Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's NaNoWriMo Time!

As a Newbie Writer, I’ve been excited to take part in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this year. 
NaNoWriMo is an effort to help kickstart writers into concentrating on pure writing for one month, and have a finished novel by the end. It starts November 1st every year and goes till the end of the month. In that time you need to write 50,000 words to be considered a “winner”.  And yes, for those of you doing the math, that’s 1667 words every day for 30 days. Last November (2009), 165,000 people signed up for NaNoWriMo and 30,000 of them completed their projects. That’s about an 18% completion rate and my goal is to be in that 18% this year.
Many people say they want to write a novel, but doing it is a whole other thing. That’s the beauty of NaNoWriMo. They have a unique way of getting you to write.
NaNoWriMo is about putting stuff down on screen (or paper if you’re old-school). It puts sheer word count ahead of good grammar, editing, even spelling. It’s an effort to kick you in the pants and get you motivated to get something done. Some authors find fault with this method, and that’s okay, it’s not for everyone. Some professional authors actually use NaNoWriMo as an excuse to put off their agents, editors, adoring fans and myriad of other things that authors have to deal with, and get their next book written.
The spirit of the month is to write. Stop watching TV. Turn off World of Warcraft. Put down the Apple TV remote. Maybe even lock up the iPad if you’re as bad as I am. 
Get your word count in each day for 30 days and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. There’s even an effort in March of each year to edit the same novel that you wrote in November, giving you a little time away from the novel, as well as a little extra time to finish the rough draft in case you need to pass the 50K mark on your book, which I imagine most people would, since 50,000 words really isn’t a book by today’s standards.
Whatever your motivation, you can do all the prep you want ahead of time, as long as you don’t write any of the actual novel. Some people begin planning out their novels back in August. I was kind of busy back then I so started this last Sunday. I’m currently working on basic outline and character development right now.
Here’s hoping NaNoWriMo goes well for me this year. It’s my first year doing it and I hope I can complete it. I know I have the time, I know I can do it, the hard part is making sure I don’t let other distractions pull me away. Given that we’re currently in the middle of bathroom and master bedroom remodels, work, kids busy with school, gearing up for the holiday season and Thanksgiving coming smack in the middle of the time when I’ll probably be trying to catch up on my NaNoWriMo Novel, it’ll be fun. Why oh why did they have to pick November?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I'm Done!

I'm done!
Well, not really, but…
I’m done! 
I'm currently sitting at about 110,000 words on my first fantasy novel and the main storyline is complete. It’s time to put it away. Two reasons for this: I need to put it away to separate creation from editing and I’ve also reached the time limit I imposed on myself earlier this year.
Editing:
I already know that I need to completely remodel the opening few chapters to make the entire book make sense, I also need to spend some time fleshing out some sections in the middle, working on characters backstories and what drives them. 
This will take an incredible amount of time during editing, but I knew that going into this project. While I could keep going right now, it’s best to distance myself from the work for a little while before I jump into phase two, editing. 
There are a few reasons for this. First, its very important to put your manuscript off to the side and let it stew for a while. Let your mind drift from the project so that when you sit down to edit it you can see it with hopefully a semi fresh set of eyes. 
Maybe those clues you were dropping in the book that helped the reader find out who the killer was are way too ambiguous, or maybe they give too much away too early in the book.  While you are writing it you have blinders on and its hard to see the forest for the trees.  Or maybe you don’t see the trees for the forest .  Maybe you think you're telling this epic story arc, but the individual chapters are too hard to get through that people wont stick around to the end to find that out.  That all gets honed and fixed in the editing phase.
The other and main reason I'm putting the book off to the side right now is that National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is starting November 1st.
I know I’ve mentioned NaNoWriMo before, but I guess I haven’t really explained it fully. I’ll post more up on it this next week, but suffice it to say, check out nanowrimo.org to learn more. 
I told myself that my first book had to have it’s rough draft completed by Nov 1st (actually a week or so earlier so I could take a break in between) so that I could start on my second one.
My first book was a fantasy novel, the typical story about a young man coming of age in a world that needs his help to save it. I certainly don’t consider it earth-shatteringly good prose. In fact I’m not fully convinced that this book will see the light of day without a ton of good editing first. It was a practice.
I’ve heard it said that an author finally figures out what they’re doing once they’ve written a million words. Well, I’m about a tenth of the way there. Not saying it’s crap, but Earnest Hemingway said “the first draft of anything is shit,” and I tend to agree with him.
So I’ll be putting this novel on the back burner for a while while I work on something different. This time I’ll be writing a tale set in modern day America about a grandfather. Sounds nice, but just wait till my twisted mind gets a hold of that one. Elements novel is put down, Grandpa will hopefully be completed by November 30th.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sorry I haven't updated in a while. It's been pretty crazy here the last couple weeks. We hired a contractor to come in and gut and redo each bathroom and that's been filling up most of my time away from work.

Writing's been going well too. I hit 100,000 words on my novel a while back (too lazy to look it up right now.) I'm sitting around 110K right now and I'm just about done.

I'm gearing up for NaNoWriMo starting on Novemeber 1st where a ton of people all join together in a community at nanowrimo.org and help each other write a book in a month. 50,000 has been designated as a "book", so I'll basically have to write half of what I've already written in 1/4th the time that it took me to write my first book.

November is going to be crazy, both my mom and wife have birthdays, plus a couple relatives, work, finishing up our remodels so we can move back into our bedroom finally. I hope I can keep up with it all.

When I grab some time probably this weekend I'll make a post about what Nanowrimo is and what my plans for blogging will be for the month of Novemeber.