NaNoWriMo

Nov. 1st, 2007 09:24 am
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Today is the first of November, and people across the world are starting their month-long commitment to NaNoWriMo, National Novel-Writing Month for those who didn't go through all the stress with me last year.

This year, I've decided not to take part. There's a few different reasons. Primarily it's because I don't have a clear idea for a novel at the moment, and I've not had enough time during October to try to figure one out. There's also the fact that doing it in November last year gave me nothing like enough time or energy to get anything at all sorted for Christmas.

So. It's a bit of a shame, but the next time I do a NaNo, I want to have the idea and plot mapped out nicely in advance, because I believe that's the key to getting a half-decent start of a novel out of the month.

What I will do this month, though, while all the energy and buzz is flying about from the people who are doing it, is give some serious thought to the theme and plot of whatever my next madcap attempt at doing this will be. I've got a week off to myself (for the purposes of recovery from hideous job) later this month, and I'll have a think about it then.

And of course, you don't have to do it in November. It gives you lots of company, and there's support from the website and the podcast and whatnot, but fundamentally, you can just pick a month and get going -- the important thing is the deadline. So I won't necessarily have to wait until next November if a good enough idea comes along...
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NaNoWriMo 2006 Winner

So. That's one month of my life I'm not getting back :)

I am so, so glad that I managed to finish this thing. Not that the novel's finished; in fact I'm halfway through a scene, let alone worrying about the plot holes and the occasional italicised "TODO" here and there. But bugrit. I have written 50,000 words of fiction in a month, which is probably more than I've ever written in a five-year period up until now. That's quite cool, really.

I still can't believe that I managed to fit it in.

Anyway. I will post a more reflective entry tomorrow, or, in fact, later today. Or at some point when I've got some more sleep, whenever that is. The Cava I'm currently drinking may help with that (I've got proper Champagne in the fridge for when I can actually get together with someone else to celebrate...)

I'll leave you not with the usual Favourite Line of the Day, but with a short list of songs about famous Belgians performed by my protagonist's band during the course of the novel. [livejournal.com profile] juggzy take note, some of these may want lyrics at some point :)

Justine Henin-Hardenne (Who started it all...)
Hieronymus Bosch, Mosh Mosh Mosh!
Helmut Lotti, My Kind of Tottie
That Jean Bolland, He's Not From Holland
He's Neat, He's Elite, He's Rene Magritte

...Thank you, and goodnight. *bows*
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Well, it took 47,000 words, but I think I've finally figured out why it's sometimes like pulling teeth. The times I find it really hard going aren't necessarily when I've run out of plot, or when I'm doing particular things, like description, or character development, or dialogue. They're when it's not funny. I suppose I should have realised this earlier, as it's pretty obvious now.

Still, this is all meant to be a bit of a voyage of discovery, innit? I perhaps need to learn the trick of making even the serious bits silly, or most likely, making the silly bits also serious. It's certainly something I enjoy when I'm reading/watching a story; Alexei Sayle's gorgeously surreal, dark stories spring to mind. As do less highbrow things like Jonathan Creek. Hmm. You know, although I may not exactly be "finding my voice", I think I'm getting a few good hints as to where to look for it from the whole exercise.

Anyway. Fewer than 3,000 words to go, and two days to do it in. I think I'll have to have a think about writing a bit where I can try to combine silly and serious as much as possible...

Favourite bit of the day )
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I haven't done as splendidly as I'd hoped over this weekend. However, I have caught up with where I should be, and even overtaken that point by a few words. So. Word-count is now officially 45,034, and I can smell the finish line from here. Cool.

Favourite line of the day:

“Oh, Domingo, am I glad to see you!”
“Likewise,” said Domingo, slightly muffled by my embrace. I’m a 34C embrace, by the way.
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Caught up a bit more today, although not quite as much as I'd hoped. Still, not too bad. I'm a touch above 42,000 words.

