Tuesday, October 25, 2011

National Novel Writing Month Pre-Briefing

I guess it's possible that's just a briefing.

Okay, so, National Novel Writing Month (I refuse to use acronyms where avoidable, and I particularly refuse to use the method of shortening that involves just taking the first syllable of each because, damnit, that produces infantile gibberish I won't be any part of. Unfortunately, as you can see to the right, it's on everything.)

This is my third year doing the national novel writing month thing. Before I started this, I was terrified of novels. I thought, Jesus, it's hard enough to make a character consistently interesting for 5,000 words, how on earth am I going to keep them for 100,000 words? I knew it was a different type of story, of course, but I still fretted, especially given that I'm prone to writing quite short, even within the short story format.

So for my first shot I leaned heavily on the snowflake method and I shot for a Young Adult Fantasy with a blind protagonist point of view (which was something I had tackled fine in a short story, but was more of a challenge for a novel). I learned a lot. It got away from me a bit at times, and frankly I introduced one of the main characters way too late in the story, and he ended up becoming one of many minor helper characters. While I did hit the word goal, I did not finish the book. It's not terrible, certainly, all things considered, and there are bits of it I still think are quite good writing, but I don't anticipate going back to it soon.

My second year I thought, hell, I've grown and matured. I don't need a scaffolding. That was not entirely correct. I also shot for a genre blend where I'm not very intimately familiar with the other genre format: mystery. In the end, the book had kind of a big identity crisis over whether the murder discovered in the first chapter was a mystery or a macguffin, and really it's the latter. There was also an issue because the two viewpoint characters would not have had access to a lot of the upper echelon locales, and trying to narratively ram them into every place I wanted to show in order to have them overhear every plot point I needed strained credulity. I eventually quit doing it and broadened the cast of viewpoint characters to get a broader, less forced view of things. I also needed them to be missing information in key scenes. I actually ended up backwriting an entire character in order to have someone familiar with the world on a scientific level give information my characters could not have obtained by themselves. I actually got to the end of this one, with a handful of notes of scenes I needed to go back and write from different points of view. I still think it's basically good, though I acknowledge it needs a lot of work.

This year I'm back on the outlines. I'm going through the snowflake method again and it's been really helpful, especially when I get to a point where I have to go "wait, how and why could that possibly ever work?". So far I've pre-solved several plot holes. I'm really liking how it's going. I feel like the main character is more in the thick of events, so that makes the perspective easier to handle. I'm actually quite excited about this one, and I feel like the preparation has been good. I also feel like I'm bringing a lot of lessons from the first two books with me.

I know six other real life friends who will also be doing the national novel writing month, plus the regular crowd online. It should be a bang up month.

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