NaNoWriMo 2019 – The Goal, The Plan, The Anxiety

Hello, hello, writer bees.

NaNoWriMo is right around the corner. And although I’m a bit nervous, I accept this intimidating challenge. I wanted to share with you guys my hopes and my game plan for National Novel Writing Month.

The Goal

Okay. My goal isn’t the traditional 50k in November. Currently, my draft is hovering around 20,000 words. And it’s looking pretty rough. It’s a rough rough draft. So for NaNoWriMo 2019, my word count goal is 40,000 words, making for a total of 60,000 words.

Frankly, my real goal is to write more often. Daily, if possible. Even if it’s just small increments everyday. Unfortunately, my WIP has been simmering on the back burner for too long. I want my humble little draft to take one step closer to becoming a full fledged manuscript. That’s how I want to finish NaNoWriMo this year.

Planning and Prepping

So, considering my goal, I figure that averages about 10,000 words a week. That’s possible, right? The skeleton of the story is there, scenes just need to be bumped up or added. I’m working on an outline as I write this post, but am open to new ideas that come along during the writing process. I guess that makes me a plantser? Half planning, half “winging it”. Hopefully, I can scrape something together before November starts.

Part of my prepping involves looking back at my previous NaNoWriMo experience. Learning from past mistakes. Taking my own advice. I acknowledge my weak points as a writer and I’m trying to push through them. Like writing without editing or deleting scares me. That’s one obstacle I’ve struggled to jump over.

Right now, I’m stressing a bit and waiting for the NaNoWriMo excitement to fully kick in. Imagine that nervous feeling before jumping off the high diving board. That’s how I’m feeling at the moment. What if I run out of ideas and my writing fizzles out? And maybe it’s just me, but it seems like everyone else is having fun prepping with their neat, organized outlines and I’m over here with my ugly baby of a draft. Seriously? However, I’m working on staying optimistic. Perhaps we can polish up this draft, it’s worth a shot.

What’s Happening on Lady Jabberwocky?

Glad you asked! During this November, I will be posting weekly updates on Fridays/Saturdays. That way, you all can follow my NaNoWriMo adventure. I really do want to put in the effort this year. So, I hope you guys come along for the NaNoWriMo ride with me.

Thank you guys for your support and lovely comments. Best of luck to all those participating in National Novel Writing Month.

Lady Jabberwocky

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3 Tips on Writing the Twistiest of Plot Twists

Hello Writer Bugs!

Need to shake up your story? Send your readers on a wild rollercoaster ride with a good ol’ fashioned plot twist. That’s right, kiddos, in the spirit of MayOf Mystery, we are going to talk about plot twists. Think about it. Every great mystery story has at least one plot twist that leaves the audience gasping in surprise and shock. Let’s break down some tips and tricks to incorporate plot twists into your stories.

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Foreshadowing is Everything

Dropping breadcrumbs of information is crucial. Basically, foreshadowing is about dropping small clues in the beginning that become something much bigger later on. Hand your character one clue and have that piece of information develop into something else. In terms of a mystery, the briefest mention could turn into a crucial piece of evidence. How does this handkerchief left at the crime scene tie to the murderer?

If done right, the reader can reread the story and pinpoint the clues hinting the big reveal. However, be careful of foreshadowing too much, making a surprise reveal predictable. If that happens, consider deleting some of the hints, so your plot twist is more of a shock.

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Redirect with Red Herrings

For good measure, toss a couple of Red Herrings into the pot. What is a red herring, you ask? By definition, it is a phrase that means “something, especially a clue, that is or is intended to be misleading or distracting.” Think of it like giving the reader a wrong answer, which in turn, leads them to a false assumption. A piece of info that sets them on a path to nowhere. Redirect their attention and keep them guessing.

For a mystery, have the detective follow evidence they believe is true. Then, turn the tables on your own characters and have them react to the evidence being false. A dead end, so to speak.

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Eliminate the Obvious

Not sure what kind of plot twist can be added to your story? Try brainstorming a list of every possible, obvious thing that could happen. Then, throw that list away. Plot twists should come out of left field and be completely unexpected. There’s no fun in a predictable plot twist.

Make the reader, and the characters feel certain about something. “This is definitely the murder weapon. This was how the victim was killed.” If you assure them that there is only one possibility, them tricking them will be easier. When things aren’t as they appeared to be, that’s when heads start to spin.

