Tuesday, November 26, 2013

NaNoWriMo Diaries, Day 26: Does It Work For You?

So, we all know that the concept of "winning" NaNo is a bit arbitrary.  50K is an arbitrary goal and the real prize is finishing a manuscript.  That said, it's a great motivator.

Except when it isn't.

We love seeing the little chart our word-count going up, up, up.

Except when life gets in the way.

I went out of town last week, and told myself I would at least write a little bit while I was there.  But I didn't end up getting in front of the keyboard at all.

I took 10 days off but on the writing days I've been writing well past the 1667 words.  So I think I can still make it.  Also, I can be a bit pig-headed about reaching certain goals.

My story is of course total nonsense.  And not chronological in any way.  For some people, that would be horrible.  But I don't mind the concept of a zero draft, which is totally what this is.

I've seen writers get frustrated when they get too far behind.  There are also the lovely contrarians who find the entire idea of word-count goals to be counter-productive.

NaNo isn't going to be good for every person or every project.

For me, this year, this project, it has worked out nicely.  At least I'm having fun.  To everyone else: if you're not having fun, if the word counts are too much for you, just remember the purpose is to get writing.  Don't stress! Do what you can, do what you love, do what inspires you.

And try not to ignore the fam on Thanksgiving! :)

Are you past the hump?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

NaNoWriMo Diaries, Day 10: Rapid-Fire Writing, Quality, and the 20K Slump

Hey Nanoers,

While writing like crazy, here are a few things I noticed:

1. Writing Quickly Can Lead to Spit-Fire Dialogue & Great Action Scenes.  I like writing in sprints.  On Friday, I challenged myself to write all 1667 words in one hour.  And I succeeded.  You might think that it was all crap, but I don't think it was.  Writing lightning-fast actually works really well for action scenes and rapid-fire dialogue.  I didn't have time to stop and describe things, or write a bunch of dialogue tags.  Result?  Some really fun, sharp dialogue that has a great rhythm to it.  Also, a fast-paced action scene that reads boom, boom, boom.  So who says writing quickly is all bad?

2. Skipping to the Good Part Means You Keep Things Moving: When things get boring, I think it's best to skip to the next scene you're excited about writing.  You can go back and fill in the build up later, and besides I found that I didn't need as much build up as I thought I did.  In fact, I ended up revealing something that I thought would be the midpoint in the novel at 15K.  But that's okay, that just means my story gets bigger earlier.  

3. If You Get Stuck, Do Something Unexpected: We're approaching the infamous 20K slump, when your initial burst of enthusiasm wears off.  My solution: write something that wasn't planned.  If you thought A was going to happen, instead have B happen.  Shake things up, and all of a sudden things will feel fresh again.

No Time to Monkey Around

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

NaNoWriMo Diaries, Day 5: Finding the Character, Finding the Story

It's my first attempt at NaNoWriMo.  Previously, I've always been convinced that I wrote far too slowly to ever manage to 50K words in a month.  A month where I'm usually traveling, no less.

But this year I decided to go for it.  I just have a hunch that it might be the best way to attack my next novel.

Honestly, NaNo is great for pantsing since it forces you to write at a pretty break-neck speed. You can truly write and write until you discover your character and your story.  It isn't about getting the plot or pacing right.  It's about finding out who your character really is. What is making your character tick? Who is she and what is her heart's deepest desire?  And why does it conflict with the world around her?

And once you've figured all that out, you'll quickly find the heart of the novel.

So you just start writing.  Stuff happens.  It might be boring, it might be filled with info-dumps and dreadful dialogue.  But it's going somewhere.  It's your subconscious digging its way out of your dirt-filled brain and into the sunlight.  It might be harsh to look at, but what first draft isn't?

At some point, you find your voice.  Yee-haw! Keep writing to find the story.  And while you're doing it, throw in every cool idea you've got.  Some might fall flat, but that's okay too.

I've found that I get on a roll and am able to complete the word count, and then some.  But I also have moments (daily) where I wonder: wtf am I writing?  This is terrible! This is a boring, overdone, insipid idea! No one will want to read this!

When this happens, I read a few of the gazillion NaNoWriMo peptalks.  I love all the support from other writers.  Generally it boils down to the same thing: this isn't the time to be critical.  This isn't the time to judge. Your draft doesn't have to be elegant or even sensical.  (Well, maybe those outlining folks write something sensical.  I dunno.).

All you gotta do is have fun and write what inspires you.  That's the magic of NaNoWriMo.

The elephant in the room: how many words did you write today?