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July Camp '22: By Sunrise



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Wed Jun 29, 2022 4:59 pm
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Elinor says...



Halloween, 2009. Thirteen year old Drew Miller reluctantly accompanies his mother and father on a trip to Salem, Massachusetts for the biggest Halloween celebration of the year, where Drew's grandparents also live. However, as his grandparents have recently downsized into a small apartment, and Drew and his parents instead stay at a historic hotel in town.

There, Drew softens when he meets Kirsten, a beautiful and quiet teenager who always seems slightly out space and time. Around the same time, he learns of an unsolved, mysterious death of a teenage girl on Halloween at the very hotel fifty years earlier, whose ghost is rumored to haunt its halls. Very soon, Drew realizes Kirsten is that very ghost.

Alternating between 1959 and 2009, as Drew and Kirsten's connection deepens, the mystery of her death slowly begins to come to light.

Goal: 12,000 words

This is something that's been floating around for a while and I always forget about. I think the initial idea sprung into my head, when I was in eighth grade so I want to keep the "modern" sections in 2009 to honor that. And this isn't a romance, because that's weird, but I think Drew will be infatuated with her and it's more about their emotional connection, solving the murder, and the Halloween vibes. Since I spent my Halloweens in Salem when I lived in Boston, it will be fun to recall those and do additional research for the time period stuff.

I think it will be similar in length to All Our Yesterdays, and my intuition tells me it will be slightly shorter. Beyond this, if I come up with another story of a similar length for the next Camp NaNo, and make it about a connection between across time, I think I could have three novelettes I could package together. But, one step at a time!

I also figure if I can write Under the Apple Tree, a summer story, in fall/winter, I can write a Halloween story in July.

Side goal: I want to finish my script I'm 81 pages into, but that will be a task I can do if I have a bad writing day with this.

Let's do this!

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All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.

-- Walt Disney




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Wed Jun 29, 2022 9:21 pm
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Elinor says...



My first conundrum came up almost immediately after I announced this. I originally always imagined that Kirsten was murdered, and murdered for a specific reason and that was part of the reason her ghost wasn't at peace.

Then, I've realized my last two projects have dealt with dead women, specifically, dead murdered women. I don't think this means I shouldn't tell this story, but filming Time in a Bottle was particularly emotionally taxing for me in this regard and I'm very nervous as how to the audience is going to react to it since the outcome is rather bleak. My other project, Starlight (the one I'm 81 pages into) is also rather bleak.

My original vision for this story and what happens to Kirsten is rather mean spirited and malicious, but I was thinking about it and ultimately I want to tell this story because its message is rather neutral about how mortality is a part of life. Kirsten's life may have been cut short, but through his friendship with her, Drew is able to mature and think more in the long term as he prepares to enter high school the following year.

I also worry what people will think as these themes reoccur in my work, but in this one a charming charismatic man who isn't what he seems won't factor into it. Someone recently pointed out this character type comes up time and time again in my work, and I suppose that's true, but I always try to balance things out. (For example, Time in a Bottle has Mike, who is evil, but also has Jim, who is a good man, and his inclusion is there because I don't want people making that into a men bad, women good situation).

Also, my last few prominent male characters, Cole (All Our Yesterdays), Brady (Under the Apple Tree) and Jake (Starlight) are deeply flawed, but ultimately mean well and are each trying to do the right thing.

But maybe this issue of mortality has been on my mind because I'm having to show kids in my driver's ed class gruesome crash videos with stories of teens just like them who died in car wrecks. It's something I've thought about a lot ever since I've begun to follow true crime, how people's lives get cut short for any number of reasons but that doesn't mean there isn't value in the time they had. I love Halloween, but it's such an interesting holiday because to me because that's when we embrace some of the darker aspects of our existence. When people die young, there are no do overs. That's it. How do we make the most of our existence in spite of that? I suppose that's what I've been exploring in these last couple of projects.

Point being, I've settled on Kirsten's death being accidental. What I have in mind means she couldn't have died in the hotel, but rather, on its premises or close to them, so I need to think on that further.

Plus, Drew will also only be the second male protagonist I've written and my first time writing a child as a lead. I think I'm going to have fun with him. If I do this right, I think this could even be YA-appropriate.

Either way, I'm excited to start writing and see where it leads me.

All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.

-- Walt Disney




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Thu Jun 30, 2022 1:50 am
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Carlito says...



This sounds cool Elinor!! Best of luck during camp <3
It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.

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Sat Jul 02, 2022 12:22 am
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Elinor says...



Day 1 - 310 words

It took me forever to write the introduction. I'm writing this in a breezier style than I'm used to, mostly just setting up Drew's character and his angst and attitude. I'm going to have fun with this!

All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.

-- Walt Disney




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Sun Jul 03, 2022 6:01 pm
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Elinor says...



Day 3 - 1036 words

I did write yesterday, but I forgot to update my thread. Drew is in a bad mood because he'd rather spend Halloween weekend with his friends than go to Halloween in Salem. Tensions flare in the car is at they get stuck in traffic, first from construction then an accident, making the drive twice as long as it should be.

All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.

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Tue Jul 05, 2022 3:22 am
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Elinor says...



Day 4 - 1420 words

Drew and his family check into the hotel, but it's different. He is definitely going to meet Kirsten in the next part. My one worry is that I'm making Drew too unlikable of a protagonist, especially since he's been complaining on the whole car trip over, but he is thirteen, and I'm hoping through his friendship with Kirsten he's able to grow and mature.

A short excerpt!

Spoiler! :
They finally arrived at the Sunrise Inn and Suites just before lunchtime. In spite of its cheesy, stereotypical name, the hotel was like none that Drew had ever been in before. It was a short drive away from the center of town, at the bottom of a hill, right along the lakefront. The building reminded Drew of something out of an old movie, though he couldn’t think of a specific one. It just seemed as though it belonged to a different time. It was built out of red brick with a dark roof, and it didn’t seem very large at all. There appeared to be some sort of restaurant on the ground level.
Even though it was autumn, it was still a nice, sunny day, and people were sitting outside as Drew and his parents pulled up into the parking lot.

Drew had kept his earbuds in the entire time, and at that moment, Green Day’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams had just reached its climax.

“Drew,” his mother snapped once they parked.

Till then, I walk alone, the song blasted.

“ANDREW MILLER!”

Automatically, Drew removed his earbuds. “What?” He complained.

His mother gave him a long look, and his father looked back at him too. For a moment, he was afraid he was going to be in more trouble. Instead, his mother merely informed him to put his iPod away while they were checking into the hotel. "And turn your volume down when you listen," his mother added. "I can hear what you're listening to, and you're going to blow out your eardrums that way."

To this he reluctantly agreed.

All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.

-- Walt Disney




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Wed Jul 06, 2022 3:03 am
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Elinor says...



Day 5 - 1683 words

A shorter day today, if only becomes some events transpired today that made me wonder if this story is better served as a script. Not quite ready to share yet, but the one thing I will say is that I'm not in a position to wait until Camp NaNo is over to write this as script. I don't want to abandon this prose version either.

if anything, the story is simple enough that I can work on both simultaneously, and I'll have this prose version not only as something to refer to as I move forward with whatever this story ends up being, but also to help me flesh out the characters.

So maybe this Camp NaNo will be a hodgepodge; the script, the story and finishing my other feature script. To be clear, the feature script would probably about 30-40 pages (so similar in length to Eagle Rock so even so it all feels doable to me.

Today, I worked on a prologue of sorts focusing on Kirsten before her death in order to set the scene, so we have a sense of what's at stake.

It's kind of crazy that I feel accomplished for writing a few hundred words a day when it's taken me five days to reach my one day word count during NaNoWriMo, but what I have to tell myself the smallest bit of writing is a step forward. While I've been slugging along with a few hundred words a day, I feel as though once I get rolling will come together smoothly.

Today's excerpt!

Spoiler! :
It was the autumn of 1959, and sixteen year old Kirsten Johansen was in love. The native of Salem, Massachusetts had always been quiet and kept to herself. High school, thusfar, had been a time to keep to herself, to keep her head down and hope that she was in the process of creating a better future for herself.

She was artistic, and while she’d been an average student at best the one thing that she’d excelled at was home economics. She’d spent most of her free time sewing, mostly hats, scarves, socks and other accessories. One day, soon, she wanted to be good enough to sew her own clothes. She would have a big family, a lot of children, and she would make sure they always had the prettiest things to wear.

Kirsten had never been in love before she met Artie. He was a bookish boy and was in the drama club at school.

They’d met one of the first weeks back, when the weather was still warm enough for everyone to have lunch outside. It all happened very much as it did in the movies.

All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.

-- Walt Disney




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Thu Jul 07, 2022 2:07 am
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Elinor says...



Day 6 - 2053 words

Set the scene for Drew to meet Kirsten as he endures a boring lunch with his parents at the hotel. For whatever reason it's been a lot of effort to write even 300 words a day in this, but I'm hoping it's leading somewhere.

All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.

-- Walt Disney




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Tue Jul 12, 2022 7:11 pm
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Elinor says...



Day 12: 2659 words

Ugh, I got really behind, but never again.

Drew's been a challenge, but I'm trying to remember how I felt when I was in eighth grade and I think this passage hints at it. I'm going to try to write more the next few days to get caught up.

Spoiler! :
The beach was at the end of a short, tree-lined path at the bottom of a hill. For the minute or two that Drew walked down the path, away from any vestiges of the restaurant or the hotel or the rest of Salem, he really felt like he could think.

At the high school, there was a special class that you could take where you’d go on different day trips out in nature, learning about the land and helping out with various service projects. Then, in the summer, you’d spend two weeks camping. Drew knew that for a fact that he wanted to take that class. The problem was that it was only available to juniors and seniors. Drew still had almost an entire year of eighth grade before his freshman year.

It, like everything else, seemed so far away.

Drew looked at his watch and kept an eye on the time. He knew that he was on thin ice as it was with his parents, and he didn’t want to anger them any further by not being back on time.

Even though it was a nice day for the fall, the beach was quiet.

So quiet, in fact, that it appeared that he was the only person there.

Wait, he wasn’t alone. There was an older man who appeared to be taking pictures. He was a ways down, however, and so engrossed in his own photography that he didn’t pay Drew any mind.

Drew approached the beach, and took off his shoes. The water was freezing cold, but at least it made him feel something.

For a moment he just stood there, his feet in the water, the sand sinking under it, listening to the waves. It was almost magic how everything that troubled him seemed to melt, just standing here. There was no thinking about how he lacked control in his own life, no thinking about how he always disappointed his parents and never did anything right, no matter how hard he worked. Most of all, there was none of what seemed to be his daily struggle, how everyone still treated him like a child even though he felt so many things, many of which were new to him.

All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.

-- Walt Disney




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Wed Jul 13, 2022 3:39 am
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Elinor says...



Also, my smaller goal (finish the script I got 81 pages into) is complete. Now, to focus on this story!

All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.

-- Walt Disney




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Thu Jul 14, 2022 1:42 am
Elinor says...



Day 13: 3070 words

Not entirely caught up yet, but I'm getting there. Kirsten and Drew have started conversing, but he doesn't realize she's a ghost yet. More to come!

All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.

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Sun Jul 17, 2022 11:24 pm
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Elinor says...



Day 17: 3459 words

Continued on with Kirsten and Drew's conversation, and skipped a little bit ahead to write the ending. I'm not sure if I'm going to get to the end of this story or to 12k words by the and of the month, especially with moving, being busy with work and having to look for another job, but I'll keep pressing along and see where I'm at by the end of the month.

While I've had a good streak with NaNo and I don't want to break that just yet, at the very least I have writing that I didn't have at the beginning of this month and to me that's worth something!

All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.

-- Walt Disney




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Tue Jul 19, 2022 3:08 pm
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Liminality says...



Great work with your Camp NaNo so far Elinor! The excerpts you're sharing seem really well-written, and I like the thematic ideas of your story. Best of luck with the writing!
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Tue Jul 26, 2022 10:21 pm
Elinor says...



Day 26: 5306 words

I had some free time to write over the weekend (but limited cell service to update), and made a fair bit of progress. I. may finish this, I may not (though, to be honest, the story I tell is probably going to be less than 12k, but I'll adjust accordingly if so). Either way, I know for sure that I want to reimagine this as a screenplay.

I feel rather limited by Kirsten being a ghost right now and even then, she's interacting with Drew as any human would, she just can't move from the spot on the beach where she died. While I like the distance Drew being in the "present day" of 2009 provides, it would be interesting to seem him interact a little bit more with her world.

I remember reading about time slips and thinking that could be interesting to play with, because it's not full out time travel and I don't really want to get into the ramifications of changing history.

We'll see where I end up this next week! It might be nice to finish a first draft so I can decide where I want to take the story where I rewrite it as a screenplay. This next week is busy but I'm definitely not done taking it where it needs to go.

All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.

-- Walt Disney




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Thu Jul 28, 2022 2:36 am
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Elinor says...



Day 27: 6110 words

I finished the first scene with Kirsten and Drew and wrote out most of the first interaction with Drew and his parents and grandparents. This project has been the epitome of slow and steady. The one thing I feel is that there hasn't been enough spook. I'm just going to keep going and see where this project leads me.

All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.

-- Walt Disney







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