Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My NaNoWriMo Tale-- DO try this at home!

As hopefully a bit of encouragement to those typing away madly this month, I submit my NaNoWriMo success story.

I drafted Jinx during NaNoWriMo of 2009. Before that, I spent several months drawing pictures of the characters and the Urwald. I was exploring rather than planning. I'm not one of those who plans out every scene before writing. I like to let the story tell itself.

I had also made a couple attempts to write what I thought was going to be the opening scene. In this scene, the wizard Simon was supposed to strangle Jinx. But Simon wouldn't do it. He refused. That was important. It's always helpful when characters get all up in your face and tell you who they really are. Pay attention.

Anyway, November 2009. A friend in an online writing chat coaxed me into participating. I didn't sign up for NaNoWriMo on the site... I just did it. 2,000 words a day, more or less, with a couple days off here and there.

Typety type type type. What else can I say?

After every 10,000 words, I went out to lunch at the Mongolian barbecue. I have very fond memories of the chef, who did not know he was providing my NaNoWriMo reward, as we lacked a common language.

November 30th, 2009: done! The finished product was not a finished product. Whole scenes were missing, with italicized notes saying what needed to happen in them. Extraneous scenes were all over the place. There were places where the text read What are you trying to do here? Never mind, just say something. Write something. Write anything. Keep writing.

It also lacked, and I feel this is important, a plot.

But it had 50,000 words. I gave a small nod of satisfaction and set it aside for a few weeks. I looked at it again and recoiled in horror. I rewrote. I rewrote again. I showed it to a few people. And rewrote again.

It was seventeen months after NaNoWriMo that Jinx was ready to go out on submission. By that time, nearly all the scenes from the original NaNoWriMo draft were gone. The 50k words had become 75k, on the long side for middle grade. The manuscript was acquired by HarperCollins.

This could happen with that thing you're working on. Why not?

As you can tell from this tale, writing is 94.4444% revision. But without drafting, you have nothing to revise.

So get out there and draft! Write something. Write anything. Keep writing.

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