If I do just carry on adding words, I'm not going to end up with what you'd really define as a novel, by any standards, what with the big plot problems, the characters I've not really introduced yet, and so forth. But, by all accounts, this isn't really the point of NaNoWriMo. The point, it seems to me, is to write 50,000 words of vaguely-related fiction in a singe month (a) to prove to yourself that you can do it, and (b) because that's a much better starting point for producing an actual novel than not having any words at all, just a vague feeling that one day you want to write a book.

Still, note to self: Next year, if you're foolish enough to do this again, try aiming to "finish" a few days early, so you've got some tidying/restructuring/adding time.

My favourite line of the day isn't actually mine; it was stolen from the illustrious Mike Ashton. Still, the ability to shamelessly plagiarise from people you don't think will sue is a useful authorial ability.


I grabbed my menu. “Cool, they do vegetarian.”
“Vegetables,” said Nez, “Are what food eats.”
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Well, didn't quite reach my target word-count today, but managed 2,800 words (I'd hoped to hit 3,000) Still, this means that within the first hour of writing tomorrow, I should break 40,000 words and head into the home stretch, effectively. That'll be nice :)

Anyway. Off to bed now, before I die of tired.

Favourite line of the day (well, favourite line that can be taken out of context, anyway):

“Which room, please?” she asked the American couple.
“Fourty four,” said the husband, although I could barely hear him over his shirt.

Sigh...

Nov. 25th, 2006 12:07 am
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It's just as well I've got a three-day weekend about to start, because I've only managed about 1200 words this evening. It's been a long week, and a crap day at work, and I'm really not in the mood, so I'm going to try getting some decent sleep and ploughing on in the morning. I at least kept going until I'd broken 37,000 words, so there's only 13,000 to go. Ho hum.

Favourite bit of the evening (the standard wasn't high...):

“Yeah!” said Nez, his eyes lighting up. “We might need to follow him, or something. Maybe there’ll be a chase!” He started the Capri.
“Nez, three things. Firstly, you’re not on TV. Secondly, this isn’t the 1970s. Thirdly, if there is a chase, we’d probably be better off walking. I mean, if the chase lasts more than ten minutes, we’ll have to ask him to pull over and hang on for a bit while you fill up your radiator.”
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[Let me know if you're getting bored of these; I can always make them private. But there's only a week left now, anyway :) ]

So, after yesterday's disastrously crap evening, today went fine. I got more than the staple 1,666 words, which at least means I'm less behind than I was yesterday. And I've broken through the 35,000 word barrier, so there's fewer than 15,000 words to go, which seems quite doable once you've done it a couple of times in the month already.

Favourite line of the evening:

"It’s a disturbing fact of modern life that in a city, you’re never more than ten feet away from a Tesco Metro."

Bugrit

Nov. 23rd, 2006 12:38 am
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It's just not flowing tonight. I've managed about 1,400 words. Ho hum. Still. At least I forced myself to get something written. Feh.
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Are we nearly there yet, mum? This feels like quite a long November. Still, I managed to get in more than a normal day's wordcount today, despite it being karate night. I've now written a good half (the last half) of my finale, even though I'm not entirely sure where it takes place, and I'm really really not sure about how I'm going to get everybody there.

Still, it's good, and I'm playing with interesting stylistic things, and it seems reasonably gripping, at least to me, which is why I'm actually managing to keep on writing at the moment, I suppose.

Currently at about 32,500 words, which is about 2,500 words down on where I should be at the end of week three, but hey. There's still one more weekend to go...

Thank you for the encouraging comments and suggestions, by the way, folks; I'll get around to some proper replies tomorrow, hopefully :) For now, it's half past midnight and definitely bedtime...
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Okay, by the expedient of not worrying that none of my existing plot makes sense any more, and writing bits of the finale without having any idea how I'm going to get there, I at least made my wordcount for today. Ho hum. Just keep going, that's the mantra.

