Half-way through NaNoWriMo and by hook or by crook, I’ve hit the 25k target. Let’s just say it’s a been a week of ups and downs as shown by the daily word count.
After last weekend’s NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge, I started this week with a 3k word hole. It’s fair to say I wasn’t enjoying the first part of the week. The story was tough going. I essentially have three threads I’m weaving at the moment.
Thread #1 – the main character (MC) background story. Groundwork really for a sequence of choices she has to make. I haven’t really struggled with this thread. It’s just slow going. It allows for some humour in what would otherwise be a very bleak tale. It also has most of the emotional pieces in the story as I try and get readers to relate and invest themselves in the MC’s plight. This is very much the story as experienced from one person’s perspective. The writing here is fairly detailed.
Thread #2 – the bigger picture. The relationship between the two major races/cultures. It’s the politics, the espionage, plotting and intrigue. If you’re a fan of the west-wing, specifically Bartlet’s & Leo’s relationship, then you have a fair idea of what I’m going for. I’m not Aaron Sorkin though. Large parts of this thread play out in the safety of the tactical or negotiating room. Tough choices are made, that then impact the other two threads. I’m having far too much fun with it. Its very dialogue-driven, and it’s flowing quite naturally. Apart from the amount of nodding, sitting, standing going on, I need to work on my descriptions for body language.
Thread #3 – the consequences thread. This is a sequence of action cameos that put you ringside for the fallout of some of the big decisions being made. It’s been the bane of my life this week, as it relies on so much research that I didn’t do in October. It mostly consists of a number of military engagements. Introduces key concepts and realities of space warfare. It’s also foreshadowing of the MC’s ultimate role. This thread contains the key seeds of this novel, the reason why I decided to do it, and yet it’s the most frustrating to write. The writing should be action, fast-paced, edge of your seat stuff it reads more like a set of instructions for baking a cake, and not a great cake either.
You can probably imagine it’s a mixed bag, weaving this little lot. There are milestone scenes, the ones I’ve wanted to write from the beginning, the ones I’ve been looking forward to. But to get to them with context, I’ve had to write so many other scenes. The writing reflects this. At times I’ll spend an age crafting a paragraph/scene at other times it almost feels like outlining.
It’s like a monstrous black and white jigsaw. My strategy at the moment is to get the edge/border done, to get right around the story. In the middle, there’s almost nothing. That’s where a world needs to be built. For me, that’s the fun bit, but it requires research, a lot of thought and would not yield the daily word count. It is a challenge, to move characters and objects through such a black and white world. I suspect I’ll be taking a few months post-November not to add any more story, but to revisit what I have, to fill in the jigsaw and get my colouring pens out, to make the world come alive.
Overall I might be halfway through NaNoWriMo but in terms of the novel I’m still in the foothills, Act 1 (7 chapters in). Above me, the cloud covered 100k loft peak is sometimes visible on a good day. I will not be keeping up this relentless 1666 word a day pace to get there. For me, that’s not sustainable. At the moment my routine will be to write from 2pm to midnight every day. I know! First world problems. There are writers who would kill for that amount of free time.
With a few breaks, it’s about 8 hours a day – it feels like a job, a badly paid job 😉 It translates into approx. 200 words an hour. Of course, that’s not how it works. Sometimes I can write a 1000 words in an hour, other times, I’ll be lucky to do two hundred. In many instances, I’m happier with the 200 than 1000. Word count is not a measure of quality.
Am I enjoying NaNoWriMo? Well no, are you meant to? Is it getting done? Hell, yes and that’s far more important.