November is over, and that means NaNoWriMo is over, too. The good news is that I won!
It was a painful, excruciating experience, and I churned out some awful prose, but I hit the 50000 word mark on the evening of Friday, 30 November 2007. Unfortunately, the novel itself is not finished just yet — I’m near the climax of the book, so it won’t grow too much longer, but I’ll be continuing at a much slower pace until its done. Once this draft — this first, very rough draft — is done, I’ll set it aside for a while and start on some shorter pieces. After a few months, I’ll come back to it to do a second draft, but I’m afraid that will be harder than the first, since there’s an awful lot that I’m going to need to fix up.
Despite being a painful experience, it was a good one. I learned that I can, indeed, churn out 50000 words in 30 days, although they certainly aren’t 50000 good words. I also learned a lot about how I approach writing, and especially about what works for me when approaching longer projects like this one.
- First of all, I need to write from an outline. This is especially true when trying to meet a word count goal, because otherwise my characters will talk in circles around each other while I try to figure out what happens next. I started November with no outline for the novel in mind, and while I’m happy with the story that has emerged, there’s a lot of dead weight in the writing that I’m going to have to cut in the second draft.
- Unless I get on a roll, I’m not good for much more than 500 to 1000 words per day. I managed to force more than that for this month, but it usually seemed that getting the first 500 to 1000 written each day wasn’t all that hard, but I just started to lose my mind after that, and the writing became much harder.
- I have lost any sense of dialogue, pacing, and overall flow that I might once have had. Figuring out how much dialogue I need to include, how much descriptions, discussion of action — I just have no idea. These days when I read novels for pleasure, I tend to blaze through them as quickly as I can, which means I don’t notice all these details that make a novel, well, you know, readable.
- I have to write from a point of view. Everything in the novel so far is external narration, with only a few bits delving into the psyches of the characters. I need to get inside the main characters head more, which will make him more likable and make the whole damn thing more readable.
I know that draft two will require some serious editing. I think that between drafts, I’ll need to do some careful pleasure reading just to learn how fiction flows again, and then maybe I can apply that to my own writing.
In the shorter term, however, the completion of NaNoWriMo is relevant in that I will now have more time for non-novel writing, as I plan to cut that back to 500 words per day. With my newfound free writing time, I plan to blog more, and have some (what I hope are) interesting posts coming soon.