Plot Twists as a Plot Device

A moment of surprise in your story can be a powerful tool for any writer. Trust me, there is nothing more satisfying for a author than pulling the rug out from under the reader. Just grabbing their assumptions and flipping them upside down. All in all, be aware of the clues you choose to show your reader, and wait for the right moment to make your big reveal. That is the key to any plot twist.

Talk to me, Writer Bees

What are your favorite plot twists in fiction? And what’s one surprise reveal you’ve written in your stories? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you guys.

May the plot twists you write be extra twisty.

Write with Heart,

Jabberwocky

Meet the Detective and His Assistant:(Excerpt From My WIP Mystery Novel)

Up the claustrophobic staircase, I opened the door to the recluse’s apartment. On the frosted window glass read the name Private Detective H.B. Cooper. There he was, sitting at his desk, slouched in his leather chair. His light chestnut hair was streaked with silver. Hazel eyes hid under two thick eyebrows. “You’re late.” He muttered, polishing the brass handle of his walking stick. His accent was distinct, a proper English accent, he would call it.

“Good morning to you too, old man.” Rolling my eyes, I placed the mug of coffee and his newspaper on the desk. A glass vase holding a bouquet of daisies was placed on the kitchen counter. “Secret admirer sent you flowers?”

“Hardly,” He scoffed.  “A token of gratitude from out last client.” While reading the front page story, he commented on his previous case. “You think finding a scribbled message about how cruel the world is and what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the temple is enough to prove a man killed himself?”

“Usually.” Placing the vase in the sink, I poured some water for those dehydrated flowers. “You’re in the paper, by the way.”

His wrinkled face pinched into a scowl. “As If I care for such trivial commentary.”

His modest apartment was more of an office than a home. The room centered around a Cherrywood desk. There were no pictures of loved ones, if he had any. No heirlooms to remind him of his homeland, London. Just an overflow of books that spilled from the bookshelf onto the coffee table and the floor. A condensed library, with many books on many different subjects. Too many books for one man, if you ask me.

In front of the pea green sofa was a coffee table with a typewriter sitting among scattered notes and files. Consider that my desk. There was a cramp kitchen area and a bedroom door I had never entered.

While being employed by the detective, I became a jack-of-all-trades. I was his caretaker, his assistant, the royal note taker and the feeder of the cat. In one of the cabinets were cans of cat food. Peeling back the metal lid, I set the tin of stinking fish mince on the floor. No cat in sight. “Merlin is outside,” He pointed out before he took a sip from the steaming cup of coffee. A grimace of displeasure came across his face “This tastes bloody dreadful.” Every morning, the coffee is deemed dreadful.

“You gotta be kidding me?” I climbed out the window onto the paint chipped fire escape. Orange rust clung to the metal. The black cat stood precariously on the railing, tail swishing without care. His muzzle pointed to the sky, whiskers testing wind conditions. I grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, earning a meow of displeasure. “Y’know, one day, that cat of yours is going to fall and get flattened.” I nodded towards the streets where car horns were blaring.

Crouching back in the window, I dropped the cat into Mr. Cooper’s lap. He was engrossed in the newspaper. From the fire escape, I caught a glimpse of the parachute jump and a thin blue line of the ocean. It’s nice to wake up every morning to a clump of seaweed in your nostrils.

At the time, I had been working for Mr. Cooper for about a year. He was an odd egg, but boy, was he sharp. He had a sort of humble, unexpected kind of brilliance. In a hidden notebook, I kept record of facts of the detective. Mr. Cooper was a vault of information. A man who solved mysteries for a living was a walking mystery himself.


This is an excerpt from myWIP Mystery/Detective story, introducing my two main characters. Thought it was a good way to kick off May of Mystery. Let me know what you guys think in the comments!

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

Changing My Main Character’s Name after 5 YEARS

Hello Writer Beans!

Well, It has been a busy, and emotionally exhausting, couple of days. Lots of work writing to do. However, I did have a small burst of inspiration for that work-in-progress novel of mine. Frankly, I’ve been struggling with writer’s block with my WIP. I jotted a couple of new ideas down, for whenever I find time to write for myself. Which, let me tell you, is such a luxury when you’re a freelance writer.

