We’re thirteen days into NaNoWriMo 2012 (National Novel Writing Month) and I couldn’t be happier with where I am! Well, that’s a lie, I am a bit behind, but I have surpassed my personal expectations for not only NaNoWriMo but also what I thought I could do in less than two weeks. let’s get into the breakdown of my experience so far.
Before that, I just wanted to remind people to check out my Tips on NaNoWriMo.
I am proud to say my current word count is 17,865! The target number for right now is 20,000, so I’m only a little behind, and it feels good! In my tips, I had mentioned how planning out your writing is more than knowing you need to write 1667 a day for 30 days, it’s about planning around days you are not available to write, and that’s exactly why I’m behind.
Here is my breakdown:
November 1(0-1500): Spent most of my time thinking of how to write the first chapter. Ended up with just about 1500 words.
November 2(1500-1665): 300-word day due to limited time, only had about a half hour to write.
November 3-4(1665-1665): My brother’s wedding weekend, the total amount of writing was 0.
November 5(1665-5037): This was a good day! My first real day of writing, I wrote 3300 words! Over the weekend, my mom read over my first chapter and a half and gave me a lot of good advice. This was the day I actually wrote what will turn out to be chapter 1!
November 6(5037-6929): Just about 1900 words this day.
November 7(6929-8264): Had a low word count day. I was unsure where the story was headed and ended up sleeping on a few ideas. The only good thing about this day was breaking the 8k mark. For some reason, this mark has always been trouble for me! Most of my projects have got to somewhere between 6-8k and I never continued.
November 8(8264-10174): Another 1900 word day, but this one felt good! I broke the 10k barrier in only 5 days of writing!
November 9(10174-13263): A 3100-word day! This was, by far, the best day of writing I have had! I was heavily inspired due to having another conversation with my mom after she read all the new stuff I had written.
November 10(13263-15134): I seem to really like the 1900 word mark!
November 11(15134-15134): An unplanned no-write day. Spent all day visiting family in San Francisco and Sacramento, along with a lot of time on the road. I didn’t get home till after midnight and was exhausted!
November 12(15134-17863): This was yesterday, another good day! 2700 word and a few very important scenes.
November 13(17863-?): I have not written today, it’s going to be a low word day because I’m finding problems with how to proceed with the story (See below).
As you can tell, my mom is my number one reader and she has been for many years. She loves fantasy and we often read the same books or recommend books to each other, so I know she’s a fan of the same type of stories as I am. It’s great to have built-in support and I think everyone should let someone they trust see their work while it’s happening, but not too many people! You don’t want bad feedback at this point, only constructive.
I mentioned above that I’m finding problems with how to continue from where I am. The problem is I had not decided where the book was going until two nights ago and now I’m not sure if I have enough content for another 35,000+ words! I think the reason for this is because the early concept of this story was for a novella with 25,000 words planned. Since then, I have added 2 new characters, a major subplot, and a huge overarching story that will span multiple stories. As is, I believe I’d easily hit the 35-40k mark, but that’s not enough.
If I am to take this story serious (in the publishing sense), and I am, I was hoping to make it even to upwards of 80k with the first draft. This has led me to ask myself, what do authors do to add to a story without making it unneeded? I decided to look towards some of my favorite authors, like Rowling, Rothfuss, and Tolkien, to help me with this.
In Harry Potter, Rowling often made her scenes drawn out and long-winded, but in a good way. What I mean by this is she would take a short event, such as Harry’s first time in Diagon Alley, and make it a few thousand words. Granted, this scene was very important, but the way it was written made the reader get caught up in the awe and wonder of what Harry was seeing, not caring that it went on for so long. Some people may even have wished for more! She could have just as easily made it half the length and the same concept would be apparent to the reader. There are scenes in my story that I know need more detail, action, wonder, or even character interaction, but that comes in later drafts.
Rothfuss, who wrote The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear, uses character interaction and a lot of inner monologue in his books to add to his scenes. For example, there is a scene where two of the main characters are in the middle of a forest, one of the character is basically poisoned, and they are waiting for an animal to show up. While they are waiting, the interaction between the characters and the inner monologue after the girl falls asleep really makes you love the characters and understand them even more. This is something I know I need to work on, the voice of characters (both in and out). Granted, Rothfuss’ character is telling the story of his youth, so he is an all-knowing reliable narrator, but even with a first person limited perspective, it’s very possible to include this type of content.
Tolkien, in my opinion, uses a large number of intertwining plots with a large number of characters to make his books. If the story was always about the ring, it could easily be written in a single book, but it’s the characters around the ring, even when they aren’t physically around it, is what makes the story what it is. This is why I actually decided to take a minor character and make her a major one and create two new characters that were never a part of my original idea. If I do decide to follow Tolkien’s many plots/characters idea, I should have a chapter every now and then that features the other characters. This can add a lot of words and also get to know the characters better.
So that’s where I am at this current moment with both my story and NaNoWriMo. I’ll check back in sometime next week to give another update on my progress. Also, expect to see some story excerpts coming very soon!
If you’re part of NaNoWriMo, how is it going for you?