Sunday, November 25, 2012

It Ain't Over 'Til It Is

NaNoWriMo 2012 is drawing to a close. I 'won' on the 20th, but still have five chapters or so (about 7k-ish to go) before my novel (Draegith) is finished. I am going to end up at only 60k, which is actually 10k less than the final tally for last year's book (Fnerge!). Even though I was aiming for 70k, I'm not really surprised i didn't make it.

Fnerge! had a ton of characters and hopped viewpoints regularly. In many ways it was a much more complex story. Draegith is told almost entirely from the viewpoint of the MC, except for a few brief sections where she is either not conscious or information important to the plot (that she isn't privy to) needs to be passed on to the reader. the geographic area covered in Fnerge! was vast, several entire worlds worth. In Draegith, we only see one small part of one continent. Draegith does have far more emotional content in terms of exploring the MC's relation to her world, which is why it even came close in length to Fnerge!.

I've learned a ton from the process this year. As I've noted over and over again, doing more groundwork and outlining was incredibly helpful. It wasn't easy, but I managed to average 2.5k a day for most of this month. I had several days with wordcounts in the 3k range, and my highest day ever--4.5k last Tuesday. Without all the groundwork I did in October this wouldn't have happened.

However, I've also learned just how inadequate the prep I did really is. I will likely do a much more comprehensive outline for the next book, especially in terms of worldbuilding and character development. It's encouraging to see where improvements can be made, though. And I feel like I've made huge strides in my storytelling, as well as learning a ton about what I need to learn a ton about :) The first step on the road to wisdom is recognizing ignorance.

I'm not really very happy with the novel, unfortunately. This is a first draft, so I don't expect much out of the writing, but it actually reads fairly well. Still rough around the edges, but not too shabby. The story, however, just isn't as exciting as I wanted it to be. Lacks oomph, somehow. Once I'm done with it I'll set it aside for a month or two and then come back to it and see if I'm just feeling blah because I'm worn out, or if it really is lacking somehow. And, is so, try to figure out how to fix it.

Which leads into the final topic for today. I've recently become acquainted with an entire category of thingee-stuffs: plot-aids. I bought a set of Story Cubes for me and my son to play with (he's three). Really fun. They aren't a game, exactly, more of a way of playing together. The set came with nine six-sided dice, each one bearing a pictogram on each face (all different). Things like a smiley face or a bug or an airplane. So the idea is to roll however many cubes, then make up a story based on the images that come up. Plus, little kids love rolling dice, so the whole enterprise works out well.

I've found that I really enjoy working out stories based on random prompts like this. I've never lacked for ideas to write about for my own stories, so I don't need anything to break through 'writer's block" (never had it; not sure I even believe in it), but as a tool for sparking creativity, I like the idea of these sorts of things. Or just for fun :) I've ordered another set of Story Cubes with different pictures (called Story Cubes: Actions), as well as a set of cards called Tell Tale, which are the same idea, just cards instead of dice. I'm also messing around with an app called FIG (Fiction Idea Generator) and considering several other games/tools, mainly The Storymatic. I'll let you all know what comes of these explorations.

And that's it for this week.

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