BONUS – Coaching Session #3 with Elizabeth Wood (video, show notes, transcript)
In this special bonus episode, Miss Catherine M.H. and V.E. Griffith coach Elizabeth Wood talk through her check-in after finishing Nano!
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V.E. Griffith’s website: https://www.vegriffith.com
Miss Catherine M.H.’s website: https://www.scribes-pen.com
Miss Catherine M.H. 0:00
Hey everybody, welcome back to our wonderful coaching session here with Elizabeth. Whoo. And it is the end of November, which means it is the end of NaNoWriMo. Well, you still got a few more hours depending on what time zone you’re in. But let’s start off with how are you doing with your nano?
Elizabeth Wood 0:22
Well, my word count is 52,977.
Miss Catherine M.H. 0:27
V.E. Griffith 0:27
Elizabeth Wood 0:28
Oh, I think I think I did it. Um, certainly isn’t something I would show to anybody. It was I’m definitely proud of being able to complete it. Being as it’s my first real long form work. I did, I think I did really well. So
Miss Catherine M.H. 0:54
awesome. You should give yourself like a high five for it. Because doing that amount of work is very difficult. So yeah, it’s definitely congratulations.
Elizabeth Wood 1:11
I definitely got into the zone at times and ended up ignoring people and staying up way too late. And you know, once I got into the groove, though, it was just, you know, how fast can my fingers take me and, you know, some nights I type out. There’s one day where I typed out 10,000 words in a day. And then there was another day where, you know, 2000, and then I think, what was I was giving him some daily totals as I was going by, but they were like, oh, five and 6000. You just kind of get into the groove. And yeah, anybody can do it. Really? It’s, I mean, it may not look very good, but anybody can do it.
Miss Catherine M.H. 1:53
Okay, so that will bring me to
V.E. Griffith 1:55
my I always tell people, if they’re going to attempt now know that they need to embrace the suck.
Elizabeth Wood 2:02
Embrace the suck.
Miss Catherine M.H. 2:05
Yes, definitely embrace the suck. It will, it’ll suck. But hey, that’s what editors are for. Right? VE.
V.E. Griffith 2:15
That’s what we do.
Miss Catherine M.H. 2:17
So, um, I guess my next question would be, what do you think of the story in the term of is it almost complete? Are you not near completion? Where do you see your story still going?
Elizabeth Wood 2:38
My story is all over the place. I had some some things happen that, you know, I needed to take some aggressions out. So I ended up with an offshoot of an offshoot of an offshoot with the story. So it went in a whole bunch of different directions. So I have like the main story that’s about 10,000 words long. And then the off shoots are various lengths after that. And I’m definitely having a lot of fun developing the characters were like a bunch of the offshoots probably aren’t going to end up in the main story. But they’re fun to write. Getting to know the characters, and just being able to vent has been very rewarding there. But definitely nowhere near completion. The story has definitely taken much better shape. I know where I’m going with it. So, you know, that’s been one of my big hurdles is, you know, I’ve always had little scenes of hey, this is, you know, one day this thing happened, but it really had no rhyme or reason to it, and then I couldn’t connect them all. And now I kind of have a way of putting them sort of in order in a order not maybe a good order, but an order. Make something that’s a bigger whole.
Miss Catherine M.H. 4:00
Now, are you still pantsing this or are you still plotting? Where where are you falling in this zone?
Elizabeth Wood 4:09
Yes, ma’am. I’m absolutely pantsing 100%. You know, it, you know, it’s the, what I have written looks like a really huge outline is basically what happened. You know, I took your suggestion, and I did a lot. Not even really parentheses. I ended up bringing up basically a whole new document and that is my parentheses in some of these, some of these occasions, so, you know, it got to a point well, you know, what if and then I just decided that would actually just be fun to write so I did it anyway. Even if it’s not relevant.
Miss Catherine M.H. 4:50
That’s okay. Now, you’re, you’ve, you’ve done a lot of the the sidetracks and off and you’re doing a lot of the pantsing. How does do you think nano helped you with writing?
Elizabeth Wood 5:08
Oh, it definitely made me more confident about actually doing it. A lot of times, it would be, you know, up in my head, and it would be excuses not to write or whatever. But it’s nice to have something concrete that I’ve done to show me that I can actually do it. And that it is possible to have something that’s significant, rather than, you know, the most that I had ever written before nano was, I think it was a six page short story in college that was 20 times worse than what this is. So it was definitely a challenge. I love challenges, and just trying to beat it or win. And I’m happy that I was able to do that.
Miss Catherine M.H. 6:01
Awesome. So from this, because this is coaching, and you’ve still got, you know, a book to finish, what habits, do you think you’re going to try to continue? And what ones would you like to change?
