The last day of November and of NaNoWriMo and I’m amazed to say I managed to get it across the line with 50,545 words with hours to spare.
It took me a good part of the week to claw back the deficit from last weekend, but by Thursday I was back within touch of the daily target goal. I can see how it would be so easy with some back luck to fall behind. I ran into an issue in the last few days in that I’d got the main storyline in a good place to park it, but I still needed more words. So I revisited and expanded some of the other threads of the story.
For example, the MC’s brother had been a particular thorn in my side. He appeared in one critical scene and that was it. Never spoken of again. I was in two minds to give him the chop. Instead, I packed him off to a far-flung planet. The communication delays of that distance meant the MC had to create diary-style messages to keep him in the loop. Turned out to be a useful mechanism for getting the MC to explain some of her thoughts and challenges.
What were the positive things about my NaNoWriMo experience? Number one and honestly the only reason I managed to make the goal, is the community. Online via twitter, facebook and the forums as well as face to face meetups, the help and support has been amazing. I had my doubts at the start. I’m a convert at this point. A particular shout out to the Kent team for the amazing organisation effort they put in. If you are thinking about doing NaNoWriMo and you are not tapping into the community you may well be missing the point.
The simple satisfaction of knowing if I’m really willing to sit down and focus I can actually write a novel. If I can just avoid all the other inevitable distractions. Realistically the 1666 word pace for me at the moment is too high. I’d need to dial it back to something like 1k words a day for .five days a week to sustain longer periods of writing. That would give me the time to properly explore the ideas and concepts. At this month’s frenetic pace, I’ve got breadth but at the sacrifice of depth in terms of characters, places, culture etc. For me, it’s those details that make the difference when I read fiction.
I’d been using Scrivener for a few months, but not really getting that much benefit from it over say Word or Google Docs. This month I started to really explore it and it has made life so much easier. The ability to organise scenes, label them, move them around. Along with some nice templates for character and location creation, built-in goal tracking etc. It’s saved me days in this month.
What next? By my reckoning, the novel is about 40% complete in terms of the milestones I’d originally envisaged. We won’t mention that the story morphed into a trilogy somewhere along the line. For now, it’s all going in the digital filing cabinet until the new year. For three reasons:
- I’ve had enough. It’s all I’ve thought about for a month and I need a break from this ever-shifting half-imagined world.
- I have a couple of other projects that have been bubbling along, that now need their day in the sun. Thankfully neither have anything to do with writing fiction. Yipee!
- I have a backlog of books about writing I’m not getting through because I’ve been too busy writing. The irony I know. The problem is my storytelling skills have been truly tested this month and it has exposed several holes in my knowledge, ranging from grammar through to editing. So I actually need to sit down and read about how to write. I know crazy.
I imagine I’ll pick this up sometime in January and re-read it and do a tentative first pass edit of what’s there before I consider how I’ll push on with it. I know I need to do a lot more research, which in turn feeds into deeper characters and more vivid world-building. Personally, I’d rather tackle that before ploughing on, now the daily target is done for another year.