the underground as a make shift shelter and sometimes, the people waiting down there had to sleep in the station over night. Each time she walked home or to school or to the store or the cinema, Ruthie prayed that she would not have to run down to the tube station and take cover.

There were also the posters. Since the bombing, missing persons posters had gone up all over the city, tied to telephone poles and tree trunks, pinned to community bulletin boards. Some had even been shoved through the Halperts’ mail slot so that when one of the family entered, they would see someone’s black and white photograph staring up at them from the floor. Ruthie always studied these blurry pictures closely. If she saw one of these people on the streets, she wanted to be able to recognize them. She did not know what she would do if this did happen one day – certainly shouting, “I found you!” or chasing them would do no one any good. But this was a dilemma she had not yet faced. Though she tried to look at every face she passed, none of them were those lost people in the pictures. She looked especially hard for Jimmy and Arthur Henderson. Her heart hurt every time she passed one of their flyers, with “HAVE YOU SEEN THESE CHILDREN?” written in large letters above the brothers’ smiling school photographs.
It was the pictures themselves that made the posters so upsetting. While the word missing reminded you that that person was no longer at school or at work or sitting at the dinner table with their family, Ruthie was bothered by the grins, smirks, and shy smiles that looked out at her from the paper. When she looked at those faces, she remembered that these were past events – this person, this parent, child, brother, aunt, might not be smiling like that anymore. Whenever these thoughts came over Ruthie, she could not help picturing those people with scared expressions. What must they be feeling now? Or were they not feeling at all?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chapter Ten: In Which I Return

Word Count: 16,921/50,000

Reader! I've returned! And with a vengeance!

I am finally back on track in NaNo Land. Because of my setback, I'm a little behind on the word count goal for day 11 (tomorrow), but I am just grateful that I had so many safety words before I had my computer trouble. While I wrote longhand both days, it's hard to get a large word count working that way, especially when you're really bad at counting, like me. I am gaining confidence that my plot can actually last me to 50,000 words. Last year, there was no chance, but this year, I've not even gotten the beginning part done (along with some of the end), and I'm already as far as I am. Good signs!

So happiness abounds... and now I must sleep, as I have an early class and then dress rehearsal tomorrow.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Chapter Seven: In Which I Persevere

Yes, dear reader, the horrificness of hearing the IT girl say "I'm sorry, it says your document file is empty" shall not deter me from writing. I wrote a lot today in longhand, though I'm not sure how much because I kind of suck at counting. But I have a game plan, reader. I am going to continue writing from the point I left off. I remember much of what I wrote, so I am just going to sketch that out and hope I remember. I don't want to waste precious writing time rewriting what I've already done, especially since I do not have a computer in my room anymore (my laptop will be traveling around the state to various people in an attempt to fix it, so I am writing this from the school library, which has super-weird hours.)

But never fear... I shall persevere.

In the meantime- BACK UP YOUR FILES.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Chapter Six: A Lesson Before Dying

Everyone, I would like to advise you on something: file backing up. DO IT. You know why? Because one day, you might wake up and turn on your computer and find that yuo no longer have an account. Or pictures, Or internet acces. Or, most importantly, YOUR 14,000 WORD NOVEL.

But I am being calm, dear reader. I am taking this and handling it. Sort of. Yes, I wanted to cry when the IT people at school told me that my documents file was empty, but reader, I did not. I have not shed a single tear, for I am being strong.

But I need my novel back. I don't have a computer that saves anything right now, and longhand is aptly named. This is not good, reader, not good.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Chapter Five: You Know You're a NaNo-er When...

Word Count: 13,921/50,000

Dear readers, I have slacked again. But never fear- I have much more time tomorrow to write, and I'll need a distraction since I have school auditions at five pm. Most of my writing today was done while I was supposed to be stage managing at rehearsal... but since my assisant stage manager is on line duty, there's basically nothing for me to do except occasionally assure my semi-crazy director that he did indeed tell Amy to cross on that line. No, really, Steve... no, I'm not kidding.

