Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Brant’s NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up

Before delving into this post, I want to thank Kathryn for all the posts she wrote during the last month.  She put a lot of effort into picking music and posting about how her choices inspire her.  I for one found her posts and choices of music interesting and thought-provoking.  Great work Kathryn.

My Final NaNoWriMo  Status

  • My Cumulative Word Count: 57,580
  • Average Words per Day: 1920
  • I Passed 50,000 words On: Nov 22
  • Current Page Count of (Mostly) New Material: 211
  • Chapters finished (out of 13 planned): 7 

The short hand of these statistics is that I finished well ahead of schedule and went a long way towards having a (very rough) first draft of my second novel, …Demiurge, Unbound,….

And I get to proudly display the following:




Don’t bother trying to blow up the certificate.  I printed it out and still can’t read it.  The people at NaNoWriMo need to award a better JPG file.

Final Thoughts on NaNoWriMo 2010

The goal of writing 1667, on average, every day is extraordinarily hard to do on a day-in-day-out basis.  I had a significant advantage in that I had been thinking about my story for a very, very, long time and had a great deal of material in my head. 

What slowed me down, kept me from writing well over 60,000 words in a month were the undefined areas where I had to stop and think about what I wanted or needed to write about. 

That is where I am right now in my story: How do I get from the start of chapter 8 to the end of the story?   I have some ideas, and know what I want in the last paragraph of the book, but in between is a mystery.

Writing 50,000 words in 30 days pushed me to write even when I had no idea what was about to pour out onto the page.  As a result, sometimes when I was struggling, plodding along writing what at first felt like drivel, I would have an burst of insight about what a chapter was really about.   Random and aimless text suddenly became focused and directed.  Meaningless sentences became subtle hints to what was coming. 

In those moments writing became effortless and I was unable to type as fast as the thoughts came to me. 

I am now in a quandary over how best to spend my time.   There is value in editing and refining my first book, and there is equal value in pushing on and finishing a first draft of the second book.  And if I finish a first draft of the second book, why not push on and write a draft of the third through seventh books? 

I think what I must do is create a schedule in which part of my time is spent editing and part of it is spent creating new material.  This is not my normal way of working, and transitioning to such a schedule will not be easy.  But I believe the benefits I will gain from such a shift in habits is far greater than continuing with my usual habits.  For this insight, I have NaNoWriMo to thank.

I also discovered I have way too many subplots.  I simply don’t have room for ideas and characters I thought I needed to fill out a book.  I am forced to seriously consider dropping not just planned scenes and characters, but entire plotlines that I just don’t have the space available to write about. 

This is quite an admission, considering I hade originally planned 7 books x 13 chapters/book x 3 section/chapter = 273 sections.   You would think that leaves an abundant amount of space to fill with all sorts of side trivia, but this is not the case.  Simply telling the core story efficiently is a challenge. 

In the seven chapters (twenty-one sections) I wrote so far, several major characters have gotten very little time and attention, and side characters little to none at all.

As a plotter I have come to understand the value of writing by the seat of your pants. I see know that the most carefully detailed plot misses details not thought of until you put words to the page. 

I watched as the wording of each sentence forced changes on me that compounded on each other until my carefully worked out plot was, to a certain extent, undone.  

In the process a better plot emerged, filled with twists and turns I didn’t really think about until the moment I was writing them down.  And because each sentence flowed (more or less) naturally from the one before it, the scenes I wrote are tighter and more focused than many I wrote while trying to conform to a ridged plot.

I think in the future I will stay focused on the central most story and most important characters for telling that story.  I will make certain that the most important events do happen when and where I need them too, but in-between I will let my words wander and carry me where they will.  The details of the plot I will leave for my (almost infinite) edits.