Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Success: Win Or Lose by Angie Richmond

I’d like to say that the idea for my NaNo story came to me in some brilliant fashion. An epiphany that shone down upon my unsuspecting brain like a ray of light from the Heavens above. Time and space slowing, almost standing still, and a chorus of angels singing “Ahhhhh” around me.

Truthfully, I can’t remember how I came up with the idea. 

What I do know is that:

a)   It came to me many months ago.
b)   It probably has something to do with my…ummm… completely healthy and absolutely normal obsession with Britain.
c)   The story has been gnawing at me since.
Though I do recall, as I was blow-drying my hair one afternoon, part of the plot worked itself out. A ray of heat from above instead of light? Close enough!

 This story has been hounding me, begging me to start it. And why haven’t I started it? I’m glad you asked!

The plot is tricky. Well, tricky for me anyway. It spans hundreds of years. My focus will be on three specific centuries in British history: The 17th century during the Plague, the 19th century focusing on Jack the Ripper and the 20th century focusing on WWII.

Oh and here’s the kicker. It takes place all in the same house and is based on actual facts. That’s right, I’m attempting to tie fact with fiction.  Scary, I know.

You see I am a stickler for facts. I enjoy historical fiction but I’m rather hard on the author. I once started reading a novel about Mary Queen of Scots and in her dialogue she used the word cool.

Okay, I admit I am no historian, but I can GUARNTEE Mary Queen of Scots was unlikely to say something was cool unless she was referring to the weather. And even then I’m not 100% sure.  Needless to say I never finished the book.

Note: If you have read anything by Diana Gabaldon you’ll understand she has ruined me for substandard historical fiction. And I love her for it!

So writing a historically accurate novel is, in fact my biggest challenge to date. It’s the reason I haven’t started it. I fret that I’ll become so bogged down in the facts that I’ll be paralyzed by them and unable to proceed.

But then I stumbled upon NaNoWriMo.

NaNo is perfect! I’ll have to keep writing no matter what to reach my 50,000-word target. There won’t be time to stop, stare off into space and ponder whether or not I’ve captured Just the facts Ma’am!

With that said, I’m not going in blind either. I’m doing my homework and researching as much as I can before I start. This way I can satisfy my internal critic just a little bit.

This will be my first NaNo. The first year I’m attempting to finish something in a month. Kind of a big first time goal. What have I got myself into?

Of course I hope to win. Complete all 50,000 words before the looming deadline approaches. Oh and did I mention I want to finish with time to spare? Yeah, I’m ambitious and perhaps a little insane.

Do I think I’ll succeed? Only time will tell. I’m a writer not a fortuneteller!

But even if the 50,000-word target escapes me, I’ll still be pleased. It’s the satisfaction of starting this long awaited story that I’m searching for.

Success, in my humble opinion.  

How do you measure success? Are you aiming for the win or just the fun of NaNo?

A 30-something part-time writer, full-time corporate droid born in the Great White North - a.k.a. Canada - living in a city known for its unpredictable weather. Angie Richmond (@write_Me_happy) grew up playing puppet master to her Barbie dolls, putting them in all sorts of terrible, life-threatening situations just for her own pleasure. As an adult, she realized it would be in her best interest to pack up the dolls and write. Her characters, like her dolls, have hard lives and terrible decisions to make. Her writing has been described as dark yet comical, which suits her just fine. She’s currently working on her second novel, The Reaper’s Bride.


  1. Writing an historically accurate novel during Nanowrimo (even playing fast and loose with the facts) is a task I probably wouldn't even take on, personally -- which makes your post all the more awesome. Good luck! I hope you'll keep people updated on how it goes through November.

    Also, I love your bio.

  2. Oh, and to answer the question, I tend to measure success in terms of significant forward motion. Some days, I can bust out an entire chapter or thousands of words. Other days, even a paragraph is a struggle. I can't count those latter days as failures, or I'm sunk. So, setting modest goals and then trying to wildly exceed them tends to work for me.

  3. Thanks Daniel! I will make sure to keep everyone post on my progress! Setting modest goals seems to be the best bet.

  4. Like Daniel, I like to keep my goals small and attainable. The key to success, for me, is not aiming too high. If I tried to leap from Point A to Point B in one go, I'd just wind up falling on my face. Better to use the stepping stones and make smaller jumps. So instead of looking NaNo as 50,000 daunting words, I look at it as 1,667 challenging but attainable words every day. And then I look at each day's goal as sitting and pounding out 500 little words four times.

    But it's not even about the numbers, really. In the end, even if I don't make my word count for some reason, I'll still feel incredibly accomplished because I STARTED WRITING A NOVEL. I mean, how many people can say that? Any progress toward my goal of finishing and publishing said novel is a success, as far as I'm concerned.

    And on a side note, Diana Gabaldon is amazing. :D

  5. Welcome to the NaNo madness!

    I have yet to write something that's truly "historical fiction", though depending on how you do it, Steampunk can toe that line!

    Success in NaNoWriMo is making the word limit, as honestly as possible. I visit the NaNo forums and read the "dirty tricks" threads, scratching my head in befuddlement. Why do it if you're going to cheat? I want as close to a "real" book as possible, not something studded with full renditions of "99 bottles of beer on the wall" because somebody's on a school bus trip.

    Success in writing? Well, right now, I aim small. Getting the story out. Getting it on the page, there and saved, so I can go back later and make it readable. Or, if already readable, make it wonderful. Hopefully.

  6. Diana Gabaldon is seriously my Hero! I'm trying to focus on the daily total as well. 50,000 in a month is just mind-blowing for me right now.

  7. It's my first year too! I'm curious about your story, although it's not in my normal genre. I hope to see it at the finish line!

  8. Thanks, and good luck on your first NaNo!!

  9. I agreed. Writing historical fiction that is truly accurate is a daunting task. I'm hoping to accomplish a novel that doesn't scream...FAKE! or some such. :)

  10. Well, for purposes of NaNo especially, you can Wikipedia it enough to fake it, and then go back and further authenticate during rewrites. Learning enough to fake it is something I live by with my fiction, though sometimes I also research something exhaustively because it's absolutely fascinating, only to use it as the barest flavor in the work itself.

  11. I love your story idea Angie! The freshman class of NaNoWriMo this year (including myself) has sop amazing potential to reach 50,000+ words. I look forward to seeing you progress in this novel!

  12. Some not *sop

  13. I really enjoy researching facts. I love learning for the sake of learning. Especially history :)

  14. Thanks Kenon! Good luck on your novel!

  15. Hello, Angie! I love your column, and your book sounds amazing. Hope to see you in NaNo!

  16. Me neither! I'm afraid of history, but I admire people who bravely take it on. NaNo has always been more fun for me. So here's to a fun round this year!!!