If at first you don’t succeed…

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll know that I started on a novel early this year.  Unfortunately I got stuck roundabout April, seven thousand words in.  By June I had decided to put that novel on ice and start over.  No writing has happened since apart from what you can see on this blog.  That is about to change.

As you’ll also know if you’ve ever read the About Page (if you quickly want to go check it out I’ll wait till you’re back…okay then, let’s continue) I believe in percussive maintenance, that is, if nothing else works, whack it with a hammer.  A saying that’s very closely related goes that if at first you don’t succeed, use a bigger hammer…or something like that.

For my second first novel that bigger hammer will be in the form of National Novel Writing Month.

NaNoWriMo header image

Yes, I’ll be participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo for the first time ever.  I’m quite excited about the prospect, especially since I found out you can actually win stuff by completing your 50 000 words (my main goal is that 50% discount on Scrivener – I’ve been checking out the trial version this week and must admit I’m impressed.

I’m planning on the novel being a bit longer than 50 000 words, but I reckon it’ll be a great start, seeing as last time around I only managed 7 000.  This time I’m also doing some planning; not too much, but I’m at least ensuring that my novel has a basic structure before I start.

You probably want to know about the novel, right?  The working title is Gift of the Dryads.  It’s a Young Adult Fantasy/Thriller about a  teenage girl who gets some wicked powers and has to learn to control them so she can defend her family against a sinister threat that wants to destroy them.  (Hey, I think I just wrote the novel’s logline.  Need to polish it a bit still, but cool!)

I don’t want to give away too much at this point as I’m still figuring it out and don’t know yet what would constitute spoilers, but I will reveal that the novel is set in South Africa, that the protagonist is a sixteen-year-old girl, that the antagonist is not human and that that the main character does not fall in love with him/it/them.  I can also state unequivocally that there are no vampires, werewolves or angels involved.  There might be witchdoctors, though…

I’ll reveal more as the month progresses, both here and on my author page on the NaNoWriMo website (you can also reach it by clicking the NaNoWriMo participant button in the sidebar of the Home Page).

If you’re thinking of signing up for NaNoWriMo but have no idea how to proceed, I can highly recommend these posts by Matthew Wright on the topic.  They both motivated me to sign up and gave me a way to approach the whole exercise.  His advice might work and it might not, but it’s as good a place as any to start.

Wish me luck, feel free to enquire after my progress, and if you’ve also signed up visit my author page and add me as your writing buddy.  I’ll gladly add you back.

Happy writing!

17 thoughts on “If at first you don’t succeed…

  1. Good luck! Sounds like a very interesting concept. Also, great working title.

    Funny, I’ve just been trying to formulate a logline for my novel too and have all sorts of combinations floating through my mind. It’s surprisingly tricky to get right (I’m still trying). So, cool to see you’ve got something to work with!

    Scrivener sounds interesting. Thanks for the note because I’ve never heard about it before. Looks like it might be a useful organizational tool (I’ve already written my book and am on the umpteenth revision, but I’m at the stage where it’s difficult to assess key plot movements / character developments for consistency because the relevant bits are spread out over multiple Word documents). It’ll be interesting to see how you get on with it — if you feel like blogging about that, of course.

    Anyway, good luck again. Looking forward to seeing what the dryads bring 😉


    1. I will definitely write about my experience of Scrivener. I’m currently working through the tutorial, but it seems like a great tool and it offers so many ways to engage with your manuscript.

      One of Matthew’s posts give a very simple formula for writing the logline. It’s worth checking out.

      I’m very encouraged by the comments saying they like my concept. But then anything not containing vampires or zombies is a win in my book 😀


      1. Ha ha! Right you are. I’m just waiting for vampire zombies to make an appearance. Although, they probably already have somewhere…

        Cool about Matthew’s post on loglines. I’ll check that out.


  2. I’m excited about your novel. I would like to read it once you’ve finished it. If you ever need a beta reader…

    Also, this might be cheeky, but I did NaNo a few years ago and I cheated ever so slightly by not using contractions. hahaha! It made it a pain when I went through to do the edit, but it made it ever so slightly easier. Good luck!


    1. When I did a creative writing course last year some of my classmates actually criticised me for being too formal and not using contractions (occupational hazard for an English teacher), so I’ll keep that in mind.

      I’ll also keep the offer for a reader in mind, though I’m not sending it out until after I’ve edited the first draft at least once, so don’t be too hasty 😉


  3. Good luck on this. I really admire the writers who participate. Word of warning…ready…DON’T COME BACK HERE WITH SOME WHIMPY EXCUSE AS TO WHY YOU DID NOT HIT FIFTY THOUSAND WORDS. Copy the phone book if you have to, but write. 🙂


    1. Thanks! That’s exactly the kind of threats…support I’m looking for. You are welcome to take me to task if I don’t post regular status update as to how I’m progressing 😉


    1. Setting it in SA’s just easiest for me, as I have knowledge of the places I’m planning to use. I’m also going to bring some of the local culture into it. I hope it doesn’t count against me when I try to sell it internationally (plan A), but it will make it easier to sell over here (plan B).


      1. it could certainly be an advantage when you want to make it international – I’m not so much into these genres but I’m not aware of any of these texts set in South Africa


      2. Nor am I. The SA division of RandomHouse (the only big international publisher over here) doesn’t even have an imprint for fantasy and SF. And the few novels I know about in these genres by SA authors are not set in SA.


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