November is National Novel Writing Month, where the challenge is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. This is my first year EVER out of school, and while the idea of producing that many words in a short amount of time scares me, I have decided to try it this year. November used to be finals time at school so my friends who tried NaNo ended up breathing coffee and going crazy with the latest MS and term papers. I’m not insane so I decided to opt out, but now I don’t have much of an excuse anymore!
My goal is not to write a whole new book but to get as close to adding 50,000 words as I can to Charley’s Dragons. I cut 40,000 words a few months ago and beefing it back up has been slow. Most of the book is pure dialog so it intentionally lacks the meat-heavy word count that description allows. I do need to add more description and more conflicts to fill the holes remaining, but I’m excited to have a goal. If you have not noticed by my lack of blog posts, writing has been slow-going and frustrating the past few weeks. November I’m going to try and over-compensate and write more than I need to so that I have an excuse to go back and nit-pick.
The single hardest thing about NaNo is not the word count: it’s all about not editing as you go. There are going to be so many stupid words/sentences/plot stalls/etc and it’s okay. Writing the “perfect” MS is not about how fast it is but how well it’s shaped over time. While NaNo allows the over-zealous writer to have at it and go crazy, for those of us who are more perfectionistic types it can be like pulling teeth not pressing that “delete” button.
The goal is always 40,000 words but my personal goal is to add 35,000 words to get my MS back to the word count it was before. If I end up cutting all of those words because it would work better as a novella so be it, but I want this to work as a novel and I think it can as long as I am not shy about adding place descriptions.
Have any of you done NaNoWriMo before? First time like me? Comment below to share your thoughts and excitement!
I have begun the process of re-writing Charley’s Dragons, my “finished” MS! I decided to do this after everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) in my critique group were thrilled about the same parts and annoyed/angered/frustrated at the other same parts. The story was told in three perspectives, but one of them wasn’t working. I also allowed my grandmother to read the MS and she forgot almost everything that happened in the perspective my critique group hated. My mom shook this off, saying that my gramma is old and her memory isn’t fabulous, but I thought it was significant. Obviously a major part of my MS was not working, and not even worth remembering.
The original perspectives were: dialog between Charley and the psychiatrist, third person perspective showing the real world, and first person perspective of Charley in a hallucination world. No one liked the third person perspective in my group. The characters apparently were unlikable and the writing was stilted. I was feeling unsure of how to edit, when one member suggested getting rid of the third person perspective all together. I could feel the light bulb turning on over my head. I needed to re-write my book.
I am really enjoying how my MS is coming along. It was scary at first when I took out the third person perspective and my MS dropped over 40,000 words. That’s a lot to make up, especially since half of the story is dialog. I have been picking away at the story and I think it is working. I can take the events that happen in the old parts and make them even more interesting in the remaining parts. The word count is slowly moving ahead (I’m up to 21,000 words! Woo Hoo!) but I think it will reach novel length. The original MS was pretty short for a novel as it was, but hopefully agents will not get pissy about a shorter novel.
I have taken a risk deciding to re-write the book, yet it was a necessary endeavor. I wanted to have an agent by now and be on the way to a second published book, but agents were not thrilled and my critique group helped me see why. I am looking forward to finishing Charley’s Dragons again, although I know the process will be slow balancing writing and my 4 jobs and needy pets, but it will get done. I’m staying positive and taking it a little bit at a time! Something is better than nothing.