Elizabeth Wood 6:15
You know, I’m definitely if I get the itch to write, I’m absolutely going to do it now. And we’ve got the resources to do it. I had a friend that was very, very kind enough to gift me with some software. And I started with campfire. The modules and campfire are absolutely overwhelming, because they’re so open. But I have loved playing around with those. And helping me kind of situate my characters and keep things linear. So what I like to do is I definitely want to continue using something like campfire or in somewhat of a one as a quick guide or little quick reference guide for my characters in the futures if I don’t have access to campfire for whatever reason. That’s definitely an yes story Bible. That’s see I’m not a writer. But yeah, it’s a good story Bible, I think is definitely something that I’m going to continue in and just you know, it didn’t doesn’t necessarily matter if it’s beautiful language or even, you know, something that’s all that descriptive, as long as I’ve got kind of a skeleton of this is what happened. And then this happened. And this happened. I can at least get through the story and have something that’s presentable, but something that I can work with in the future.
Miss Catherine M.H. 7:49
Yeah, and you definitely want to make sure that even if it’s not pretty, it’s something you understand.
Elizabeth Wood 7:55
Miss Catherine M.H. 7:56
So it doesn’t matter if this is something you’re going to show to someone or somebody is going to pick it up and read it, it matters that you understand it. So if you open it up and it goes like he had the heebie jeebies, you have to understand what that means, right? So make sure that whatever cheat code you’re using, you definitely, you know what it is. That is That is my suggestion. And once again, too, if you change something, put that change into your story Bible. So like from here on out, this is what it will be. So you will know what it’s supposed to be. And you can go back and fix that later on. You start going backwards, and you’re going to start getting into the Oh, but I could fix this. Oh, and I can add this and oh wait, what about this, and you’ll never finish because you keep going back. I made that mistake. Because hey, you’re pantsing and you will pants yourself into corners. That’s fine to go back for to be like, wait a moment, this isn’t working. Here’s where it stopped working. But if you’re like nothing’s working, I’m gonna go edit the beginning of the book. Yeah, you’re writing a whole brand new book by the time you get to that section again. Make sense? V.E., any other advice when it comes to pantsing a novel?
V.E. Griffith 9:24
Not really. I did have a question though. Now that you’ve done this for a month, and and you’ve done it pretty intensively, if you managed to get 50,000 words in a month, that’s a lot. Nano is a challenge. What did you learn about your writing process or about yourself that you’re going to take forward as a negative, I did this I’m not going to do it again.
Elizabeth Wood 9:48
Definitely not create seven different documents.
It got to the point where like, especially my story had become so long. And the offshoot was just supposed to be sort of a one off thing. But it became multiple things. And so I had kind of documents floating everywhere. And VE was asking me, Hey, what’s your word count on? Like, I have no freaking idea. It’s 10,000. Here are 2000 here, and I think another five, six thousand here. So it’s a simple order a math, but I don’t know. So, um, you know, definitely being more organized and keeping track. That’s, that’s something it’s not not not having a huge mess. It’s not something that I’m going to continue to do going forward. You know, there wasn’t a whole lot about it, that maybe I didn’t learn from it. But it’s all things I would do going forward aside from the organization things. Most of it, I just kind of let go freely. You know, I definitely wish that I had a better outline start from
V.E. Griffith 11:10
Elizabeth Wood 11:13
not reading it up a week before Nano was probably a good plan.
Miss Catherine M.H. 11:18
So a quick question, when you say you have seven documents up, what are you writing in?
Elizabeth Wood 11:25
Miss Catherine M.H. 11:26
Okay. So I do this as well, I write in Google Docs. But if you’re going to want to keep it all in one spot, think about color coding, your main story is in black. If you’re going to start writing a sub thing, put it in blue. If you’re going to write a different one, put it in green. But anytime you go back to the main story, put it in black. Okay, well, when you’re looking through it, you know exactly where pieces are.
Elizabeth Wood 11:56
The big issue with Google Docs was that, especially once I got up to 10,000 words, and I didn’t quite remember exactly what the name of something was, because I just decided to kind of on the fly to have a name in there. And I really didn’t think it was going to be important later on the story, when it actually kind of did turn out to be really important. So I go and I tried to go find it, but I didn’t know what the name of it, so I can’t find it. And then I get completely lost in the story. It’s definitely not user friendly, as far as that is concerned. And that became a little bit of an irritating nightmare.
Miss Catherine M.H. 12:32
Another suggestion, then for that is the moment you name something, write it in your story Bible.
