My Camp NaNo Novels (What I’ve Learned From my Past Novels)

Because I don’t want to make my real titles too long, here’s the official title for this post: My Camp NaNo Novels (With a Quick Look at my Previous Novels and What I’ve Learned from Them, and How You Can Learn From Your Previous Novels). 

I recently realized that I never actually talk about what my novels are about, so I decided to make this post! I’m going to start with my Camp NaNo novels and work down. I’m only describing my completed ones, though.

Halfway to Fourteen:

Brief Description: Kamri Taylor tried to run away, but she was stopped when she ran into kids from school she barely knew. Now, they’re all on the beginning of the challenge of their lives.

Main Characters: Kamri, Mason, Collin, Erin, Tara.

Three Images That Describe the Story:

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Expected Word Count: 60,000

A Less Professional Description: So, basically, it’s about these four kids and how they become friends. They’re are similar in a way, they all go to a great private school. Kamri is gifted but held back by her situation, and in a way herself, Mason is smart but held back by trying too hard to be perfect, Erin is talented but held back by trying to live up to everyone’s expectations, and Collin is somewhere in between all of those things and is held back by trying to live up to his brother. They end up finding a challenge from teens from a generation ago to live up to the full potential of their remaining childhood.

(Pst! On my Pinterest, you can see the ideas board and aesthetic boards for at least half of these novels. The ideas is a board full of things that remind me of my story/characters plot, and the aesthetic is for the feel of my novel, and is inspiration for when I forget why I started the novel.)

Fantasy Gossip:

Brief Description: Welcome to Forrest’s Residential Middle and High School for Students of Excellence, otherwise known as “Fantasy School” to its students. Kaelin, a returning student, writes down everything she sees. When her new roommate pushes her to publish what she writes, things get out of control.

Main Characters: Kaelin (kay-lin), Clara, and Trey.

Three Images that Describe the Story:

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Expected Word Count: 60,000

A Less Professional Description: This novel is kind of cliche, but it’s just for fun (and learning!). Kaelin, Clara, and Trey attend a school where everything they were told was just fairy tales and wishful thinking is true. Kaelin has been writing down everything she hears and sees in a journalistic style. Her new roommate, Clara, starts a school newspaper (after the last one was banned hundreds of years ago), then finds the writings and encourages her to start a gossip column–which, if you know anything about gossip, will lead to trouble.

Those are the novels I will be writing this April for Camp NaNoWriMo. Now, for a brief description of my previous novels, going backwards.

Title: Mission: Prodigy

Written: NaNoWriMo 2016

Word Count: ~90,000

Basic Description After Editing Through Many Plot Holes and Being Changed: Two prodigies (humans with special abilities or “superpowers”) find out that everything they were told was good was actually wrong. They have to overcome their rivalry to restore balance to their messed up world.

What I Learned:  I learn perseverance. Writing after the original plot was too short? It was hard. Going back to read the mess? It was hard. Editing it? It’s still hard. My original plan was very faulty and I didn’t like part of it. I have to rewrite and replan a lot.

Title: Royale

Written: Summer 2016

Word Count: ~50/60k

Basic Description: Brenna lives in a dystopian society separated from the rest of the world. After she gets in trouble with the government for doing what’s right, she has to run away to the rest of the world in order to survive.

What I Learned:  I got to two drafts for this one–after that, it wasn’t worth editing. I had lost interest in it. However, in the first draft, I learned how to write long novels and how to write/type quickly. If my memory serves, Royale was pantsed, a method that I’ve found doesn’t work well for me by the second draft.

Title: Crossing Galaxies

Written: Spring 2016 (version 1), Rewritten Fall 2016 (version 2)

Word Count: 17,000 (version 1), 30,000 (version 2)

Basic Description: When foster child Kamri is sent away to boarding school, she thinks it’s the worst thing that could ever happen to her. However, she meets Erin, Collin, and Mason. They have a secret–and now they need her help.

What I Learned: This is the previous version to Halfway to Fourteen. These characters? They have been with me for years. I’ve been trying to find their story for the third time, now. I hope it works this time–it’s not a fantasy novel anymore. Crossing Galaxies has taught me that if something sticks with you, if you really, truly love it, write it. (And I’m definitely recycling the title).

Time to go a bit out of order– one is a sequel, so it won’t make much sense if I do it in the order I wrote it. I was young when I wrote these, so no judgment please.

Title: A Princess Life

Written: Fall ~2013/14

Word Count: ~10,000

Basic Description: Princess Annalisa has longed to get out of the palace since her parents died. She jumps at the opportunity to go to a private school as normal Arizona (a name she choose because it was her mother’s home before she married the king).

What I Learned:  Well, this is very cringy and cliche. I learned how to write and edit a novel. I had so many drafts for this! I told myself one day that I was going to write and finish a novel, and I did. I’ve learned that I can do anything if I set my mind to it. I rewrote this one, too, I think (but I consider the rewrite of Crossing Galaxies a different novel, because in a sense it was).

Title: (I don’t think it had one for itself) A Princess Life #2

Written: ~Camp NaNo 2014/15

Word Count: Under 10,000

Basic Description: Claire just moved into the palace with her long lost siblings, and she knows she doesn’t fit in. She’s pretty sure Lexi and Anna still hate her, though they try not to show it. Her adventures in her change in lifestyle include finding out more about her birth parents, princes from foreign lands, and a little ice cream.

What I Learned:  I was really proud of this, even if it is cliche and cringy too. I love Claire, and how she feels, and I felt like it showed a great improvement in my writing. I’m sure there were a lot of half-started novels in this series, as that’s what I wanted it to be. Anyway, I learned a lot about character and backstory.

So, how can you learn from your previous novels? Take a look at what worked and what didn’t work. For example, I tend to have unrealistic plots or ones that fall through, and my description is bare, but I like to think I’ve always been good at character. Use that when you work on your new projects. Get to know yourself as a writer– no one is the same.

Time for a challenge! (I’m going to start doing these at the end of my how-to/tips/instructional writing posts. Let me know if you’ll enjoy them.) Take one of your previous novels, or if you haven’t written one before, a short story/novella. Think about the good and the bad. How can you improve on the bad things? What can you take away from the good things? Let me know how it goes!

5 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I love this so much! It was really neat to read about your old projects. The thing with me is that I never keep them — I usually just toss them out — or I just forget about them and start a new project. I have wayyy too many half-written, less-than-15k drafts sitting in my Google Drive. RIP. XD

    1. Haha, same! They usually get lost between devices, like I lost the original version of Mission Prodigy on an old laptop that got thrown away.

  2. This was really awesome and interesting to read! Especially what happened to Crossing Galaxies, because I have made the decision to discontinue my current novel, because I can’t think of a plot and have no motivation. But I really really love my charries, so what you did with Crossing Galaxies may inspire me to find a different story for them. 🙂 Awesome job, Josie, and I hope that you are able to achieve your goal for Camp NaNo this year!

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