I Won Camp(!) + Discussing Battle Song’s Problems & Positives + Too Much Parenthetical Commentary

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Photo by samsommer on Unsplash–thank you!

Okay, so my Camp NaNoWriMo goal was less than any other NaNo goal I’ve had in the 4.5 years I’ve done it (only 20,000 words). But it’s been over a year since I won a NaNoWriMo event, so just winning felt awesome and like I could do amazing things.

Screenshot 2017-08-01 at 4.16.21 PMLook at my lovely chart…. Clearly, I did not do very well during the first half of the month (partly because I went on vacation for an entire week), but I pulled in by the very last day. (Go procrastination!) Not quite as awesome as the NaNo where I wrote 12K the last day to win, but still pretty great.

Also, this draft (rewrite?) is turning out much better than the first one–and also very different. It’s become more emotional (I hope) and a lot more centered on war and fighting and the results of that/how that affects people. But also still about family and religion and love and all of that fun stuff. (Not sure if I told you this, but there’s an actually semi-decent synopsis/blurb on the Battle Song page! *nudges you to check it out*)

But there’s still some stuff that I have yet to figure out. My biggest problem right now is figuring out what exactly Amrya traded with the sea witch. You see, the whole idea of this novel came about from the idea that the little mermaid traded in her beauty instead of her voice. But then…that didn’t work. It didn’t affect the story at all because it’s not about beauty or about a society that really cares about beauty.

So then I decided that she was going to trade out her fighting skills, but that didn’t work because when I began writing this second draft, Amrya’s personality changed a bit. Rather than liking being a warrior, she hates fighting and killing but feels honor-bound to do it. So giving up her fighting skills was not going to challenge her enough.

When I wrote the scene between her and the sea witch, I had her trade some heartscales, which are like tokens of war + mer currency, which worked but also doesn’t affect her after she becomes human.

Now I’m wondering, should I just have her lose her voice like the original? It would better follow the original fairy tale narrative, and I think I can make it work and still have decent character development, but I still don’t know if it will affect her enough. The story isn’t about not being able to communicate; it’s about not wanting to fight. And though having her lose her voice could work, I’m afraid that it’ll detract from the point I’m trying to get across.

(What is that point? you may ask… Well, probably something along these lines: life has value + war is sometimes necessary + family is important + faith + true love and friendship + something else maybe? But that’s what it seems like it’s heading toward.)

So…what do you think? Do you think that it’s okay to have her not trade anything that really affects her (considering that the part that really affects her is that she has to marry one specific person)? Should I have her lose her voice at the risk of it sounding like it was just put there because of the original fairy tale or would it work because it’s from the original fairy tale? Or maybe she just loses it partly (like only the magic part or only for a certain amount of time)? Or do I need to find something else entirely that would make it hard? I don’t know, but I just really need someone’s opinion besides my own.

Okay, we’ve talked about my issues with Battle Song; what about the good parts? Well, there are actually quite a few.

1. The mer culture decided it wanted to be something different and it was awesome. Like, it’s still the same basic warrior clan idea thing, and there’s still a lot I have to develop more fully, but there’s magic that’s awesome and relates to singing! (Points for reference to the little mermaid’s voice being important.) And I kind of figured out why they’re fighting…which kind of leads to the next point.

2. The big problems with the mers got figured out and incorporated into the plotline! The problems were:

  • Where did the mers come from?
  • Why don’t they have immortal souls while the humans do?
  • Why are they always fighting?
  • And I also figured out why the humans are fighting, so points for that too!

And I can’t tell you the answers (because spoilers) but they’re pretty great and are actually important to the plot.

3. The minor character becomes more important. So in the original, after the little mermaid saves the prince, some girls from a convent/temple find him and he thinks one of them was the one to rescue him (and the little mermaid can’t tell him otherwise because she can’t talk). Of course, he thinks he’ll never see her again (she is in a convent, after all), but–surprise! Turns out she’s a princess from a neighboring kingdom, just put there to learn “every royal virtue.” And then the prince falls in love with her and the little mermaid turns into seafoam and that’s the end.

