Sunday, 24 November 2013

NaNo – Tougher that last year?

So finally I have finished. The novel is complete and 50,650 words have been written in the last 24 days. I am very happy that I am a NaNo winner for the second year in succession but why was it so much harder this year?

Was it because last year’s story had been circling round in my brain for many years and this year’s story had only been there a few months?

Was it because I planned less?

Was it because the story is not as good?

Was it because I am a better writer now and writing without editing as you go feels strange?

I think it is probably a little of all of these. This year definitely felt like running through treacle at points and I had to force myself to sit down and write. Last year I couldn’t wait to write and would pick up my laptop at every opportunity to get on with my story.

I thought I must be miles behind this year even though my word count was above average but when I checked last year’s daily word count it was almost identical to this year’s.

To all of you that have started NaNo this year I take my hat off to you. Every word written is one that probably wouldn’t have existed without NaNo. The support on facebook and through the NaNo site is amazing and the write ins sound great even though I have yet to pluck up the courage and attend one.

The next step is to edit. I am still editing last year’s novel but this time I won’t leave it so long. As soon as 2012’s NaNo is ready to go out into the world to find a publisher I am starting editing 2013’s NaNo. I think it will need a lot more work but who knows, once I read it in the cold light of day there may be more to it that meets the eye at the moment.

Am I glad it’s over? Yes. Now I can get on with the writing I do the rest of the year.

Am I glad I did it? Yes. Even if only half the words I have written are usable I am well on my way to my second novel being completed.

Would I do it again? You betcha, Putting myself through this pain and agony each year shows me what is needed to turn writing into a career and not just a hobby.

So for now it’s goodbye but watch out. I’ll be back.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

NaNoWriMo teaches showing not telling

I am sure we are all aware of NaNoWriMo by now but if not I wrote about it in a recent blog that you can check out here.

There are many ways which people use to try and hit the 50,000 words needed to be a winner. Some do not use any constrictions which can lead to some rather stilted dialogue. Others insist on putting every characters full name each time they speak which makes no odds if you character is called Cher or Madonna but can significantly increase your word count if you are including Sir Major General Albert Santos Di Caprio. Others insist that you should never delete anything instead just scoring through and rewriting which in a way gives you double word count.

I personally want to hit the word count with something that faintly resembles a first draft and whilst I will not be adverse to changes all my don’ts to do nots if the need arises I am currently trying not to.

So how to hit a massive word count and retain something useable. Well the first rule of writing is always ‘show don’t tell’ and with my short stories I have sometimes been accused of rushing to a conclusion that could hold the reader’s attention for longer. So in the effort to attain greater word count and more showing less telling I have gone from writing this:

Abby’s mum had a stroke

To writing this:

As she sat down at the kitchen table she noticed the shopping list notepad had vanished.

‘Mum have you moved the notepad?’ Abby called into the other room.

‘Yes it’s in the top draw same as always.’

‘Did you look at it?’

No response

‘Mum I said did you look at it?’

Still no response. Abby hated it when she went into one of her sulks and was determined not to stand for it. She stomped into the lounge. As she walked through the doorway and was about to let rip she noticed her mum’s hand dangling over the side of the armchair.

‘Mum, mum are you okay?’ She rushed to the front of the chair. Her mum had a lopsided grin on her face and dribble coming out of the corner of her mouth. ‘Don’t worry mum it’s gonna be okay.’ Abby said as she grabbed the telephone and dialled nine nine nine.

And so we move from five words to one hundred and fifty four, a significant dent in my daily total and whilst it’s still just a first draft and not perfect, it holds a lot more meaning than the first sentence.

Thank you NaNoWriMo for helping me to improve my writing.

Have any of your found other ways that NaNo has helped?

Are there other ways your writing has been improved when you didn’t expect it to be?

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