… that is the question.
Photo credit: Chesna at Pixabay
In spring, my fancy may lightly turn to thoughts of love, but in October, my fancy turns to thoughts of NaNoWriMo.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, NaNo is National Novel Writing Month. There’s tons of information online about it, but here’s the brief scoop: every November, writers across the world sign up on the NaNoWriMo website and pledge to write at least 50,000 new words of their novel during the 30 days of November. You create a profile, submit a name for the story you’re working on, and keep track of how many words you’ve written each day. The site gives you a helpful graph of how you’re doing relative to your goal, and there are various types of tips and social support to help keep you going. If you succeed in reaching 50,000 words on or before November 30, you submit what you’ve written to the automated system that counts the words (don’t worry, nobody’s reading it) to get credit for your “win”!
The first question is:
Do I have something good to write?
Of course, writers should always be writing, and writing good things. However, you aren’t always in the position of needing to add 50,000 words to your current project. And if you don’t have a good idea of what you want to write, you might end up halfway through November horribly frustrated that you still don’t know what to write.
I did NaNo for the first time in 2015. I’d been working on my first novel (still unfinished), Corwallen Manor. I had what I thought was a good outline and had written the first half or so of the book. During NaNo I added another 60,000 words, and still hadn’t finished it.
When NaNo 2016 came around, I was still writing and revising Corwallen Manor, but I didn’t have another 50,000 new words to add to it, so I didn’t participate in NaNo.
By NaNo 2017, I still wasn’t making much progress on Corwallen Manor. In fact, it was a total mess. To be fair, this is my classic First Novel, where I’m determined to make every novice mistake in the book, sometimes multiple times in different ways. I’d been getting more serious about writing short stories and those needed revising too. I felt stuck in Revision Land, like I was churning and not getting anywhere.
So I decided I’d tap into the exciting spirit of NaNo and start a brand new novel. A simple novel, without the myriad problems that I’d discovered in my first one. A bright shiny happy fresh new novel.
That was that time when I wrote a whole book’s worth of scenes and got less than 1/4 of the way through my outline. Turns out I need more practice figuring out how many words are needed for each sentence in my outline! In other words, I’d accidentally started a trilogy. Worse, I struggled with revising that Book 1 off and on for a year, unable to get the character and plot and theme to work. I finally realized last week (see Inspirational Hiatus) that it was fundamentally broken and the entire structure had to be leveled to the foundations. Luckily, I think I can rebuild it.
We can rebuild him.
(What, no Six Million Dollar Man fans out there?)
I have some intriguing new ideas on where to take that story — tentatively called Dar’s Story until I can figure out something better — but I need more time to work through some of the world-building first.
So, what would I write if I entered NaNo 2018? The good news is that in the last year, I’ve had Corwallen Manor sitting on my mental back burner simmering, and have experienced several major breakthroughs. I finally feel like I understand the core themes and the character arcs. I also realized that part of the problem with the initial version was that I started far too late in the story, skipping almost the entire first act and starting with the inciting incident, followed in the next chapter by the second act. Kaboom, let’s go!
I’m excited about the story again, and looking forward to sitting down and focusing on it again. I’d need to put some serious time into a new outline first, though.
But if I start talking about outlining, this post will get far too long, so I’ll end with this conclusion:
IF I do NaNo this year,
I would start my complete rewrite of Corwallen Manor.
Whew, at least one question answered!
If you’re considering or already committed to doing NaNo this year, what are you planning to write? Is it a new project, or something you’ve been tossing around for quite a while already?
I’d love to hear from you!