Anyway. One of my favorite threads to date on the NaNoWriMo Headquarters forum is "You Know You're a NaNoer When..." These lists are always humorous (and true) to those who ARE those things, and this thread is no exception. For example:

-You find growls and other animalistic sounds to be your preferred way to communicate while writing. If that doesn't work, you throw your pencil at whoever is bothering you.

-You've failed, and failed, and failed...and still do NaNo again, and again, and again...

-Instead of tattoos, you have perpetual pen ink stains.

-You find yourself refusing to use contractions even in your everyday speech. (This is very true. I wrote a note to my roommate today and didn't use a contraction and I wanted to write, "Yes! Upping the wordcount!"... but she doesn't do NaNo, so she wouldn't get it.)

-You are subconciously aware of the wordcount of everything you write.

-Instead of asking "how are you", your co-workers have learnt to ask "What's your word count?"

-You're convinced your novel is crap and keep writing it anyway.

-You mention a character who uses a shovel to cut off victims' heads, and instead of edging away slowly, someone gives you a link for "the BEST SHOVEL EVER!"

-Your english class groans at the idea of writing a 1000-word essay. You laugh so hard you almost wet your pants.

-Your facebook status is updated with your current word count.

I would love to post more, but I've still got French homework to work on and an 8:30 class tomorrow morning (most of which I'll spend writing my novel, but hey, I still have to wake up.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chapter Four: Music to Write By

Word Count: 13,181/50,000

Hello, readers!

As you can see, I kind of slacked off today. Luckily, writing so much in the beginning gave me a little bit of a safety net for days like this. However, I hope I don't take another one of them, since it's amazing to watch how quickly your word count climbs when you write the suggested amount.

I'm also feeling a bit lazy blog-wise... I've got a million things to memorize and a scene to modernise. The life of a theatre major :p So I'm going to give you my Remembrance playlist (this was planned all along, I assure you, but it's also an easy out for tonight.) So here ya go.

From The Chronicles of Narnia: TLTWATW
Evacuating London
Lucy Meets Mr. Tumnus
The Stone Table

From A Beautiful Mind
Saying Goodbye to Those You So Love
Alicia Discovers Nash’s Dark Work

From Finding Neverland
Where is Mr. Barrie?

From Saving Sarah Cain
Sea Shells
Sarah’s Story
Those Were Our Tears
Don’t Leave Us

From Doubt

From The Edge of Love
Underground Shelter
Hang Out the Stars in Indiana
Fire to the Stars
Careless Talk
Home Movies
Under Fire

From Quills
The Last Story
The End: A New Manuscript

From Miss Potter
Beatrix Locks Herself Away

From Revolutionary Road
Hopeless Emptiness

From Once
Falling Slowly

From The Hours
The Poet Acts
“I’m Going to Make a Cake”

From The DaVinci Code
Chaveliers De Sangreal

From Kit Kittredge: An American Girl

You Made Me Love You (I Didn’t Want to Do It) –Henry James and his Orchestra
I’m Beginning to See the Light -Henry James and His Orchestra
Again –Doris Day
We’ll Meet Again -Graham BLVD

Thanks for reading and sorry for the cop-out. Now I'm off to do homework.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chapter Three: NaNo Headquarters

Word Count: 12,455/50,000

Though my NaNo novel lives in Microsoft Word, the real NaNoWriMo headquarters are located at http://www.nanowrimo.org/. On this site, there are updates, pep talks, author profiles, personal profiles, and much, much more. I love going on this site and I generally have it up 24/7 (along with Facebook).

My favorite part of the site is probably the forums. On the forums, there are many initial categories to choose from, everything from your novel's genre, a clubhouse for distressed writers (as well as one for triumphant ones), and categories for Character & Plot Realism and Plot Doctoring. Even when I'm not waiting for an answer myself, I love reading other posts. People have so much knowledge and some of the topics are not only very interesting, but they help me out, too. I guess that's probably why they make it forum style rather than saying, "So and So knows a lot about the justice system, so send all your questions to her!", they make all answers availible to everyone. It's fantastic.