Then I had a thought. Recently, I’ve been thinking about changing the name of a character I have had for five years. Although this may be a difficult transition for me personally (He’s had the same name for years, calling him anything else will be strange), it’s been a nagging thought for the past couple weeks.

A Bit of Backstory

Years ago, I had an idea for a character, a detective named Henry B. Cooper (Later H.B. Cooper.) In short, he’s a grumpy old man, from across the pond, who resides in New York during the 1920’s. No matter what I was writing, this character was there in the back of my head, sitting in the living room of my brain, waiting for me to tell his story. “I’m right here, dear, whenever you’re ready.” (Me talking to imaginary people is probably unhealthy right?)

If you cracked open my head, this is what it’d look like inside.

After I graduated college, I wanted to write a novel. Although I was split between fantasy and mystery, my two most beloved genres, I ended up choosing mystery. I ended up choosing Mister Cooper. You’ve probably seen snippets of him in short stories I’ve posted on this blog. Even 5 years later, I’ve still very fond of him.

Recently, I’ve considered changing his name. As any writer knows, names are so important to the character. It’s like naming a child. (A fictional child that won’t stop bothering you. ) This blog is about creating an open dialogue for writers. So let’s pretend we’re in sweatpants, eating salty potato chips, and I’m trying to explain to you the reasoning behind renaming my first born.

Did The Research

Look, I’m not a historian, by any means. However, since I am writing a historical story, the facts have to be straight. The names I picked, for all the characters, had to fit the time period they lived in. Simply as that. For example, my narrator’s name is Oscar Fitzgerald. Not only does it reflect the early 1900s, it also reflects his heritage. And I wanted to do the same thing for the detective.

Me doing research at 1 in the morning.

I knew the last name ‘Cooper’ was a common English name, but I never dug deep into it. Apparently, in Victorian England, surnames often originated from religious text (Lewis, Thomas, James) or one’s occupation (Taylor, Baker, Smith). Since my detective is born during this era, these are factors I will have to take into consideration.

Other Coopers?

Okay, this might be a silly worry, but it still bugs me. H.B. Cooper is very similar to some other characters, both real and fictional, that I know of. First off, around the time I created Mister Cooper, my family got a dog, who coincidently, was also named Cooper. While I did like the fact that these two, unintentionally, shared a name, now I feel like the detective needs his own identity.

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How you see your Main Character.

Second, for the mystery nerds out there, H.B Cooper sounds a lot like D.B. Cooper. Plus there’s like two other detective Coopers in fiction already. I may be overthinking this, but I think my main character should have a moniker that stand out a bit more.

Thank You, Next

I have a couple ideas in mind for his new name. For some reason, I’ve always loved the name ‘Barnaby’, from an old Laurel and Hardy film I grew up with. Maybe I’ll play around with that. Frankly I still need to do more research. Once I find the right name, things should click into place. At least I hope.

You ever walk into a room and say to yourself, “Man, I should change the color of these walls.” Right now, I feel like this character needs a new coat of paint. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just something I think he needs. It’ll be hard, losing that name he’s had for years, but this is just a step in the evolution process. His personality and backstory won’t change, just his name tag.

Got any ideas for a name? I’m curious to see what you guys think. Also, have you ever had to change a longtime character’s name?

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

The Work In Progress Tag

Hello everyone!

Now that we are in 2019, I have a couple new year’s resolutions. One of them is to work on my WIP, my novel. So what better tag to start off the new year with than the W.I.P tag? Found this on The Shameful Narcissist‘s blog. Hope you guys enjoy.

And psst! No judging my work in progress. It’s still in progress.

1. What is the working title of your book?

The title, drumroll please, is The Case of the Drowned Mermaid. Add the bright lights and the confetti. And as of now, I’m pretty sure that will be the title of the finished product. I wanted the title to be reminiscent of classic murder mysteries, like ‘The Murder in the Rue Morgue.” Also, in the story, it’s the name the narrator dubs the case him and the Detective are investigating.

2. Where did the idea come from?

I’ve had the idea for my detective for about 5 years. When I entered college, I had an interest in mysteries and began reading the Sherlock Holmes stories. And then, I asked myself, “If I created a detective and sidekick, what would they be like?” Soon after, the detective and his partner were born. Sometimes, characters and ideas are born by asking yourself “what if?”

