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Dec 1, 2012

Help! I Didn't Finish My #NaNoWriMo Novel!

November is over...is your novel still out at sea?

I did win NaNoWriMo and finish my draft for the time being. However, suppose one did not. There's two things you could do at this point: stop cold and wallow in depression, or consider that four weeks isn't long to write a novel (especially if yours is closer to 100,000 words than 50,000) and keep going.

As it happens, there IS an unfinished (sic) novel that I have to finish, and of course that is Blood, book 6 in the The Unfinished Song. I set it aside for November, but I've been cogitating about it in the back of my mind and now I think I'm ready to tackle the final third of the book.

There are several difficult challenges I need to meet in the climax:

- a "comic" dual
- the unexpected reappearance of a character from an earlier book (Svego and Gremo--who did you think I meant?)
- a War
- the confrontation between Dindi a major villain

The end of Book 6 represents the half-way point of the series. You can see this on the Three Act Beat sheet as Problem Bring Them Together, but it's even more obvious if you use Four Acts, where you can actually label this the False Victory:

Act I:
1. Teaser or opening conflict.
2. Problem is introduced
3. Point of No Return—Opportunity Accepted.
 
Act II:
4. Entering the New Situation.
5. New Allies and Enemies
6. False Victory

Act III:
7. Problem Drives Them Apart.
8. Crisis Hits
9. Terrible Secret Revealed - Final Attack Starts
 
Act IV:
10. All Seems Lost
11. Self-Sacrifice or Symbolic Death
12. Final Showdown

This Four Act structure is often used in television and is helpful for series. (That's why Problem is Introduced is there instead of Protagonist shown in Daily Life, but either works.

I've found that in thinking about my 12 book series as a whole, this beat sheet is just as useful as for a single book. You'll notice if you look over the first trilogy, that the first three books, Initiate, Taboo and Sacrifice, are Act One of the larger series.

At the end of Initiate, Dindi's problem is introduced ("The conclusion was definitely a cliffhanger," as one reviewer noted wryly), in Taboo it is developed, and in Sacrifice she finds a solution which is actually the Point of No Return, when she accepts the goal which drives the whole series... to help the Aelfae.

As you can see, Book 6 will end with a significant achievement, but it will only buy Dindi and her friends a little time to prepare for the true Final Showdown. Every book in the series ends with a fight or better yet, battle, of some sort (it's part of the Series Template) but this one is particularly important, since it involves some Big Baddies that haven't shown up in person before. (There are three major villains in this series: Umbral, the Bone Whistler, and Death herself.) Even without that pressure, I always find battle scenes tricky to write, and I consult some military minds in my extended family to help me nail the strategic aspects.

Although I don't want to give spoilers for Blood, I had such fun blogging about my NaNoWriMo project that I'd like to see if I can keep it up. I'll discuss the general techniques for things like How To Write Action Sequences as I go. Also, my friend and terrific writing adviser Rayne Hall will be doing guests posts every Sunday in December.





 

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