NaNo: Teachin’ away
Contrary to what some may think, a self inflicted project like NaNoWriMo can be more beneficial than one would think.
I never though I would try it. It wasn’t clear to me how helpful it would be. Would it teach me anything?
Would I just spin my wheels for a month and not learn a thing? Wouldn’t my time be better spent writing for myself, no fake deadline to worry about?
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
In my case, the self imposed deadline forced upon my distracted ADD mind a sort of imminent doom. This was something I had put myself out there for, and if the ball was dropped it would be all on me.
Do or die. That sort of thing.
So, here are a few things NaNo really helped teach me.
You can’t always plan out every character detail before you start writing them.
I am sure some if you can do that just fine, but my characters were just to slippery for that. I think for my next project I will write up some bullshit first person pages in the voice of each character to work out some of their kinks. But even then they will draw connections to each other I didn’t see coming and expose personality traits I hadn’t planned.
Scenes are the most important building block to a novel.
Break up 50k into small, 1k scenes, and string them into 3k chapters, and you will be amazed at how simple writing long work becomes. My eyes roll up in my head when I see how many scenes I have jotted in Scrivener, but it doesn’t feel like I wrote so many. Break it up into litte fork size pieces and spear those bastards on your utensil of authorship.
I like fire.
True story. There be a lot of burnin’ stuff in me novel, yarrrr.
It’s not hard to write interesting women.
I know, right bruh? I bet they’re like all backstabbing witches or leather clad vixens, right?
Nah. The mother of my protagonist is struggling mightily and making some bad calls on the way. But what do you expect of a person thrown into the deep end without warning?
Here’s the secret: Write a person. That’s it.
Bad guys are fun.
But bad-good-bad guys are funner-ist-er. In my novel, which I will talk more about in another post, I have a number of ‘bad guys’, but none of them are really bad.
One is a lackey, pulled in off the street by people in power and happy to do their bidding because, why not?
One is an assassin, inherently a little on the bad side in any society that feels murder is a no-no, but he is part of a greater thing that he believes will save the world.
Another is a cult leader, totally alright with hanging heathens until they convert to his views — but he thinks he is doing it for good reasons.
You wouldn’t want to bring any of these people over for dinner and a movie, but they are so much fun to write because they are flawed, confused and broken people doing things for their own reasons.
A bad day writing is better than a good day at work.
Novels grow like damn…things…that grow and stuff.
The plan was, aim for 80k. That still is the plan, technically. But I am not sure if that is going to happen.
80k isn’t some magic number. I don’t have it scribbled in blood on my walls or anything. But it seems a good number for a first novel.
Not too shabby, certainly novel size, and not too much to edit.
But it is trying to grow on me. Maybe that is a fantasy thing. Maybe that’s why fantasy is usually in the 150k range. There is just so many interesting things to explore — and I am talking about stuff that pertains directly to the story here, not ten pages of bullshit about flag colors and the type of underwear the knights enjoyed donning when fighting the great battle.
My cast of characters is in the double digits, though many are not main characters, and they all want some screen time. Stupid characters! Get in line already!
Finally, for now:
The big one. The real lesson of NaNo.
Just do that shit. Just get in there and do it. It really isn’t hard. Get the ball rolling and let momentum carry you along.
And this is coming from a world-class procrastinator.
No, really. You don’t even know. It’s so bad, my wife once bought me a shirt that had this on the front:
I never finish anythi
Not a typo.
If I can start a novel, than anyone can.
Of course, I still haven’t finished it…