Nov 302009

For the second year in a row, I have “won”1 NaNoWriMo. What’s more, I even have this last day of November to relax. Last year, I was frantically writing right up until just a few minutes before midnight. Though I did a fair amount of writing last night2, none of it was frantic. It all simply happened.

I walk away from this NaNo feeling proud of what I’ve written. It’s unpolished as hell, with several large inconsistencies that need to be massaged away, but that’s perfectly acceptable for a “zeroth” draft3. I’ve turned it over to Cody for her first review of it while I take the next week or so to decompress. Once she has a read through and tells me what she thinks, I’ll start working on the next draft. One of the first things I’ll do is draw myself a map of the area in which the story takes place. There’s a fair amount of traveling in this story and I want to make sure I have consistent timescales for that travel.

There are five central characters, drawn together through circumstance over the course of the story. Three of these characters make up the central triumvirate4, one of whom is the point-of-view character for the entire duration of the story. He also happens to be dead ((No, he’s not a vampire—sparkly or otherwise.). The real joy of these characters is that they’re all fun. The protagonist is a man discovering a world he never knew. His “id” counterpart dashes head-long into any situation and isn’t afraid to call a spade a spade. His “superego” counterpart engages him in philosophical discussion. There’s also a Crowning Moment of Awesome for one of the characters. I burst out laughing when I wrote it. A good sign.

Once I finish the next draft and Cody gives it the nod of approval, I’ll distribute it to some friends for a wider review. The draft resulting from this collective critique will find its way to agents. With a little luck, it will then find its way onto bookstore shelves and into your hands. A guy can hope, anyway.

NaNo, to me, is about pushing yourself to see what you’re capable of. Last year, I learned that I was capable of writing a novel. This year, I learned that I was capable of writing a novel that entertained me. I think this is important: you should write to entertain yourself. If you like it, odds are someone else out there will too. Trust to that, rather than trying to fill some artificial quota.

  1. Yes, it is called “winning”. []
  2. Over 6,000 words in one sitting. []
  3. This is a term Justine Larbalestier uses to describe the absolutely raw first output of a story. I’ve also stolen her idea to use superscript footnotes in blog posts. []
  4. I realized last night that this triumvirate mimicked the ego-superego-id triumvirate of Kirk-Spock-McCoy, or Harry-Hermione-Ron, or any number of other famous fictional triumvirates. I didn’t intend to set it up that way, but it sort of fell into place all the same. []

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