The NaNoWriMo Draft: Writing Update

It’s finally happening: The ugly, 65,000+ word book that’s been collecting dust in my computer files is finally being read.

That’s right. The dreaded NaNo-Novel, the one penned over three months ago now, is ready to be cut up, burned through, and edited to shreds.



As I read through my super-rough novel these past few days, a made a list of mental/physical notes of the thoughts I had about my work, a few of them being the following:

Wait, who is this character again?

Wow. This scene could possibly the worst piece of fiction I’ve read in my life.

LOOK! A line of believable dialogue! Score one for the author!

Correction. THIS scene is the worst piece of fiction I’ve ever read.

*glances at notes made during November* Ha, look at my little comments here. I’m hilarious.

*reads through supposedly comical scene* This…isn’t funny. At all.

Did I really write this scene? Because I really don’t remember…

Why do I insist on making sentences so super long and complicated that I forget what the whole thought was in the first place and it doesn’t make sense and land ho, we have another run-on.

Air. I need air.

While reading through the first draft was painful, it also brought back to mind all of the things I’d forgotten about in my story. Characters, settings, subplots I never really followed through with. It also reminded of all of the reasons I loved my story and wanted to write it in the first place.

Here’s a quick list of all the things I’ll be focussing on as I dive into the first round of edits:

  • Major plot changes. After writing my NaNo-novel, it was obvious my story needed some serious changes, though I really didn’t know how to make them. Once I took a break (which is 1,000X easier said than done) and returned with fresh eyes, it was almost immediatly clear how to fix things.
  • Character development. Something I really struggle with: getting my characters from my head onto the page in a realistic way.
  • Dialogue. Oh, how my characters need to learn how to talk. (That was a slam on me, by the way.)
  • POV change. The first draft is in first person, but this second time around, I’ll be writing in in third person.
  • My Main Character. I know I mentioned character development earlier, but my MC really needs help. In some scenes, she’s as fiece and dark as I’d imagined her being. But most of the time, she’s this sweet, spontaneous person that I don’t even know. Getting my main character down is key.


So, with all of that said, I hope to get this draft edited/rewritten within the next couple of months. I am super excited to be working on it again! 🙂 I’ve really missed my characters (or the ones I remember, anyway…).

Until next time!

~ ~ ~

Isabella Stines spent most of her childhood diving into books and breaking the rules by reading past her bed time. Still an avid reader, she spends more of her time as a student and musician in addition to writing, fueling her creativity with Ramen noodles and sweet tea. Stines is currently working on her first series.

You can find Isabella on Pinterest ( ) and tweet with her on Twitter:


First-Draft Celebrations + What’s Next


I haven’t blogged since November, when I waved goodbye and dove into the hectic sea of NaNoWriMo. And I have a few pretty good reasons for not being around since then–which I’m sure you don’t want to hear about.

But I will tell you this: I won. NaNoWriMo? Finished, with days to spare. My first draft of my first novel? Yeah, it has the words “THE END” scribbled at the end of it. And I might be a *little* proud.

Although I hit 50k words before the end of November, my book was nowhere near done. Working through December, I finally finished the 31st, celebrating the new year with an actual novel under my belt. I didn’t do it by myself, though. Supportive friends, family, and writing buddies are who kept me going. So to all of you: THANK YOU! A first draft may not seem like a huge deal, but it’s definitely a milestone for me.

What’s next for my writing:

  • Short stories and flash fiction, some of which I’ve submitted to different competitions. It’s definitely helpful to focus on these smaller stories as I try to distance myself from my novel (so editing can happen with fresh eyes!).
  • Although this probably should have been done before NaNoWriMo, I’ve finally been putting the pieces together and mapping out the whole series I’m writing. It feels so good to finally get all of these ideas on paper. And, it’s just plain fun to make connections and make paths cross throughout the entire series–it’s making me fall in love with my story all over again!
  • Meeting my daily writing goals with this amazing book. Seriously, you need to check this joker out.
642 THINGS TO WRITE ABOUT by The San Francisco Writers' Grotto

642 THINGS TO WRITE ABOUT by The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto

These just aren’t your average writing prompts. I don’t want to give everything away, but here are a few of my favorite ones so far:

~The next sound you hear and what caused it.

~The end of the world.

~Write a scene that begins with, “It was the first time I killed a man.”

This book was a given to me as a Christmas gift. I can’t get enough of it! There are tons of potential story ideas, for novel-length works and short prose.

And that’s that! Happy Saturday! 🙂

The Cure to First Draft Blues: Could It Be NaNoWriMo?

Photo from Photostock

Photo from Photostock

I have a love-(mostly)hate relationship with first drafts. Especially since I’m a total rookie in this game, making this one my official first first draft.

They’re fun. You get to write out all of your ideas and scenes that you’ve been dreaming up and obsessing over. You find out who your characters really are, and how they think the story should go. You’re not just a creator or a dreamer any more; you’re a writer.

But first drafts can be horrible. Painful. Kind of like starting a journey without a destination or an ETA. Is your idea really worth writing about? Will other people want to read it? How are you going to get your characters from point A to point B? Sure, you have outlines. Maybe even a detailed story arc. But now, instead of planning your story, you want to (gasp) write the thing?

One of my very first posts was about Inner Editors and how they hold us back. Of course our critics will be helpful in our story, but after the first draft is done. My current work in progress was started and restarted eight times.

Eight. Dashed. Times.

I had completely lost it. In one sitting, I had written out the first chapter in thirteen different ways, and hated every one of them.

My inner editor was screaming for perfection. My heart was screaming for me to get on with the stupid thing.

When I returned home from Central America in August, I was ready to pen out the story that I had been drowning in for over a year. I had characters, settings, snippets of dialogue and detailed back stories; and I was tired of waiting for the perfection to appear. I was going to make it happen, no matter what it took.

So I made a plan and set some goals.

  1. I wrote every day. Whether it was a school-sport-social life-filled weekday or the sometimes-but-not-always-less-hectic-weekend, I would write in my story before the day was done. Even if it was just a few sentences. Putting words on a page is what it’s all about.
  2. Weekly Goals. For this first draft (or what I like to call my Puke Draft, since that’s what it felt and probably read like) I wrote by hand in a designated writing notebooks. My personal goal was about 20, handwritten, front-and-back pages a week. While some weeks it was a breeze, there were some times I was cramming to meet my deadline.
  3. I had a plan. “I’m going to have _______(insert number here) of _______(words or pages) done today.” Then I would break it down even more. “I’m going to write ____ pages during lunch, ____ pages during break, and ____ pages before bed.” I cannot explain how much this helped!

With this, determination and a whole lot of work, I wrote over half of my novel in one month. Since starting it, I realized the various plot holes and different things that needed fixing. With NaNoWriMo just around the corner, I thought, “Heck. I might as well start over with a clean slate and crank this baby out!”

Now that I have a clearer direction of where I’m going, I can’t wait to dive into NaNoWriMo and re-write it. I’m still a little unsure of the end—but isn’t that the whole point of National Novel Writing Month? Although this will be my first year, I’m feeling pretty confident (and maybe just a little bit nervous) about it.

How many of you are participating this year? Any past experiences with NaNo?