OF COURSE I’m participating in July Camp NaNoWriMo 2017! Why wouldn’t I?
Oh, maybe because I’m going to visit family in California… then going to Georgia to train newhires… then celebrating my wedding anniversary… July is going to be insane.
But that’s OK! Because Camp NaNo is all about setting your own goals and meeting them. You want your goals to be *slightly* above what you know you are capable of doing within a month–I’d say by 5k, if you set your goal by word count.
Fortunately, Camp NaNo is also making itself more accommodating to a writer’s style and project, so you can set goals by hours or pages. Pages is perfect if you’re editing a WIP or writing by hand. Hours is perfect if you want to be like Stephen King or Joe Lansdale and plant your ass in a chair every morning.
Since my work is so often broken and interrupted, attempting to track my hours would be… just wrong. Inaccurate. I try to write while at work, so in a span of 8 hours, I could be 2-30 calls, answer emails, help colleagues, and I’m not going to remember to note the time every time these interruptions occur or end.
Pages would be great, since I tend to handwrite all of my first drafts, and it’s about 250 words per page (one side). In fact, I may change my goal from 25-30k words to 100-150 handwritten pages. **edit** I just set my goal to 120 pages!
A few months ago, I wrote about recycling old projects. When I was in college, I developed a story about twin sisters, Starry and Stormy Knight. One is a teacher and one is a cop, and their personalities match this contrast. The original story involved a serial killer or rapist or something of that type, but I already have a serial killer I love and I don’t think I could write one that didn’t resemble him too closely.
But I did want to write a werewolf story. Since I haven’t been very inspired to continue Dad Wolf, which centers on a nonviolent werewolf, I decided to take my sisters and have them encounter a violent werewolf. So The Sisters Knight is born:
Identical twins Storm and Starr inherit a house on the outskirts of town and slowly realize that things are not as idyllic as they seem: Every lamp post and storefront is littered with fliers for missing people and pets.
The twins try to ignore this feature of their new home until it invades their everyday lives. A student from the school Starr teaches at goes missing. Between arranging search parties and armed carpools, the sisters learn the predator in their midst just might not be human… and more children are in danger.
Creating a detailed outline is the best way to ensure a project goes quickly. I have a list of the main events, but they vary in detail. I will try to add details (or write out the un-detailed parts) before Camp begins, so those scenes don’t bog me down.
Knowing the main events gave me an idea of the scope of the narrative: It will last four or five months, from August to December. It needs to begin in August, as that is the beginning of the school year. It needs to last four or five months to give us four encounters with a werewolf.
This narrative is set in Everytown, USA, 1996. I haven’t decided on the state yet, but I want it to be one where the seasons are clearly defined, because–besides the heat described in COLOSSUS–I don’t play with the weather as much as I should, and it sounds fun… especially because 1996 started with a blizzard, had two major hurricanes (Bertha and Fran) and a lethal ice storm. To ensure I don’t have to stop and rack my brain or research, I made a reference sheet of major events and deaths in 1996, as well as days and dates of the full moons from August to December.
Fortunately for my schedule, I already have the first scene and a half written, culminating about 1200 words (930 of which are below), five handwritten pages.
Whether you’re participating in Camp NaNo, let me know what your writing goals for July are in the comments below! If you @ me on Twitter, I will cheer you on! If I’m free, we can write some sprints!
Below is what I have currently for the first chapter. Let me know what you think!
The house didn’t feel like home. This is probably why Starr stood on the porch for a good ten minutes, cat crate in one hand, banging on the door with the other, before giving up on her sister ever answering. She tried the knob and the door scraped open. Starr drooped, feeling foolish. One more tally under bad aspects on a bad day.
Starr stepped over the threshold. The living room was exactly as she remembered it from the few times she visited the house as a child. Now it was hers. Well, hers and Storm’s. She placed the cat crate on the hardwood floor and opened it. Kantos, her crotchety, half-blind tomcat, poked his nose out and made a low, unhappy sound in his throat.
Kantos jerked back into the crate and yowled. Starr followed the noise to a door off the kitchen. The initial noise was trailed by a series of softer thuds and rattling.
