Unlucky for some, but day 13 of NaNo has dawned and I still haven’t fallen behind, despite a rotten cold that tried to flatten me for several days.
This is my third time on NaNo, and what I’ve found helps most is building a bit of a cushion to absorb the bad days. I’m not talking about writing 5k words a day for a week or anything extreme, but my goal is usually 1800 words on a normal day (and over 2k on a really good weekend day), which quickly builds into a day or two of cushion. That way, when I have a bad day where I barely manage 500 words, I don’t fall behind. I had a couple of those days over the last weekend, but last night I was still 1500 words ahead of par thanks to those extra couple of hundred words on regular days. This weekend, I’m hoping to get myself even further ahead.
It also means there’s a bit of grace at the end if it turns out that NaNo’s validating script has a slightly way of counting from Scrivener or Word. My first year of NaNo was…tight on word count, despite my word processor thinking I had over 52k.
I’m feeling happy with my progress in other ways. The novelette that was my project to finish is now done, and I feel happy with it. I know that I’ll be doing some restructuring and rewriting of the first half when I go through the draft, but it doesn’t need junking and starting from scratch. It will be editing the early parts to make sure the tone matches the second half, and making sure the character arcs are consistent. As always happens, I learned things about the characters as I wrote, and I need to make sure that everything ties together.
Novelette length seems to suit my writing instincts better than short stories, if I’m attempting to write shorter fiction. I can write a flash story. I can write a novelette. It’s the word count in between that I struggle with. I blame that on coming to short stories after years of writing longer works.
Speaking of longer works…
With the novelette done, I’ve been able to start the first draft of a novel that’s been bugging me for ages. It’s evolved a lot from the first ideas I had a year ago: my original thoughts were set firmly in the real world, writing an m/m James Bond-esque thing, but stories without a speculative fiction side are really not my bag.
So I kept the intelligence agency setting, but I created a new one. A secret branch of the intelligence service that is properly secret with a base under London and so forth. I added magic. I kept the m/m romance, but it’s evolved into a different plot arc from what I had. No James Bond analogue in sight. And I added a supernatural plague, because who doesn’t like killer viruses?
I’ve given myself permission to do whatever the hell I want in this draft. Overwrite, over-describe, go to town on angst and suppressed emotions and horrific zombie-like magical diseases. And I’m having a blast on it. I’d forgotten how much fun it is to stop thinking about deeper meanings and all that shit, and just write everything that feels right for the story.
I can edit out the excess later. This is definitely a vomit draft and it’s enormous fun. My viewpoint MC has just met the other MC. It’s hate at first sight and that’s ridiculously compelling to write.
So, how is NaNo going for everyone else? Ahead? Behind? Having fun? Reached the sticky middle where everything is terrible and you’re the worst writer ever? Throwing out all the rules and going to town on something bizarre and wild?