NaNoWriMo 2014 Summary- On the Ashes of Riverside

So the NaNo site has been reset, though I think all of the forum posts from last year are still up. (Does anyone know what’s going on there? Are they going to reset those too?

Anyway, I’ve already updated my author page on the site, and figured that I would go ahead and post the summary here, too.

Riverside State Psychiatric Hospital was once a promising institution. Proudly situated in a rise above the Tennessee river, the hospital was, for a time, a leader in the emerging field of mental health care, boasting the most up-to-date and advanced practices of the time. However, little more than two decades passed before the hospital’s decline began, and allegations of violence, patient abuse, and cruel treatments began to run rampant. In the summer of 1969, the hospital suffered a devastating blow. A fire destroyed the top three floors of the hospital’s main building. Several people suffered injuries, and a six-year-old patient died in the blaze. Though the fire was eventually ruled an accident, suspicions remained and, a year later,

This year's cover image.

This year’s cover image.

Riverside Hospital was closed down.

The hospital sat abandoned for decades. Rumors of ghosts and other strange sightings spread like wildfire.

In the spring of 2011, a private developer purchased the property. Plans were announced to repair and renovate the buildings and turn them into a modern apartment community. Riverside Plaza opened three years later.

Graduate student MacKenna Sheridan, the building’s newest resident, is thrilled to finally be moved into her new apartment.

But the past never stays hidden and Kenna’s excitement fades rapidly. Before long, odd things begin to happen. At first, they’re easily explained away: a flicker in the mirror and quiet whispering in the hallways. But things escalate quickly. The sounds of crying and screaming echo in the halls, the smell of smoke fills the air, and fire alarms sound with no obvious cause.

Unnerved by the increasingly common occurrences, and aware of the building’s troubled history, Kenna tries to shed light on the hospital’s troubled past. However, her search proves difficult; many records are sealed, and those involved have no interest in discussing the past. It seems the hospital wants to keep its secrets. But just how far did someone go to bury those secrets?

Will the hospital’s past finally be put to rest and its true tragedies exposed? Or will its secrets remain hidden, buried forever under the ashes of Riverside

I’m actually really excited this year. I’m hoping that I’ll not only be able to meet the word count goal, but actually finish the story itself, too. With the outline I’ve written, I hope that will happen.

Happy planning to all of this year’s NaNo participants! We’re in this together!





       So, I’m still working on The Witch Queen’s War. I haven’t been working on it everyday, but I’ve not put it aside completely yet, either. I’m hoping to work on it some more during Camp NaNo this year, as April’s project. I’ve put in my word count goal as only 35,000, since that’s going to be my last month of school, with finals on the horizon, so I need to be flexible. 

       But, for once, I actually did an outline for the story. As in, I have most of the major, and several of the minor, plot points already worked out. 

        I do mean several. The outline is five pages long on its own…

       I cannot honestly remember the last time I actually did an outline. It was probably back in senior English. And I don’t think I’ve ever actually done one for my personal writing before. I know that I’ve never done one for a NaNo project before.

       “But how can you write a novel without an outline?”


My very unusual looking outline

       I start with an idea, and then I just sit down and type. In my mind, if the story is strong enough to keep coming out, then I don’t feel  like I need an outline. If the story just kind of dies off, well, maybe I wasn’t in to it as much as I could have been. Or maybe the idea could have been better. When that happens, I never delete what I’ve written. I just shelve it and keep it stored in its own little folder on my laptop. It’s ready and waiting if I ever want to come back to it.

       Don’t get me wrong, I understand the advantages of having an outline. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have done one. When I do an outline, I’m usually trying to get something done within a certain period of time. And an outline can do that. My outline looks more like a list than an actual outline, but I have plot points that I want to use, all laid out in the right order. That’s going to save me a lot of time. Otherwise, I’ll remember that I had a really great idea for a certain point, but won’t exactly remember where or how I wanted it to go, and that becomes tedious.

       “But doesn’t that take away the fun of surprising yourself with unfolding plot points?”


        Plot points still surprise you, they just do it when you’re writing out the outline, not the story. And that’s a little better than having it surprise you in a story. In an outline, you can easily rearrange plot points to incorporate any surprises and bursts of brilliance. It’s not as easy to do in the actual story, believe me. There’s a whole lot of backtracking and rewriting involved in that path.

        Also, with an outline like the one I’ve done, it makes it a lot easier to write scenes out of order, which I encourage if you feel like it won’t derail your own process. There’s no point in being stuck on a certain point, wasting time staring at a blinking cursor, when you can skip to another section and be more productive, then come back to the trouble spot later. And an outline makes it easier to go back and put them in the correct order.

        Both ways of writing have pros and cons, but when it comes to writing for a deadline, I’m beginning to think that an outline is the best option. I never thought I’d say it, but I might be converting from pantser to planner.