On Friday, my 6th NaNoWriMo came to a close. I wrote 50,126 words in November.
Over the past 6 Novembers, I have written over 300,000 words spread across 4 different projects. This year, I decided to return to the (partially finished) draft of a YA novel that I started during NaNo#2. I have worked at this draft sporadically over the past 5 years, but I have a lot of trouble FINISHING. I get somewhere into the middle and get all muddled and can’t figure out how to solve the problems of plot and character development confronting me and so I circle back to earlier opening scenes and add more in the hopes that writing my way back into the story will help me push through the mazy middle and then I get to the middle and get all muddled once again. Stuck. Stop. Shelve. Repeat.
I am amazed that anyone ever finishes a novel.
I was determined this NaNo to write only middle and ending type scenes. They didn’t have to be the “real” middle and ending of my novel, but they had to be more middle-like and ending-like than the other, oh, 200K words that I’ve written on this project.
I haven’t entirely followed through on that. I have a lot of middle-like scenes, which is good, though most of them are boring. They break all the rules that Libby Koponen writes about in her very good blog post about The Differences Between Published and Unpublished Manuscripts.
My characters sit around in coffee shops and talk excessively about not very much. Characters are introduced who are totally irrelevant to the plot. We find out their entire back story, and then…. they disappear. Nothing happens for dozens of pages. I’m actually rather impressed by my ability to write so many words when so little happens. Especially since I haven’t once resorted to scenery descriptions or weather events to pad the work count.
In NaNo#1, I wrote setting descriptions when I got stuck. But now I just stick my characters at a table in a coffee shop and see what happens. It’s actually a good strategy for a first draft, I think, because it helps you get to know the people you’re writing about. But wow. Not a lot happens in coffee shops. Besides, you know, people ordering coffee.
Though I did write some middle-like stuff for NaNo#6, I had no ending-like scenes. That’s why I decided my very final 2K for NaNo#6 would be the final scene of the novel, a party scene on graduation day. I wrote it, and then wrote The End. Kind of satisfying! Never mind that the entire second half of the book is largely missing. If this were a published book, the first chapter would be 350 pages long, then there’d be a 20 page second chapter, then chapters 3-9 would be blank, and chapter 10 would wrap things up in 3 pages. If only novels worked that way…..
What I’ve Learned from 6 Successful NaNos:
- I really like committing to a 30-day challenge.
- Even better, I like winning the 30-day challenge.
- It’s very easy to start a novel.
- It’s very difficult to write middles.
- The Internet is evil.
- I can check my email and facebook and twitter 7000 times in 30 minutes.
- I have no willpower whatsoever when it comes to NOT checking my email, facebook, twitter.
- I write better when I’m not checking my email, facebook, and twitter so many times.
- It’s easy for me to find all this time for writing in November, but I make excuses for the rest of the year.
- A daily word count goal is motivating. As long as it’s less than 1,667.
What’s next for me is researching and reading some blog posts and articles about Finishing Your Novel and to get back to writing on Monday morning which a different daily word count goal: I’m thinking 750.