Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo Wrap Up

Well, it is now officially December, and NaNoWriMo has come to an end. For those of you who don't know what NaNoWriMo is, that link is to the official site, but briefly, the idea behind National Novel Writers Month is to write a 50000 word novel, about 150 pages, in one month. Quantity over Quality is stressed, with the main thrust being that you get a first draft out of the whole month. This year, I chose to challenge myself, and my family, to complete this. I did, and here are my thoughts.

First off, I completed the month with 51547 words. On November 1st while reading another Tale (Les Mackenzie's Paladin to be exact) a lot of idea's that had been floating around in my head clicked into place and I wrote a short story more to get my ideas down so that I could expand upon it later. I let the tale rest until the 5th, when while reading Orson Scott Card's How to Write Science Fiction I got inspired and decided to try my hand at this NaNoWriMo thing I had been reading about. Now a little bit of background about me...

This whole writing thing, while not completely new to me, has always been short stories, and until recently (with Hollow World), they have languished on the different mediums I wrote them on without allowing them to see the light of day. So, a novel seemed like a daunting task and I decided that if I was going to challenge myself, I would do so using software I had been eying in the form of Scrivener for my Mac. More about that later though.

So I started 5 days late and wrote about 8000 words that first day. I also found out about a contest for winners of the challenge to win gift cards over at Protagonize, so I began posting my tale there as well. Day two I wrote about another 1000 or so words, and then work got in my way and I had a few really stale days where I did not get much written at all and I considered giving up. Now that is typically my hallmark, to start something and walk away after something gets in my way.

I thought to myself that i had started 5 days late, and had just taken, essentially, three days off. Now if you do the math, 50000 words in 30 days is about 1667 words a day. Nine days in and I was looking at about 12000 words. Not very promising. Well, with some encouragement from my wife and a couple of the folks over at Io9, I forced myself to move on. And then I had a planned two day vacation to see my parents and there new house while I happened to be in their neck of the woods. Two more days behind, on the 11th, I was sitting at 13424. A far cry from the 18000 or so the web was suggesting. But, I was enamored with my character, and his development, too much so in retrospect, but that is what a first draft is about. So I powered on with a goal of at least 2000 a day, whittling away at the deficit I had created.

And then it happened, I was just over halfway through the month, and I had come out ahead of the curve. I saw a light at the end of the tunnel, and work got in the way, and I fell behind again. That made me mad so I sat down and powered through some more writing, and something happened. The tale began to change. It took a turn I had not seen coming and became not an entire tale, but the first part in what I am considering to be a quartet, a trilogy at least. But in order to do that, I needed to bring some of things into line. So what, it's a first draft I though and powered on, but not before writing a prologue that at least when I get around to editing it, gives it a clearer direction from the beginning.

So I wrote, and then Thanksgiving came, and I did not write. But I was so far ahead at the time that even missing another day, I was still ahead. And then the 29th hit, I was sitting at 48854 and two days left, and a family who had not seen me much, Between traveling for a living and holing myself up in a room where I could write in peace, I had not seen them much. But they got it, and for that I am grateful, so on the 29th I crossed that 50000 mark. But I was not done, or the story was not quite done. I still had the final confrontation, and a wrap up to write. I wrote another chapter and then an epilogue. Clicked save, clicked submit, and shut the computer down. I had done it, 51,547 words in a month, but really, I did it in twenty-one days.

It is not my best work, and I can live with that. I fell in love with the character, and his training, and I might cut a good 10000 words out right there, but I have a work to cut from now. i have a finished tale that I can move forward on, once I am finished Part 2, I paused writing this to jot down the ideas I had on the way to work today for that, because it is not what I had planned. I think it is better though.

I went into the month of November never having heard of NaNoWriMo and came out the other side having conquered it. Hands willing, I plan on doing it again next year, but now that I know what I am getting myself into, I will go in with a plan, at least an outline I can discard halfway through the writing process.

If you have any questions feel free to ask, because this was enjoyable, as writing should be and I hope to see people I know alongside me next year in the winners circle.

1 comment:

M J said...

I'm so glad you did this, and ever so glad that you have a forum to share it in! I've been reading your work for years now, and know that it's something you love. I'm so proud of you for powering through and doing this even though you had setbacks, and can't wait to work with you on refining it, and making it a final work. Love you lots! :)

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