And now, since I don't have a lot to say on that topic, another excerpt.

Ruthie looked around for her two best friends and spotted them standing by the entrance. After making sure Noah was headed in the direction of the lower school, Ruthie rushed over to them.
“You’re late,” Nora Savidge pointed out as Ruthie took her place next to them.
“We haven’t got a clock in our shelter yet. We got up so late that I had to wear a dress that my mum had brought down – and she got it out of a box to hand down to my cousin!”
Annie Payson giggled as she straightened her hair clip. “I didn’t think I’d seen you in it since the year before last.”
Ruthie looked around at her fellow students, all talking intently. “Is everyone talking about the air raid last night?”
“Of course,” said Anne. “It was the scariest thing that’s ever happened! I thought our shelter would be hit any minute.”
“I was worried that a bomb would go off five streets over and just the wind itself would blow our shelter over,” Nora remarked wryly. “I think my dad just propped two pieces of metal against each other and put a door in front of them.”
“Your dad is a teacher,” Ruthie pointed out. “It’s not like he’s ever had to do it before.” Nora opened her mouth to respond, but before she could say anything, the bell rang and the students began to rush into the building, still chattering about what had happened the night before.
As Ruthie took her seat in the classroom, she noticed that Jimmy Henderson’s seat next to hers was empty. At first, she didn’t think much of it- it was not unusual for him to be too busy plying a prank to make it to class on time. But his seat was still empty when her teacher, Miss Whittaker, called the class to order and Ruthie began to worry.
“Class,” Miss Whittaker said, standing in front of her desk as her students took their seats again. “Miss Burns has an announcement she would like to make. Please give her your full attention.” Ruthie’s teacher stepped aside to give the school’s wide – girthed principal the floor. The form rose and waited. Miss Burns was silent for a moment as she surveyed the students, her lips pursed and her stern eyebrows pinched together.
“You may be seated,” she said distractedly. “I am afraid I have some bad news, children,” she began. “As you must all be aware, we have been having air raid drills here for the past few months in case the school was attacked. Last night’s air raid gave you a taste of what could happen during school hours, and I do not doubt that many of you were frightened. In any emergency situation, some unfortunate things can happen, and I regret to inform you that such a thing happened during last night’s raid.”
The class was confused. While many of them had been frightened during the air raid, it was over now. What after effects could have a part in their lives?
Several buildings were destroyed by the bombs that fell, one of them being the flats on Wannamaker Street. The Henderson family was a resident of this building.”
There were a few soft gasps as the class turned to stare at Jimmy’s empty desk. A heaviness seemed to fall over the room as the principal’s words sunk in.
“What happened to them, Miss Burns?” a girl named Evelyn asked softly. It was a mark of the seriousness of the situation that Miss Burns did not reprimand Evelyn for neglecting to raise her hand.
“I regret to say that, though Mr. and Mrs. Henderson and their youngest child were found unharmed, the authorities were unable to located James and his brother Arthur.”
“But they’re just… I don’t know, lost of something, right?” said a boy named Roger. “Maybe they ran to get help and couldn’t find their way home.”
Miss Burns’ mouth grew tight. “We can only hope that is the case, Mr. Jennings. There are people looking for the boys as well as a few others, and you can be sure that if they are indeed still alive, they will be found.” And with that, Miss Burns nodded to Miss Whittaker and left the room. But she did not take with her the grim silence that had fallen over the students as soon as she said the words “still alive”. Ruthie glanced again at Jimmy’s empty eat. She couldn’t seem to wrap her mind around the idea that someone she knew might really be gone forever. Could it be that this boy, this noisy, wise – cracking fourteen year old, had already reached the end of his life the night before? Was his body lying in wait of the search party? Or might he be gone completely, never to be found by anyone at all?
Ruthie shook her head, trying to rid it of these thought. Jimmy could take care of himself, she was sure of that. They would find him. By next week, she told herself, he’d be sitting next to her again, folding up paper airplanes in his lap and grinning that sideways smile of his. He would be, because Ruthie couldn’t accept anything else.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Chapter Two: Writing Essentials

