Hollow Children

Camp NaNoWriMo is next month and I am very nervous about it. Very. I’m going in nearly blind, and midway through another huge project (revisions on Twixt) which seems like a recipe for disaster but…well, it seemed like a good idea at the time, and now I’m committed. I freaking hate breaking commitments so, despite how unprepared I am, I’m going to suck it up and give it a shot. Who knows, maybe something awesome will come out of it and I can’t possibly end Camp NaNo with less than I started with, right? So, there’s that…

My project in June is going to be Hollow Children.

A few months ago (man, it might actually be a year ago now :-/) my daughter, Danica, and I decided we wanted to write a novel together. We searched through stock photography sites to find an image that sparked both our imaginations and chose on the image you can see to the left. We brainstormed together and came up with a couple characters then borrowed a story concept I’d been working on before and combined them.

I wrote an opening scene and passed it over to Dani to write the next one. She struggled with it. She’s possibly even more of a perfectionist than I am, and writing isn’t usually her “thing”. So we decided instead of sharing the writing duties, I would write the story and she would illustrate it.

And then I got stuck.

History has shown when I get stuck like this it’s because I’m starting the story in the wrong place, or haven’t really gotten into the brains of my characters. I suspect both are issues when it comes to Hollow Children. To make things even worse, our plot is only a nebulous concept still so I have no freaking idea what is going to happen in this book.


And now I’ve committed to writing 50,000 words on it over the month of June.

What was I thinking? LOL

Right now I’ve got the cover image (which I purchased the right to use) as my desktop image on my laptop so I’ll see it all the time. I’m hoping it will spark something in my brain but if all else fails I’ll draw a couple characters out of my fishbowl (or traits to help flesh out the characters Dani and I created earlier) and write random scenes. I can always try to fit them together once it’s time for revisions, right?

That being said, I’m very open to any suggestions anyone might have about how to find the skeleton of a story in a hurry LOL


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9 thoughts on “Hollow Children”

  1. I hadn’t heard of Camp NanoWriMo before. (I was new to Nano this past November). Sounds like I need to check it out!

    In terms of the skeleton of a story, it sounds like you’re a panster? I go back and forth and kind of hover in between most of the time. I don’t know if it will help you or not (or if you’re already doing it), but there are two things that help me to shape my story. The first is character sketches. I’m talking everything right down to what kind of shoes they wear and what’s their favorite food. I don’t spend much time on a character sketch, but I just kind of let information spew out. Usually I know things afterward that I didn’t know before- like that Susie B. Character picks at her nail polish when she’s nervous, and is mortally scared of grasshoppers. I always include a brief sentence about motivations, strengths, and weaknesses. It can tell me a lot.
    The second thing I do is take a piece of paper and draw an arrow, ascending from the bottom corner to the top corner (on a diagonal). Then I split it into 3 (or more) sections and label them Act I- Act III. Breaking things into chunks seems to help me. I jot down a general (I mean really general) idea of where I want the story to go. Then I outline and write scenes, adding ideas to the action line as they come to me. Sometimes it helps to see a pattern and have a visible representation of the rising tension…

    And none of that may be helpful for you. 🙂 Just ideas. Best of luck!

    1. Hi Kaye 🙂

      Danica and I did some character sketch-type things when we were trying to create some characters for the novel. I don’t usually like character sketches, but they seemed a necessary evil since I was going to be working with someone who didn’t have a direct line to my brain LOL

      I *love* your idea of splitting the page (and the story) into acts. I’m totally going to try that and see what happens. Thank you very much for sharing that with me 🙂

    2. Kaye, I’ve always stumbled when attempting to define my characters in much detail before writing. It’s as though “they” push me from it. But, I also know that the characters I best “know” before I write, flow more clearly from the start.

      I also like your chunking the acts idea — I’m going to try that.

  2. Hi Rhonda,

    I’d say start plotting. Actually, wait. I have a different idea. Have you ever written a two-page, single-spaced synopsis? I did that for my next manuscript and now I have an outline for my plot outline. I picked up this idea (and added the two-page rule) from author Roni Loren: http://fictiongroupie.blogspot.com/2011/08/not-so-dreaded-synopsis-5-tips-to-set.html

    Since I was only noting the top points of each chapter, it gave me the skeleton of the outline. Maybe it will work for you too?

    By the way, I think it’s awesome that you and Danica are working on it together. Very cool.

    And “Hollow Children” is a great title.

    Good luck! 🙂

    1. I couldn’t possibly write a synopsis because right now I have no idea what is going to happen, however, I think I can take your suggestion and twist it a little bit to make it work for me. I’ll let you know how it goes, and thank you very much 🙂

  3. I did a great writing exercise at a workshop where we had to write what happened immediately before our story started. It gave my MS a whole new opening that actually worked. Good luck.

    1. Thank you 🙂 I’ll take all the luck I can LOL Right now I have a few ideas I’m going to try for brainstorming and if all else fails when I start writing in June I’ll just write random scenes and see how they fit together later — I’ll definitely make one of those scenes about what happens before the point I think the story is going to start 🙂

  4. Rhonda, I’m fascinated by your search through stock photos to find an inspiring image — and the fishbowl of characters. Do you have a “fishbowl” for “things that might happen to a character”?

    I love the excitement your thoughts project — with that underneath, how can the story fail to be written? 🙂

    1. Hi Judy 🙂

      I don’t have a fishbowl for plot points. I’ve seriously considered it several times, but because I write in several genres it could be kind of tricky. It would create an interesting twist if in the midst of writing a dark horror story I reached in and pulled out ‘Gets kidnapped by a dragon’ or ‘Has a magic spell cast on them’. Those things -might- work in a fantasy novel, but not so much horror… so… yeah. It’s something I’ve thought about but so far haven’t implemented. I bet I could make it work if I was vague enough though, “Loses something important”, “Gets lost”, “Is late for an important date” LOL

      We’ll see…


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