Letters from Camp NaNoWriMo, Day 5 — Catching Fire

Caro Kinkead
3 min readApr 6, 2022

Goal: 8333 words
Actual: 11,868

Photo by Timothy Meinberg on Unsplash

Dear Dad,

Five days in, everything is good as far as word count goes. A 3,500 word pad on my official camp goal, and 1,800 above my stretch goal. To other folks who are doing this along with me, I look as if I’m on fire.

Truth be told, I’m writing the finale first. I know my opening and how the story is supposed to end. I sketched out the scenes where we meet my male lead and female lead. Over three-quarters written so far, though, are the lead up to the climax. Which means I’m writing my characters’ reactions to events I haven’t put down on paper yet. While the words need to be smoothed, the foundation is strong. My problem is when I run out of finale to write, how am I going to get the characters to that point?

I have solid notes for the first and fourth quarter of the book. There’s a great scene in the third quarter which is written. Second quarter and third quarter? This is where the challenge lies.

There is a school of thought that while your idea may start in the middle of the story, drafting must begin at the beginning. I gave this up years ago because if I start at the beginning, I’m going to run out of steam somewhere in the middle of the second act. I understand the technical things which should happen, what beats are supposed to come next, propelling the characters forward. I am certain where I want them to go, but I need to dig further until they are fully fleshed out.

That’s why I start with the end. I switched a few scenes around because while they are still important to my story, the events need to come in a different order. I now understand how far the female lead’s scheming mother will go to ensure a social triumph, and what can hold her back. The male lead’s emotional wound makes sense, but still needs tweaking to make everything work.

I need to change the placeholder title for an unwanted suitor from the Earl of Ick. If I don’t, the name will stick and I could tend toward caricature, not a genuine character. Even if he is supposed to be somewhat icky.

Notes are being still being scribbled because I’m not out of the planning stage until I finish the first draft. The difference these days is I understand this is part of my process, where discovery is ongoing. I realize what comes before the scene I’m writing. I finish the current scene, then move backwards, to earlier in the book. Sometimes I move one scene back, sometimes several. More writing, more discovery, more moving backwards. This means when I hit the second quarter, I will have hopefully made the necessary discovery to move things forward. All goes well, I’ll be writing those in the latter half of April. This is the point where I see if the story has truly caught fire. Or if I’ll crash and burn.

Off to check the drain hose on my washer because of course it picked now to spring a leak. Talk to you tomorrow,




Caro Kinkead

Writer of words, knitter of yarn. Owned by two adorable cats. writes slightly steamy, slightly sweet historical romance.