The idea for the actual murder in the murder mystery is a whole other story. This wasn’t going to be a simple point-and-shoot kind of mystery, those aren’t my Detective’s cup of tea. The more peculiar cases are more interesting, right? Next to my love of mysteries, there is an equal love of fantasy stories. I love fairytales and magic and “the strange and unusual”. I did a lot of research on the 1920s and freak shows at the time. And being a New Yorker, I’m a train ride away from Coney Island. A vague story line, centered around a dead sideshow performer, seemed to just fall into place. 

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Mystery/Detective fiction would be my WIP’s genre. I wanted it to be a twist on a classic murder mystery. My detective isn’t like typical detectives, nor is his partner like Watson. My mystery solving duo is complex, have flaws, and stray away from tradition.

Also, there’s a bit of romance, humor and historical fiction thrown into the pot too.

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4. Which actors would play your characters in the movie adaptation?

Wow, hard to imagine my rough first draft as a full fledged movie. But sure, I’ll play along. I have two main characters and a list of suspects. This is a murder mystery after all. I’m just going to focus on those two. So, Detective H.B. Cooper is a long-in-the-tooth private detective, from Great Britain. Perceptive and irritable, he has a gifted memory and a crippled leg.  Now, I’m not sure who would play him in a movie. Maybe a bearded Ian McKellan?

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On the other hand, I know exactly who would play the detective’s assistant, Oscar Fitzgerald. Andrew Garfield would be perfect. I always imagine Oscar with that cocky, playful smirk. He’s a young man, living it up in the 1920s. Sarcastic and cheeky, he looks after Mr. Cooper, in more ways than more. I like to think they make a pretty good team. Image result for andrew garfield gif

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

How to condense my life’s work into one sentence. Hmm…

When a sideshow mermaid is found floating belly up, Detective H.B. Cooper and his associate, Oscar Fitzgerald, unravel a mystery surrounding her untimely death.

Peek your interest? Man, I hope so.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft?

That’s a complicated answer. See, I was working on one mystery, with the same cast of characters. Then, I basically started over. I changed the murder in my murder mystery. After I scraped a lot of written material, a new plot rose from the ashes.

My first draft, of about 20,000 words, was finished around Christmas. It took a decent couple of months. Participating in National Novel Writing Month really pushed me to write. Slowly, but surely, this little draft will grow into something bigger and better. So, short answer, a good six months, at least.

8. What other books will you compare your book to?

I feel as though my humble draft is unworthy and cannot be compared to published masterpieces. If I had to compare, It’d have to be a Hercule Poirot book.

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9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

With a genuine interest in mysteries, I took a Detective Fiction class in Hunter college. There, I read all the greats, like Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Edgar Allen Poe, and Raymond Chandler. Those authors really inspired me to write a story like this.

10. What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest?

Lots of things, hopefully. Call me a perfectionist, but I hold myself to an unreachably high standard. And if I ever do achieve my goal, I want it to be real page turner.

  • A Death at a Coney Island Sideshow
  • The 1920s at it’s Best, and Worst
  • An Unlikely Partnership
  • A Detective with Golden Eyes and an Extraordinary Memory
  • Suspicious Suspects
  • The Anti Femme Fatale
  • Sarcasm and Humor mixed with Mystery
  • The Biggest Plot Twist Surprise Ending EVER 



And there you have it. Let me know what you think of my novel idea. Be kind, all things start from somewhere. If you’ve got a Work In Progress, proudly show it off in the comments, I’d love to know what you guys are working on.

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

 

Giving My First Draft to My Boyfriend for Christmas

Happy Holidays everyone! Hope you spent it with good food and good company.

My Christmas was lovely. Lots of pasta and roast pork and rice. These are the days I’m happy to be Italian-Puerto Rican. I’m grateful for every present I received. Some sweaters and sock, a Barnes and Noble gift card (that I am eager to spend), some cozy boots too. Also, my amazing boyfriend bought me a new laptop, which I’m using right now!

