James's 2018 NaNoWriMo really tiny novel in English

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James's 2018 NaNoWriMo really tiny novel in English

Postby James.A. » Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:54 pm

Hello people!

I decided to post my work for NaNoWriMo here. I haven't plotted it. I will try discovery writing for a change. Please feel free to critic and correct my mistakes. And enjoy! (Or not... Probably not :roll: )

My first day's work follows:

When Emily saw him for the first time, she remembered the morning she planted the almond tree in her grandmother’s garden. She was five and that was her first memory. She woke up before dawn. The first thing she felt was the almond in her fist. She smiled and she jumped from the bed without anybody noticing. She had made from the night before the conscious decision to carry out her plan barefoot, so the first step on the damp soil of the garden was a shock for her. She took a deep breath and she remained motionless for a while next to the rose bushes, like a fairy that suddenly realized that her wings had been disappeared. She moved her toe and she felt beneath her feet the earth moving like a living organism. Little by little the shock turned into a deep and profound tranquility.

She took exactly ten steps from the rose bushes and fell on her knees. She felt the soft mud with her hand and she started digging the hole. The horizon had already a dark purple colour when she stopped digging. She lowered the almond attentively into the hole and then she pushed the mud on top of it. It was done. She had accomplished her mission. With a peaceful smile on her lips, she went back to her bed and she plunged into the soft covers as she was covered in mud. She didn’t care. It didn’t matter. She had done it.

Her grandmother said nothing about the dirty bed. She only told her to go and wash herself. When Emily came back to her room, everything was clean again and nothing had remained from last night’s adventures. Her mother dressed her with a wonderful blue dress with white lace around the neck and the shoulders. They went for a long walk under the blossoming almond trees of the central street. A tiny white flower fell on her shoulder and it stuck in the small holes of the lace.

“They love you, you know.” said her grandmother.

Emily rose her eye to look at her but the only think she could focus on was the flowery branches above her head.

“Did you see the flower that they sent you?” said the grandmother.

Emily nodded and touched the flower on her shoulder.

“The love of an almond tree is the most important love that one can have.” said her grand mother.

She took her to a bench and they sat on the fallen white flowers that was covering it.

“Look around, Kitten. Can you see any other flowers?”

Emily turned her head around. All the other trees were gray and barren. She remembered the rose bushes from the last night. They didn’t even have leafs.

“It’s too early for flowers, you see.” said her grandmother. “It’s still too cold. All the other plants blossom in the spring. But not the almond trees. Do you know why?”

“No” said Emily.

And then her grandmother said to her the most wonderful fairy tale that she had ever heard in her whole live. A fairy tale so marvelous that brought tears to her eyes. She cried like she had never cried. Her breath was calm as if she was asleep. There was a beautiful smile on her lips as her tears ran slowly on her chicks. But nor she nor her grandmother felt the need to wipe them.

When Emily saw him for the first time she remembered every single drop of these tears. She remembered the brunches, heavy with flowers, above her head and the figure of her grandmother next to her holding her hand. She remembered the passers-by that were staring at them, their faces full of curiosity. Only one thing she couldn’t remember. The most important. As much as she tried she couldn’t remember the fairy tale.
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Re: James's 2018 NaNoWriMo really tiny novel in English

Postby zjones » Fri Nov 02, 2018 2:41 am

Aw, so very cute! I love your descriptions.

I'm heading to bed so I don't have time to correct specific parts or words, but I do have a suggestion for you: Try varying your sentence structures if you notice they are too similar. Many of your sentences start with the word "She", which sounds redundant and a little choppy. Varying the beginning of your sentences will add a greater sense of flow.

Take this for example:

When Emily saw him for the first time, she remembered the morning she planted the almond tree in her grandmother’s garden. She was five and that was her first memory. She woke up before dawn. The first thing she felt was the almond in her fist. She smiled and she jumped from the bed without anybody noticing. She had made from the night before the conscious decision to carry out her plan barefoot, so the first step on the damp soil of the garden was a shock for her.


I'm not a great writer, but here's what I might do instead:

When Emily saw him for the first time, she remembered the morning she planted the almond tree in her grandmother’s garden when she was five years old.

On that morning, she woke up before dawn. The first thing she felt was the almond in her fist. She smiled and she jumped from the bed without anybody noticing. The night before, she had made the conscious decision to carry out her plan barefoot, so the first step on the damp soil of the garden was a shock for her.


