11.30.2009

NaNoWriMo Odds and Ends


Thirty days ago I began NaNoWriMo at the base of one of the columns outside St. Peter's Basilica. The program ends tonight.

Right now I'm just aglow. I am in love ... throw-back-your-head, fling-out-your-arms, tell-the-whole-world in love with this book. I finished the rough draft last night and am thoroughly happy with the way it turned out.

Yes, it has plot holes; yes, it contains appalling sentences that I hope no one ever knows I wrote; yes, everything happens too fast; but far more came together than I expected and it wound up making itself the sort of story I don't want to put down because it gives me such happiness. It needs a little work, I think, before anyone else will get that feeling from it, but at least I've a start.

For your reading pleasure (or at least, my listing pleasure), here are notes on the experience and the story itself.

Worst things about the story:
  • The plot setups are awful--usually gave out way too much information so I wouldn't forget it myself.
  • Adjectives--not much better, they all got overused. Adverbs, likewise. I needed words.
  • Some of the action and romance scenes are a little cheesy owing to the hurry in which they were written, and perhaps to my own innate cheesiness.
  • A lot of them also happen too quickly.
  • The rule "Don't tell, show"? Yeah, I broke that one a lot.
Best things about the story:
  • The fourth character. I had a primary triptych with a clear protagonist, but the fourth--whom I had loosely planned going in--turned up much earlier in the story and played a far greater role than I expected.
  • The worlds. I had some pre-November input from my mom and sister on how I might structure the worlds, and they turned out lovely. In my head, at least.
  • The overall plot and theme. It stayed basically true to my main formula, even though a lot of times I just threw something down and told myself I'd figure out what that meant later. A lot of the things I threw down jumped up and made a decent structure out of themselves, without destroying the original direction.
  • The surprises. Maybe it's fun to try to surprise a reader; I'll probably never know. It's way too much fun when the story surprises me.
Most difficult things about the experience:
  • The temptation to procrastinate.
  • Having to rediscover my thought process every time I took a break.
  • Writing out of zero ideas, not knowing even how to end the sentence, let alone the scene.
  • Spending a solid week singing Kristina Horner's line "I just realized I have plot holes and my writing really sucks" and meaning it.
  • Not editing myself. I cheated on that many times.
Most fun things about the experience:
  • Starting in Italy.
  • Feeling serious progress come from my efforts.
  • Not stressing over plot holes and major difficulties/unplanned parts--or stressing less about them, at least. I could just say "Right, that's dreadful" and keep writing.
  • Falling in love with my characters, one after the other.
  • Getting surprised by really sweet moments. I'm sure most of them are desperately silly right now, but ... well, I can't talk about any of them without giving away spoilers, but one in particular just about startled me into tears of joy.
Final word count: 57,500

Number of cheats used: None, unless you count flinging around the adjectives and the passive verb and other comparatively useless parts of speech without discretion.

Great WriMo moment: Including Mr. Ian Woon. He lives on the Moon. I am inordinately proud of that fact.

What's next: My goal today is to make a quick scan through the story, highlight things I love and things I want to change, and then put it away for a few weeks before starting to overhaul. I am very anxious to do my best by my beloved little tale, and bad revision can kill off all the best parts of a story without fixing the problems, according to Holly Lisle. This absolutely terrifies me. But I hereby commit myself to making a full revision. That's a promise.

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