BA Quest

Where College Students Meet Their Fate

NaNoWriMo: The Aftermath

with one comment

Well it is over, National Novel Writing Month is done. It was 30 days of grueling work, but the deed is done.

I first wrote about NaNoWriMo back on the 27th of October. When I started the exercise, I didn’t have a good memory of exactly what it took to forget the world around you every evening and just write. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy writing. I have a degree in creative writing, if there is any dedication to a cause greater than getting a laughable degree and going deep into debt for it, I can’t think of it. Oh right, there is also dying… I guess there is that.

I got this from a stock image site. I made myself sad.

When I Started

…everything was okay. I thought I knew where I was going, I had my outline and I charged ahead. My hook was tight, my character was interesting from the first page. That is when I ran into my first problem. The character had an interesting personality, but by his own nature, he was quiet and stand-offish. He didn’t have wild conversations with others, he put them down, or ignored them. So as a writer who thrives on dialog, I wrote a main character that couldn’t participate in my favorite writing mechanic. Brilliant move on my part. I was determined to stick to the character in my head though, so I stuck with it. The obvious solution eluded me.

In The Middle

As the weeks went on, things got difficult. This is what I call the ‘OH JESUS THIS OUTLINE IS NOT AS LONG AS IT NEEDED TO BE’ phase. I have tried outlines several times now, and it always ends the same. I know the start to my story, I know the characters and setting, I know the viable ending, and I know some important stuff that will happen in the middle. What happens is that you write a scene that you thought would be good, but it turns out to be three pages instead of 10 pages. You go through a dramatic moment, and it turns out that it took a page to finish, and lead a different direction than you expected. So what is there to do? You power through it, there is no time for revision, you cannot reverse the flow of time, this isn’t Prince of Persia this is NaNoWriMo dangit.

My character’s lack of dialog was drawing conversations to a close much faster than I expected. My new succinct writing style gained from school was ending everything in half the time. This wasn’t looking pretty. So some changes happened in the story, dark changes dreamed up in midnight fevers.

They were beautiful. Like a Dostoyevsky character, madness and frustration drove me to the edge, and there I found salvation. Actually, I found it in driving my character mad. His personality was slowly corrupted by the pressures of the world around him, and instead of a background madness his became real. This change is exactly what makes me love NaNoWriMo, by forcing my hand, I came up with an alteration to my original idea that was better than anything I could have originally imagined. Would I have gone there eventually? Maybe. The event is a fire that burns away impurities and leaves something at the bone, but it may not always be the delicious marrow you want.

Okay, not this 'mad'

As I pushed forward, several obstacles got in my way. Star Wars: The Old Republic, an upcoming MMO, had beta events several weekends in a row, and I gave them a try. I had nights where I did no writing at all because I played so late that I had no time before I had to get some sleep. Thanksgiving loomed as well.

The Big Finish

Finishing the story wasn’t going to be easy. I was behind by thousands of words. I was so far behind my 50k word goal that I was wondering if success was even possible. I pushed ahead anyway, writing down new daily goals. Soon I was supposed to write 3,000 words a day instead of 1,660.

My conclusion no longer made sense either. The development of my character was straying from my original plan, which now seemed shallow or even offensive. So something had to change, and fast. I turned my character’s friends against him, made his own mind a torture dungeon. As I threw more obstacles in front of him, I had my character climb to a conclusion that was way beyond the original. What started as a argument between former lovers was now a trial for an ostracized man.

This was about when I realized my horrible mistake. Every situation with my main character was stuck with him and his stunted personality. He was the one having a crisis, but he also never voiced it. I found myself yearning for the minds of other characters. Except I was in first person. That was the solution I missed back in those first days. The story should have been in a close third, and I would have had the freedom I wanted. Instead I had the troubled mind, but nothing else. It dragged me down every day.

The days got harder, and soon I hit the last few days. I had to write over 5k words each day. Each night I stayed up and fought my keyboard until it gave up words. Even if my story didn’t turn out exactly how I wanted, I would reach 50,000.

As the month ended, I stayed up late on that last night and threw up my word count on I was over the 50k, 2,000 over actually. I made it.

NaNoWriMo tested me more this year than any previous year. The world around me was tougher than before, working a day to day job with hours that forced me to sleep at 10pm. My goal was greater, to write a story that had a serious edge, to write in a genre I never wrote in before. Still, the essence of NaNoWriMo, and the support of my friends, got me over the finish line again.

A Winrar Is Me!

The novel is a piece of crap, but that is a problem I’m saving until January.

Thanks for reading everybody.

Written by MD Kid

12/11/2011 at 10:13 PM

One Response

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  1. Hang in there. Remember the bigger picture that you were aiming for and just do it.

    Cave Story

    12/12/2011 at 2:51 PM

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