Word Count: 10,725/50,000
I'm a Type A person, so when I'm writing, I tend to prefer certain things over others and stick to those.
While I generally prefer writing on my laptop because it's faster and neater, I love to look at filled pages of handwriting, knowing that I just created that. Also, as I've unfortunately discovered more than once, things can go wrong with one's computer and entire documents can be deleted. When your creation is on paper, stuff like that rarely happens unless you've got Amy March as your little sister.
Putting Pen to Paper: When I'm writing in longhand, I used lined paper and a black pen. The ink must be black or I can't write. Red or sometimes purple are for corrections and blue is forbidden... I have a weird thing against blue ink. Blue pens included in packs of black and red are wasted on me. I tend to write in cursive because when I'm writing quickly, my printing becomes illegible, and though I tell myself I'll remember what it says later, I don't always and then I'm left turnin the paper every which way holding it at arm's length and squinting.
J'ai Faim: I wish I could say there was some kind of food or drink that was my writing food/beverage, but alas, I have none. Honestly, though I have a water bottle within arm's reach, I don't do a lot of eating or drinking while I'm writing because I don't type well with one hand and it decreases my speed. I did just polish off some delicious hot chocolate, though (I don't like coffee).
A Lightbulb Moment: When I'm writing, I like having good light. Perhaps I use the artificial light to make me feel like the one in my head is burning brightly, too, but I think it also makes me concentrate and focus on what I'm doing. I tend to stray when light is bad.
Burning the Midnight Oil: My best writing time is very very early in the morning. I am a night person, so it's not unusual for me to be up until two in the morning writing or doing whatever. My rule at school is that I must go to bed before 3 am, and so far, a year and two or so months into my college education, I have kept to that rule.
I also write well, um... during classes. Well, perhaps not well, but I do do a lot of writing during my classes in my notebooks. I know, I know, I should be paying attention to my expensive education, but sometimes the urge to write is just too strong.
Play it Again, Sam: As I think I mentioned yesterday, I like to listen to music when I write, but I rarely write to music with lyrics, as I tend to write the lyrics I hear rather than my story. My favorite go-to writing music is the Atonement soundtrack. Something about that typewriter noise integrated into the music...
So those are my writing essentials. Now I am going to take the plunge and give you a taste of Remembrance. This is part of the opening. I hope you'll enjoy.
London, England
September 1940
Ruthie Halpert jumped out of bed as soon as she heard the sirens wailing. A quick glance out her window told her that it was the dead of night. She tripped over her shoes as she raced out into the hallway and to another door. She pounded on it.
“Noah!” she called, hoping her brother had already been awakened by the noise. “Noah!” She pounded harder. To her relief, the door flew open and nine–year–old Noah stood there in his blue and white striped pajamas, hair tousled from sleep. He looked scared.
“What’s going on?” he asked, eyes wide.
“It’s all right,” Ruthie said, trying to sound braver than she felt. “I’m sure it’s just a drill. We need to find Mum and Dad.”
But there was no need, because at that moment, Maureen and Leonard Halpert’s bedroom door flew open and they hurried out, robes thrown haphazardly on over their pajamas.
“It’s all right,” soothed Ruthie’s mother even as she pushed her children toward the staircase. “Quickly, to the back garden.”
The family burst out of the house and ran across the damp grass. In the distance, Ruthie could see bursts of light as bombs fell on the city. A sound like distant thunder reached her ears. She didn’t realised she had stopped, transfixed, until her mother shouted to hurry.
Ruthie joined the rest of her family as they hurried across the garden. There, waiting in the dark, was the shelter Mr. Halpert had finished only days before. Being an engineer, it was more skillfully made than it might have been otherwise. He threw open the doors, which were laid into a small hill, and ushered his wife and children inside. Once he, too, had descended the short flight of stairs, he slammed the doors shut. All was darkness for a second as the family tried to catch their breath. Then a small light came on. Huddled on one of the beds with Noah, Ruthie saw her father’s half – lit face illuminated by the lantern.
“There’s a lantern on your right, Ruthie, if you want to turn that on, as well,” he said. Ruthie felt around carefully and located a table and on it, a lamp. She turned a small knob and a flame grew inside the globe, brightening the room further. She looked around, not having seen the shelter since its beginning stages. She and Noah were sitting on one of two narrow cots. Shelves were built along the back wall and held canned foods and blankets. Gas masks rested on a table against the wall. Ruthie had seen demonstrations of how to wear the masks at school, and she thought they made people look like aliens.
“I wish you could have seen the shelter finished before we actually had to use it. I assure you that we will be safe down here. I got the most comfortable cots I could so you two can still get some rest -”
“We have to sleep down here?!” Noah’s voice was high with fear. He clutched Ruthie tighter.
“We have to stay down here until we’re sure it’s safe,” Mrs. Halpert said soothingly. “We have blankets and pillows so it will be warm and comfortable. We’ll be all right.”
Noah eyed the gas masks. “Do we have to wear those?”
“Not tonight, honey,” their mother assured him. “Now how about we all try to get back to sleep?” She patted the bed on the other side of the small room. It took Noah only four steps to cross to it. Ruthie took down two blankets from the shelves, then hesitated.
“Where are you and Dad sleeping?” she asked. She and Noah might fit on one of the cots together, but the beds were far too narrow for two grown adults to share, or even one adult and one child.
Mrs. Halpert took one of the blankets from her daughter’s hands and unfolded it, spreading it over Noah’s cot. “Don’t worry about us, we’ll be fine. You and your brother have school tomorrow, so you need your rest.”
Ruthie arranged her own blanket on her bed and took one of the small, thin pillows from the shelf. She pulled back the scratchy wool blanket and crawled underneath it. It smelled strange, not like her quilt in her room. She turned on her side and watched her mother tucking an identical blanket around her brother.
Outside, there was the continuing thunder – like sound. Ruthie expected to have trouble falling asleep, but as soon as she closed her eyes, she was sound asleep.
Now I think it's time for me to get some sleep before school tomorrow. 'Night, everyone!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Chapter One: NaNo Prep-o

