Thursday, January 14, 2010

NaNoWriMo Year 2

As I mentioned before, last November I took part in National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo) for the second time, and once again was successful in meeting the goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. The experience was a little bit different this time around for a few reasons.

First of all, I didn't start off with a massive lead like I did the first year. Part of this was because in Year 1 the 1st of November fell on a Saturday, giving me a full weekend's worth of virtually uninterrupted writing, whereas Year 2 fell on a Sunday. Add onto that the fact that I was sick that whole weekend* -- plus I didn't have the extra incentive of trying to build a buffer to allow for moving like I did in Year 1 -- and I never had the commanding word count lead this time around. Of course, not being thousands of words ahead of everyone else did reduce the amount of death threats I received from fellow participants, so that was a bit of a bonus.

Probably the biggest difference between Year 1 and Year 2 was the type of story I was trying to tell. Not in subject matter, but in structure and complexity. Year 1's effort, Gateway Drug, was, with the exception of an epilogue, told entirely from the perspective of the main character. As such, I was able to to just let the story unfold organically, following Panic** through his misadventures as they occurred to me. However, with Year 2's effort, tentatively (very tentatively) titled Talent on the Rise, I started out with four different sets of characters in four different locations and then had to figure out how I was going to do justice to each of their individual arcs and still bring them all together for the climax without forcing it or resorting to a deus ex machina. So, a few more balls to juggle this time around.

Along those lines, when writing Gateway Drug, I honestly had no idea how it was going to end. The beginning was crystal clear in my head, but until I started writing, I didn't have a clue where Panic was going to wind up. With Talent on the Rise*** however, I had an idea of where I wanted it to start, and how I wanted it to end, but very little idea of how to get from point A to point B.

Then there was the interference from my borderline-OCD which flared up when I was trying to structure the rotating P.O.V.s in the story. After some fits and starts, I finally wound up deciding to have it rotate not just between the four locations, but also between the protagonists and antagonists. So, I'd have a chapter from the P.O.V. from a character from Location 1, followed by a brief interlude with the P.O.V. of an antagonist somehow connected to Location 1; then the next chapter would be the P.O.V. of a character from Location 2, followed by an antagonist interlude; and so on for Locations 3 and 4, at which point it would loop back around to Location 1. This worked out well at first, and actually forced me to flesh out the characterization and motivation of the antagonists, which was a definite bonus. Unfortunately, as some portions of the story zipped towards the climax more quickly than others, and I had to find ways to make one group of characters mark time until the other groups could catch up, it became cumbersome. But I was committed to it at that point, and so persevered until I reached the word goal and stopped, even though the story wasn't even close to done yet.

And yes, that's another difference between Year 1 and 2; in Year 1 I brought the story to an ending, even if it was very cliff-hanger-ish, but with Year 2 I pass the target word count and said "That's enough for now" and took a break . . . a break which is still going, even though I'd planned to resume writing again over Christmas break. I do want to finish the story, if for no other reason than this story has lived in my head in one way, shape, or form since I was in 6th grade, and I really, really, really need to get it out of there. I just hope I can find motivation to do so sometime before next November.

*Being sick that weekend meant I missed out on the Singles Halloween party on Friday and the church's Carnival 31 festivities on Saturday for the first time since2003.
**Yes, the character's name is Panic
***Man, I hate that title; as placeholder titles go, it's okay, but I really want to come up with something else.


Josh said...

I got a idea for a new title. Instead of "Talent on the Rise", how about "Blowin' Up...Boi-yeeeeee!" You're welcome. Just mention me in the Acknowledgements.

Helen said...

I would like to read it when it's done if you don't mind.

Cap'n Neurotic said...

Helen, you and Buddy are at the top of my list for first-readers.