Elizabeth Wood 12:38
Miss Catherine M.H. 12:40
Write it and then give yourself a so you can do a searchable sentence. So you can highlight the sentence that you put it in, put it there. So if you ever you need to search for it in Google Docs or anything, you can search that sentence. Another way you can do it is was on this page. But that also doesn’t help me because sometimes I’ll go back and be like this chapter needed to be here. And now all of my pages are screwed up. So I would definitely look for the I’ve named it this person is here or this place, this is the name, this is the sentence. And then if ever, you need to go back, you can look that up. I really wish I had taken my own advice on that because I am currently editing through a section. And I have lines where I’m supposed to fill in the blank. And I didn’t give myself the brackets of hey, this is what I mean for you to fill in. It took me 30 minutes to figure out what I was trying to have told myself. And if I need to go look at the map that I mentioned in like chapter 20. And I was like I only mentioned the map once. Why why did I do this to myself? So yeah, definitely look like name something, put it in a spot. Because if you’re pantsing you also don’t want to do a thing where you kill the same character multiple times because you forgot what their names were. I’ve known people who do that, or change the eye color. Like you suddenly make a character. Here’s what they look like real quick. Bam, I’ve got them. They’re found on blink page or blink chapter.
Elizabeth Wood 14:19
Yeah, so I found as the characters were developing throughout my story, that’s kind of what happened. So that’s gonna be a nightmare.
V.E. Griffith 14:27
The other approach that you can take with, with things like that is to is to Google an image of what you think this character is going to look like. It can be an actor or not, you know, just a stock image that you pick up somewhere to give you a visual reference and I know that campfire will store those for you. Yes, it does. So you can keep those images handy. I’ve got from my own stuff, and it’s and it’s like, you know, it doesn’t have to be exact. You don’t have to find exactly the right you know “the image” but just some sort of visual reference that gives you a clue about what this character is supposed to look like, wow,
Elizabeth Wood 15:06
yeah, I had a hard time kind of picturing it in my head and then putting it into words. So I did, I did exactly that I was looking through at least because it’s a period piece I was looking through, you know, artwork and whatnot of the period. To see, you know, what, what they look like back then to try to be kind of accurate ish. And then to find those features from there. So I’ve got a bunch of pictures already loaded, and to campfire for that. And that has been a big help. But I didn’t do that until probably about two thirds of the way through my story, I had the images uploaded, and then I uploaded them into the campfire when I got it, but they’re just chillin on my phone. So I don’t advise that.
Miss Catherine M.H. 15:56
as a pantser. I, I hate plotting. It’s just it’s one of those that a I never stick to the plot, be anybody who’s read anything that has been plotted sound, if they say that it doesn’t sound correct, it sounds really wrong, it should be cut out of a novel. Just pretty much they don’t like the way I write, when I have it outlined, here’s what you’re going to do. So for me, what will then be important is building a character, even if I don’t know everything about them, or building the world. So as long as I have that stuff done, which is what I recommend people doing, if they’re just going to start panting, a book, cool. But you should probably know a few things about your world doesn’t mean you need to know anything else. You don’t even need to know what like the start of the book is going to be what if you know that, hey, you’re in ancient Egypt, and they’re wearing modern clothes, because like then okay, then that’s you need to have that imagery, and you need to know why. And then from there, your story is cool, it can fall into that or not. So,
Elizabeth Wood 17:08
you know, I think plotting definitely helps in some ways, because you get into words are hard, you get into things like you know, really heavy logic type stories where you’re doing something unique, like say, memento, for example, where, you know, things are working in a certain direction. It really helps to have things plotted out, so you know, how to work forward. And I think I would like to work on a project like that at some point. But, you know, baby steps. I just enjoy writing right now. So, um, I hadn’t really enjoyed it before, you know, I enjoyed having the image in my head and, you know, playing around with it, and daydreaming, but actually being able to write has been wonderful.
Miss Catherine M.H. 18:02
Elizabeth Wood 18:03
I’m not able to write I mean, I typed buttons.
Miss Catherine M.H. 18:09
That’s something. Improvement. Those buttons equal out into words, eventually. Where would you like to be going from here?
Elizabeth Wood 18:24
So my next step, you know, now that I’m outside of Nano and I can actually kind of take a breath, and do some more classes, not classes, but at least, you know, YouTubing and coaching and all that. I do want to work on descriptive writing, as well as you know, show don’t tell when it’s appropriate, when isn’t how to do it effectively. Because it you know, I mean, reading through my story, as you know, it’s good enough for me, because I’ve got the emotion going through, but it’s not going to keep the attention of anybody because it’s kind of like well, this happened. And this happened. And this happened while the image is going in my head because obviously I imagined it, but nobody is going to be able to see what I put there. So I do feel like some coaching that would be wonderful at some point.