I think the top tip I've learned so far is that you should never finish a day's writing at a convenient point, like the end of a chapter, or a conversation, or whatever. Because if you stop while you've still got some writing in your head to put down, that's how you can get back into it tomorrow. If you foolishly stop at the end of a chapter, say, then you've got to start the next one completely cold the next day.

Favourite line of the day:

“Go on, back in the lounge, man. You know I don’t like cockneys in the kitchen. Research,” he said, “Has shown it to be a primary cause of Jamie Oliver.” He shooed us out.

Bugger

Nov. 19th, 2006 10:13 pm
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My plot makes no sense at all. And I can't make it make sense. It seemed like a good idea at the time, to head away from the character development kind of plot I was vaguely thinking of and emphasise the lightweight thriller-y kind of element of things, because that's far more easy to fit into 50,000 words. But with that kind of plot, it really, really helps if you know where you're heading: what the plan is, from start to finish.

Otherwise you plot yourself into a corner, like I've just done, and get completely stuck.

I mean, I can see this being a useful exercise, at the very least, and I can see me using some of these characters and ideas. But right now, I just can't see myself actually finishing this thing. Okay, so it doesn't have to make sense; that's part of NaNoWriMo. But try telling my writer/muse/whatever that. If I can't see anywhere for the plot to go, and I can't even see any way of fixing the existing stuff I've written, I don't seem to be able to get on with the next scene. I've tried a few things; I've even tried starting from the end and working backwards. But it doesn't seem to be working.

Arse.
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Arse. It's not gone well today. I spent a good few hours trying to figure out where my plot was going, where it could go instead, how to fix the holes, etc. And really didn't come up with much. Which leaves me with very little to get my writing teeth stuck into. As it is, I didn't catch up any today, although I did make my minimum wordcount, at least.

I can only hope that kicking it around for so long today (not to mention writing out and rearranging a plethora of multicoloured Post-It notes, and talking things through with Plot Dog and Dialogue Monkey (don't ask)) will have activated the old unconscious processing, and that things will look better in the morning.

Whether or not things seem better, I really must try to catch up while I've got the chance, which effectively means writing a good few thousand words tomorrow. I'm not sure I'm going to manage that, really. But I've got to try. Apparently the real target in week 3 -- which I'm fast running out of -- is to make 35,000 words. And I've only got 26,698 right now.

Favourite line of the day:

“I'm a psychiatrist. I'm not going to hurt you.”
“There's a non-sequitur if ever I heard one.”
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This one's a bit long, so it's behind the cut. )
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Okay, I may actually have broken through the pain barrier. "Never give up in week two" is the received NaNoWriMo wisdom, and I can see why. I certainly felt last week like I was in enough trouble to give up. However, I've battered my way through, and now I'm at 24,000 words, only a teensy bit behind target (yesterday being the halfway point, I should have been at 25,000. I'm hoping I'll catch up at the weekend.)

And suddenly it's getting a bit easier again. Plot possibilities are opening up to me. New characters are flowing quite nicely. No terribly funny lines tonight, but some real ideas in terms of plot have definitely turned up, and let me get on with writing some scenes rather than sitting staring at a blank screen. Cool.

I do know that the existing structure needs some serious redoing, but I'm ignoring that for the moment. I might ignore it for the next 26,000 words, too, frankly. Just getting to 50,000 will do for me, even if the beginning doesn't really go anywhere and my lead character changes sexuality for no readily explained reason halfway through :)

Anyway. A good night, so now I'm going to watch The Sopranos before I head for bed.

I stopped in the lounge doorway to admire the clean-up job so far. It had turned from an obvious den of drugs and iniquity into an obvious den of drugs and iniquity which happened temporarily to be bereft of anything worth arresting anyone for. Except perhaps the wallpaper.
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Well, not too bad today. I at least made my 1,666 words, just. Had a good half-hour blockage, but found (hopefully) another scene from later on that needed doing.

