evannichols (evannichols) wrote,

NaNo 2007 – A Retrospective

I know. NaNo 2007 isn't even over yet; why am I doing a retrospective? Because I'm pretty much tired out for writing for today (well, fiction writing, anyway), and if I wait until after the 30th, I'll be back onto my Comic & Newsletter schedule, and probably won't ever get to writing this. Right now I’m within 3,800 words of the finish line and (barring catastrophe) should be able to finish in a day or two. Even though I'm not quite complete, I can sum up my experience:

2007 was a lot harder than previous years.

I didn't have stories thought out in advance. Apparently I'm not a "seat of my pants" NaNo type. Not to say that I can't just sit down with a vague story idea and start writing. I can. It's far more of a struggle for me than if I sit down to write with a story arc already in my mind, though. And based on my results, I come up with a lot more Nano-dreck when I just wing it.

It was a lot harder to sit down and make myself write. I suspect part of that was due to the previously-mentioned lack of thorough outlines. It was more difficult to get started writing, and to stay writing. In previous years, I'd have about 80% Flow, and 20% Struggle. This year was reversed; maybe even 90% Struggle. I had to do a lot of "I'll just write for 20 minutes, then take a brief break." And sometimes those breaks weren't so brief.

I didn't really like the stories I came up with as much as my previous NaNo entries. In 2005, I remember having a blast documenting how my characters explored a maze of underground passages. I really didn't have any stretches where I felt that.

There's WAY TOO MUCH TALKING. Apparently, when I don't know exactly what to write, I drift fairly quickly into exposition. Many of the scenarios I've come up with are like mysteries; Eldritch is trying to gather clues to come up with a solution to a situation. So he ends up interrogating someone about what happened. And they talk and talk, for thousands of words. For NaNo, one could write 50K words, for example, consisting only of a conversation that takes place during a road trip from Portland to Boise (hmmm, now I want to try writing that). But when one wants to actually publish the stories, I'd rather not have too much talking.

I think for 2008, I'll develop several novel ideas during the year, and really prepare them thoroughly. Come November, I'll pick the one that I find the most appealing, and write that. I know NaNo isn't about quality, but I do actually want to publish fiction. My novels from previous years feel more robust than what I've created this year. If those prior efforts are saplings, ready to be developed into trees, I feel like this year I have a bunch of mulch and manure. The end result could be the same, but I've got a lot longer to go before they're ready to be made into books.
Tags: nano, writing
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