NaNoWriMo 2013 – Aftermath

examining-nanowrimoIt’s been nine days since NaNoWriMo wrapped up: nine days since I wrote “THE END”, eight days since I printed out and bound the manuscript.

I’m still thinking about my story, though: still coming up with neat ideas which would enhance the telling or the plot. Obviously I am writing those down, but not touching the manuscript at all – I will read that in its time, but no harm in making notes about how it could be improved.

One of the things I am most excited about is that during the writing time I was discovering the underlying causes for the story and learning about its broader context. I had a decent enough outline, but it was all about what happened in the moment rather than any of the thematic or background elements.

This was the first time I did a detailed outline (rather than just chapter summaries) for a story before I wrote it. The outline undoubtedly helped, but it was still a first pass: I didn’t revisit or review the outline content before I dived into the writing. Would spending more time on refining that outline have revealed the causative elements I discovered during the writing itself? Or is the finding of these narrative components something best left to emerge in the drafting? That’s an open question at this point – I suspect the latter: it feels like I need to get down in the trenches with the words before I find all the way the words will go.

On another note, I set (and reached) the ambitious goal of writing 100,000 words in the month. Having done that, I concluded that I was never going to do that again.

However, the excitement of the elements I discovered about my story is such that I wonder if doing 100k in November another time might be reasonable again. What was hard this year was starting (I had no idea how to open the story) and keeping up with the pace, but both of those things are fixable. Looking back, I feel like if I had built up the buffer I had meant to in the early days of the month, then it would have been less stressful.

As I mentioned last week, the thing I really failed on was getting through the material. I spent too many words on the early wanderings – I think I had put too much space for them in the outline in any case, but what was planned to have been about three fifths of the book (i.e. 60,000 words) ended up being closer to 85k. This is where the November frenzy worked against me: if I had been operating without a hard stop at the end of November (continuing into December was not practical this year) I would have followed the same sprawling narrative approach for the last 40%, probably ending up with something like 140,000 words in the manuscript. There again, if I’d kept going I would have been unable to maintain the November pace, so who knows when it would have been done – end of January, probably.

Anyway, it was a good November’s writing. I am looking forward to reading the manuscript – second weekend in January is six weeks from its being immured in the drawer of resting, so start reading it then. I will post my results at the time.

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