Recently, in the NaNoWriMo category…

Since I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo for the past two years, I thought I should mention that I”m not doing it this year. I did Script Frenzy in June, and one month-long writing challenge per year seems like enough. I’ll probably do NaNoWriMo next year, with the idea of alternating between that and Script Frenzy.

When I finished NaNoWriMo last year, I was pretty sure I would do it again. In fact, for months afterward I was planning my next novel, a sequel to the first that would pit my characters against a more evil, more brutal villain than they’d met before.

Then, a few weeks before the start of November, I had another idea for a novel. This one would be the first in a series, and would be a science fiction, action-adventure story. In my head I fleshed out the basic story, along with the general flow I wanted for the entire series. This, I decided, would be my next novel.

As NaNoWriMo got closer, I had another idea for a novel. This was also science fiction, but definitely humorous. Something of a buddy story set in an alternate universe. By this time November was only a couple of weeks away and I really didn’t need to be changing my mind again. But, as I got to thinking about it, I realized that the “sci-fi action” story was a lot like my first novel, and that the “buddy” story was completely different. Completely different sounded like more fun — especially since I hadn’t done anything with my previous novel since printed it for me.

So that’s what I did. I finished at about the same time I did last year. In some ways, this novel was easier to write. My first novel I’d been planning for a year before I wrote it, and the structure was pretty well set going in. This one had a much looser structure — most of it is a road trip — so I had more room to experiment. Consequently, last year I reached the end of my story at about 25K and had to go back and write filler. This year I hit 50K well before the story was finished and just wrote a summary paragraph and the final scene to finish things up. Also, this one was just more fun to write. I always enjoy writing humor more than anything serious. Plus, road trips and space aliens are less emotionally draining than torture and arms dealers. But maybe that’s just me.

Some things were harder, though. Not having planned much for this story, I didn’t really know where I was going with it and felt a little lost sometimes. Also, Angela didn’t participate this year, so I found myself putting off writing more than I did last year. Not because of anything she did — she encouraged me to write, prompting me to get back to work whenever she didn’t hear “clickety-clack” coming from my computer. Still, I found myself spending each weekend catching up, yet never actually getting caught up until the very end.

And so the question once again is: Will I do it next year? Probably, although it would be nice not to have to. I’ve got dozens of stories bouncing around in my head. If I could get myself to write as much throughout the year as I do in the month of November, maybe I wouldn’t need the kick-in-the-pants that is NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo ended yesterday, and I’m proud to say I won, finishing the story at 50,097 words at about nine last night. It was a lot of late nights and long weekends, but it was fun. I kept track of my time as best I could, and it took me about 80 hours of writing time for that 50K+ words. It helped that Angela and I were both writing novels—I can see where it would put a strain on a marriage to have one person tied to the computer that much for a month.

I learned a few things in the process:

  • I think I could write about 1,000 words a day with little trouble. At the rate I was writing, that would be about an hour and a half. That’s not that much time out of the day, but it would be a significant amount toward blog posts, articles, short stories, novels, etc.
  • My greatest weakness as a writer is descriptions. To give you an idea, I finished the story (as I had it in my head before NaNoWriMo) in about 25K+ words. I was showing what happened without setting the scene.
  • My greatest strength is dialogue. Most of the novel is dialogue—some of it is kind of clunky, but there are also some gems in there that hit just the right note.
  • I know absolutely nothing about guns, which is going to be a problem if I’m going to be writing contemporary thrillers like this one.
  • I like to write.

I’m going to take a break from this novel for a few weeks, then go back to it and see if I can revise it into something worth submitting to publishers. If I can, great. If not, oh well. It was an adventure, and adventure is good for the soul. I’ll most likely do it again next year unless, of course, I’m being chased by weapons smugglers. Then, no way.

(323. Sorry, old habits die hard.)

As promised, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this year. The story has been rattling around in my head for a while now. I’ve visualized most of the major scenes, but the subplots are still a mystery even to me. It’s something of an action/thriller novel — I’ll give more details when I start writing it. In fact, I’ll probably post excerpts here from time to time.

I’ve finished a few small web sites recently. I’m doing on-going maintenance for one, another in development, and another that will probably be starting soon. I’m really hoping to have my plate pretty well clean going into November, because I have my own project I want to start. I’d really like to be working on my project during the day and my novel at night. And watching television. Sweet, sweet television.

Oh, and if you haven’t noticed the Red Cross link in the corner, please do. I’ll most likely leave it there for the rest of the year. If you can give, I highly recommend it.

I’ve been making up stories since I was a kid. I suppose that sounds bad, like I’m a habitual liar. These stories were just for me. When playing with my toys, I was never bound by the universe the toy manufacturers created. In my room, Kobra Khan, Storm Shadow, and Krang plotted together to destroy the good toys. Of course, all the characters brought their own personal baggage into the storyline. Even my Hot Wheels had plots and subplots.

With all these stories rattling around in my head, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Unfortunately, there’s never time for such things, what with life and all. When I heard about National Novel Writing Month, that sounded perfect for me — a one month, no holds barred writing marathon. My wife is going to write a novel, too, so it should be a lot of fun. I’m really looking forward to November.

See more progress on: write a novel