Thursday, November 24, 2011


As of the now, I am officially ahead of target. By 8 words, but this month, every word counts. And it's the first time since Day Five that I have been ahead of the game, so all in all the last few days have gone well. Sort of.

The plot is starting to come together. It's got exciting action, some interesting plot twists, a completely unnecessary zombie apocalypse, psychic vampires, and two female characters I keep interchanging with each other at random. Ok, I admit it, it's a mess. I had to retcon most of the plot yesterday when I started to work out what was going on, and since then chapters have been springing up in the middle of the manuscript with only a vague idea of where they belong. And there are two action-y sub-plots, and the one that ends at the end of the novel has far less climactic potential than the one that ends on the way to the first one...

Oh yes, and one of my characters has served no real purpose in the story yet. That's a whole mess of sub-plot to be woven in once I've extracted two of the prologues and got the main story timeline sorted (I'm fairly sure someone was wearing a bikini in October). But that's all part of the fun. All I have to do now is stay above the line for a few more days....

Thursday, November 17, 2011


By some miracle, I managed to start week three on exactly 20,000 words - that's just a day behind - and having written at least something every day of the month. This is good. My pace has slowed a little over the last few days, but things are starting to fall into place. Setting off with only a nebulous concept of what I was hoping to do and say with the story has certainly presented its problems, but just charging onwards and letting the characters - and any momentary whim that takes the author - dictate what happens has, in a round about way, brought many weird and wacky plot threads into the story and forced them to play nicely.

As a result, my NaNoWriMo project is currently 23,493 words of jumbled plot threads, editorial notes and redundant scenes, interspersed with the occasional spark of potential.

Now, and only now, I am starting to get some idea of what this story looks like. My inner editor is craving to go back and re-write some of the earlier sections so that they fit the 'big picture' that I can see now. Most of my characters don't have names yet; many don't even exist, it's as if my world has a population of about 6 people at the moment. More bit-part characters are needed!

Most worryingly, however, is that at the current pace the story will be reaching its climax somewhere around half way to the magic 50,000. But thus far I've concentrated on the story of one of my main characters; I know there is at least one more side of the story to tell - and then the various side plots and tangents that may bring up to be followed, so success is still in sight.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why I do NaNo

It is, I imagine, a popular and important question at around this time of the year. It certainly is here; I've already found myself sleep-typing on two separate occasions already this month, and now I'm compounding the problem by trying to blog at the same time.
(Actually it's just an excuse to point out the shiny new widget that should now be adorning the sidebar.)
Anyway... Yes, it's insane. Yes, 90% of what I've written is rubbish. Yes, I'm sleep deprived, and the house is cleaning deprived. So why do I do it?

  • Well it's fun. The camaraderie. The fact that you can ask 10,000 other NaNites how to spell camaraderie. (I've written 3,007 words today, I've lost the will to spell.) The fact that, somewhere on the NaNoWriMo website, all of human life is represented. The fact that some questions get answered in the forums and then the asker refuses to believe the answer on the basis that it does not tally with their experience. The fact that said question did, ultimately, restore my faith in the moral sensibleness of at least some young people in this country. Hurrah!
  • I'm a deadline junky. The only way I will ever finish a first draft of something approaching novel length is to do it in November.
  • In a very practical, writerly way, I do find that plunging straight into a novel NaNo-style is a quick and easy way to see if the idea has legs. For instance, I tried a novel for Camp NaNoWriMo earlier in the year, quickly found it wasn't going to go anywhere as I had envisaged it, and gave up. November I take more seriously and try not to give up like that; but this month I got to about 8,500 words of crap before working out vaguely where the story should be going, and it seems to be picking up now.
  • Peer pressure. It does seem to work: this evening an hour of word wars boosted my word count by the required 1667 (and then some) and left me with a messy jumble of plot twists and potential new directions to let my characters (most of whom don't have proper names yet) explore in later chapters.

NaNoWriMo is certainly not for everyone, and it is completely insane, but I've found a way to make it work for me. I think it's going to be an annual event for some time yet...