Sunday, November 6, 2011

NaNoWriMo First Timer

So I'm knee-deep in my very first NaNoWriMo (hereafter NaNo) (or Na-Nooooo!), and I'm loving it. Every day so far has followed this basic template--my inner critic screams at me all morning, I have a blast writing for a few hours in the afternoon and feel great, my inner critic screams at me all night. The writing is probably the easiest part of my day.

Yeah, that inner critic is a butthole.

The novel that I am producing is now six chapters long, each chapter is about 2k words plus a little extra, and it will be a total of thirty chapters. So I will have between 60 and 70k when I'm done. I chose this structure specifically because I wanted to have a completed story at least 60k long. Having this clear and easy to follow plan has made the work much easier to process for me. I am not married to the structure, however, and will rearrange things at will once the story is done. If needed.

I will almost assuredly end up rewriting a lot of the clunk that crowds my MS right now. This is a zero draft, just a means to get the story worked out. Any decent writing that results is just a bonus. So far I am seeing a lot of room for additional descriptions and/or chunks of narrative summary that I will likely want to go back and turn into actual scenes. Or delete. Just saying.

My hope is to finish initial revisions by the end of December, at the latest. Then it will be time for beta readers, more revision (maybe) and so on. I say maybe to more revisions because it is entirely possible that I will abandon the work once it is whipped into half-decent shape. For a while, at least, while I work on the next one.

Why? Because my experiences with my first few short stories taught me that it will likely take a few novels (at least) to get to grips with the basics of long form story-telling. My very first short has been extensively revised three times, each one several months apart. It's now decent, not great but passable, but doesn't hold a candle to my later works (imho.) I have learned a huge amount about both writing and storytelling over the last half-year.

The biggest reason for this book, and for my participation in NaNo, is just to have a finished, novel-length MS. Just to prove to myself that I can do it, and to have enough experience to feel more confident going into my next one. Writers learn by writing. BIC HOK TAM, and all that.

Things learned so far:

Writing fast is easy if you don't worry about quality of words, just quality of story. Get the meat roasted, fix the trimmings later.

Double Days, like I had instead of my Day-Off Story Challenge, are great for getting a running start. I'm actually a day ahead on my quota because of that, and will likely finish my NaNo several days early.

It is difficult to write on weekends, with all the family distractions. I plan to up my weekly quota by a bit, just to take the edge off of weekends. Or something.

Biggest one--it is entirely possible to start with nearly nothing, and get at least to day seven of NaNo. I've proved that to myself. My initial outline is essentially 30 lines, one per chapter, bare bones and very skimpy, and my story idea entry in the Idea Bank is maybe 600 words. I've got the squiggliest of roadmaps and am just making it up as I go along. I'll let you know how that ultimately works out, but for now it's just fine. The only way out is through.

If anyone out there wants to be my NaNo buddy (assuming the adding system is up and running :), I'm silverbowen, same as on twitter.

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