Diary of an Accidental NaNoWriMo Participant

As I’m sure any of my regular readers here are aware, I had been planning to participate in NaNoWriMo again this year, but with a plan — an outline, even — ready in advance of November 1st.  The last two months, however, have been extremely busy for me academically, and I have been struggling to balance all of the things I have to do, much less the things I want to do.

Because of this, I hadn’t gotten any real outlining done, as as November crept closer and closer, I was leaning more and more toward the idea that this year really wasn’t a good one for me to do it again.  Not in November, while I had teaching committments, and a committee meeting to prepare for, and the like.

But then I got an e-mail reminding me to register for NaNoWriMo this year.  And before I’d realized what I was doing, it was done — I was signed up for 2008.  And since I’m signed up, I’ve at least go to try.  While I don’t think I’ll have enough time to hit the 50,000 work mark this month, I know I’ll write more by trying than if I’d just decided to not participate.

So I might try a different approach.  Last year, I worked on a novel, and got 50,000 words of a first draft done.  While I do have ideas for a new novel, I also have some shorter projects I’m interested in working on.  Thus, I’m going to aim for 50,000 words aggregated over all the new fiction that I write.  That might mean two or three short pieces and 30,000 words of a novel, or some other mix.  There will be a novel involved, that much is certain.

Anyway, if I’m going to hit my quota for today, I’d better stop blogging and start writing.  Well… at least after I finish the other post I’ve been working on for the past week.

Rereading My First Novel

As you may recall, I participated in NaNoWriMo last November, and finished the draft of my first novel back in February.  In May, I decided to start revisions.  That was the start of my trouble.  You see, before I could revise anything, I had to reread it.  And that was a painful, painful experience.

It’s not that I expected it to be well-written or anything, given how fast I had to churn it out.  But it is truly, utterly dismal.  I expect I’ll have to do a total blank-screen rewrite, rather than just touch-ups.  Which means its going to take a lot longer than I’d hoped.

It doesn’t really have a viewpoint character.  It makes a lot of use of the passive voice (likely a carry-over from my scientific writing).  There are structural problems.  It has unnecessary characters, it introduces the villains too late, it doesn’t make the villains sympathetic, it takes far to long to get going, and it doesn’t really show much in the way of character development.

It’s almost enough that I’d want to just trunk it and move on to something new, but… I see some rays of hope in there.  Some potential.  I like the story.  And while there isn’t much character development currently on the page, it’s in my head.  So I want to try and actually finish a draft that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to show to other people.  Something that might eventually approach publishable (even if I’m not sure there’s a market for it).

My next step in revising will be to do a scene-by-scene outline, identifying all the scenes that I’m keeping and their purpose in the novel, and developing new ones to patch up the flaws I’ve found.  If I can do that during September, I think that will be some good progress, and I can dedicate October to outlining a new novel for the next NaNoWriMo in November.

At least, so long as I get some of my own research done, first.  Sigh.