The NaNoWriMo Draft

As I continue plugging away at the rough draft of my novel, I’ve had to accept that even with a first round of edits, it’s unreadable. I still wouldn’t show it to my mother.

That’s because I’m working with a NaNoWriMo draft, which isn’t a true first draft. The style in which I wrote the novel was almost all physical – it is all plot. Every night, I forced myself to write without looking back. All my energy was concentrated on forward momentum. I wrote on, even when I couldn’t find my way in transitioning between scenes. This left a lot to fix, which is why I’m not surprised that during my first draft edit, I’ve added over 10k words and am struggling to reach the halfway point in the draft.

But it’s all a learning experience. I’m definitely fine tuning my writing process as a fiction writer, which is much different from my process as a technical writer. My NaNoWriMo draft was underwritten, and all my updates on this first edit are overwritten. I already know that I will edit out half of the content I’ve added. I’m overwriting to get all of the ideas and thoughts out. My second edit will be more about tightening the story up.

So, what have I learned from this experience?

First, I don’t think I’ll participate in NaNoWriMo again. It was a great experience, and I loved the challenge, but the approach doesn’t work for me.

Second, I’ve developed better discipline. Despite getting off track a few times, I have written more in the last 10 months than I’d written in the last few years. I have also written more consistently on a daily basis and have found my inner commitment that makes me want to continue this path. My issue is making and finding time to write. This will always be a struggle, and I will just have to deal with it. I’ve missed a day here and there over the last few weeks, but for the most part, I’ve written/edited at least a page per day.

Last, I can’t force myself to finish by a certain time. I need to relax. I need breaks. I need to look at it more like a job, working on the novel during the week but giving myself breathing space on the weekends to write for other mediums. Tonight, it’s a blog post. Tomorrow, it’s the outline for my next novel.

As long as I’m writing, I’m doing what I love. With discipline and the practice I got with my NaNoWriMo draft, I think I’ll eventually have something I can show my mother.

Geography and your novel

Didn’t mean to let a few days lapse between posts. I did start this one yesterday and wanted to let it sit for a bit before publishing. Then got swamped with editing a document for a friend and am (once again) rushing to publish something. Such is life!… and now back to the post.

I’m committed to making at least a little bit of forward motion every day. I’m currently trying to get my outline together and am using the Novel Idea Summary Sheet as one of my tools, but I got hung up on setting – not just “Dragonfly Inn” type of setting, but the actual geographic location and time of year. Can’t have my main character taking a Christmas Eve skinny dip in an unheated outdoor pool in Alaska, can I?

Initially, I wanted to write what I know best and place my main character in Arizona. After all, I’ve lived here my entire life. But I’m reconsidering because Arizona doesn’t have that allure that Paris, London, or New York have. Not that I want to be formulaic, but I’m writing chick lit, and how much chick lit takes place in Arizona?

Although I’ve traveled a bit, I don’t have a significant second location of which I know oodles about, unless you count the summer camp I worked at for eight weeks in Starrucca, Pennsylvania. I remember every little bit of that place. Next best would be London, which I know really well as a tourist but not as a resident.

So here I am, muddling through my latest obstacle. It’s good, though. I feel like I’m making progress.

The good news is I’ve come up with a very rough outline that details a few scenes.