The paragraph break helps make the transition to the memory much less ambiguous. I cut the part about her first memory (because I don't have the time to work it in right now) but I'm sure you get the point. Good work! :D
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Re: James's 2018 NaNoWriMo really tiny novel in English

Postby James.A. » Fri Nov 02, 2018 7:36 am

Hello zjones!

zjones wrote:Aw, so very cute! I love your descriptions.


Oh, thank you very much! I'm glad you liked it I like doing description.

zjones wrote:I'm heading to bed so I don't have time to correct specific parts or words, but I do have a suggestion for you: Try varying your sentence structures if you notice they are too similar. Many of your sentences start with the word "She", which sounds redundant and a little choppy. Varying the beginning of your sentences will add a greater sense of flow.


Thank you very much for spending time reading and rewriting my first paragraph. It really really is a great help to me. When I finished it I read it and I didn't like it at all. I didn't understoond why until I read your rewrite. I was indeed similar syntax that I used. For me, continuous use of personal pronouns was a big problem as I wrote. In Greek we don't have to use personal pronouns except when we have to emphasize something. But in English it is obligatory. So, the sentences that started with ´she´ in my mind had to start with she like in Greek where when you start a sentence with the verb, the perception of the action is much stronger for the reader. It was ugly but in my Greek mind I was trying to find the solution by extracting or changing words that couldn't be extracted nor changed (like the personal pronouns) and not by changing the structure of the phrase or its beginning. Now I think that the way to better my writing (at least aesthetically) is much more clear. Thank you very much! I will try it in today's work. If you have any free time to read it, please tell me if it is better.

Thank you again!
A bientôt!
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Re: James's 2018 NaNoWriMo really tiny novel in English

Postby smallwhite » Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:07 am

I don't know if this is universal but it's how I do it:
Commas with Direct Speech
https://www.ego4u.com/en/cram-up/writing/comma?11
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Re: James's 2018 NaNoWriMo really tiny novel in English

Postby James.A. » Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:10 pm

smallwhite wrote:I don't know if this is universal but it's how I do it:
Commas with Direct Speech
https://www.ego4u.com/en/cram-up/writing/comma?11


Yes, I have a problem with commas even in Greek sometimes.. Thank you very much!
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Re: James's 2018 NaNoWriMo really tiny novel in English

Postby James.A. » Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:15 pm

Hello people! So, it is my second day and I have 1.685 words. I'm 200 words ahead of my goal, so everything is ok. I like what I wrote today more than what I wrote yesterday. Enjoy!

That same night she stayed awake until the morning came. With the blanket to her chin and with her eyes closed, she imagined a forest of almond trees laying beneath a blue mountain. In December, the gray branches are moving as if the trees are trying to embrace each other, like the tragic lovers of an old Gothic fairy tale. In March everything is white, as if a late snowstorm hit the mountain in the beginning of Spring. As you are walking under the trees, they are throwing their flowery snowflakes. They stick on you like magnets wherever they touch you and soon your hair is white and you look old. After a while your whole body is white and you look like a fresh corpse. And then, the white flower are all over you, they are pushing you to the ground, they are smothering you with their soft weight. And you are happy. You lay there, in the middle of the forest, among the millions and millions of dead flowers whose cemetery stretches for miles and miles. And then you forget about everything else. That vast cemetery becomes your whole world, your only reality. You are a dead flower too and you are happy. That’s where Emily slept that night, in that enormous forest inside her mind, like a flower frozen in time a split second before its decomposition started. And that’s where she where sleeping for the years to come. She was five and her dreams were born in her mind in grades of white and pale pink.

The next day her grandfather came back from a city far far away. She had just finished her breakfast when she heard his deep voice from the big hall. Chills ran down her spine and she jumped from the chair.

“He’s back!” she said and ran through the door as fast as she could.

She loved her grandfather and she had missed him, of course. But the main reason she was so excited was not so much her grandfather himself, but rather his luggage. These old faded suitcases that in her infantile mind were nothing less than a magical portal to an other world full of miracles. And her grandfather was the only magician in the world capable to harness their enormous powers. A conjurer without equal who could pull out of there objects that she couldn’t have imagined even in her most surreal dreams. Like a ball of refined cold glass that contained a tiny world where it was always snowing. The only thing that you had to do was to shake it and behold! The snow that a moment ago was covering the roofs and the streets started falling again. Or like the “singing funnel”. That was the name she had given to the machine as she was marveling at it, her eyes and mouth wide open, the day her grandfather presented it to her.

