Squeaking Out A Win, Adventures in Word Padding
I started off the month with the announcement that at the last minute, I was throwing together my National Novel Writing Month Novel. I had the story, kind of, at least a few of the details, which I had tried writing a few years earlier. I was precisely one scene into that project before I abandoned it. I reinvented my victim and her backstory, but the place and manner of her death were the same. I named it, A Little Je Ne Se Quoi.
I lost the scene I had been writing when her child found her body, so that had to be where I started. And I named my Which is what probably explains my early word count. I mean look at all of those days were I was beneath goal for the day! I had to answer some pretty fundamental questions about the book I was writing. And in the beginning it was a bit of a struggle. By time the first Tuesday hit, I was four thousand words behind schedule. To tell the truth, that didn't bother me as much as how few days I had hit a green day on my calendar.
The secret to coming from behind is two fold, one is to start early enough that you can do it. The other is to write every day. Even if you don't hit green, words every day matter. It's the zero days that kill you. A couple of days later, I had a small green streak. It was from here that I felt I might be able to attempt a come back. I just had to keep going, I just had to dig in and try to get more words, keep those green days coming. That was step one.
Then, a week later, I hit the place that every novelist hates, the soggy middle. It's not an easy place to be. With not a lot of direction, it's a little bit hard to know what to do. This is where my failure in #Preptober really started to make a stink. Sure I had a lot of green days, but I had suspects, unwieldy characters, and no idea where to drop in my red herrings, or how to filter in the backstory. I have to tell you right now, it's still a hot mess. Still, I didn't let my confusion deter me. I know that a rewrite might be in order. I've done ones that were bigger and harder than this book. If that's what it takes, then that's what it takes. I can and will fix it. There's no point in being bogged down by it. That won't get the novel written. I just kept going. So how did I get from there, to here?
I'll tell you. I took some time off from blogging about how my NaNo was going to do Thanksgiving. But by then, I knew I had a problem. My novel was flowing too quickly. I was afraid I would wrap it up by the time I hit forty thousand words, which I did on November 25th. And I was almost at the end of where I thought this novel would end. So I flipped a minor character I hadn't planned on flipping, and promoted the character from supporting to villain. That made all the difference in the world. That got me through the 26th and the 27th. Three more days to go, what could I do? On the 28th I finished writing up my wrap up scenes. Two more days, and more importantly three thousand more words to write. I have spent the last two and a half days going back, filling in scenes, making things more detailed, rereading things. I've found one tiny dropped story line, a couple of places to drop very, minor, background foreshadowing, and very late today to put me over the finish line, a scene I forgot to write. All and all I'm pretty happy with this story. Like all my works, it will probably balloon up to about eighty thousand words before I go in and tighten up the prose. If I work hard and stick to the schedule, I should be able to release it by August of next year. Finger's crossed!
I hope you had a great NaNoWriMo. I hope you won, but even if you didn't get to 50K, remember, it is far more important that you try than it is that you win. Creativity is necessary in problem solving. Take what you learn from trying to write a novel in a month, and apply to your real life. You should have learned not to let your worries stop you, by turning off your inner editor. You night have learned to slow down and notice things. Every scent, every emotion, every expression. Pay attention to the people around you. They want as much attention as your characters do. And you need to pay attention to them, how else will you be able to make your characters real. And most importanly, I hope you learned that love is complicated sometimes, that it can be a roller coaster, but aren't you glad you took the ride at the end of the month? Yeah, me too.
I'm going to a month off of this story and come back to it may as my #JaNoEdiMo project. If you are wondering what to do about your shiny new first draft, come back January 1st. And follow us with the hashtag on Twitter. I will have a new editing tip for you guys every weekday during the month of January, and I will be running sprints on Twitter. To get the new tips, just hit the subscribe button in the top right corner of the page.