bookmark_borderNaNoWriMo novel, done

Well, it’s done. I only hit just over 45,000 words, but it’s done. I’ve hit the story targets; the characters had their representative scenes, the plot had its required scenes, the story is told.

There’s still 5 days left so the plan is to do some rewriting and editing and keep both the new and old versions as part of the word count. Other people have suggested writing additional scenes to fill out characters, add characters, kill characters, but that only applies when you are writing for the sake of writing. I’m writing for the sake of producing the novel that I had pictured.

It’s possible, even likely, that there are large sections of text missing. The problem is that I don’t want to add crap and spoil what I already have. These potential large sections, I think, are going to require some distance before I can see where they’re needed. Right now all that I can see are a few small spots that could use some fill, and I need distance to see any sizable plot revisions.

bookmark_borderEnd of writing class

As of last night I finished the beginner writing night course that I had been taking, and I feel a sense of relief.

Where does the relief come from? From aspects of the course that I didn’t enjoy, like

  • listening to, rather than reading things that other people in the class wrote and then trying to critique. I find that translation of hearing to imagined reading difficult and would much rather look at the writing that I’m critiquing.
  • the lack of non-positive comments from the rest of the class. A combination of people not being comfortable doing critiquing and a fear of saying something that hurts someone’s feelings.
  • the lack of depth and breadth of comments. Partly this is due to a fairly big class meaning less time for critiques, plus people rarely volunteered comments if the instructor didn’t select them for the mandatory critique.
  • lack of energy in the classroom in general. The instructor was an elderly person whose voice was on the soft side. She didn’t generate a lot of energy and neither did much of the rest of the class.
  • interference of the last 3 classes with NaNoWriMo for time. Each class plus travel time plus homework time took a good 4-5 hours out of each week.

But I think that I did get what I was looking for from the class.

  • review of basic fiction writing elements
  • learned about some common writing errors (ly words)
  • a review of some of my writing by people that I don’t know, including one person (the instructor) who has lots of experience
  • a more indepth review of one piece of writing. We submitted a 10 page work on the 3rd to last week and she reviewed it and returned it to us in the last class. I submitted the first 10 pages of my NaNoWriMo novel from two years ago that I still have hopes of cleaning up and submitting for publication.

And some things that I didn’t expect came out as the course progressed as well. For example, the fact that, when assigned a writing assignment, I don’t automatically write erotica. Or even mention sex. The reason that I find this odd is that everything that I voluntarily wrote between the forced NaNoWriMo of previous years and the forced assignments of this class has been erotica. You mean to say that there’s more to my writing that just sex?

And the fact that I had already done some writing before starting the class somehow seemed obvious? The instructor kept saying that I already know how to write, and asked why I was taking the class. I didn’t feel that my work was significantly better than anything anyone else submitted. It might have been in the top 3 each week out of 8 – 12 readings but I didn’t sense a big difference between what I wrote and what other people wrote.

bookmark_borderNaNoWriMo at the half way point

This year has been tough. For my first NaNoWriMo I came up with a characteristic that I wanted to investigate (creativity), applied different versions to have three different characters (recombining, unorthodox, people skills) and then figured out a way that the three would have some connection to each other (famous artist returning to birth city, daughter of gallery owner, son of gallery owner) and then let my protagonist work her way through developing relationships with each of these three in turn. Just let my characters interact.

This time I started much earlier in the prep process and came up with a handful of characters to fill out the plot that I built. And this story covers some 50 years or so, though most of it is focused in the present. The result is that I’ve had to write a dozen or so almost stand-alone short stories using the existing characters and trying to come up with examples that will demonstrate the personalities of the characters. It’s a heck of a lot more work, and difficult to manage any kind of flow. And lacking flow in the writing process it becomes much more difficult to imagine or hypothesize what might happen next.

But, I’m barely keeping pace right now, so I just have to keep chugging along.


As of late my writing has been shaped by 1) the basic writing class that I’m taking, and 2) now the start of NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo takes priority. Two years ago I wrote a romance novel that has some good stuff in it; I still need to tie up some loose ends in the plot and also do a thorough editing for weak writing and errors, but at some point I still hope to shop it around. This year I started working on the plot for NaNoWriMo 2010 in mid-September but couldn’t easily come up with anything satisfying. Toward the end, after much soul-searching and research, I ended up with a tragedy. There is a family secret in the second generation that is due to repeat itself in the third generation, unless perhaps the secret is revealed.

But in order to nail down the characters, and how the third generation evolves from the second, I feel that I have to begin writing historically, beginning with a story from the first generation.  Eventually the story should read starting with the young days of the third generation, and later on the mystery from the second generation should begin as a side story brought forward from the past, and then the tale of the first generation and the early second generation brought forward as well, all as flashbacks interrupting the story of the third generation. But as I said, I feel that in order to write the story I have to begin at the beginning of time and trace the story forward. I have to define the grandmother to myself, so that I can understand how the fathers develop, so that I can understand the secret of the tragedy, so that I can write the story of the grand-daughters. Then when I mix this all up and bring the stories forward as flashbacks, the pieces will all fit together for the reader.

Wish me luck.