Know The Novel – Part Two: Within Project Sunset

good morning, cyberspace!

And we are back with another episode of Know The Novel!–the monthly writer’s linkup hosted by the inimitable Christine Smith! Last month, I talked about the (non-spoilery) details surrounding my current WIP, Project Sunset. This month, we’re going to take a deeper look into the process behind the writing!

If you’re a writer participating in NaNoWriMo–or even just a writer working on a book–I would highly recommend checking out this linkup. You can find the questions to Part One here, and Part Two right here! This linkup is such a fun way to connect with other writers, as well as a much-needed gentle reprieve from the absolute chaos that is writing a book in one of the craziest months of the year, so if you’re not participating already (or if you’ve never read Christine’s blog before), do yourself a favor and check both of them out immediately.

Or, ya know, after you finish reading this post. Because I’m also cool, apparently. XD

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Q1. How’s the writing going overall?

Honestly…? The writing has been going great. I was not expecting this second draft to be as fun and chaotic as it’s turning out to be, but obviously I’m not going to complain about that. I’ve been genuinely enjoying every single part of this second drafting process, and while I’m sure there will be struggles and mishaps along the way (goodness knows I’m writing this blog post to ignore one of them XD), the sheer joy of getting to be the writer of this novel is enough to push me through even the hardest of moments.

Q2. What’s been the most fun aspect about writing this novel so far?

Oh goodness. Does “everything” count as an answer? XD I love the characters. I love the setting. I love the new direction I’ve decided to take this book in. I love the fact that it’s a second draft. Every day is a new day to take myself away on an incredible adventure of fantasy and whimsy, and it’s honestly all just been a blast!

Q3. What do you think of your characters at this point? Who’s your favorite to write about?

Ugh, such a tough question! I love each and every one of the characters in this book, but I thiiink my personal favorites to write about right now are Fitz, Sam, and Ed. They’re kinda like the golden trio of characters for this novel, and their dialogue is just… honestly, I’m not sure if I’m writing them, or if they’re just whispering random things in my ears and letting me document it at this point.

I’m also very excited to finally get to my villain! I feel like that’s always such a crucial moment in any book, and–as of writing this–I’m only a couple short chapters away from reaching it! The antagonist underwent some serious motive construction during the outlining process, and I can’t wait to see how much this affects the way he interacts with the other characters…

Q4. Has your novel surprised you in any way?

Yes and no! Not gonna lie, it’s weirdly pleasant having not just an outline, but a whole first draft of wrong turns to work off of. I’ve found that most of the things I find “surprising” about this draft are the little things. Bits of character dialogue, a piece of exposition that I’m no longer attached to and cut out without a second thought, the fact that my characters are actually talking to me… I’m definitely enjoying this second-drafting process more than I expected to, which I guess also counts as a happy little surprise in and of itself!

There have been some unexpected surprises already, too, though. For instance, one of my characters, who I thought would appear in chapter one, decided to make her first appearance in chapter three instead. Which completely threw my outline off kilter, of course. But you know what? That’s okay. There’s still plenty of time for exploration in the second draft! (at least this is what I tell myself.) Whether or not it’ll stick for future drafts remains to be seen, but currently, it’s working. (and that is also a surprise. XD)

Q5. Have you come across any problem areas?

Not….really? *knocks furiously on the nearest piece of wood* Currently everything seems to be rather smooth sailing, but about the time I say that, Life will throw down a big ol’ Uno Reverse and it’ll all come crashing down around me. BUT! So far the only issue I’ve had was with finding motivation to work on chapter five, which is home to some Big Exciting Things in the world of plot development! However, I just finished that chapter, so now I’m taking some time to rest and blog before diving into Chapter Six, and I’m honestly super super excited to get back to it. This book is such a blessing to me right now. I don’t know as if I’ve ever had more fun drafting something than I’m having right now. It makes all the hard days and sleepless nights worth it.

Q6. What’s been your biggest victory with writing this novel at this point?

Oh goodness! Hard question… Honestly, I think my biggest victory has been putting aside my fear of the inner editor. Technically, I’m revising, which means the inner editor is hard at work trying to convince me that everything I write must be perfectly polished and reader-ready as soon as it touches the page, but that’s so far from the truth it’s laughable. All I have to do right now is restructure my messy first draft into something even slightly coherent, and that is legit the biggest relief. Yes, I want it to be readable, but I’m not allowing myself to get bogged down in the nitty gritty quite yet. This draft is still allowed to be fun and quirky and slightly random, and I’m quite okay with that!

Q7. If you were transported into your novel and became any one of the characters, which one do you think you’d be? Would you take any different actions than they have?

