NaNoWriMo: A Two Month Experiment

Writer's FireThis is my fifth attempt of writing 50,000 words of novel in 30 days.

This year though, I’m using October and November as a two-month experiment into my writing process. It’s a mixture of easy and hard things, and sometimes it feels simple, and at others, I think I must be mad.

I’m flitting between writing the new urban fantasy and re-reading / editing the beginning of Planes Shifter. I began the month with a weekend writing retreat (including this workshop), and in the middle of this two-month stint, I’m attending the World Fantasy Convention. At the end of November, I hope to have feedback from my remaining reader about Planes Shifter and a finished urban fantasy draft.

The Mission

Planes Shifter had been a major learning curve. I think I’m technically on draft 20-or-so, although I’ve still not actually done a full read through. It’s my “does-this-work-for-me” piece; where I am both exploring my own style and actually still learning how to edit. With the beginning (at least 25k) of seven novels under my belt – four at the point of some vaguely completed draft; I feel that the writing side is kind of okay. I’ve done a mixture of plotting and pantsing for each, and although I’m still learning from this, it’s a secondary focus. I’m comfortable enough with what each entails.

But editing is a whole new game.

So far, I’ve done one read through ( a year ago ), then three whole new drafts, and edited for “plot issues” by just inserting scenes here and there, or the odd event/character to change to the odd scene. I’ve found that I just can’t write a note to “edit this” in the margin of a printed copy – I have to sit there and fix that thing NOW.

And that’s meant that a) I’ve never got past chapter seven and b) I’ve become overly familiar with one section; which makes all other sections seem bad/wrong. Also, I’ve ended up wanting to re-write from that beginning – but take the story in another direction.

The Experiment

I’ve been stuck on this since July, and thus have decided to have this experiment as a “free-reign” time to just… begin again or re-plot, edit and revise, to make mistakes and cut huge chunks… This is my experiment in having a separate draft where I reflect on what has or hasn’t worked for me, and then have a new, separate to apply those changes. A “what-if” experiment.

And having said that, I’m itching to write from scratch again. I’ve wanted to write an urban fantasy since March, and I’ve held on to this idea since then. Now, with two months to complete 30-days-of-writing, I’m ready to write it.

So the October-November period is for learning how I plan, write and edit – focusing on two pieces of work:

KINDLING FOR THE FIRE

* I’m trying a much fuller plotting process – including full character sheets, diary entries, world-building and back-story.

* I’m not writing “any old thing” to reach the word count like I have in previous NaNo novels. I’m focusing on the most exciting thing that could happen next – so I’m (hopefully) always excited to write the next scene.

* I’ve made it a goal not to have just an antagonistic faction this time. I’m picking an individual with a realistic motivation and their own experiences to base decisions on.

* Instead of 30 days in November, I’m spreading my 30 days across the two months. This also gives me space to read through Planes Shifter.

PLANES SHIFTER

* I’m (trying to) re-read it gently and make changes in a new document: changing things as I go along.

* I’m taking what my two readers have said and trying to apply the comments to the whole premise; not just the six chapters they’ve seen.

* I’m allowed to cut out massive events and characters and re-plot for these two months. Just to see how that feels/works. I can always go back to the original.

~ This is something I wish I’d done the moment I finished the first draft in September 2012. Better late than never, though. ~

Progress So Far

As I’ve begun my NoWriMo early, I’m currently had 6 days , and I’ve written 12,180 words.
According to NaNoWriMo, I should be at 10,000 words by the end of day 6.

How do you apply the lessons you learn about writing?

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