Monday, December 6, 2010

NaNo 2010 Novel Complete

Well, that's that. The beast is dead.
Even though I "won" NaNo about a week ago, the story wasn't quite finished, so I had to keep it up for about 10k more words.

Today I put the final (optional) finishing touches on the draft. It was quite an experience to actually do NaNo right and finish it out through to the end. (I'm curious now as to how far my other efforts reached and if they would breeze by as easily as this one did now that I have some practice. Maybe we'll see some day.)

Overall, the experience was highly validating. Which I realize is the point; the NaNo organizers put on this show every year (with all its fantastic support) for the sole purpose of boosting the confidence of thousands of budding (and some experienced, no doubt) writers. And that's a great service to the writing community.

For me, this year it was simply a crazy gamble. About three days before NaNo started I thought, "You know, I'm kind of reaching a dry spot on my current project, I could probably use a break from it. Why not NaNo?"

So there I was, three days to prepare and about to leap off into a whirlwind of production unrivaled by anything I've done before. Sure, I've been writing consistently almost every day since the semester started, but this? This was borderline crazy. November is always one of the busiest months of the school year, especially for English majors. I had to be batty to think that I could triple my word count per day for an entire month, especially November.

Low and behold, the first day came and I produced well more than the required word count. I even had some energy left to go on, but I figured I should do the responsible thing and actually work on that homework I was so worried about.

The first week was fantastic, setting me on track to finish by the 25th or something.

Week two was rough as anything. The momentum from exploring the world and the characters and their interactions was starting to slow and I was having to let them do stuff, like make mistakes and drive the plot forward. (Note to self, something to work on: Allowing characters to drive plot.)

Week three came and I was barely on track with my word count and way off track with my outline. The sci-fi military heist thriller I thought I was writing had turned into a corporate mining drama somewhere in the middle of week two and now week three was devoted to living through the ramifications of that shift in tone.

Week four started out strong, but somebody decided to have NaNo in the same month as Thanksgiving, so I lost a whole day there. Once that was over I was able to get started on the word counts again and, with a little help from the buffer that I hadn't quite exhausted from earlier in the month, I hit 50k by the end of the week. NaNo was over.

...but not quite. I was still trying to pull off my sci-fi military heist thriller, after all, and I was going to get my action-packed ending come hell or high word counts!

So I hunkered down this past week to produce what I estimated would be 5k words to finish off the story and ended up being 10k (of course). But now that's it. The story is told. It's put to rest. It's sent off to friends and family who are clamoring to read it (surprisingly), and now I can turn my attention back to other projects (and homework).

So, a quick forecast before signing off.

"Declaration -- NaNo 2010"
This is finished. It's still in draft form, obviously, but it's a full story, so I'm going to put it to rest.

This will be my main project for the rest of the month. I'm hoping to reach another milestone in my outline before the end of the year, but as I'm easing back into it, I'm wondering if a month was too long to take off. I'm a little disoriented and the characters' voices are a bit thin. On top of that, we ended at a major milestone before NaNo and I'm not really sure how to deal with the fallout from those events. (Two things I learned from the NaNo: 1. Letting your characters guide the story is quite an exciting ride of emotional discovery, but I am horribly inexperienced at it. 2. I have difficulty filling the "slower" bits in between the major plot twists.) I'm going to hold myself to a modest word count for the rest of the month and I'm going to focus that word count on "Godslayers" here, but I'm probably going to have to read through it again and do another month or so of development and outlining before I can really make some significant progress. That'll probably be my project for the summer.

I've only got fifty pages left to read on what I had hoped would be my semester-long revision project. Well, plans go awry. I would like to at least finish reading through this time here and (hopefully) identify some structural concerns so I can start outlining the second draft for me to write over the summer.

Class Projects:
Shakespeare presentation and paper due within a week. Lord of the Rings presentation and paper slightly overdue, but I talked to the professor. I'm hoping I don't botch these up like I sometimes do with final papers, because I really like these classes and I'm actually interested in the topics I'm researching (especially the LotR one).

This is going to be the big one. I need to start developing one of my larger stories to be my writing project while I'm in England. I want to do something that I've been "working on" for a long time. One of those peripheral ideas that I keep holding off on, even though I keep doing bits and pieces of worldbuilding, because I don't think I'm ready or whatever. I want to take the stuff I've learned this semester and attack this project head-on. Unfortunately, that means I need to decide what project it's going to be within the next few days here so I'll actually have time to develop it before diving into word counts for January.

Phew. Alright. Kind of a heavy load. But that's okay. I'm looking forward to it.
I think tomorrow I'll take some time to talk about an author I admire. This one was far too much about me.
Tune in on the 25th for some fun news about next year.

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