Ohhhhhh… This one is fun. So I think personality-wise, I’d probably be Shelby. She’s bubbly and slightly obnoxious, but also has a fiery temper when needed, and if that doesn’t sound like me I honestly don’t know what does… XD As far as actions go, I think I’d probably do much of the same as she’s been doing! Which is… kinda unfortunate as she’s DEFINITELY made some terrible mistakes even in the first couple chapters, but like… we won’t talk about that. Aha. I also think that for her age, she’s making the best decisions she can reason with at the moment. A twelve year old’s mind isn’t going to consider everything that age will teach you, and that has been such a FUN dynamic to play with…

Q8. Give us the first sentence or paragraph then 2 (or 3!) more favorite snippets!

Oh. Oh my. *hides underneath carpet* Well, this is awkward…

All right, peasants. Let’s get this out of the way, then…

First up we have our first sentence. Or rather, what will BECOME our first sentence once I delete the excess fluff that I wrote in to warm myself up on the first day of NaNo.

It was a typical day in Westwood—as typical as most Mondays can go, that is—and our hero, Edward Whittaker, had just rolled out of bed.

Next up, a short clip between two of our main characters in chapter one!

Ed crunched into the corner of his toast instead of responding, and a grimace slid onto his face. How could something look so dark and yet taste so cold?
“I don’t suppose you remember what day it is?”
He knew precisely what day it was, actually, but he wasn’t going to give Beau the satisfaction of knowing that.
“Monday, I do believe.”
“Yes. But which Monday, specifically.”
“A rather boring one.”

And last but NEVER the least, one of my favorite paragraphs of all time…

She was brave. She was strong. She was hidden. She was—
A sharp rumble tore through the floor, and Shelby squeezed her eyes shut, blocking out the last remaining shreds of light that leaked in through the foggy trunk. The van lurched beneath her.
She was getting abducted.

And that’s all you’re getting, folks! I’m gonna go bury my head in a sandbox now…

Q9. Share an interesting tidbit about the writing process so far! (For example: Have you made any hilarious typos? Derailed from your outline? Killed off a character? Changed projects entirely? Anything you want to share!)

After much deliberation, I realized I know absolutely nothing about my own writing process and decided to ask for some outside information.

Which obviously means I went to my mom for help.

The Office Finger Guns GIF

And she actually brought up a very solid point about me that I… hadn’t really thought of? Apparently–and I can attest to the truth of this–sometimes, after having worked countless hours on perfecting my plans for a scene or a character or a specific plot point, I’ll be writing said scene, and everything will just… completely fall apart. Because of a character’s decisions.

A character who is entirely and completely inside of my control.


I don’t know, guys. I know some writers say that their characters have minds of their own, too, so maybe I’m not alone in this? But there have been so many moments where my characters have just completely tipped everything upside down because of things they’ve done or said. And it’s crazy to think that even though I’m technically the writer, there are some things–such as my characters and their unpredictability–that are completely outside of my realm of control. And that, my friends, is really odd.

Also a goose randomly appeared in chapter two and I don’t know what to make of that. XD

Q10. Take us on a tour of what a normal writing day for this novel looks like. Where do you write? What time of day? Alone or with others? Is a lot of coffee (or some other drink) consumed? Do you light candles? Play music? Get distracted by social media (*cough, cough*)? Tell all!

Oooh! I’ve always wanted to analyze how I write, so this is really exciting!

So my writing days are split in two between days that I work, and days that I DON’T work. And, shockingly, the days that I work are typically the days that I get the most words in? Idk, man, it doesn’t make any sense to me. XD

On days that I don’t work and I’m feeling particularly motivated (a.k.a. days when I don’t have anywhere to be and my sole focus is to write), my writing day typically starts at around 10 am. I’ll clean my room, read my bible and journal, and then I’ll buckle down with my laptop on the floor in front of my reading chair and start writing. I’ll write until about 12 o’clock, break for lunch, and then spend some time with Durachi. If I’m feeling especially inspired by the story or am not pleased with my progress from earlier, I’ll write some more in the afternoon, with way too many breaks for instagram scrolling some breaks in between, but honestly, the days I’m off work are pretty chill. If I’m not participating in a 5k day or anything especially fancy, I’m okay with 1,000 words or so. (unless I’m fast drafting. then my expectations are MUCH higher. XD) But for this second draft, I’m focusing more on the quality than quantity, and it’s been a process that’s working! (despite the fact that I’m totally falling behind on NaNo, but SHHHH. it’s fine. the story is happy.)

On days that I work, my day is once more cut into whether I open or work mid-shift. If I open (and it’s a normal work day), I’ll get off about 11:30 am, so I’ll come home, eat lunch, let Durachi come out and play for a while, and then sit down around 3 o’clock and write until it’s time to make dinner. Having this more rigid structure (aka only two hours to write) to the day actually really helps me buckle down and write words, which is…weird. Because I used to be a night owl with my writing, but now I’m more of a mid-day flamingo? IT MAKES NO SENSE.

