I’m proud to announce that I succeeded in writing 50,000 words of my new novel for National Novel Writing Month.
Hooray for me!
What do I mean by that “ish” in the title?
Oh, you want me to talk about my writing? I thought you’d never ask…
But first, a word for my writing friends out there. If you started NaNo and are worried that you might not get to the 50K mark, take heart, you’re not alone. Every year, more than 4 in 5 people who start NaNo don’t get all the way to the end. And that is FINE. If participating in NaNo inspired, encouraged, or even guilted you into writing more of your WIP than you otherwise would have this month, then you’re doing great! And maybe next year, you’ll be in a better position to write, or have an idea that flows more smoothly, and you will crank those words out in nothing flat. Keep trying!
Imagine that I’m the little engine behind you:
I think you can!
I think you can!
I think you can!
Are you heading up that hill? Great!
Now back to me.
The writing part went fairly well until recently. I was able to take some off work and focus totally on getting the new novel started for the first few days, and that made a huge difference. (Which I talked about in my Day 5 post.) But then there were days I couldn’t squeeze in any writing at all, due to work and other obligations. Plus I took five days for for a lovely vacation with a friend to Joshua Tree National Park and wine-tasting in Temecula, CA – yes, a real vacation!
That timing was fine, as long as I jammed on my writing days, which I mostly did. Here’s my word count so far this month:
- Day 1: 6772
- Day 2: 2561
- Day 3: 5103
- Day 4: 7220
- Day 5: 4580
- Day 6: 4051
- Day 7-15: 0
- Day 16: 5440
- Day 17: 5794
- Day 18: 4323 ** Hit plot problem **
- Day 19: 1608
- Day 20: 0
- Day 21: 232
- Day 22: 5124 ** Hit 50K **
- Day 23: 3543 (Thanksgiving)
- Day 24: so far, 0
The plot problem I hit on Day 18 was an extension of what I mentioned back on Day 5. At that point, I’d written 26K but wasn’t even halfway through the first page of my four-page outline. I thought that maybe if I kept writing, this would…. I don’t know, smooth out?
Instead, by Day 18 I was over 45K and still not past the first page of the outline. I estimate that writing through the whole outline would be at least 200K words. So: no. Okay, maybe I’m over-writing. Maybe I’ll have to cut half of what I’ve written?
Nope, NOT going to work. What I’m writing is pure “skeleton draft” — it’s only dialogue, a little bit of action, and the MC’s thoughts and feelings. There is almost no description at all, no detail, no culture, no world-building. These are people without any distinguishing physical characteristics having discussions in blank, featureless rooms, somewhere in some nondescript country. My idea is that once I can get the story itself to work, I can add all those layers later, move the scenes to different locations as necessary, go back and add in the cultural detail that I didn’t realize until chapter 100 was going to be important, etc. So yeah, I will have to add a ton of words, even if I can trim some of what I have.
I finally came to the realization that the only way to write the story I had in mind was to make it into a trilogy.
Yes, the dreaded T word.
Now, some of you might be thrilled to write a trilogy, or even a longer series. Me? I’m horrified by the idea. Finishing ONE book and making sure the plot structure and pacing and clues and everything work well is hard enough. But designing THREE interlocking books that have one long plot and character arc but also have to have three sub-arcs? That is way more than three times harder.
I debated. I cursed. I tried poking my novel with sticks. But I couldn’t see any other way to go.
I guess I’m writing a trilogy.
I know that some agents tell you to focus on book one and ignore the rest until you see whether book one sells. That sounds insane to me. In both my own writing and in critiquing my writing partners’ writing, there is always one more thing that comes up in the umpteenth revision of the last few chapters that means you have to go back and lay the groundwork for that change back in the early chapters. Only what if you can’t, because you already published that book? Ruh-roh, Raggy!
Clearly some writers of long series are able to deal with that, but I’ve still got my training wheels on over here, folks. I am not taking risks like that. Which means the plan is to write and revise (x10) the entire three-book series until it’s done before I start marketing book one. Which also means that it will be that much longer before I have any book published.
Ugh. Can you see why I’m divided on this?
To make it worse, I feel like I’ve lost focus, lost momentum. When I decided to split the outline into three books, I realized that the chapters I was heading into had suddenly become the final chapters of book one. Oops! I hadn’t planned for a climactic scene here! I hadn’t planned for a specific arc for book one that is now somehow resolving! This is the obvious place to make the break before book two, but I’m just not feeling it. Maybe it’s only post-winning-NaNo ennui. SIGH. Nothing to do but keep plugging away.
Thanks for listening to me rant about my writing and my NaNo experiences! What about you out there in blogging land, how is your writing muse treating you today? For those of you doing NaNo, how is it going?
After November 30, I’ll return to doing flash fiction challenges and be back to visit your sites more often. In the meantime —
Good luck out there, everyone!