Miss Catherine M.H. 19:19
There’s a famous saying that goes the first draft is for you, you write it so you can read it because you’re enjoying it. From there out every other draft has to be for the writer or for the for the reader, right. So the first one is for you. So write it however you need to write it. Like that’s okay. And then from there, that’s where the editing process comes in where you go back through, you fix the showing versus telling. Now, that’s not to say that you can’t learn about it and like improve your writing as you’re writing the book, but I wouldn’t focus solely on that at the start because this is also you wanted to You want to finish this one because being able to say I finished is such like a boost to you, even if you never do anything with that book and you chuck it to the side, you now know that you have completed a full book, you’ve done it once, you can do it again. So getting to that that point is very important, I think more so than taking classes. But do go ahead and take some just don’t worry that I’m not doing exactly what they say I’m doing right now the story is going to flow through you how it should be told. So don’t worry too much.
V.E. Griffith 20:36
All of those things that you learn about, you can do in editing passes, you’re not going to it’s very, very common for authors to write a garbage first draft, which you admit you’ve done, and that’s fine. And then we go back through our manuscript several times, each time looking for something specific. I’m, I’m looking for passive voice. This time, I’m looking for showing and not telling. This time, I’m making sure all my character descriptions are straight. This time, I’m taking out all the cuss words that I put in before, because my genre doesn’t, you know, I wrote with I wrote with vulgarity that my genre really doesn’t appreciate. And so I need to fix that. But I had to put that in just to get the story out. That was my draft, we need to fix that.
Miss Catherine M.H. 21:26
I guess that brings us to the last question of what else can we do to help you continue writing.
Elizabeth Wood 21:34
I absolutely love these sessions. I know, now I feel spoiled. And I do apologize for missing a couple I was sick, doesn’t feel unwell and all that. So I’m sorry that I did miss a couple of them. But you know, anytime you guys feel like you want to get together because you miss me and you love me. I would love to do some coaching sessions with you and just sit down and pick your brain. You know, for right now, my goal is descriptive writing. And what I meant was obviously, going back through and editing the story, I’m not going to continue writing the story and change up the way that I’ve done it and completely farkle it so but that is my goal for right now is to kind of learn how to write, as opposed to just writing.
Miss Catherine M.H. 22:20
Nice. So does that mean you’re you’re putting this book to the side, then are going to continue with this book? Okay,
Elizabeth Wood 22:26
no, I’m gonna continue with it. Um, I think, you know, especially, I did end up getting stuck a couple of times. So, you know, I think especially if I’m getting stuck, it might be nice to go back and do a little bit of editing here and there just to you know, I didn’t like the way it turned out, let me play with some of the words and then go back and finish writing it, I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing to do. But
V.E. Griffith 22:50
it is it is kind of hit or miss. Because sometimes we can let the editing get in the way of the writing. And we can let the perfect be the enemy of the done. And, you know, you don’t, you don’t want to do that you want to keep moving forward. And it’s fine to learn and continue to experiment. But then take, you know, take what you’ve learned and continue moving forward, then fix it in in your editing passes. Oh, that one sucks. I know how to do it better now. And then you change it instead of going back over and over and over again, as you learn new things, keep moving forward, implement the new thing now, and then fix it in post.
Miss Catherine M.H. 23:33
So you went about that from the editing standpoint, which it makes a lot of sense. You know, we’re revision wizards, but my brain went to the pantsing side of it, where once you start going back to fix something, you’ll start adding, you’ll add this character in suddenly, who now needs to be put in throughout the rest of the book, or you will start branching. And you can no longer use any of this that you’ve written because you’ve branched out too far. And now this is the new story. So do be careful with that. And like V.E. was saying, there are times where even now like I’m looking through the the second act, the second part of my second act, and it’s much less passive voice, it’s much faster pace, I think it looks cleaner. And that’s because as I was going I was learning stuff and each time I did a rewrite of a section or a have like an Edit Zone. I had looked for more things I cleaned up sections and I got better. So as I’m editing the beginnings real rough. And then it gets better and all of a sudden yours like I learned from my writing. So if you’ve if you ever get the chance to actually look at my first draft. It is it’s real rough. But it did get better as It went on because I started learning about writing, and then just implemented that there. Because I’m like, Okay, from here on out, this will be better. And then from here up to there, it’s going to be real rough to edit that. But that’s, that’s something my future self will have to yell at my past self about. So from here out, it’ll look nicer. So I recommend definitely, not always going back to fix something unless it needs to be fixed. Like if you cannot sit there without knowing that your spaceship is not 92 floors, but actually 147, then go back and fix that.
