At the beginning of October I felt the buzz from the build-up of writers preparing for this months challenge. Come the middle of October the intensity of preparations was increasing and as I read more and more about the NaNoWriMo I was sorely tempted to join.
However, my writing needs did not suit the criteria for the actual challenge, but knowing so many of you were beavering away on your creative projects I was inspired to set and try to complete my own challenge.
I have already completed 70,000 words of my first draft. My challenge is now to finish this by the end of the month!
My initial task was to familiarise myself with what I have written – this alone filled me with fear.
One day in mid October I set the printer going and looked on in quiet awe as it shook under the stress of the workload. I’ve never printed so many pages in one go! Over 400 and that is double-paged. Finally a large block of paper sat on my desk.
What if I didn’t like it? Or even hated it? What if it wasn’t any good? I’m a lousy liar, even more so to myself. The moment of truth had arrived.
I started early one morning and as per Stephen King’s suggestion in ‘On Writing’ I decided to read what I had written in one day. By my side was a new A4 notebook and three pencils, all sharpened, ready for use. At this stage I was looking for major errors – particularly wrong names or places etc – as well as major plot faults or omissions.
To my relief I enjoyed what I read and I was carried away by the work it involved. After scribbling pages of notes and scrawling corrections across most of the text pages I took a rest. Over the next two weeks I edited on screen according and then planned for the first week of NaNoWriMo.
There was one major problem with the book and this struck me the day I read the whole text. I also realised this is what had caused me to let the whole project slide to a halt earlier in the year.
As I read the last two chapters I found them to be jarringly rushed and rough. As I had headed towards 70,000 words I had started to panic about the length of the novel. Whilst there were technically only about 30,000 words left until the end of the novel (a typical novel length being 80,000 – 100,00 words), I had a vast amount of ideas and plot that I wanted to incorporate into it. I had begun to take short cuts to try to achieve this.
This was a mistake and reading all my ideas for the rest of the book it became obvious that I must split it into at least two books or perhaps even aim for a trilogy. I will decide that in the future. For now I have put those ideas and chapters in a separate folder in Scrivener marked ‘Book Two’. Nothing like optimism! At the moment I need to complete my first draft.
As some of my draft was written out of sequence there were certain places that needed an extra ‘connecting’ chapter and at the start of this week I wrote two such new chapters. Once started, I revelled in writing away on my book, happy to be reunited with my characters. My writing flowed easier than ever and I believe writing my blog over the months has helped improve and hone my skill.
Within a few days I had completed over five and a half thousand words on the two new chapters. Furthermore I rewrote two previous chapters. These were initially written from the first person viewpoint as I was at that stage exploring various viewpoints before settling on a close third person viewpoint for the book.
I am satisfied with the work achieved this week and have decided to split the first draft into three sections. After reprinting the first third I reread this carefully making editing adjustments as necessary. I also feel two further chapters are required to enhance the continuity of the story. These I will write next week. After that I believe the first third of my book will be complete. By then I expect the word count to be approximately 80,000. Altogether I estimate the book will be around 100,00 words long.
Being so close to completing my book I truly appreciate the work, effort and resilience it takes to finalise such a project and I am filled with respect for all writers out there who have completed a book, be it published or not.
As I once again enter my fictional world I want to wish everyone best of luck with NaNoWriMo, whether taking part officially or ‘unofficially’. Remember to enjoy.
“Just set one day’s work in front of the last day’s work. That’s the way it comes out. And that’s the only way it does.” John Steinbeck
Photo: Courtesy of The Magazine of the National Endowment for the Humanities