Monday, November 30, 2009

Wrap Up 2008 – NaNoWriMo

Well I was able to finish my novel. That means I get to write a nifty wrap up blog about my NaNoWriMo experience. I’ll try to keep this short, for those of you who aren’t too excited about my NaNoWriMo ramblings.

My biggest fear was not having enough time to write the entire novel, what with one less weekend this year. I knew that I was going to have to write at least one day ahead at some point to make it work out, and I did that in on the 21st and 22nd. I just added 1,500 words to my total needed on those two days and I was able to get that jump. It was a good thing too, because this month proved to be a bit tougher than I anticipated. There were surprise visits on my writing night, as well as work interfering with my schedule. I still finished a couple days early but it was a bit of a challenge to pull it off.

One of the things I noticed was that NaNo encourages you to meet and interact with other writers participating in the contest. But at the same time, writing is such a solitary act. There were several meetings with writers in my area, and while I did want to go, I wasn’t sure how much writing would actually get done (and that is even if I had a laptop with WiFi). Writing really requires me to go deep into this place inside and the less interruptions I have the better. I think that writing in a group just wouldn’t work for me. On the flip side I got to find a few other writers in my area, so maybe I can connect with them outside the contest and meet to talk about our work and techniques.

How do I feel about the first draft? The way I usually do about all my first drafts. I’m not entirely pleased with it. I feel that I was character heavy in the first half and plot heavy in the second half. I think that I ended up back loading a ton of exposition in the last two chapters (something that seems to happen a bit with these horror novels). I think the characters of Adrienne and Rachel are greatly improved compared to their old versions. I think that the inclusion of the mysterious older character was a big help to the story. I was able to write the ending as I envisioned it, but I’m curious to see if it actually works with the story as is. I think my description was much stronger in the first half than in the second half. I’m going to have to look up some synonyms for “frost”, “cold”, “ice” and “frozen”.

What’s next? After I finish a novel, I usually take a break from writing. I’ll read more, play videogames a bit, just take a week or two off from writing. Doesn’t mean I won’t research (something I’m planning on doing, dealing with the sci-fi novel I wrote over the summer). I think my next focus will be that sci-fi novel, give it another pass and see if I can tighten it up a bit, maybe work it into something solid. As for “Forever Cold”, I’m thinking of revisiting it over the summer for a second draft. This will include me reading it in one go, marking it up (and getting rid of my repetitions), seeing what works and what doesn’t, and re-fitting it around a bit. I think the core story is solid and will work out but, but I’m curious to see how long this turns out – story or novella?

Well that’s about all I’ve got for this year’s NaNoWriMo. It was exhilarating to participate in and I got a finished first draft out of it. Thanks to all of you who provided encouragement and good wishes. All writers need this, and I for one appreciate it.

How do you feel after completing a first draft? Do you usually take a break or do you dive into something new? Do you have any specific questions about NaNoWriMo that I can answer?

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