Elizabeth Wood 25:39
yeah, no, I’m not really concerned about that. Really, the way that I’ve written things is kind of, it’s just boring. So I’d like to, again, go into show don’t tell I don’t necessarily want to change the facts of anything, or add in any characters, it’s just fix my writing.
Miss Catherine M.H. 26:00
V.E. Griffith 26:04
Yeah, I’d still say the same thing. Go ahead and implement the changes that you’re learning, and then go back and redo it. And I know from looking at Miss Catherine’s work, I’m going through the first half of her act two, and it is much, much better than then act one was, it’s a lot cleaner, there are a lot fewer edits. That’s yeah, she says that’s because it wasn’t outlined. Okay. Well, even so, it’s, it’s still, it’s still mechanically a lot cleaner. There’s still plenty to fix. That goes for everybody. You know, there’s, that’s why you need an external editor, somebody to look at your stuff. You know, I need an editor to
Elizabeth Wood 26:48
V.E. Griffith 26:50
Exactly, I know.
Miss Catherine M.H. 26:53
He’s great with the line stuff. Like he’ll hand that off. And that will be perfect. That will be the story that will need help.
V.E. Griffith 26:59
No, no, no, that’s, that’s exactly right. I need a different kind of editing. Because my skill set is different. So and my strengths are different than Miss Catherine’s. And so we complement each other well, yeah, but But yeah, that’s, that’s what I would tell you go ahead and learn. grow yourself as a writer, but keep moving forward on your story. Because otherwise, you’ll never finish.
Miss Catherine M.H. 27:26
Or you’ll do what I do, and you’ll make a branch and then you’re screwed, because that 100 pages you wrote can no longer be used.
Elizabeth Wood 27:35
Oh, I’m okay with that.
Miss Catherine M.H. 27:38
You think that you think that at first, and then you do it a few times, and then you’ve realized you have like seven versions of the exact same book because you keep going back and changing two things.
V.E. Griffith 27:50
And that you’ve thrown away 200,000 words.
Miss Catherine M.H. 27:53
V.E. Griffith 27:54
Twice. Exactly. And that’s just, it’s, it’s not a wise investment of your time.
Elizabeth Wood 28:01
Kind of makes my heart hurt just a little bit.
Miss Catherine M.H. 28:04
Yeah, that was like two years work. I’m on the third round, I’m on the third round.
Elizabeth Wood 28:09
Like I’ve heard the 400,000 word number thrown around at one point. And I realize really what that and until after Nanos, though Yeah, that does hurt a little bit.
Miss Catherine M.H. 28:23
So so each time you you go back and start shifting things, or being like, Oh, let me just make this chapter look prettier. I’ll add in this description, I’ll add in this dialogue, suddenly, small little things will start to shift. And in the long run, you don’t think that the small little shifts will be a big difference. But I added a character once. And it was just supposed to be a quick scene that this character showed up in just because I needed a character who then was leading them somewhere. So I needed to write the scene of them leading them somewhere. Well, now that’s led this way. Well, the character still with them, and now needed to be put into other chapter chapters and other scenes, because suddenly, all I did was add like four words from that character. And suddenly, I had to, shift this whole section so do be careful with shift.
Elizabeth Wood 29:26
Thankfully, I had the benefit of doing that at the beginning, not when I had already written it, but yeah, I know what you mean.
Miss Catherine M.H. 29:37
There you go. Okay, so I think that’s, that’s everything, at least from me for the moment because we’re, I mean, we’re at the end of nano. You’ve completed it. Congratulations. I did not complete mine this year, so good for you.
Elizabeth Wood 29:52
I don’t know. Somebody told me it was a challenge that I had to make. And I’m really happy that I did it.
V.E. Griffith 30:04
I’m really happy that you did it too. I guess my last question would be do you have any any other questions for us at this point?
Elizabeth Wood 30:14
No. Okay, no, you guys have been absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for the support. I have had so much fun doing this. Again, I’m sorry that we missed a couple but you two are amazing. Thank you so much. Your templates are amazing. Catherine and V.E. your, your support has been very good.
V.E. Griffith 30:37
Awesome. Okay. Then we’ll check in with you again in a couple of months, probably and see how you’re doing. Okay. Yeah.
Elizabeth Wood 30:45
Thank you guys. Thank you so much. You guys are awesome.
V.E. Griffith 30:48
You’re welcome. Thank you. And thank you. Thank our audience very much for listening. We’ll see you next time.
Miss Catherine M.H. 30:54