“It’s not the funnel that sings.” said her grandfather. “It’s the box. There are tiny musicians and singers trapped in there. All you have to do is rotate that handle and they start singing.”

For months after that, every night Emily crammed a slice of bread in the funnel of the box before going to bed.

But the most marvelous thing her grandfather ever pulled out of his magical suitcases was a little girl with blond hair, just like Emily’s. At first she thought she was just a doll but then, when she took her to her arms and tried to lull her to sleep, the doll closed her eyes and from her lips came out something like a sigh. She was an ancient Spanish
princess, grandfather told her. Her name was Aurora, which in the language of her people means Dawn. When she was in Emily’s age she found a little sparrow half buried in the snow. Many people have passed by and nobody noticed it. But Aurora was not like all the other people. She leaned forwards, took the frozen bird and brought it to her room. There she spend the whole day massaging the tiny body and when the night came she laid it on her pillow that was stuffed with feathers of magical geese and sent the nightmares away. She covered it with her tiny hand and as she closed her eyes something magical happened! In the absolute silence of the palace she could feel the microscopic heart of the bird beating, slowly and irregularly. She stayed awake all night, with her hand around the sparrow, feeling the imperceptible pulse becoming stronger and stronger. And when the first light of the new day painted the room purple, the bird moved its head and looked at her. Two days later the bird was ready to leave. But just before it opened its wings to fly back to the kingdom of sparrows, it spoke for the first time and said to Aurora that she can ask for a favor. Nobody knows what Aurora asked for because the moment the bird opened its beak to speak, Aurora’s nanny ran away in terror. She wasn’t accustomed to talking birds since she was brought up in a big city. When the king came to Aurora’s room he only found a doll laying in the bed. He called for the best magicians of the kingdom but nobody could break the spell of the sparrow. And then the king heart of a wise old man that lived on the top of a mountain. He took his daughter in his arms and walked for two days and three night. And then, the third day at dawn, he finally reached the top of the mountain. The old man was there, next to the mouth of his cave, his right hand waving at the rising sun.

“My friend,” said the old man when the King handed him Aurora. “Your daughter is a very clever girl. Don’t ask me to undo the miracle that happened to her.”

So Aurora stayed like that for ever. A beautiful little girl with blond braids tied with red velvet bands at the ends, dressed with a blue satin dress, just like her bourgeois nanny had dressed her the day the sparrow flew away so many centuries ago.
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Re: James's 2018 NaNoWriMo really tiny novel in English

Postby James.A. » Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:17 am

Hello, people!
So part three! I'm actually excited. I think it does well. At last I have a plot!

But that morning, Emily’s grandfather would pull out from his magical suitcases the most marvelous thing that Emily had every seen. A miracle of human ingenuity, a wonder that let the user travel to parallel worlds that they had never imagined possible to exist. At first, Emily didn’t understand the enormous powers of the object her grandfather had presented her with after demanding his usual price: a kiss on his bearded chick. She didn’t know yet that objects like this one would very soon start to consume almost all her time.

She took the mysterious rectangle that looked like a box into her hand and she turned it upside down. Nothing happened. She opened it waiting for tiny people to fell of, but that didn’t happened neither.

“What does it do?” she asked. She was so excited that her head almost hurt.

“Well… Nothing!” said her grandfather.

His granddaughter looked at him with her eyes half closed in suspicion.

“So you brought me something useless?”

Her grandfather looked at her almost offended.

“It cannot do anything on his own, but you can do a lot with it.”

She turned it upside down again, she brought it near her left ear and shook it. She heard nothing.

“What can I do with it?”

Grandfather sat on his velvet blue armchair and invited her to sit on his lap.

“This is a book, my little princess.” she said.

He took it from her hands and opened it on the first page.

“Do you see these?” He said pointing at some strange markings.

“These are called letters. People use them to write down their thoughts. After they do that, their thought become immortal. They live for ever.”

Emily felt the page and looked at her grandfather without completely understanding what he had just said. She was actually disappointed. An evil witch might have stolen from him some of his powers.

“Ok, that’s nice. Can you now pull out something else?”

“Come on, now, my princess. Trust me. This is the best thing that I have ever brought you. You just have to give it time. That’s all. You just have to learn to read.”

Emily looked again at the book. She turned the page. More mysterious symbols. These ones smaller, all in a row like soldiers.

“Is learning how to… read difficult?”

“No, not at all! I will teach you!”

She turned the page again. A picture! At last something she could understand. A little girl in black and white. She wore a wonderful dress and she was playing with a little kitten curled up on her feet.