Anyway, this princess (Malena is her name) made a brief appearance in the first draft of Battle Song, but she becomes much more important in this draft. Not only as the character from the original fairy tale but also as Amrya’s friend and the one who introduces her to the religion of the island (which I just now realize should probably get a name). And I wrote a scene with her yesterday and I learned some deep stuff about her and she’s a great character.

So yes, I have been having fun with it (despite all of the struggles)! Somehow I doubt I will finish this first draft before the end of summer…but I do want to keep writing every day and make this story as awesome as it can be!


let’s talk!

How much do you think I should write this August? 30K? More/less? And please help me and give me some advice for what Amrya should trade! (Or at least commiserate with me and offer me chocolate?) And what did you write for Camp NaNo (if you did)? How did it go? And have you ever read the original little mermaid fairy tale, and what did you think of it and its ending?

Also I hope you enjoyed the rambling because I did and I will probably ramble more about stuff in Battle Song, hehe.

I “Finished” Battle Song–Writing With the End in Mind

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I know, I know, you got so excited when you saw this. “Whoa, she finished her novel in a month? Awesome!”

Well, not really…but I did finish the end of Battle Song(Which was only about 5,000 words long…so not that awesome.)

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I was browsing on Pinterest and I saw a writing tip that said to start writing at the end, so that you know where you’re going with the story. Since I’m not an outliner, this sounded like a great idea to try. Normally, I never have endings planed out.

So I took some time to prepare (though, not too much, since I already had a basis of the world from last November, when I originally started Battle Song). I figured out a few main scenes I wanted to happen at the end, and then I decided to write it.

But every single scene didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to.

Some might call it a waste of time because I’ll probably only use two or three paragraphs plus some phrases of that ending, but I thought it was rewarding, and here’s why.

Because the ending turned out so much what I didn’t want, I figured out what I did want.

I took a few notes while I was writing, and here’s a few of them to show you what I mean:

When this is rewritten I need to do better at the dagger her sisters giving her being more tempting or something…this is a bit not intense enough, as if everything is already decided. There’s not enough realization.


Ugh, there’s so much explaining in the scene. I want Amrya to figure almost all of it out, if possible, and have <spoiler> be the cinching moment when it all comes together. So I’ll need more stuff throughout the book.


(And a good one.)

Ooh okay so she has this ancestry line… <spoiler spoiler> So as she’s learning more about them, she’s thinking about her ancestors, realizes that…interesting, hehe. Yay!


It was a great learning experience for me. These last few scenes were supposed to be pivotalintense scenes, and they just really weren’t. Writing them told me that I needed to bring more elements of the ending throughout the entire book, so that there would be traces and hints to what would happen from the very beginning.

Basically I need to foreshadow.

Additionally, writing the ending first helped me figure out what I really wanted with this story. What I wanted the reader to feel, to come away with. I’m still figuring it out, but I have a much better idea.

In the first version I started (that is, Battle Song 1.0, (this is 2.0)), Amrya trades her beauty rather than her voice. I realized that, as I was writing 1.0, I didn’t want that. It didn’t affect her enough.

As I tried to figure out the exact aspects of her deal with the sea witch, I was having a lot of trouble, but I came up with a few ideas. Writing the ending scene, when it came up again, helped me figure it outEven though I’m still not sure about it. But it’s better.

And religion! In the original story by Hans Christian Andersen, part of the reason the little mermaid wants to become a human and marry the prince is so that she can have an immortal soul. (The mermaids don’t have souls–they drift into seafoam at death–but marriage to a human would combine his soul with hers.)

It came up in 1.0, but I didn’t really realize how important I wanted it to be, and how much it affected the story. I was really intrigued by this aspect that Disney took out (well, they took out a lot of things), and as I planned and wrote this ending, it became a very integral part of the plot line.

