Sunday, 7 December 2008

NaNoWriMo 2008: The Post Mortem

It's now been a week since NaNoWriMo 2008 came to a close where I reached the dizzy heights of 80,000 words! But how did it all turn out, and what went wrong with my original bid for 125,000 words?

In order to get 125k I had to write 5k on each of the days that I wasn't working. Day One went OK, with my not only getting 5,038 words on the board, but also having time to attend the London kick-off party. However, Day One would turn out to be the only day that I would be on target for 125k.

Things started to go downhill from Day Two as I once again found things to distract myself: Games (both those already on my computer, and found via the internet), YouTube (especially clips of "Whose Line Is It Anyway"), and TV. There were some good days though, with a couple more 5k days before I went back to work, but 125k for the month was rapidly becoming a distant dream.

And so I set myself a more realistic target of 80k - at the time that I set it I only needed 2.5k a day to reach it, and so it felt much more achieveable

As for the story itself I did have a rough plan for the plot when I started out. That plan was thrown out on Day Two as the characters took over and the story started writing itself! But I don't see that as a bad thing - it's a great feeling to be in that creative zone. However, it also meant that I had no idea how long it would be before I would reach "The End".

Two characters in particular have taken over the show. My novel is about people starting University, and in the original plan I had four characters living in the same flat in a Halls of Residence. I felt that four was a bit small for a flat (I had about eight in mine in real life), and so I settled on having six which felt more realistic - which meant that I had to create two characters very quickly. But rather than just have a couple of quiet characters that didn't really do much I gave them both their own sub-plots, which have slowly taken over a large chunk of the novel. The second-to-last chapter that I've written so far was focussed on a key day in the lives of these two characters, with the main character only making a very small appearance. The chapter culminates in a very big moment for one of these characters, which I enjoyed writing. But the chapter was huge, about three times the size of the others in the novel so far, but it's one of my favourites. Unfortunately, I am going to have to change the names of these two characters when I come to finish the book - when I created them I needed a couple of characters quickly, and let's just say that their names became a in-joke that's gone very badly wrong!

And, talking of in-jokes, there is one in there. Anyone who's familiar with both me and my writing should be able to spot it quite easily once they eventually get to read it...

I think the story's been going quite well and I pretty much know what's going to be happening to all of my main characters and what all the plot points that I have to get through are. But it is huge - I'm at 80k and haven't finished yet, this will easily go beyond 100k, I have six viewpoint characters each with their own story arc, and I have a huge supporting cast who I've lost count of. The last chapter I wrote felt like a good place to take a break as all of the characters are at key points in their story arcs, and I can't wait to get on and write what happens next...

Because of the time I put into NaNoWriMo I've fallen behind on my OU course, and so this month I'll be concentrating on that. But I'll probably go back to my novel sometime around January. Once I've got the first draft done I've then got the huge task of doing the rewrites, which is going to take a very long time...

And so, overall, whilst I did fall short of my 125k target, I'm still classing NaNoWriMo as a success. I managed to get my revised target of 80k done, beating my previous total for NaNoWriMo by 29k. And, importantly, I like what it is I have written, and I feel that it has huge potential. I just have to sit down and finish it!

But I'm already looking ahead to NaNoWriMo 2009. I'd really like to get 100k done in a month...

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