(Revamping the blog. Please excuse the odd headings. Working on it!)

Writing History & Mysteries

When I'm not delving into historical research, I'm planning a character's demise.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Getting Through NaNoWriMo and Blogging A-Z

The photo depicted in my April Blogging A-Z Challenge and Camp NaNoWriMo mini-mystery is a view of Silver Lake in the village of Castile, NY. Lamont is a hamlet in the town of Pike, NY. Both are in the county of Wyoming where I live. I am also the Assistant County Historian for Wyoming County. Lamont is not the active community I depict, that is where imagination comes in. The lake however, is quite the lively spot in the summer and a beautiful place for boating and picnicking. More on those in another post. :)

Before the very first post, “A is for Adze” I warned you I would be writing on the fly and there would be plot holes. Why? Because it’s a first draft. If any writer thinks their work is brilliant the first time around, they are doing themselves and their writing a disservice. I haven’t looked back over my A-Z story yet. I’ll let it sit for a while before I take a serious look at it all the way through. When I do, I will see there are many things I need to correct if I decided to do more with it.

I like writing panster style, some people like outlines. Some people go back and edit before they keep going. I find if I do that it slows down the momentum of the writing itself. Some people get hung up in details that don’t matter yet. Why edit to the max when it’s something you may cut later when you are ¾ into it and decide it no longer fits? All that pre-editing was wasted time. Save the details for the editing phase.

In fact, I didn’t go back and look until I got to the letter T. By that time, since it’s a mystery, I had to make sure to tie up my clues and red herrings. If I turn this into something it would need some added work. Here are the things I can think of off the top of my head:

1)      I should have had another character for Clayton to interact with when Pepper went off the grid. I had no idea she was going to get kidnapped of course, until I sat down and typed it. I think the story needs someone for Clayton to bounce things off of while Pepper is held hostage. I added a couple minor characters so poor Clayton wasn’t talking to himself but I didn’t want to add more names for the reader to remember so late into the story. Instead, I just called them “tech” or “officer” as placeholders. If I expand on this story I would develop the minor characters more, and introduce them earlier.

2)      I mixed up Brewster and Webster a few times. Thank you readers for telling me as you guys wouldn’t know if it was an error or something mysterious I was doing on purpose. Those I did go back and correct because it was on the internet and I didn't want to confuse readers just coming into the story.

3)      I have some weak verbs but that I can fix. I’m normally mindful of my adverbs, especially the “ly” ones that tend to irritate me. (See how easily they sneak in?) There are a few, and some words I overuse, but I can eliminate most of that if I rewrite the sentences.

4)      I have some passive voice too and areas where I mixed my tenses. I realized a lot of it when I did it, but I knew if I stopped right then and messed with it too long I would lose the momentum in the flow of the scene.

5)      Editing is the time for the technical stuff. If you are doing a NaNoWriMo event don’t stop writing because you think you need to know right now the answer to some issue before you go forward. Don’t get hung up on the little things. If I go back over my A-Z mystery to edit, this would be the point where I would ask my county deputy about the ins and outs of warrants or the forensic guys about crime scenes specs, not while I’m trying to finish the NaNoWriMo challenge. For the moment, while writing the story, I mention them, but leave the details as “behind the scene” elements.

6)      I would definitely contact the folks at Forensic Outreach about lopping off someone’s head with an adze, would it be a clean cut if sharp enough, etc. But for the sake of the NaNo first draft, that’s a detail I can address in edits.

7)      I forgot I put a pistol in Pepper’s leg holster in F. I didn’t realize it until I got to T and looked back to tie up my ends. I mentioned it in W and after. Did I stop and research guns for hours before I chose one? Nope. I would have spent 10 minutes at the most on the internet, typed in “small guns” and picked one. Don’t waste hours looking up one thing. It's called procrastination. This is time wasted when you should be writing.

8)      The pistol I thought I picked at random for Pepper to carry was originally a Sig Sauer .45, something small. Here is where my subconscious kicked in. We are a hunting and target shooting family. When I talked to my hubby about the gun he got up and walked away. I thought, how rude is that? When he came back he showed me his Sig Sauer 380. Silly me, I then remembered targeting shooting with that when he first got it. Since I knew it was light and easy to handle I changed it from a .45 to a 380. The only other correction to the story I made while writing.

So there you have it. It wouldn’t have occurred to me in January that I would complete a murder mystery in the month of April. All in all, I am pleased with myself for going from beginning to end in 30 days and coming up with a story I can expand upon if I wish.

If I were to expand my mini-mystery into a novel or even just a novella, it would need a few rounds of edits. A writer can’t skim over this step. If you do, it will show. If you want to put forth the best writing possible, you need to be patient and do it right. You will be glad for it in the end.

If you’ve read my story and can think of anything else amiss, you can tell me in the comments below. (You can also go to the recap page and read it now.) I’m a big girl. I take constructive criticism well, in fact I welcome it. If I were to expand on the story for publication, I would want to know if something didn’t work before I published, not after.

Thank you for visiting my blog during April and thanks to those who donated a word of the day for the Blogging A-Z portion of the challenge. It made the story all the more fun to create. 



  1. neat project, I only caught a couple days here & there, & enjoyed them - I found it difficult to keep up (and get the one computer away from my family!) now I'd like to sit down and read your month! That is quite an accomplishment to finish a whole draft right here!

  2. AnonymousMay 02, 2013

    I loved the story... I went into reading it knowing it was a 1st draft... off the top of you lovely mind... with the added stress of making the "word of the day" work... you knocked this project out of the park! I hope you do move on with the story... it has left me wanting more! They are strong characters and this post tells me you know where to take some of them. I knew the locations here in Wyoming Co, but for the story the mix worked well..... Jen

  3. Thanks Diana and Jen. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  4. I enjoyed the story and didn't notice the mistakes you mentioned. I used to live on a lake like the one in the picture. It was in Michigan. There was plenty of crime but nothing like the adze murder.

  5. I have nominated you for a Liebster Award. Go to this post to find out more: http://www.dlshackleford.com/liebster-award/


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