(Not to mention that there was a little scene that was like a fluffy bit of goodness and I love it to death.)

Writing the end was pretty awesome, and it’s also helped me as I restart with Battle Song 2.0! I’ve written one chapter, and it’s pretty great, mostly because of the development I did. Everything is a lot more important to Amrya as a character and expressed in much better ways.

So, writing the end? I’d call it a success.


let us speak to each other wonderful words

Well…that was kind of a rambly post. What did you think? It was supposed to be a writing advice post but I think it turned into more of an update post, so…oops.

Have you ever tried writing/planning out the ending to your stories/novels first? How do you plan for your ending? How do you plan your novel–or do you? What things are absolutely essential to figure out before you start writing?

Oh, and check out Battle Song‘s new pageIt’s even got a synopsis and everything. *wink wink* Don’t ask me why I winked there. I just did.

Mermaid Clans, Fairy Tales, War, and Adorable Princes (a.k.a. my NaNoWriMo Novel)

It has clearly been too long since I last posted, but I have been busy. (And also procrastinating, but let’s just focus on the busy here, hehe.) Anyhow, I’m back today to ramble for a little while for the novel I’ll be writing for National Novel Writing Month this November!

If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is who are you child, it’s where you try to write a novel in a month. Obviously. If you want more info, head on over to http://nanowrimo.org/

Butttt my novel! Let’s talk about that. It’s called….drumroll please…Battle Song. And I’m sure you’re wondering what it’s about, and, to be honest, most of it’s in the title.

I actually did talk about it a bit in this post, which also had this picture I drew:

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Of course, at that point I didn’t know I’d be writing it for NaNoWriMo, and it’s more developed now, so I’ll just give you a quick summary right now. Basically, the idea is a retelling of The Little Mermaid where the mermaid loses her beauty rather than her voice, and also where the mermaids are a warrior society.

This idea has been developed more and I just want to ramble a little bit more about the stuff I’m really excited about, mentioned in the title.

Mermaid Warrior Clans

I am so happy about this. The MC is named Amrya il Osamarii, from the Osamarii clan. Basically there’s these huge family clans/tribes and they all war among themselves because…well, because I can’t resist having fighting or war in my stories. I just can’t. I’m pretty sure that there may also be something with some of the tail scales being valuable or increasing your position in society…but yes, they’re all warriors, including Amrya.

The reason I love this besides the whole warrior thing is that we get lots of new culture with a clan thing rather than a typical nuclear family, and there’s also going to be a strong theme of family. Amrya has five older sisters (or maybe only four, I can’t remember…), and one of the main points in the story is about her mother who died a while ago.

Her mother’s death is especially important because in the original Little Mermaid story by Hans Christian Andersen, the whole reason (besides love) the mermaid becomes a human is in order to have an immortal soul (which, of course, Disney took out) rather than turning into sea foam. So the whole sea foam/immortal soul/life after death is going to come into play in the novel, which I’m really excited for.

Fractured Fairy Tales

Okay, I just love fractured fairy tales and retellings and all that fabulous stuff. I’m just going to fangirl over those until the end of my days. I adore Ella Enchanted and also there’s some great ones by Jessica Day George that I read recently, and if you have any recommendations of adorable and awesome fairy tale retellings, please tell me.

I think it’s so interesting to see how many different twists you can take on one story, and I especially love the twist I’m going to be using. It’s going to be more about falling in love because of what you say and how you act and actual friendship rather than the annoying “love at first sight” stuff. Which’ll be great. And just people who are able to be actually in love and don’t just care about beauty. (I’ll probably talk about this more in the adorable princes section.)

And then I’m so excited to be writing a fractured fairy tale just because I get to include all of these extra little tidbits from the original story. Like, the palace is a yellow-ish color, and there’s a river thing that runs under the prince’s balcony where the mermaid watches him which, you know, isn’t creepy at all, and the girls who find the prince after the little mermaid has rescued him are actually part of a convent. There’s all sorts of cool reference things that help develop the culture, and I’m very excited.