“Who is she?” she asked.

“I don’t know.”

Emily looked at her grandfather shocked. She had never imagined before that her grandfather was capable of not knowing something. How was that possible? Maybe an evil witch had indeed stole his powers.

“Are you serious?”

“Yes I am. I don’t know anything about that little girl. But I will learn everything there is to know about her in a minute.”

He took out of the inner pocket of his vest the golden rimmed glasses that he used when he was playing the grand piano on the second floor and he put them on. Then he look at the page next to the picture of the girl for a few minutes, moving his eyes left and right. Then he took a deep breath, he took off his glasses and pushed them back again into his pocket.

“Her name is Mary. She is seven years old and she likes eating the apple pies her mother makes for her. The little kitten is called Molly and she is her best friend in the whole world.”

An exclamation of admiration escaped Emily, her eyes wide open in astonishment.

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely!”

“You haven’t just imagined all that, have you?”

“No I have not. I promise. I read them all here.” He said and he tapped the page with the symbols.

“And what’s the dress’s color?”

“It’s pink.”

Emily clapped her hand excited. So her grandfather had still his powers! She gave him a kiss and took the book in her arms.

“So,” said her grandfather trying not to laugh. “Do you want me to teach you how to do that?”

“Yes, please please please!” she said moving her head up and down. She lost her balance and she would have fell if her grandfather hadn’t caught her at the last moment. It was the first time her grandfather offered to share with her part of his magic.

“Ok, then! After your afternoon nap, come and find me at the library.”

Emily was even more surprised than before. It was forbidden for everyone at the house to enter grandfather’s library. And he has just invited her in. She couldn’t even believe it. Soon she would know what that mysterious “library” was. Soon she would know what he was hiding in there.

“Are you sure?” she cried.

“Of course, my princess!” he said and gave her a kiss. “Of course I’m sure.”
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Re: James's 2018 NaNoWriMo really tiny novel in English

Postby Xmmm » Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:53 am

1. You are using a lot of dialogue -- this is very good.

2. You are using 'said' instead of barked, growled, cajoled, wheedled, pleaded, expostulated, snorted, and spat. This is excellent.

I over-trained on literature in college and can't read amateur fiction, but just eyeballing your stuff -- it looks like fiction and not bilge. Remember to always go for the jugular and make the reader suffer.

If you haven't seen Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules, you should take a look.
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Re: James's 2018 NaNoWriMo really tiny novel in English

Postby James.A. » Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:08 am

Xmmm wrote:1. You are using a lot of dialogue -- this is very good.

2. You are using 'said' instead of barked, growled, cajoled, wheedled, pleaded, expostulated, snorted, and spat. This is excellent.

I over-trained on literature in college and can't read amateur fiction, but just eyeballing your stuff -- it looks like fiction and not bilge. Remember to always go for the jugular and make the reader suffer.

If you haven't seen Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules, you should take a look.



Thanks for your kind words, Xmmm! I'm glad you liked the way I write. Yes I know the 10 rules of Elmore Leonard and I agree with all of them (except perhaps the one about description. I don't overdescribe myself, but I believe that if done well you can just loose yourself in the text, like some French novelists of the 19th century). I have actually published some of my texts and won some literary contests in Greece, so I'm more or less well trained in the craft. :P
Thanks again for your time! :)
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Re: James's 2018 NaNoWriMo really tiny novel in English

Postby James.A. » Thu Nov 15, 2018 4:54 pm

Hello!

15th day...
After a hellish 10 days break I continue my novel. I have to write 1200 words a day now to reach my goal. I think I can do it! So, enjoy!



She couldn’t sleep that afternoon. At some point she felt her eyelids getting heavy, but she immediately shook her head and she positioned herself to an uncomfortable position. She mustn’t get asleep. If she did, she may sleep until the night and then her opportunity would be lost. And then the moment came. Her grandmother entered her room and opened the curtains. Emily opened her eyes and she pretended to have just waken up. Her grandmother smiled but didn’t say anything.

It was 5:30 when she knocked on grandfather’s door. A barely audible “yes” came passed thought the thick wood of the door and Emily pushed the doorknob and took her first step into the room that would soon become “her room”. The room was almost dark, lighted only by the purple light of the setting sun that passed through the heavy curtains of the large windows. The ceiling was so high up that she couldn’t even see it. She could only see walls full of these things that she had never seen before that morning, walls full of books, their back shimmering in various colors, all in rows like the wheat in the fields. Her grandfather waited her sitting in his desk in front of the tall windows.

