Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NaNoWriMo Halfway Report

NaNoWriMo Halfway Report

nanowrimo fireWell, so far, so good. I’m sitting here at the halfway point of with 32K words, my target being ~60K words. Unfortunately, my four “days off” are coming soon. I’m going to be at Steamcon Fri, Sat, and Sunday this week, and next week I traditionally take T-day off (but make up for it on Black Friday in an all-day writing spree). My pace is well under last year, especially considering that my wife wrecked her car last November and I lost a lot of time due to that…and I still finished 5 days early. This year my target is lower, and I’ve been working on a couple other things.

So storywise, it’s interesting. I’m writing a completely contemporary mystery, no Sci-Fi, no secret agents, just everyday people. Okay, there’s a mad scientist. D’ohh! Well, I never worked a good mad scientist into Steam Palace, so I guess some of that rubbed off. But still, it’s not science fiction, I promise.

I’ve stuck fairly well to the storyline. There have been a few characters that I created who I’ve never used, and a few that are creeping out of nowhere to take prominent roles. The plot has more holes than a gun range target, and it’s not all that close to what I started with, but I kind of expected that.

Here’s the thing to remember as you draft. Don’t let your plot run the story. Characters should always drive it. Emotion. Fear. Anger. Love. Week 2 is always the hardest week, because once you’ve introduced the characters and the world, then what? I had in mind a scene where my detective and the damsel in distress are in a car and the car flies off the road into a lake where they almost die. That was my goal. But that was plot. I had to know why they were in that car, why no one else was in it, and where they were going.  (I had a couple of near-drowning scenes in the first draft of Steam Palace that didn’t make it into the second…again when I have ideas I’m determined to use them).

So with that scene in mind, I started creating complications. Intrigue. Questions. Characters who acted unexpectedly. Relationships develop. When I finally hit that critical scene, now the whole rest of the story is unfolding. I now a vision of the final climactic scene, the “reveal” as it were. That scene will be the driving force for the next 2 weeks. That’s the make-or-break part of the book. That’s when my hero will be tested and he’ll know once and for all who his true friends are, and whether he has what it takes to be a true detective.

The other thing was that whenever I got stuck, I just think of another scene to write, something where two characters interact in some way.  I don’t know how, but it just sort of works. This is why you have to just rely on your characters. Give them strong goals and motivations, and let them do their own thing, even if it takes your story somewhere else. That’s the beauty of NaNoWriMo, you never know what you’re going to get.

You’re over the hump, and it’s all downhill from here!


  1. I know exactly what you mean. When I first started writing my series, I had three scenes in mind - the climax of the whole series, the climax of what I thought was the first book and another pivotal scene early in the so-called first book. It was this first scene that made me wonder how the MC got there and exploring that ended in a whole new book. If I had stuck with my original idea of plot, I wouldn't even have that first book.

    Keep going! I'm not doing NaNoWriMo, but I'm standing on the sidelines, cheering every one along. Rah rah!

  2. You are so right. Mine has already taken a few turns that I never expected, but I'm still pushing my plot too much.

    Last time I got stuck I started writing three bigger parts of the story, and didn't finish them so the next time I get stuck I have options I can go right to. It was a nice trick.

  3. Hi, Andrew! Great thinking. I love how you said that fear, anger and love should drive the story and not the PLOT. That would be a boring read.

    Have fun plotting along! ;)

    You have an award!

  4. @Kristie: I like plotting but I don't like to be beholden to it. Sometimes the story just changes.

    @Venassa: Some people say never finish a scene so you have something to work on next time. I don't believe in it but it's worth a try.

    @EM: I'm learning that detective stories are all about people and not much about the plot. Yeah, there's got to be clues and pursuit of suspects, but that's kind of secondary.


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