As some of you may recall, I decided to create my own personal NaNo challenge and write 50,000 words in 30 days. Just not in November. I wasn’t ready on November 1st to start a new novel, and I wanted the proper amount of time to prepare. That was supposed to be November and December. Which turned into November, December and January. Bleeding over into February.
Finally, on February 15th, I decided to start writing. I hadn’t even committed to really writing full force into this NaNo thing yet, hence the measly 208 words you see on the graphic below, but I started. After that, I figured, what the hell. I might as well go big or go home. So I did.
It was a strange way to write for me. I’m usually more about getting everything right before I push on. That’s not to say my previous work hasn’t needed copious amounts of editing, it’s just that the plot, story structure, character development, was mostly all there. If I needed to spend two hours researching something that would get a one sentence mention, then I did just that. I hated writing knowing there was a particular mistake hanging over my head that needed to be fixed.
NaNo forces you to do the exact opposite of that. You just keep writing. No matter what. No matter if a character has the name of Bob, but you know that’s not his name, you just need time to research. Or if the imaginary creature you haven’t named gets the letters XXX every time they come up, because you haven’t developed that perfect name yet. In fact, there are a lot of XXX’s in the MS, because there are quite a few things you haven’t imagined yet. That’s okay. They’ll hold.
And showing versus telling? Well, if you naturally write “showy” then you don’t have to worry about telling. But if you’re like me, there’s going to be a lot of telling I need to fix on the editing end. Along with filter words, overuse of adverbs, demonstrating emotion in effective ways, and a whole list of other things. But writing 50k in 30 days isn’t about getting it perfect the first time, it’s about getting the story on paper. To be honest, I’m betting the amount of editing I do won’t actually be more than my last non-NaNo novel, it’ll just be different. But as I haven’t begun to edit yet, we’ll have to see.
There was one definite benefit to the NaNo approach that I wasn’t anticipating, though it makes perfect sense now. I didn’t have time to develop this story into infinitesimal detail prior to writing, so it isn’t an over thought novel. Though it definitely needs more character development, and some scenes that I hadn’t thought about before to add more depth to the fictional world, I was able to get the core story “on paper” which I think was the best thing for me. This is the shortest draft I have ever written, I mean by a lot. So I won’t spend too much time agonizing over things I need to cut. It’ll be more like making sure the novel has everything it needs to be the story I want it to be.
So I’m pretty excited about this NaNo win. Even if it wasn’t during a designated NaNo Challenge time, I still wrote my 50k in 28 days, and that was with taking off 7 days for other things. It proves to myself I can write faster, and still do it reasonably well. The length of time it took to complete my other novels was a bit disheartening, and I was afraid I would always be a slow writer. Now I have another tool in my arsenal and will use what I’ve learned for my next novel. I may not do a full out NaNo approach, but it will certainly be more like that than my previous meticulous attempts.
Next up will be the editing. Not sure how that’s going to go, but I have confidence that when I’m done, I’ll have a compelling YA re-telling of The Last of the Mohicans. So, back to work!