“Stormy…” She pushed the door open.
Starr started. She was met by a man’s bare backside. He jumped off the bed, revealing her naked sister underneath.
“Hey, Starr!” Storm chirped.
“Jesus Christ,” Starr yanked the door shut and retreated to the far corner of the kitchen. She pressed a cool hand to her burning face.
“Sorry!” Storm’s voice floated through the door. After a couple of minutes of bumping around and whispering, she emerged pulling a shirt over her washboard abs. She had the decency to look bashful. “You’re early!”
“I never said what time I would be arriving.” Starr crossed her arms over her chest.
“Still… I didn’t expect you to pack so quickly!”
A man who looked to be in his early fifties—almost twice their age—stepped out of the bedroom behind her. He gave her a bashful grin and stuffed his hands in his pockets. He was not one of Storm’s regular hangers-on.
“Uh—Hi. Sorry,” he said. “I’m Garry.”
Starr was surprised.
“Garry lives next door,” Storm explained. “He let me borrow his box cutter. Apparently all of mine… are in boxes.”
Garry stepped forward and offered Starr his hand. She didn’t want to be rude, but she knew where it had been. She eyed his hand. Blushing, he shoved it back into his pocket.
“It’s refreshing to find a new neighbor so accommodating,” she said.
Storm laughed. Garry decided to take that as in indication that Starr hadn’t meant to sound as critical as she did, and chuckled as well.
“I came over to help out, and—you know—one thing led to another.” He shrugged.
Starr nodded. “Yep. That’s how it usually goes.”
He shrugged again and turned to Storm. His smile became fixed and he glanced between them. He pointed to Storm. “Your sister said you were identical…?”
“We are,” the said in unison, turning to scrutinize one another. Their hair was the same dark shade of brown, they both had freckles. Storm had a bit more of a tan due to working outside. Her hair was cropped to her chin, and her body was hard and compact. Starr’s body was softer, her hair was longer and allowed to curl naturally toward the tips. They turned from one another to him.
Realizing he has said something amiss, Garry cleared his throat. “I’ll—um—I’ll get out of your hair and let you two get settled in.” He ducked to give Storm a peck on the cheek. “Let me know if you need me later, ok?”
“You bet.” Storm gave him her famous devious smile and ran her hand down his chest.
“It was nice to meet you, Starr.” He gave her a nod.
Starr sighed. “Yeah, I’m sorry about the circumstances. I should’ve knocked…” She shook her head, attempted to dispel her negative attitude. “I’ll see you later—again—soon—I’m sure.” She waved, certain there was no way she could sound more awkward.
Garry hurried toward the door and stopped short. “Hi, there!” he said, looking at his feet. He was met with a hiss. He blinked indecisively, then side-stepped and let himself out.
As soon as the front door was shut, Starr raised her head. “You haven’t even been here for five hours!” she cried.
“What?” Storm spread her arms and shrugged. “He’s kinda cute and has a really awesome workshop in his basement.”
“He could be married!” The words were out before Starr had really considered the implications. She closed her eyes with an ache rising in her chest.
“I asked and I checked,” Storm said. Her tone was no longer so smug. “I promise, no women live in that house.”
Starr covered her eyes and nodded apologetically. Under her hand, she watched Storm’s feet cross the linoleum floor. Strong, familiar arms wrapped around her shoulders.
“How was it?” Storm asked. “Was it horrible?”
“Not really.” Starr leaned her head on her sister’s shoulder. “He left just after I got there to pack, and came back in time to help me load the truck.”
“I’m so sorry you have to go through this,” Storm said. “Ethan is shit. He’ll realize it soon enough.”
“I have a feeling he’s already realizing it.” Starr leaned up. She sniffed and wiped her eyes, but she had managed not to cry this time.
“Did he dump the bitch and beg you to stay?” Storm asked with a bitter edge to her voice.
“Oh, no.” Starr waved toward the door, where the U-Haul was waiting in the driveway. “I took all the dishes and kitchen appliances.”
Storm beamed with pride. “Now, that’s my sister.”
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