Things I Learned At Camp

So the first round of Camp NaNoWriMo is done. Made my target word count. Good. Learned how to stop stopping and keep writing. Good.

Yesterday I went back and read the 32,000 or so words. Hmmm.

It seems that I like commas … and elipses — and em-dashes. A decade of posting on message boards and writing to match the rhythm of my speech has left me with a limited and repetitive repertoire of punctuation. Oh well, it could be worse and that can be fixed.

There is a little bit of worse.  I had boiled my story down to 200 compelling words and put together an outline to match, but the story (so far) is disjointed and doesn’t flow. In and of itself, this doesn’t appear to be an insurmountable obstacle. The problem is that I don’t know how to fix it.

I knew going in that I would have a lot of editing to do and I can fix the punctuation and make my words less shitty. I don’t, however, know a damned thing about story structure beyond “Beginning, Middle, End”, “Start in the middle” and “Conflict, Setback”.

Having to learn about story structure is a bit daunting and I have grabbed a few books on the subject. There are 3 in particular that I seem to be getting the most out of:

  • Million Dollar Outlines by David Farland
  • Story Engineering by Larry Brooks
  • Immediate Fiction by Jerry Cleaver

Any recommendations, warnings or advice will be welcomed and appreciated.

While I am tempted to scrap what I have written, re-structure, re-outline and start over, I think I am going to  read some more and carry on with what I have for the next round of Camp. I have seen it suggested that you have to finish things in order to learn what works for you. So far, I have learned what doesn’t work, but perhaps it is time to have some faith in all that “Write. Now. Write. More” advice.

In the meantime, I have a short story about a little girl and a curious pair of sunglasses that is just screaming to be written.

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