NaNo Update #1

We’re ten days into National Novel Writing Month—one-third of the way there—and after the first nine days, I’m at 15,000 words. My stats page on the NaNo website tells me at this rate I will finish on November 29, one day ahead of the deadline. I have 35,000 words to go.

I should be feeling pretty good about my chances to achieve the goal of writing a 50,000 word first draft in thirty days, right? There’s one slight problem. I’m about two-thirds of the way through my written outline. In short, I’m running out of story.

So what do I do now? Here are my choices:

  1. Keep going and I might get to 30,000 words.
  2. Think hard about potential new scenes or story lines and add these to the draft.
  3. Begin writing the ending first and see how many words I can generate and whether the resolution of the plot jogs any additional story strands I can pursue.

I am leaning toward a combination of #2 and #3. I have already written two completely new scenes that were not in my original written outline. I was pleased with one of these scenes and unhappy with the other. If not for the word count pressure of NaNo, I would not have written either one, but that is one of the benefits of putting myself through the process. It has forced me to employ the most intense type of creative focus. If I was merely slogging my way through a first draft, the word count wouldn’t concern me and I wouldn’t have challenged myself to think about all the story possibilities. Some of these won’t work and I will go back and cut them, but there are those little nuggets in there that I will keep and polish.

There’s nothing to lose when the word count rules the day. When I revisit the draft later on, I will keep what works and cut the rest. And when I reach that 50,000 words (or should I say if?) I will have discovered the core of my story. And in my desperate desire to maintain 1,667 words per day, I will unearth some precious jewels.

If you are doing NaNo, what challenges do you face? How are you coping?

 

 

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “NaNo Update #1

  1. This demonstrates the pitfalls of trying to outline before NaNo. The actual scenes become too important when if word count is your bottom line, you shouldn’t worry about little things like plot structure or, say…. Coherency. I have often written scenes that were complete left turns, knowing full well I’d probably cut them during any serious editing. So my best advice is this. First, don’t waste too many words here on your blog. This takes energy from NaNo. Second, the NaNo writers block buster: dream sequence. Make it ridiculous and too long. Explore your protagonist’s psychology with visuals and symbols you wouldn’t ordinarily use.

    • Anna,
      Good to hear from you again. I hope the twins are well. this is great advice and I know just what you mean about the futility of trying to keep up my blog during NaNo month. I’m stubborn that way. Today I wrote a new scene that was a total left turn and it was a home run! That’s what I love about NaNo–I try things I would never do otherwise. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I assume you are not NaNo’ing this year.

  2. Too much pressure for me. After reading all the NaNo posts, I don’t know if I’ll ever jump on that bandwagon. I gotta be me. Even the revision month is a lot of pressure, although I’m not feeling a deadline with this. I know it will take me more than one month, especially with holidays, to get the MS where I want it to be. You sound very disciplined and determined. I’m cheering you on, CG!

    • Julie,
      Thanks. I could use all the support I can get. It is definitely hard to come up wiht 1,667 words per day, even if you have a well-defined plot. And I am more of a pantser so I don’t do a lot of outlining, But what I love about NaNo is that I play around with scenes I would not otherwise write. Good luck with your revisions. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Julie,
      Thanks. I could use all the support I can get. It is definitely hard to come up wiht 1,667 words per day, even if you have a well-defined plot. And I am more of a pantser so I don’t do a lot of outlining, But what I love about NaNo is that I play around with scenes I would not otherwise write. Good luck with your revisions. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Diane

    My first challenge, as always, is time. I wrote less than 700 words over the last three days. Good thing I have vacation days next week, so I hope to play major catch up. Second challenge is my story is missing something and I can’t quite put my finger on it. I did like your recent post about a character hijacking your story. It got me thinking that maybe I’m approaching my story from the wrong perspective. As I mentioned on WU, I’m not giving up!

    • Diane,
      Good for you. I fell behind early, but I’ve now caught up. Rolling with the new main character really helped me. I’m still concerned that my story is too far along, but if I run out of story before 50,000 words, I will have to deal with that problem when it comes. Don’t give up. You can catch up on your vacation. Good luck to you.

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