i finished a draft of a novel. thoughts on that
I did National Novel Writing Month, aka Nanowrimo, in November 2019.
- Write ~1700 words a day to hit the 50k word count, which is the length of The Great Gatsby.
- The book started off as a political drama, devolved into a romance, then hit a dead end. I solved the dead end by pushing the protagonist off a cliff into a lake, entirely on a whim. The next writing session, I resolved it by creating a water deity to save him, and gave him a magic sword to boot. Thus, the rest of the book became a fantasy.
- I planned for a week beforehand, brainstorming a full plot, and once I got started, it all went in the trash. I entirely “pantsed” my novel, as opposed to plotting it out.
- Trick is to lower quality bar, esp. if you have little creative writing experience. An example of my average quality during the month:
Then, it occurred to me. Crete and Amethyr would have to renew their peace accords. That was a task with subtleties, that wouldn’t do itself. No one else could do it, really. There was no one else to negotiate the terms, and…
I just got it out, even though most of the words here are redundant.
If you’re struggling to write, lower the quality bar further. When I was starting, I kept wondering how bad the writing could be. But seriously, I’m telling you, anything goes. A few rough days towards the end, I was just pooped, and I wrote the scenes with my eyes closed. Just typing whatever I wanted to.
- Read No Plot No Problem by Chris, the Nanowrimo guy. He helps navigate through the emotions, which is especially important for the first week. He has also a lot of actionable tips. I credit actually starting Nanowrimo this year to reading this book.
- Tip: Do something with a small world and small cast of characters, it’s easier. E.g. a romance, which is what my novel became, LOL
- Don’t write a Great American Novel unless you read Great American Novels. Easier to write what you read a lot of. For me, fantasy.
- No plans to edit the novel I wrote. Also, no plans to show anyone excerpts or anything. I’m a pretty open person, but this novel is pretty trash, so hands off
- It’s a special experience to write a novel. Your experience suddenly all become novel fodder, which is an awesome way to live life. You start looking at all happenings and interactions as extremely interesting. I think it makes you a better person and a more observant person. I really enjoyed this aspect of it all.
- You actually get immersed in this other world and your characters do become real to you. They were real to me. I could have a happy day, and then having to write the death of one of my characters, I would end up crying and all mellow. Or vice versa sad => write a cute moment between main couple => happy.
- I’m hella proud of finishing. It was a beautiful experience tbh, and my time with my characters are some sweet memories to look back on.
- When I finished, I was grinning like a fool. I spent the next thirty minutes, singing and dancing to "Un Poco Loco" from Coco.
I imagined myself singing the lyrics to my finished novel:
You make me un poco loco, un poquititito loco
The way you keep me guessing, I'm nodding and I'm yes-ing
I'll count it as a blessing that I'm only un poco loco