Word Count: 9,000/50,000

Hello, everyone!

I am so excited to start this blog! As you know, NaNoWriMo started today and it is already going better than last year. In my first post, I mentioned that I had only gotten a little over 10,000 words of that story, and I just hit 9,000 of this new one!
I suppose I should tell you all about my novel. The working title is Remembrance, though should I ever do anything with it, I doubt that I will use that title. However, using that title, the awesome WriMo yoha_ahoy made this banner for me:

As you can probably deduce from the image, my novel is historical fiction. The story revolves around Ruthie Halpert, who is fifteen when the London Blitz begins in September of 1940. She lives with her parents and her nine year old brother Noah. The story begins with the first air raid and the next day at school, it is announced that one of Ruthie's classmates' flat was bombed and he and his younger brother are missing. Ruthie is quite distressed over this, but there's little she and her friend Nora and Annie can do.
A week later, Ruthie goes to the cinema with Annie and Nora and there is an air raid drill. The manager of the theatre herds them all down to the basement, and on the way there, Ruthie loses her grip on her friends' hands. Once the drill is over, Ruthie locates Annie right away but there is no sign of Nora. After looking for hours, there is still no sign of her.
Frightened for their children's safety, Ruthie's parents send her and her brother to live with relatives in the country. Annie, too, is sent away. But both girls are determined to find their friend and decide to go back to London to search for her.
I don't know how to summarize the rest of the novel without giving away the ending, so I'm going to stop there! I'm also pretty terrible at summarizing, so I hope that doesn't sound too boring.

