In the words of Porky Pig, ‘that’s all folks!’
NaNoWriMo is over for another year! Writers all over the world are closing their laptops as well as their eyelids, trying to catch up sleep. If they’re anything like me, November whizzed by as I attempted to write throughout the 30 days of November, so I would have a brand-spanking new 50K novel by the end of the month.
This was my second attempt doing the main event in November. It follows last year where I wrote Lottie’s Locket, a YA (Young Adult) fantasy/murder mystery mash up – you can find out more about this project here. I also did both Camp NaNoWriMo events in April and July (more flexible versions of the November event, where writers are placed in virtual cabins and have their own individual goals, rather than everyone aiming for 50k in November).
You may be wondering what I got up to for NaNoWriMo in this past month. I like to use Nano to try new things and explore new genres, so I decided to go for a YA school based drama, where a boy and a girl from different backgrounds and walks of life have to overcome different obstacles if they want to be friends. Here’s a blurb to give you a flavour of the book:
16 -year-old Ashley is intrigued by Kevin the moment he joins her school, but she’s too busy trying to fit in with the ever-popular Faye to even consider being friends with him. Ashley is also desperate not to let on how annoying and difficult her family is.
Kevin thinks he likes Ashley too, but doesn’t think much of how she excludes him when Faye is around, let alone that he’s got enough problems of his own. Besides, even though Ashley will think his family is amazing, wealthy and glamourous – all sorts of issues lay under the surface.
Ultimately, with all the differences between each other, their school and their families, can Ashley and Kevin even be friends, let alone anything more?
I’m pleased to say that on 29th November I did ‘win’ Nano, by achieving the goal of 50k words. Although technically the story was 47.7K and I added on the 2.3K from a different story during November – but it was still words written during November, so I still reckon it counts.
The fact I started a different story in my 3rd week (something I’m still filling pages of my notebook with, so watch this space!) might give a hint as to my Nano journey this year. Last November, I really enjoyed writing Lottie’s Locket. I loved the worldbuilding, developing Lottie as a character and coming up with all the details for the murder mystery plot of the story.
With this school project, though, it wasn’t that long until the novelty wore off. I realised that the prepping in October wasn’t as detailed as I’d thought and I didn’t really have enough content to keep the novel exciting or get anywhere near 50K.
With the other genres, it’s been far easier – with Daniel and my historical fiction novels, I could just have the enemy show up or throw a battle in there if things got slow. With Lottie’s Locket, I added a couple more clues that could be red herrings, or make Lottie wonder if ‘X’ character was a suspect. Even with Brushing Past the Brontes – the historical fantasy I wrote for Camp NaNoWriMo in July 2019 (you can find out more about this project in this blog post) – there were enough features to work on and exciting twists I could take to keep the story going.
In comparison, then, this year’s Nano project was definitely more of a rollercoaster. At times the words would come fast, when I thought of how the character of Ashley could develop, or finally figured out what secret from Kevin’s previous school might come to the surface – but a lot of the time it was a slog, especially in the last couple of weeks. There were points where I honestly didn’t think I would make it to 50K.
However, it was good to experience what many other writers do – struggling through the ‘murky middle’ of a project that you might not be excited about. Sure, there may be time to shelve something and walk away. There’s no shame in that, but it’s also important to maybe see how far you can take an idea and try getting past the block in the road before deciding you have to stop.
It’s also taught me about my writing process. For the most part I’m a plotter at heart – I carefully outline and make sure I know all the plot points before I write (the current story I’m jotting down in my notebook is the exception to this, as I’m wrote quite a bit of it with no outline at all and no real idea where it came from or where it was going).
Therefore, it’s okay that Nano may not always suit me. Nano seems to appeal more to ‘panstsers’ (those who fly by the seat of their pants and no real outline – you can read more about this distinction in my last blog post here). There’s talk of just getting those words out, of sitting down and letting them fly from your fingertips and worrying about editing later. While there are positive strengths to this, it can be tricky if words come more slowly or editing is a part of the process. Of course, I still think NanoWriMo is utterly brilliant and I’m planning on participating in the next event.
In the end, I’m glad I stuck with it and I’m excited to get back to editing the 3rd novel in my historical fiction trilogy that I haven’t looked at since mid-October, as well as seeing where this new idea I’m scribbling away at in my notebook will take me.
How about you? For those who participated in Nano, how did it go? Feel free to let me know how your Nano journey went this November!
Till next time,