Tuesday, November 24, 2009

NaNoWriMo - Complete!!

Well, as of this past Sunday, November 22nd, I have completed my NaNoWriMo novel. With over 50,000 words and a complete narrative arc (which, admittedly, could stand to be filled in more), I wrote a novel in less than a month.


Some lessons I've learned:

I am not a "make it up as you go along" writer. I like working from sort of outline: in this case, a set of chapter headings that told me what each chapter should be about. Even vague guidelines were better than trying to write blind, and I think this novel turned out better than my last effort. For whatever I work on next, I intend to take copious notes before I jump into the full narrative. (Which leads to the problem of never actually starting anything, of course. Selah.)

I need a thesaurus. Granted, NaNoWriMo is not about trying for brilliant prose, it's about flinging 50,000+ instances of poo at paper and seeing what sticks. But I overused certain descriptive phrases way too often for my tastes.

I need to watch out for adjectives. Actually I used these little monsters as word count boosters, so I'd say at least a third were deliberate and would die in the initial rewrite. But they were painful to write in the first place, and I'll be cutting back in the future.

I can write like a bastard when I need to. Here, go look. I had one day (off) when I wrote damn near 10,000 words, and ten days where I broke 2,000 words. I can't match Stephen King, but I can keep up with him for a bit before the psychotic episode hits.

I don't actually need to write like a bastard. Just before starting NaNoWriMo, I read a book, How To Write & Sell Your First Novel by Oscar Collier and Frances Spatz Leighton, which recommended a daily output of three double-spaced manuscript pages. This was a revelation when compared to Stephen King's recommendation, which is ten double-spaced pages (five if you're just starting out), or the NaNoWriMo recommended minimum, which is about 1,667 words a day. So what if you can't match the pace of a Maine prodigy or a bunch of over-caffeinated noveling fiends? If you wrote three double-spaced pages, you did okay. It's truly a marvelous philosophy, and I encourage it wholeheartedly for anyone who gets brain strain after reading On Writing.


Author's Log

In addition to the final stages of the novel, I drafted six two-page character sketches for an upcoming project. I learned the technique from First Draft in 30 Days, by Karen S. Wiesner. The title is a blatant lie, but as a prewriting guide this book seems to be aces so far.

Current Reading

Just finished Summer Knight, the fourth book in the Dresden Files. Another excellent read. I'm now working on Cory Doctorow's short story collection, Overclocked.

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