What a Difference a Year Makes.

I’ve written two novels during NaNoWriMo: Gift of Blood, my very first novel, in 2009, and The Warden, in 2010. I was confident that the first draft of The Warden was solid enough and sufficiently well-written that I wouldn’t make a complete fool of myself if I posted it on my Live Journal blog. And now that Boundaries (Hidden Boundaries) is complete, I’m about to launch into a rewrite of Gift of Blood. Two thirds of the way through an initial reread, and I have to say that I learned a hell of a lot about writing fiction in between those two novels.

Gift of Blood, as it is right now, is a good story badly written. POV wobbles from character to character; critical issues go unexplained; sentence structure, while grammatically correct, is often wordy and clumsy. I’m still far from being an accomplished writer, but a year of hard work and honest self-critiquing, plus input from readers of Boundaries, has made all the difference between work that’s amateur enough to be embarrassing and work that I can be fairly proud of.

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9 thoughts on “What a Difference a Year Makes.

  1. I envy anyone who can stand the rigors of NaNoWriMo πŸ™‚

    I’m not built that way–need no time limits on my writing…

    But then, I started writing seriously at 42 and I’m 64 now and even though old dogs can learn new tricks, NaNoWriMo is a trick I really can’t find it in me to learn πŸ™‚

  2. Alexander, I was in my late 60s when I started with NaNo. It isn’t a matter of old dogs learning new tricks, it’s about what fits your writing style. I wouldn’t want to go through that stress more than once a year, but it’s an incredible way to knock out an entire novel. Even more important, I’ve learned a lot from it — including that I can write faster and better if I plan ahead and have a solid story worked out. And yeah, I already have a story in mind for this year’s NaNo, and I’m making notes and thinking about how the plot might develop.

  3. πŸ™‚ If the way you’ve aged means that you don’t enjoy being under that kind of pressure, I can understand it. But I tend to be lazy, and with way too much free time at my disposal, it’s good to be jolted into activity once in a while. An impossible goal with a strict deadline is great for that. Even greater is finding out it isn’t impossible.

  4. Normally, I can’t work under pressure. A lot of people love the Write or Die app that forces you to keep pounding the keyboard. I’d freeze up under that kind of pressure. But I learned how to manage my writing time during NaNo, and most of the time, it was actually pretty easy. Without the preplanning, though, I couldn’t do it.

  5. Couldn’t resist, could you? πŸ™‚ You’re right, though. It *is* hard to go back. But it’s a good story, and since I already have half of a sequel written (though the sequel could stand alone), I’d really like to do it. I have several others partly written that are nagging at me, but Gift of Blood feels like unfinished business that needs to be taken care of. I’ll see how it goes. If it looks like it’s going to take too long to whip it into shape, I’ll let it go and maybe try again some time in the future.

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