“Hello princess!” he said and stand up. “Welcome to my world.”

And then Emily’s first reading lesson started. Emily had high hopes for them. She thought that she would learn to do all those magical things her grandfather did. That she would learn how to take coins out of peoples ears and then how to make that coin disappear and then appear again in her pocket. That she would learn how to turn a glass of water upside down without even spilling a single drop. And finally, after two or three weeks or intense study and practice she might even be able to take out of the old suitcases all those marvelous thing from an other dimension. But, it turned out her lessons had nothing to do with all that. It was just about these old symbols. Apparently they had no magical powers each on their own. But if you took them and put them in the right order, you would create something that would potentially be really powerful. Or at least that was what her grandfather said when he noticed her disappointment concerning the nature of their lessons.

“Look at that, my little princess.” he said taking a thick tome in his hands. “It was written many many years ago. So many years ago that the person who wrote it was already dead when I was born. But it doesn’t matter. You can still read what he said all these years ago.”

Emily gasped in astonishment.

“So you can speak to the dead?” she said.

“Well, no… You cannot speak to them, but they can certainly speak to you, my princess.”

Emily thought about it for a little while.

“So my…” she stopped for a moment. “So my mom could speak to me again?”

Her grandfather looked at her for a little while. There was something peculiar in the expression of his deep blue eyes.

“Yes. Your mom could speak to you again.” He reached for a book nearby and he took it in his hands. “Your mother was a novelist, my little princess. That means that she wrote books. She actually wrote a lot of book and most of them was not for young children. But this particular book is a fairy tale. She wrote it when she was a little older than you are now.”

Emily’s eyes was glowing wide open, focused on the small blue book that her grandfather was holding. It was her mother’s book! Her voice was trapped in that book waiting to speak to her for the first time in her life. She took the book in her hands and she hold it, not daring to open it. A thick row of these mysterious symbols and then, under that, a picture of a beautiful blossoming almond. She handed the book back to her grandfather. She decided to open it only when she would be able to read. Only when she would be able to listen to her mother’s voice and understand it.

When the lesson ended, she knew the first 10 symbols.

“You’re a very smart little girl.” said her grandfather. “You will be reading in no time at all. You just wait and see.”

When the next morning Emily took her crayons out of their box and set on the floor, as she did every morning, she found out that she didn’t want to draw. For the first time she couldn’t think of anything worth drawing. A sun? And a house under it with a black chimney? No, she couldn’t draw that again. Maybe a flower. Yes a red flower, a beautiful red flower like those her grandmother cut every morning on Spring. She took her red crayon, she hold it in her hands and she pushed it on the white page in front of her, but before she could even complete the central circle of her flower, she stopped. No, she wouldn’t draw… She couldn’t draw. From now on she would write.

When her grandmother went to find her an hour later, the whole wooden floor of her room was already covered with symbols resembling letters. Between them a yellow A and a blue B. Some green E’s there next to the bed and some red F’s there under the window, remnants of her first lesson. But almost all the other symbols was purely imaginary. Circle with flowers inside them and ellipses with crosses next to them. And between them, Emily was still writing with an almost demented smile on her lips, sweat and red as a rose.

“Look!” she said. “I write! I write like my mother.”

So for the next month Emily was taking reading lesson from her grandfather in the evenings and she “wrote” in the morning. She always wrote on the board of the floor like the first day. Her grandmother was whipping the floor clean every afternoon, so it would be ready for the next morning’s writing practice. As the days passed, she could recognize more and more letters. And then word. “Hello” here and “child” there. And then whole sentences. The last days of April had come when Emily’s grandfather told her she was ready to read her first real book on her own. Emily already knew which book she wanted.

“Give me mom’s book!” she said.

His grandfather smiled and handed her the blue book. She could now read the title. The mysterious row of symbols were turned into words.

“The… the alm… the almond tree.” she read with difficulty.

“Yes! That’s the title. It’s yours now, my little princess.”

Emily was ready to run to her room to start reading, but her grandfather stopped her.

“Wait a minute, wait a minute.” He said. “Now this room is yours too. You can come here whenever you want. You can take whichever book you want and read it, under one and only one condition. You should never take a book out of this room. Never. Do you understand?”

“Yes.” said Emily. She couldn’t understand why, but if that was what her grandfather said, he must be right. “I will never take a book out of this room.”

“Ok, my princess. So now you can sit here and read to your hearts content. I will do the same.”
Last edited by James.A. on Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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