War

I told you before, I can’t resist including a war in my novels. And just because continuous battles between the mermaids isn’t enough, the humans are also in a war. Is it bad that I’m already fangirling over this? And this is made so much better because the prince that Amrya is trying to get to marry her is also trying to deal with a war and generally just annoyed with her because of that. But since Amrya has grown up learning how to fight (and more than that, underwater, where it’s so much harder because of the water resistance), she gets to show off her sweet skills and totally be better than him. It’s wonderful.

Adorable Princes (who I just want to hug because they’re great)

This is possibly one of the things I’m most excited for. I always fall for romances with princes. (Ella Enchanted again.) They’re just my favorite, especially when the princes are so cute and sweet and just the perfect gentlemen.

And there are two fabulous princes in Battle Song. I can’t wait. I haven’t really developed their characters yet, not like I have with Amrya, but I know the basic idea about them. There’s the older brother (and the fact that they’re brothers makes this even better because siblings are fantastic), and he’s the crown prince. He’s a little arrogant and rude but I still love him so much because arrogant princes are so dramatic and fabulous. He also happens to be the one Amrya saves from drowning and also makes the deal with the sea witch to marry, but no way does he want to marry her.

But, there’s also the younger prince who is so squee-worthy because he’s one of the perfect gentlemen kind of guys. And he becomes Amrya’s friend and they’re adorable and sort of fall in love, all while Amrya’s trying to get the other prince to marry her before he marries anyone else. Which creates this love triangle-ish sort of thing, but it doesn’t really count because we all know who she’s supposed to end up with.

I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, but there’s this one scene that just makes me die a little inside when I think about it because of its cuteness. Basically, there’s that whole thing where, because the little mermaid’s deal with the sea witch, every step feels like stepping on knives, right? And, in the original fairy tale, there’s this scene where the little mermaid is hiking with the prince and her feet start bleeding. And so I decided that Amrya’s feet get worse as time goes on from walking on them, and they eventually start bleeding. She tries to hide it from everyone, but eventually the younger prince finds out–and basically adorableness ensues because he’s worried about her and gahhh the damsel in distress and valiant knight thing always get to me.

And the best part about the younger prince is that he loves Amrya even though the sea witch took away her beauty, because he knows who she is inside, and that’s what he loves. Which is exactly the kind of guy I want to marry me.

And one more thing that makes me excited and also a little nervous: I haven’t yet decided whether or not it will end happily. I mean, you look at any other fairy tale retelling, you start the book, and you know it’s going to end happily. But with The Little Mermaid, the original doesn’t end happily. And so you actually have a chance of a sad ending where things don’t work out, and the girl doesn’t get the guy, and it’s not happily ever after.

Which I both hate and love at the same time. I hate it because I want Amrya to have a happy ending and I love ships that work out and fall in love, and that’s how I feel it should be. But that’s also why I love the idea of a sad ending: it’s not supposed to end that way, and you know it. But, that’s how life is sometimes. There’s tragedies and pains and there’s all that feeling and that’s the part of me that wants it to end with the prince marrying someone else and Amrya turning into sea foam.

I’m undecided right now, and it’s possible I won’t even decide until the very end. I think I’m procrastinating the decision.


Anyhow, that was a very long post, but also very fun! Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this November? What are you writing? I’m so excited for Battle Song (if you couldn’t tell). Tell me what you think. Do you love fairy tales as well? Wars? Adorable princes? What are your favorite fairy tale retellings?

I’m Back! ~A Report~

Hello everyone! Remember how I said I was going to write up posts for last week and have them set to post while I was on vacation? Ha. That didn’t happen, obviously…but I’m here now and ready to give you an update on how things have been going for me, writing-wise.

So last week I went on a cruise through the Caribbean which was amazing! The ocean was so beautiful–look how pretty the water is:

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While on said cruise, I didn’t exactly do much writing. Did I finish my weekly writing goal? Ha again. Nope. But I did have a whole lot of new ideas for both my writing and for my blog while I was gone.