He’s a wonderful guy. We’ve been together a long time. And he’s read all of my short stories throughout my college days (the poor guy). Since I met him, he’s always been so supportive about my writing. So, this year, I was sentimental with the gifts I gave him this year. I printed out my first draft, the first 20,000 words of my novel, for him. He’s used to my work being 2-4,000 words long, this draft was a big leap. Usually, I dislike people reading my unfinished work. But to me, this felt like a milestone. And I wanted to share that with someone. Who better than my better half?

I know I still have a long way to go. That there’s so much work left to be done. But that’s okay. My goal has always been to write and publish a great story, to have it sit on a shelf in a bookstore. Slowly, but surely, right? And who knows? If my novel ever does get published, we’ll always have this first draft as a reminder of humble beginnings.

I printed a copy for myself, to reflect and make notes. I think it will be easier to edit and adjust with a physical copy. It’s also a nice feeling to have something I can hold in my hands. Side note; I will probably do an WIP tag very soon.

Once again, I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. What presents did you get? And who would you share your first draft with? Let me know in the comments below.

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo Tag – Celebrating 100 Followers

NaNoWriMo2018

Today, I am celebrating 100+ followers with the NaNoWriMo Tag! Seemed fitting enough, it being National Novel Writing Month and all. Thank you to each and every one of you who follows this blog. I greatly appreciate your support. So, here it is, the NaNoWriMo tag!

1. How many years have you participated in NaNo?

This will be my second year participating in National Novel Writing Month. Last year was a rewarding experience, and I learned a lot about myself as a writer. Writing during the NaNoWriMo event has given me the push of motivation to write my novel.

2. Are you a planner, pantser, or plantser?

Most of my story and characters are planned out ahead of time. However, I do have some wiggle room to add scenes I didn’t initially plan for. Nothing is set in stone. During the writing process, things change, and that’s just fine. So, I’m like 80% a planner, and 20% pantser.

3. If you are a planner/plantser, what are the first story elements that you flesh out?

Because I am writing a mystery novel, one of the first things I have to consider is the case itself. What is the central mystery pulling everyone together? Is it a murder? A disappearance? So I need, at least, a vague idea of what mystery is being solved here.

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Typically, I develop my characters first too. For me, characters drive the overall story. Like playing the Sims. I like to come up with the cast of multi layered characters and let them loose into the fictional world.

4. NaNo Forums? Do you use them?

No I don’t. Maybe I should…?

5. Writing Buddies? Do you prefer to write socially or alone?

I’m a firm believer that writers should support other writers. It’s the reason behind this blog. When I’m actually fiction writing, I usually write by myself. Actually, I have a hard time writing when someone’s peering over my shoulder. Puts too much pressure on me.

I like to think using the Lady Jabberwocky blog helps me connect with other writers.

6. Do you diligently write 1,667 words a day, or do you write in spurts?

At the moment, I’m writing in spurts. Some days, it’s a couple hundred words, other days it’s a little over 1,000. Despite being way behind word count wise, I am still trying to write every day, even if it’s only a little bit. Balancing work writing and fiction writing has been difficult, but I am determined to keep writing daily and to reach the 50,000 word goal.

7. Do you have a writing totem?

Not sure if it counts, but I have a photo book of pictures of Brooklyn in the 1920s. Looking at historical photos helps me connect to the setting I’m writing about. Also, my boyfriend thinks I need my hair in a messy bun to write. Which is true. Maybe that’s my writing totem too.

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8. Do you go to kick-off, write-in, or wrap-up parties?

I’ve never been to one, no. But I have considered going to a write-in, if it was close to where I live. Events like that sound like fun.

9. When writing, are you an analog (handwritten) or digital writer? Does the same apply to when you’re taking notes or brainstorming?

I am a digital writer, I write solely on my laptop. In terms of notes, I have sticky notes posted around my room, when I want to quickly jot down ideas . However, I do have some notes on my computer too. But mostly, I stick to post-it notes for brainstorming. My wall is starting to look like something out of a crime movie, all I need is the red string and newspaper clippings. “It all makes sense! Everything is connected!”

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10. Share your NaNo username (if you feel comfortable doing so) so that others can connect with you on the NaNo site!

You can find me at LadyJabberwocky on the NaNo website. Feel free to add me as a writing buddy, if you like.


I just want to thank you guys again for all your support. I never thought I’d hit 10 followers, let alone 100. Truly, I appreciate every follow and comment. You lovely people inspire me everyday to keep writing.


Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky