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I'm going to enter every Challenge AND write my novel!

My plans for 2024

By Maureen Y. PalmerPublished 3 months ago 4 min read
I'm going to enter every Challenge AND write my novel!
Photo by Jessica Ruscello on Unsplash

2024 will be my first full year in business as a writer, and I have big plans.

I started writing my novel in 2021, but considered it just a hobby until last year, when I realized I want to pursue writing professionally. That’s when I joined Vocal Media. I posted quite a few stories and entered several challenges in 2023, but this year, I want to take things up a notch.

Why I want to enter every Challenge in 2024:

Almost all of my challenge entries so far have involved serious over-thinking and over-researching. For my Whodunit entry, I spent hours researching forensic entomology and other methods of time-of-death estimation, planning unnecessary characters, and even trying to research how to make bombs (Note to the FBI: I only did that because I was trying to make my story realistic!). While I want to make sure my stories don’t have glaring factual flaws, I need to get better at only researching facts that are actually important to the story. Forensic entomology details and explosives manufacturing methods did not make it into the final story at all. By committing to entering every Challenge, I will significantly limit the amount of time I have available to create each entry, forcing myself to be more efficient.

Despite my best intentions, I have probably been overthinking this Challenge entry too…but at least the problem has been reduced thanks to my self-imposed time crunch.

Overall, I hope to improve my writing this year through refined focus on what work is actually important to create a good piece of writing, as well as a “quantity leads to quality” strategy of getting a lot more writing practice by doing a lot more writing.

And I look forward to the creative challenge! My "tagline" on here is "Reading • Writing • Murder!" and it will be fun to figure out ways to fit all of my Challenge entries into this niche.

Why I want to write my novel:

Maybe I don’t even need to explain this, because doesn’t everyone???

This is my #1 dream as a writer, and in fact it’s what got me into being a writer in the first place. It was only after I resurrected my childhood author dreams (for fun) that I realized how much I love this and that it is what I want to pursue professionally. Novels are my absolute favorite thing to read, so actually writing one would be the pinnacle of writing achievements for me.

Currently, my novel consists of a chaotic first draft and a large, disorganized pile of notes to self (made only slightly neater by my recent action of corralling the pile into a stack of six file folders). I’m working on making a restructured outline for my second draft and either incorporating or getting rid of notes in the chaotic-notes folders. I hope to finish this outline (and the folders) soon and then create my second draft by the end of March. I say “create” instead of “write” because I will most likely end up copying many sections of the first draft directly into the second, in addition to writing new text to fill in the gaps.

After that, I will proceed to fine-tuning the overall structure, then the structure of scenes, and finally the actual prose. I’m not sure if I will realistically be able to get my novel ready to query by the end of the year, but I’m pretty sure I’ll at least get it respectable enough to show to other humans for feedback.

Why I want to do both:

Even though I consider my novel to be my top writing priority, I think it’s a good idea to also keep up with plenty of Vocal writing. Although it may seem like writing for Vocal Media will naturally reduce the speed of my noveling progress, I’m not sure that’s true. I've found that getting into a habit of speedy writing for deadlines gives a feeling of momentum that also pushes along my progress in other areas of work and life. When I write consistently for challenges, I’ll be more focused, and more practiced at writing and writing fast. Secondly, by writing entries for Vocal Challenges, I’m also improving my writing skills. The more short fiction I write, the better I will get at crafting exciting and well-structured plots, tense atmosphere, and…good..phrasings? (Yeah, I’m definitely still working on my description skills…) Poetry work will help improve the rhythm and beauty of sentences I write. And good nonfiction can easily tell as gripping and well-written a story as any fiction, so the skills are very transferrable. Polishing all these writing skills will get me ready to polish the text of my novel (Hopefully later this year!).


So far, I’m off to a good start! I entered the Whodunit challenge, now I’ve entered the #200 challenge, and I’m finally making good progress in my noveling efforts after months of stagnation.

Check back soon to see my Abecedarian :)

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About the Creator

Maureen Y. Palmer

Reading • Writing • Murder!

I'm an avid reader and aspiring author, currently working on my first mystery novel. Here, I write essays about reading and writing, as well as short mystery/thriller/horror fiction.

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Comments (5)

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  • Test2 months ago

    Lovely. Have you considered posting chapters of your rough draft/s in the Critique community on Vocal? I find it quite inspiring.

  • Kendall Defoe 3 months ago

    You have stolen all my plans! ;)

  • Cathy holmes3 months ago

    Wonderful aspirations. Good luck in 2024.

  • Celia in Underland3 months ago

    Fabulous goals! I don't know part of the fun of writing is the ridiculously pointless research you end up doing 😁 Good luck with both goals and hope the novel comes together! 🤍

  • L.C. Schäfer3 months ago

    Words are not a finite resource! Writing begets writing. I find writing more here makes me write more in general. 😁

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