NaNoWriMo — Found the Path

Everything about this year’s NaNo is unusual for me. For the first time, I continued to have serious doubt about the novel, even as the first week was winding down. Most days, meeting the minimum word count was a chore. Experimental structure to work through. Too many plot lines. All adding up to a story that felt as if it was flying off in all directions. But that bit I wrote about picking an arbitrary point to start writing from? It proved to be part of the solution.

It isn’t a solution that will result in a coherent novel, just one that will get me through the task and leave me with enough raw material to carve out a novel. I’m writing scenes, without any attempt to get them in a chronological order or link them to preceding and following scenes. I know that sounds a whole lot like pantsing, but it isn’t — quite. I know everything that’s going to go into the novel, so I’m still working with the story as I planned it. All the pieces will be there, but lying around, waiting to be shuffled into order. A gigantic jigsaw puzzle.

So far, letting go of the need to write chronologically has been very freeing. Yesterday was a good day, and today looks as if I’m really on a roll for the first time. Almost a thousand works before noon, and I’m not a morning person, so things are looking up.

Turning all that material into something recognizable as a novel will probably be one of the hardest writing jobs I’ve ever done. But it’s also an amazing challenge, and I do thrive on challenges.

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7 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo — Found the Path

  1. Glad you are making it work for you. I’m willing to bet you’ll sail through 50000. 🙂

    I know the story I’m writing, but the words are not exactly flowing. Ironically, I did a bus-load of story-related historical research and wrote a good portion of it a few years ago as a prelude to another novel, but then decided I didn’t like preludes, and deleted it. Maybe my muse just doesn’t want to bother with it again. To hell with my muse. I’m going on sheer grit-filled determination.

    1. I see you’re catching up with me, so you’re not doing badly. Sometimes, grit is the only thing that will see you through. The muse makes things exciting, but maybe she (it?) thinks we need to stand on our own for a while.

  2. Catana, your method of writing scenes out of order reminds me of the English children’s author, Arthur Ransome. Originally a foreign correspondent (posted in Moscow during the Bolshevik revolution), he wrote the famous ‘Swallows and Amazons’ books. Ransome worked from an outline, but never wrote his scenes in sequence. He would pick out the ones that seemed most interesting or perhaps the easiest to write and do those first, then fill in the others in an entirely haphazard way. Literary critics weep when trying to explain it all. They may do the same for you someday! Yet Ransome is renowned for the structure of his novels.

    1. Very interesting. I know *of* Ransome, but have never read anything by him. However, I won’t be filling in a haphazard way. At least I hope not. But it’s possible that the overall structure might turn out quite different than if I’d worked chronologically. Something to think about, for sure.

      Hmm. Maybe I’ll take a look at one or two of his books. They’re undoubtedly public domain by now.

      1. How’s this for serendipity? I was just reading a review of the new Bond movie and came across this: “Skyfall” is moody, thrilling and for the most part beautifully made, but like so much of contemporary action cinema it’s less like a story than a series of disconnected episodes, drawn from a whole range of plots and genres but employing the same characters.” I certainly wouldn’t follow that pattern to the point of employing different plots, but the idea of disconnectedness intrigues me. I don’t know whether I’ll actually do anything with it, but I’ll be thinking about it.

  3. Interesting to hear you’re working this way this time, Catana. I’ve always worked that way – except for when I wrote short stories for mags for money, and the time I cowrote a romance novel with a friend, again simply for the money. We won the Aust’a- & NZ-wide Emma Darcy Award for Romance Manuscript of the Year 2000, but I did not find the writing a satisfying experience. I love writing out of order; I always have the main storyline in my head, but never know what’s going to turn up on the day. It’s scary – but it can be very rewarding.

    1. Didn’t mean to go wandering off. I don’t know yet how satisfying this way will be, but I’m finding it very interesting. I think I can now characterize the novel as episodic, which is freeing up my thinking about how to develop it. And by concentrating on episodes rather than continuity, it seems to be easier to solve some plot problems that were being stubborn.

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