Nanowrimo spotlight: Listening to your book

Good morning! I’ve got a new spotlight for you, from Mariah. Here’s Mariah talking about her Nano experiences:

I believe I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo every year since 2005 or so I believe. A couple years were on accounts that have been long since lost to the ages, a couple without even using the NaNo site. Most years I’ve won. I usually do pretty well with front loading, I write a lot up front and then start to slack as the month goes on. Sort of the opposite of what I see from most people.

I had a couple epic failures, one where I spent the entire time designing a solar system, all the math included. A couple successes too, Dangerous Metal was the book I wrote in 2014, which was a from scratch rewrite of a book I wrote in 2013. The rewrite on it was basically throwing out the plot, and a couple of the characters, and the genre. So I had the main character and her background and a few side characters. Everything else was rewritten for that one.

What are you writing about this year?
I’m doing another rewrite this year. The novel I wrote during Camp NaNo a couple years ago is an urban fantasy story. I really think it is strong, but I need to make some changes to match up with the second book I wrote last NaNoWriMo proper. I’m currently calling it the fantastically catchy title of “Jenna’s first book”. It is a story that needs a character cut out (sadly the love interest, but he just didn’t bring enough to the table), another character amped way up (he’s the one who always should have been the love interest, why was I holding them back!), a different kind of try fail cycle on a few things, and much more background. I’ve been toying with the idea of not just rewriting from scratch, but I do think that I’ll create a better end product if I just start over entirely. We’ll see how long that lasts though.

Where are your backup files, and why?
I have everything backing up automatically to iCloud and Dropbox, plus a Time Machine back up. When I get a project to a “done” point I back up copies everywhere. Seriously. I put one in multiple google drive accounts. I email to myself. I stash away on my server. I have projects in iCloud and Dropbox. This years novel is a prime example of both why, and why you should have a better plan than I did. I knew I’d finished the book. And it was somewhere. But all the copies I kept finding in all the places I put copies were missing parts of the end. A lost chunk somewhere that I’d gone back and fixed at the end, and I couldn’t find the version that had what I was absolutely sure was the final show down. After nearly a week of frustrated searching and giving up and trying again I finally found it under a different Dropbox account.

I now have a better structure. I use Scrivener for most of my work, I have that in Dropbox and then backed up to iCloud (and the hard drive on the computer, and a Time Machine backup), but I don’t change locations of things midstream. That’s what I had been doing. It was much more haphazard. I’ve got a better file structure, a better plan, and success. Lots of backups isn’t enough if you don’t have a good plan.

What advice would you give to all your fellow Wrimos?
Read everything aloud! When you are having trouble with a sentence, when you aren’t sure about the flow, when you don’t know if a character would say something. Read it aloud. I really think this is an amazing kind of tool. It is great for editing, which is where I feel like you usually hear it given as advice, but Nano isn’t about editing. Nano is about keeping going. And reading the last paragraph aloud is a great way to move forward.

I love the way something feels to hear it aloud. You get the chance to breathe life into those characters and they just glow. If you are really stuck then I’d sit down with a program that does voice to text (google docs has this built in these days), just tell the story like you are telling a friend. You might end up with a mess that needs editing, but it can go a long way if you are stuck.

Sneaky Ninja question! What’s the tastiest food ever, according to you?
Chicken wild rice soup. I may be biased because it is a little cold here today and it is soup weather, but I love chicken wild rice soup. (It is also pretty good with ham or turkey!)


I am the creator of the 600 Second Saga podcast. It is a weekly science fiction and fantasy show. Every week I feature an author and their vision of the fantastic, futuristic, and far-fetched. Each tale is an escape in less than ten minutes to a world of epic fantasy, cyberpunk, shifters, aliens, magic, and more. You can listen or read more about the show, including information on submitting your own flash fiction, on my website.

Thanks, Mariah, and good luck with your rewrite!

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