I always seem to want to start stories with lists or with data, but I’m going to try and resist the urge – practice makes perfect. Very early on, in my 2006 NaNoWriMo novel, I talked about generals and counted up the number of stars they had, in the text of the book. My brother remarked about it, both because it showcased my love of military rank and also because it was a somewhat cumbersome bit of writing. It’s not terrible, and he was nice about it. But yeah, I definitely could rewrite it. I like lists and data and counting…but stories are really more than that, so here’s my current story about writing NaNoWriMo stories…with as few lists as possible:
Instead of rewriting my 2006 complete novel (well, 50k is more of a novelette) or my 2011 complete novel(ette), I started trying something new three years ago. (See how I can get some of my precious stats in there, but in context instead of a list? Look at me trying to be better). In 2014 I wrote up a whole huge outline with names and places and each chapter cut into thirds, etc. This was because my earlier tries often petered out when I lost sight of what was supposed to happen. Some authors thrive on having no outline (so I hear), but I need one to continue. I have, in the past, outlined on the fly when I ran out halfway through WriMo. I have also been able to ad lib a few thousand words at the end, as needed. But overall, a big outline is what I need. So anyway, in 2014 I wrote this huge outline and I finished the book…but only used a third of the outline.
This was it! This was my chance to maybe actually have a real regular-sized book! So in 2015 I…took a year off, because I figured I deserved it. And because after my 2011 win, 2012 and 2013 both didn’t go so well. So, I rested in 2015. In 2016 I wrote Part II of my novel. And it worked! Oh man it was hard. Starting from scratch and writing for a month is pretty easy, compared to picking up characters and pieces from two years earlier. My characters are pretty darn cardboard (two dimensional), and even they were not easy to bring back to life again. I honestly don’t envy GRR Martin or Patrick Rothfuss. Their stories have life to them, their characters are full, and they need to think through so much context and subcontext when writing the next books. I…mostly just need to remember who was where, and a few other sad details.
So, anyway, I wrote part I in 2014 and part II in 2016, and so here we are. On the eve of another NaNoWriMo. I haven’t done anything with the ’06 or ’11 novels that I finished. And I definitely haven’t done anything with the rest of the partial novels I wrote all the other years. But this one…I actually do want to finish this year (both the outline and NaNoWriMo). And then I want to edit and then find an agent. Because this could be it. Or not. But hey I might as well try.
NaNoWriMo also has all sorts of cute badges and achievements etc for people to look at and shoot for. One of them is “longest NaNo streak”….which I had pretty long, until I took a break in 2015. Kinda makes me wish I didn’t, but seriously achievements are not the goal. Novels are the goal. So…I push on.
It starts tomorrow. Once again, just like last year, I’ve barely prepared. I thought briefly about taking this year off (since I won last year), but this novel has been waiting since 2014. And seemingly I don’t have motivation to write any other time of the year, so this is it. So I’ll write by the seat of my pants, and also try and blog a bit. We shall see how it goes…