November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.
I wasn’t aware of the distinction until I started using Twitter and decided to attempt a novel of my very own.
It sounded like a fun idea at first, but now I think it might be just another reason to hate the month of November.
At the beginning of the month I thought, “Wow, this is great!” I’m very deadline driven and I thought another goal, on top of one thousand words a day, would be helpful.
I had already written about 20,000 words and if I wrote one thousand words every night in November, I’d be in good shape with 50,000 words.
I actually have no idea how many words there are in the average novel, but 50,000 sounded good. And I read something about 50,000 words on the NaNoWriMo website… Somewhere.
But how many thousand words of fiction have I written in November? Three. Three lousy installments! So much for NaNoWriMo inspiring me.
And now I actually have bigger worries than word count.
A while back I took my first writing workshop. The group leader said that it’s perfectly legitimate to write out of order. That it’s ok to just write a bunch of different scenes.
Then, she said, you just print them all out and spread them across the floor. An order will become apparent. The all you have to do is write transition scenes and voila! Instant novel.
Ok, she didn’t say “voila” or “instant novel” but they were implied.
I’m beginning to fear that she made it sound a lot easier than it really is.
I’ve been writing scenes as I’ve felt inspired, but I need more scenes, many more scenes and now I’m stuck.
Maybe if I just wrote instead of writing about writing and whining about writing in these posts, I’d be better off.
Ok, so I’m going to use this time to brainstorm a little…
First, I have a whole character (Delores, from the story that started it all) who I want to be in the book and hasn’t made many appearances.
My thought is that we only know Delores through telephone conversations with Daniel.
Will that be enough to have readers get to know her and, hopefully, like her? Or at least care about her?
I think her voice is strong enough that it will. She was featured in one of the stories I took to that writing workshop and the other participants seemed to like her.
They said she was authentically Southern, which was good since I was aiming for Southern.
The challenge to this approach is that I have to find reasons for Daniel to call her.
In a way, that’s a good thing. It creates conflict. Daniel has a problem and calls Delores.
But how many problems can one guy have?
Maybe the first few times he’ll call when he has a problem and then he’ll call because he likes her. Daniel has trouble connecting to people and talking over the phone is easier for him because it’s not face to face. There’s less at risk.
The next issue is that I’m starting to like Daniel less and Sebastian more.
From the very beginning Daniel was the protagonist of this novel. He seemed sympathetic and had a good back story.
But now Sebastian is more interesting to me. What’s not to like about a former professional poker player who leaves to start his own church in the middle of the World Series of Poker because God spoke to him in the rest room?
Is this Sebastian’s story or Daniel’s? Which one would someone rather read about? Is Sebastian too much of a caricature to be the protagonist of a whole book? Can I have two protagonists?
I also need to develop some of the other characters. I introduced a girlfriend for Daniel pretty early on, but haven’t done anything with her. I guess I don’t really know what to do with her.
How much do you develop characters like that?
My thought is that I should write it anyway, even if it goes nowhere, so I know about the characters. Isn’t it better to have too much information and then edit out what isn’t needed? Don’t I need to know the characters stories even if it isn’t useful to move the plot along?
And speaking of plot… I need to have some. I need to have a whole middle section, not just a start and end. How do I develop that?
God, I feel and sound like such an amateur. Which I am. How do people who didn’t go to school for this stuff figure it out?
There are so many books out there about writing a novel that it’s overwhelming. How do I pick one? I’d even be willing to read two, if there were the right two.
I wish they had an author mentor program where you could go and find someone who has been through the process and is willing to talk to you about it, answer questions.
I know that’s one of the things NaNoWriMo is all about, but it’s hard to connect to anonymous people on a website. What do I do, just message someone out of the blue? I’m not going to do that.
Also, how do I know these people know more about it than I do? Some people are really good at sounding like they know more than they really do. Most people are good at that, actually.
I’m thinking more like one on one discussion. I need to find an author, someone I admire, who would be willing to get a cup of coffee and just talk to me. Offer thoughts and feedback.
But I guess that’s a lot to ask of someone.
Until I find my mentor, I’m heading to another one night workshop in early December and maybe I’ll consider a longer commitment.
And even though I might not get it done in NaNoWriMo, I’m determined to write this thing one way or another!