Firstly, a long time ago I told you about some plot bunnies I had, and one of them was a Little Mermaid fracture where she traded in her beauty instead of her voice to become human and walk on land? Well, that plot bunny came back with a vengeance. And so…what else could I do, especially since I was next to the ocean? I did a little bit of work on the plot bunny, including some character sketches of my MC (who still doesn’t have a name).

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Isn’t she just so beautiful?

Here’s another quick sketch of her looking off towards land:

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Her tail looks really weird in that one…I wasn’t sure how to draw it, but hey, it looks better than my first attempt at drawing a mermaid (which I will not be showing you).

And then I did a little bit of worldbuilding because that’s my favorite, and I decided that the race of mermen were not peaceful, and actually warred against themselves a lot. The greatest of warriors are raised up higher than all the others, and the MC is pretty darn good at fighting. So there’s this picture too:

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I’ll admit I didn’t exactly convey the seriousness and gravity of that merman dying in the corner…because really I just wanted an excuse to use pretty colors and draw the ocean. So it’s a happy picture of the MC killing someone. Yay.

Anyhow, that’s mainly the extent of my work on that plot bunny. Aside from that, some other things I thought about while on vacation:

For one thing, blindness. One of my uncles (who I’d never really met before) on the cruise was blind, and it really got me thinking about the little things that a blind person would have to think about. (It was especially interesting since in my first draft of Enhanced, Meryn was blind, and though she’s not now, she might become blind sometime in the series.)

My uncle sat next to my family at dinner, and one of the first interesting things that I noticed was that my aunt told him what each person had ordered for dinner. As I thought more about it I realized how frustrating it would be not to see something as simple as that. Having sight I never really took note of that, but it helped me realize how much I love to see details and little things like that. So it gave me a bit of a greater perspective on that, though I still can’t comprehend how hard it would be.

This also spurred on the idea of doing another “In My Characters’ Shoes” thingy (I did one a little while ago on Leaving Home), but this time on blindness. I’d wear a blindfold for one day or something…the one thing is I’m not sure how my family would react to that. I think they might laugh at me…but the insight is worth it, right?

I also want to do a Characters’ Shoes thingy on princess-y things or something, like embroidery, since you always hear in books about how hard it is to embroider/how much they don’t like it. (Actually, I have embroidered before, but it’s been a really long time and I’d like to try again.) I’m not sure what other princess-y things that I should do for it though…if you have any suggestions please tell me so I can do lots of fun princess stuff.

Oh, and I want one about swordfighting and other medieval stuff. (I thought it might be fun to try to clean something with whatever kind of soap they used in medieval times and see how hard it was.)

As far as other insights, spending time in the ocean was cool. I got to go swimming snorkeling and pet stingrays and go parasailing, all of which were awesome. The water is so pretty and so blue. In the shallower parts it’s aqua and turquoise and semi-green, and when you get farther out it’s this deep, rich blue. It’s just beautiful.

And under the water is even more beautiful. There’s all these fish, and this pretty green grass growing from the ocean floor, and by the coral reefs there are gorgeous plants and tons of fish in different sizes and colors. It really is a whole new world down there.

I don’t know if there’s anything else other than that that I wanted to talk about… Basically I didn’t do a whole lot on the writing I was supposed to be doing, but I did get a lot of inspiration and ideas and it was just awesome.

Hopefully next post I’ll actually have something other than random updates for you (as fun as these are). And maybe I’ll actually do some of those blog tags I need to finish…*nervous laughter*


How was your week? Have you ever been to the ocean? I thought it was amazing and I definitely recommend it (although saltwater in your eyes is not a fun experience, so don’t do that). Did you find any of my insights insightful to you? Ooh, do you have any ideas for what I should do for an “In My Characters’ Shoes” post (be it ideas for the princess one or a totally different one)? How is your writing going? Do you have any new ideas? Tell me all about it!