30 November 2011

Good night, NaNoWriMo.

I wouldn't say it's been a blast this time around, but it hasn't sucked like last year, so I'll take that as another win for 2011.

My novel isn't done yet, but it is over 50K...for the moment. Somehow I think it's going to end up under that once it's finished and then edited. But that's okay. I'll probably like it better that way.

Anyway, see you next year! (Because I am a glutton for punishment--and meaningless, arbitrary, self-imposed deadlines, apparently.)

29 November 2011


NaNoWriMo is a series of victories. Committing to do it is the first one. Sticking with it for 30 days is another. Reaching 50K is yet another. Actually finishing a manuscript is another still. In six years of NaNoing (and six years of winning, ;-D ), I have only finished a full manuscript first draft on one occasion within the 30 days, and that was the first year I participated (2006). That book's been published: The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing. My second NaNovel (drafted in 2007) has at last found a home and a publisher and will be coming out around the New Year: Rose & Thorn. Those are two more victories.

Last year, the greatest victory for me was making 50K. It was like pulling teeth! It was a misery! Not that I don't love the book and its characters. Don't get me wrong on that. It was just that I think I had a combination of burn-out (It was the third book in that particular universe, three NaNoWriMos in a row.), and some sort of fifth-year slump. A friend experienced the latter this year, so there may be something to that theory.

This year, the challenge was that, while I love the idea behind this year's story, I don't feel like I'm telling it very well. It's tough to stay motivated when you feel like your book is clunky and awkward. I had to remind myself that the goal was to get it out there, not make it The Next Great Novel (TM) right off the bat. So that's what I've done. I've gotten it out there. It's not done yet, and it won't be done by midnight on Wednesday. But it is getting there. And I think, once I am finished, and I've literally cut and pasted it into a better order of events, and then edited the hell out of it, that it's going to be a pretty damn fine book. Whether the final products is still over 50K words... Well, that remains to be seen.

Has anyone else been NaNoing this year (or in past years) and want to share your experiences? I'd love to hear it in the comments!

22 November 2011

When Pantsers Plot

This is a topic that's been heavy on me of late. I am a pantser. Always have been. But this year for NaNoWriMo, I had a plot before I had anything else. I didn't know any characters' names or much about the world itself when I started. I only knew that it was sort of like the present, only not; and that there had to be a psychic working with the police. To me, this is utterly backwards. My usual m.o. is characters=>world=>plot. This whole plot=>world + characters thing is downright freaky and wrong. As a result, my writing this NaNo has been sporadic. I'm still reaching my daily goal averaged over the month, but it's coming as 3K or 5K one day, and <1K other days. Why? Simple. It's because I know how the book ends and as a result, I'm bored. Nothing is as fun when you know how it ends! I've never been one to skip to the end of a book to see how it comes out, so writing as if I had done just that is incredibly challenging.

I'm finding that the days when I'm getting the most verbiage written, the days that are at times almost easy, are the days when I'm writing character-based scenes that I didn't plan ahead in any way. I'm making new discoveries and digging into these characters whose names I didn't even know until less than a month ago. At the same time, they are giving me insight into the world they live in, which is incredibly helpful because, dude, what is this world, you know? I still don't even have a name for the city! It's downright nuts. They're letting me in on the technology, the legal structure, the society—because like I said, it's here and now, only it's not quite. It's a little bit left of here and a little more ahead of now.  Think Max Headroom, only less prophetic. (Seriously, that show got way too many things right, and they're not the good things.) What did they say on that show's credits? A week from next Sunday? Something like that.

So I keep plugging away. I have every expectation that I'll reach 50K before the end of the month. I suspect, though, that this manuscript will need more rewriting and editing than any of my previous NaNovels because I can already see where I'm missing including details that would make the world richer and more complete. But that's not what this month is about. This month is about getting words and story out onto the page. Finesse is not part of the equation. That's what December is for. Or January. Or February... Oh, hell. I'll see you in the spring. Maybe.