Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

Recap and Recovery


Everyone recover from your turkey hangover? Get your fill of NFL football? How about shopping–did you brave the masses?

Me, I just sit at home and do the online thing. Amazingly enough, this year’s Black Friday weather in MN is quiet. Doesn’t mean I have any intention ever of venturing into die-hard shopper-infested malls.

My NaNo project is moving along. I’ve learned–after doing NaNo for over a decade–that my first draft is crap (duh), and I figure out through the process what’s missing and what doesn’t work in the story. It’s like while I’m writing (with a muzzled inner editor), my brain churns through the story, testing how it fits into the storybuilding process.

As I hit a later chapter, my brain pipes up and lets me know what I missed early on. For example, in my current WIP, I’ve got two characters in an early chapter that have a specific role. They’re even in a whole scene. Problem is, they don’t show up again.

So here I am, grinding toward the middle of the story, when my brain throws up a red flag. Hey, these two need to show up again, or they need to go. What are you going to do about it?

Oh. Yeah. Um. Hmm. Ideally I’d make a note and keep going, but it’ll bug me for-ev-er if I don’t at least outline another scene for them. Another character, one of the antagonists, also shows up, and doesn’t return to the stage until, wow, way later. That isn’t right. So now I’m writing up another scene that brings the antagonist into a bigger spotlight. Bonus is, beyond tension, it adds to the “whodunit” aspect of the story.

It’s interesting, though, how I don’t realize the knots and holes until I’ve written the draft, and then a light goes on that reminds me of story construction. What seemed fine when I started doesn’t work right once I’ve written through it. Classic example is my soon-to-be-published book.

The main character is a female aircraft mechanic who finds a body. In an airplane. I know, I know, finding a body in a mystery novel is weird 😛 Finding a body in an airplane is different, but in a good way. Having the antagonists work at a construction site, albeit on the airport grounds, well … Yes, in the first draft, a good portion of the story took place at a construction site.

When I finished the story, I heard my writing teacher’s voice, clear as day: Why are they at a construction site? Why aren’t they at the airport?


DUH! Of course it has to be in the airport. That’s the unique setting. The MC is an aircraft mechanic. DUH!

Point is, I didn’t get it until I’d finished that draft, and my brain had ker-chunked its way through the story while I did the actual writing. So, for me the draft is like the test run, and my brain spends its time comparing the story to all the stuff I’ve learned over the years about how to plot, character arcs, subplots, conflict, story structure, etc. I do a loose outline of my stories, but that must not be enough meat for the ol’ noggin to work with.

And once it hits a spot where I’ve failed to follow the story-building process–characters, conflict, story goals, obstacles, stuff like that–it throws up a red flag. I often can’t see those spots until I’ve written through them. Which, I suppose, is the point of a first draft.

I’m on the straightaway for my NaNo quota, so I’m pretty sure I’ll hit 50k, maybe even by the end of the weekend. The story won’t be finished, though. It’ll be another few weeks before I hit “The End”, and the story will cool for a month or so before I start any sort of revision.

In the meantime, I’ll work on another WIP, in a self-imposed NaNo process. This is what I like about NaNo, the momentum. I find the word quota deadline helps me get a draft finished. Sure, it’s balls-to-the-walls writing to get the words down, but the point is to keep working on something. If nothing else, it keeps my Muse off my back 😀

Enjoy your extended holiday weekend, and take advantage of the time to do a bit of writing 😀




Author: Julie Holmes, author

A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for a decade, I have been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. My debut novel, "Murder in Plane Sight", has been released by Camel Press (an imprint of Coffeetown Press/Epicenter Press). In real life, I am a technical writer and empty-nester with a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, seven chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

12 thoughts on “Recap and Recovery

  1. My process is so similar, Julie. When “big” plot holes or character problems show up, I do tend to go back and correct them or at least work out how I’m going to deal with them, but other than that, churning out the story is the way to go during NaNo. Good for you for making your goal! I’m glad to hear that Thanksgiving went off without a hitch. Happy Writing and Shopping. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Diana! I’ve been non-writing the past couple days due to Turkey Day, but I’m planning to do some writing tomorrow. And ugh on shopping–even online shopping. Neither of the kids have Christmas lists made up yet, so not much shopping going on. (which is fine for the pocketbook 😀 ) Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The past few days, instead of working on the proposal and the book I’m SUPPOSED to be doing, I’ve been working on a big hunk of what would be book 3 of my novel series. Yes. That’s right. Book 3. Is book 1 done? Well, not until you say it is. Book 2, nope? Though what isn’t is at least sketched out in my mind. So why book 3? Well, the scene came to mind, and I had to get it down. Then I just kept running with it. But I know what you mean about the inner editor saying, uh, what? Like they were jumping onto the cargo hatch of a jet?! Excuse me? When do jets have those conveniently large cargo hatches? But then it got even better trying to jump into the little side door instead, especially when the van they’re jumping from hits a rock. I just hope that isn’t cliche. But it was fun. Yeah, vacation time! And then back to that proposal and the nofic I could actually get PAID for. Sigh. What fun is that? 🙂 Happy writing to you too!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m finally sitting down to do try to do some writing now. Notice the word try. I’m laying email catch-up first. Holiday weekends are crazy! I did brave some Black Friday shopping but didn’t last too long. I’m waiting for Cyber Monday 🙂

    Loved your post today. It shows that when you do NaNo (or a self-imposed NaNo), the goal is simply to write. You can always go back and fill in plot holes and rework threads and character interactions later. The point is you grabbed the momentum and ran with it. Sure, it’s hard to turn off the inner editor and sooner of later that critter is going to surface, but you deal with it when it does–after the draft.

    Happy writing—and editing 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • OMG, you went out for Black Friday??? Yikes. Can’t pay me to do that 🙂 I hear you about try! The past few days have resulted in a huge goose egg of words–well, today I managed a few, but not enough. Then there’s the whole FAFSA thing for the kids for college. Ugh.

      I’m working at recapturing the momentum, hopefully starting tomorrow because I think things will be quieted down by then. Uffda! The whole holiday season seems to be fraught with stuff going on, so I’m going to have to get my butt focused on the chair and my hands on the keyboard every chance I get. (and that little voice in my head is laughing its ass off 😛 )

      Have a great rest of your weekend, and keep on writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Julie, your post will be a welcome relief to many – myself included – who have completed drafts of a novel and only later seen the most glaring anomalies! Well done for your 50K this month, no mean feat and for ploughing on when your mind is screaming to start rewriting parts straightaway. You’ve done it, my friend! So proud of you and yeah, put it to cool down for a while before returning refreshed! Happy Writing!! 😀❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Annika! It’s always one of those head-slapping, “duh, how the heck did I miss that” moments when I find those holes, but I think if I didn’t do the first draft as such a rough process, I wouldn’t find the problems until much later, when it’s harder to fix them. And I’m waiting for your anthology *hint* 😀

      Enjoy the rest of the weekend and have a great week!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello Julie,
    Yes I like the momentum that comes with Nanowrimo as well. And it sounds like a great idea to do a self-imposed Nano month 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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