If I work Mid, I have to be to work at 11, so I’ll get up, eat breakfast, and then write for about 45 minutes before heading off. Typically I’ll be able to write some more before bed later, as well, but my night writing is typically held for blogging or other such things, so I don’t really focus too much on storywork after dark. (sorry Past Kenzie. night writing just isn’t for me anymore. XD)

As far as music goes, I have a whole blog post dedicated to my novel writing playlist, which I feel makes it pretty apparent that I’m a diehard music person. I LOVE listening to music while I write, particularly music with words, which I realize is actually kinda weird? Most writers listen to lyric-less words, but me? Nope. I apparently need ALL OF THE WORDS swirling in my head in order to craft a story.

I also LOVE drinking Dr. Pepper while I write. Sometimes I like tea, but usually it’s Dr. Pepper. (heating up water is too time consuming. also I have a fear of burning the house down.) In fact, I’ve been told that I may drink too much Dr. Pepper for my already extroverted personality…? But like… it’s fine. Everything is fine.

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All right, folks, that’s it for my answers to Part Two of the Know the Novel Linkup! Once again, you can find the blank sheet of questions and more information about this wonderful linkup right here at Christine’s blog, so definitely make sure you check that out if you’re interested in participating or reading more posts like this one! And a huge THANK YOU to Christine for putting this all together! This is my favorite linkup ever, and I’m so excited to be participating in it this year!

talk to me, peasants!

how’s your NaNoWriMo project coming along, friend? have you been able to stay on top of your writing goals, or are you–like me–struggling to play catch up just a little bit? we still have over half of November to write, my friends, so don’t get discouraged quite yet! I sense good things are on their way!

As always, let’s talk about ALL OF THE WRITING THINGS down in the comments below! And until next time…

* flings cookies in the air and disappears *


6 thoughts on “Know The Novel – Part Two: Within Project Sunset

  1. So glad the writing is going so well for you! It gives me hope for my second drafts, honestly…I just sort of “restarted” my writing life, so I have about 1.5 first drafts (plus about 90% of a short story first draft) and I haven’t attempted a second draft in SO LONG, and honestly, it scares me. XD

    It’s always so fun when characters surprise you, though! My characters have definitely surprised me a time or two, and it’s weird when it’s hard to tell if it was me or them who came up with that crazy thing. :)

    Hurrah for silencing one’s inner editor! You go, girl!


    I can’t believe we’re halfway through NaNo! You’re doing amazing, keep up the good work!!


    • Oh my goodness!! You have no clue how much that means to me, Samantha!!! And EEP! Restarting your writing life sounds SO nice! I think my official “restart” point was when I was 16. I’d been writing for years earlier, but that’s when I decided that this is what I eventually wanted to do full-time! I hope your restart is as refreshing and exciting as mine was!!! (and don’t be scared! It’s SO much fun!!!!)

      YessssSSS!!! Isn’t that odd? I always love the twists they provide eventually, but in the moment I’m like “PLEASE JUST LISTEN TO THE OUTLINE. PLEASE, SIR.” XD

      Meep! Thank you SO much!!! Sharing snippets kinda terries me, but ya know. It can also be super super fun. XD


  2. EEP. This whooole post just makes me absurdly happy! That is the absolute best the first bit of NaNo has treated you so wonderfully. You are ROCKING this thing, girl! And it makes it 1000x better when you love your novel so very much! <333


    These are making me laugh SO HARD. Oh my WORD. ” I'm already so utterly in love with these characters! Ed is a RIOT. I can't even! I totally lost it at “A rather boring one. And SHELBY. Poor baby! She sounds like the most delightful disaster sunshine child. These snippets made like MY ENTIRE WEEK. Oh my goodness gracious, I cannot wait to one day read alllll this delicious Kenzie goodness! We needs it precioussss!!!

    And okay but I 1000% know EXACTLY what you mean about the characters just ripping the reins out of your hands and tearing off into the unknown. It IS a weird thing and something so, so hard to explain to non-writers. Because, like, technically we're the one writing it??? It's coming from our own minds?? But but but it doesn't FEEL like it. Things just come out and I don't know WHERE they came from but I have no choice but to go along with it. Writing is so weird. And amazing.

    This was such a delight getting a peek into your NaNo so far! Thank you for joining the linkup!!! It's such a treat for me reading these posts. I do hope this second half of NaNo is an absolutely AMAZING one and your characters bring you along on some utterly epic adventures! :D


    • EEP!!! This comment just made my day, not gonna lie. XD I’m always so terrified to share my snippets with the world, but seeing you enjoy them makes it less frightening! XD Also Shelby IS a disaster chaos child, and I am just so wholeheartedly in love with her! She’s definitely going to be a handful… That much is certain. XD

      YES!!! YOU PUT THE THING INTO WORDS!! We’re definitely the ones writing it down, but I think perhaps there are tiny little hobgoblins in my brain that are pulling the strings 9 times out of 10. XD *I* definitely did not come up with the craziness I’m writing. Definitely not. XD

      Meep! Thank YOU so much for creating it! I can’t wait to do Part Three! (I may or not already be working on my submission for it.. Mwahahaha!)


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