Right now, I seem to be losing it a bit. I've not really got much plot at all. And now I'm drifting more and more into writing disconnected stuff which may or may not join up at the end. And if it doesn't join up, I'm a bit screwed.

I may have to have a Plot Doctoring Day on Saturday. I think the main thing I'm learning here is that I'd have been far, far better off starting out with a reasonable idea of what I wanted to write, and what I wanted to write about .

I have a feeling that it's the plot/outline that are the really difficult bits for me. Character doesn't seem too hard; dialogue's easy, and I seem to have found a pretty consistent voice. But while I'm sure there are some people who can just start off with a single scene and a couple of characters in mind and go from there, I'm not sure I'm one of them. And choosing the kind of noir-y, detective-y, thriller-y style I've chosen, which is of course heavily plot-reliant, may have been a Bad Idea.

So. Tip to self for next year: practise plotting, big-time.

Oh, yeah. Favourite line of the day:

Domingo burst through the doorway. “Run!” he shouted, as he raced past me. I didn’t need telling twice, and I’d nearly caught up with him as three of the Order of the 24th Moment piled through the door and chased after us.
“What the hell’s going on?” I asked, breathlessly.
“I seem to have developed a cult following.”
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Hmm. Haven't made my word count tonight, but I worked late and went to karate, so that's not hugely surprising. I should have skipped my usual post-karate indulgence of watching CSI, really, and got on with it.

On the plus side, it wasn't entirely like pulling teeth tonight, I know a little bit more about one of the new characters -- although I don't actually know whether he's alive or not -- and while I've not got any favourite lines from this evening to share, there are a few little character touches here and there, and some decent enough dialogue. And the plot's vaguely moving on a bit.

I did walk to work and back today, but it didn't really help me think about the plot at all. But maybe it helped my unconscious a bit. According to more than one novelist I've interviewed, wandering around cities is quite good for getting ideas moving...
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Bloody hell. It was like pulling teeth tonight. I got the bare minimum done, just over 1,666 words, and it took about three and a half hours.

Tomorrow, I think I might walk to work and back, whilst trying to think of some more plot. It's far, far easier for me to get a scene written than it is to think of what that scene's going to be in the first place.

Anyway.

Favourite bit of the day:

“Scottish? That’s a long way from Russian.”
“Not if you’re Sean Connery,” observed Nez.
I gave him a look. “Anyway. Domingo, this Scottish guy, what’s his name?”
“Tinkerbell.”
I gave him a look, too. I had enough to go around.
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Okay, that went pretty well, all things considered. Since Friday, I've doubled my wordcount, putting my nearly back on track. I've written more than 9,000 words of novel this weekend, although dragging the last 2,000 out this evening has been quite a struggle. Whew. So. Think I'll be trying to reach my word count every single day, like a good boy, from now on.

Favourite line of the evening:

Nez appeared at the doorway. “Shit. And I thought the other rooms were bad. What is this, National Turn-Over-A-House Day? Hallmark have got a lot to fucking answer for.”

Progress

Nov. 12th, 2006 01:53 pm
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By the way, these entries are mainly for my own benefit, so that I can check back next year, when (if?) I do this again, and see where I might be able to improve my game. Like, for example, not getting so far behind by day 10 that I have to write more than 10,000 words over the course of a weekend to try to catch up...

Anyway. I'm now up to 16,000 words, which allows me to go for lunch. I'm going to wander down to the harbourside, where some of the book is set, to take some research photos, and see if I'm remembering correctly that there are still a few points where it's possible to fall off the harbour wall into quite deep water without such things as railings getting in the way.

Favourite line of the morning:

“So, the guy’s really, like, dead?” Domingo asked, his accomplished drug-dealer image slipping back to reveal a scared twenty five year-old.
“About your height, long curly black hair, big nose?” I described.
“That’s the guy.”
“Then either he’s dead, or he hired Tim Burton as his stylist.”

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