Yesterday was my NaNoWriMo prep day. I did a few things to get ready for this crazy month.

Outlining: I had semi-outlined beginning in August, so I had most of my plot and characters. I was inspired by Maureen Johnson's "storyboarding" wall and tried to make a mini-version of my own, but lost heart halfway through.

These kinds of things aren't really my style, so while I might return to it, I can't guarantee anything, especially since it's almost word for word what is on my computer.

Writing Space: I also decided to try only using my desk for my writing unless I get absolutely desperate. I tend to just bring my laptop over to my bed and do things from there. However, I really want to finish this novel and I feel like writing on my bed will be a detriment, so I made a space on my desk.

As you can see, I am attempting to eat healthy on my first day of NaNo, but I expect that the Halloween candy my mother sent me, which is behind the water bottle there, will tempt me eventually.
As for using my desk as opposed to my bed, I feel this choice is already paying off. I am much more focused. I have also decided that for at least two hours of my writing time a day, I will not watch tv or movies. I love to watch movies while I work on things, but for this project, I feel it will be too much of a distraction.
Music: Somehow, I got a pass for my Zune program that allows me to download as much music as I want for a month, so I went crazy yesterday. While I downloaded a bunch of musicals, I also looked for movie soundtracks. While I'll detail my music selections in another blog, I have to say that I searched for music from the 1940's and found some real gems. I am now even more convinced that I was born in the wrong time period. I am in love with this music.
This Blog: I am going to try to discuss not only my novel, but one topic relating to writing itself. It might be NaNo specific, it might not. While I have a few ideas jotted down, I don't have nearly enough for the entire month, so if you've got ideas, put them in the comments!
Speaking of the comments, I believe I have set my blog so that anyone may leave a comment for me. I'd love to hear from you. If you have criticism about my writing, I ask that it be stated constructively or not at all. If you do not like my writing, please do not waste your time insulting me. It will make me sad and I will delete the comment and forget about it.
That's all for today! I hope you're all as excited for this month as I am!

Friday, September 18, 2009


Hello, everyone! Welcome to my writing blog!

So, what's this all about? Let's see:

Who: Me, Rachel

What: NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month) 2009

When: November 1-30, 2009

Why: I participated in NaNo '08 and... what is the best way to put this?... failed. My story, amateurish and plotless, petered out at 10,680 words. This year, I am determined to write all 50,000 words required to "win" NaNoWriMo... or, hopefully, more.

What I Have: the will to do this, drive, interest, most of my plot and characters, excitement, and, I hope, some talent.

What I Don't Have: Much time. During exactly half of November, I will be stage managing a show at my college. NaNoWriMo + 5 days of four hour rehearsals per week + tech week + show run = one time-starved writer. But I shall persevere.

Things That Could Keep Me From Achieving My Goal: The aforementioned lack of time, the fact that I write best in the wee hours of the morning (resulting in sleep deprivation), homework, and my fear of showing anyone my writing. The only two people I willingly (and still, not always willingly) show my writing to are my two friends Katie and Stuart, and this is mostly because we have co-written thigns together, which generally requires me to chip in sometimes.

This blog will be my 30-day project. If it goes well, I may continue it. If it goes badly, I will wipe my memory of it as best I can, and I ask that you, dear reader, do the same.

I have a few minor goals with this blog, and they are as follows:

-To avoid digressing, as I often do on my every day blog. This blog will be strictly about writing and nothing else.

-To post an excerpt from my NaNo work three times a week at least. It might seem like a lot to you, but as I mentioned, I am shy about sharing my writing in any way. When I post these excerpts, constructive critisism is welcome, but don't be cruel. If you don't like them, don't read them.

-To write every day. I may not feel like it after writing the required 1,666 words I'll need minimum per day to make 50,000, but I will do it.

So this is my blog. Like my story for NaNo, I won't be touching it again until November 1, 2009.

I'll see you then.