Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Novel Update 1

I'm no stranger to National Novel Writing Month: this year is the fifth time I've taken part in the last six years, and it feels good to be giving it a go again. Hopefully this will be the second time that I feel I've really succeeded in the aims of the month: to complete a 50,000+ word story.

In 2002 I failed miserably, as I didn't take into account how much stress I would be under working on my first Masters project. In 2003 I was able to hammer out 50,000 words of utter garbage, the start of an awful fantasy novel of other worlds, lost princes and talking rats that I would still have been writing now I am sure (or be on book seventeen of it).

In 2005 I came quite close, having written just over 50,000 words of something that I think would be classed as urban fantasy. Each chapter followed a different character, and the end of each chapter told you a little bit more about the ultimate end of the story. I lost my nerve towards the end though, but I think with another 10-15,000 words it would have been complete.

Last year was the first time that I reached the word count and had a completed story. By November 28th I typed the end to a 62,000 word piece (still untitled) that I am quite proud of. It's not polished, it's by no means "finished" (the pace is really uneven, and the rate at which a relationship between the two leads comes together is quite bizarre) but I like how it turned out.

This year... Day seven. In six days I've written 15,000 words, which I think is a record for me. So far things are going alright I must admit, which worries me slightly. It is, broadly speaking, a detective story; I've read a lot of noir this year (or stories that are noir influenced) and decided that I wanted to do something in that vein (after throwing out ideas that included a reality TV show with zombies, and a bizarre story of parallel universe versions of myself meet in a strange small American town at a multiversal crossover point...).

The story is split into three parts, and I'm almost up to the end of part one. I have one and a half chapters to write, and I'm hoping to have that done by the end of the week (by tomorrow night if I can). I have a structure in place for part two, but no actual idea of what happens. Part three is almost a complete mystery to me.

I used to write a lot more when I was younger - not that I'm especially old now - but I went through a phase where lack of confidence couldn't touch me, and that has sadly left me now. I question what I write, question whether it is good or not, whether anyone would like it, and this generally leads me to thinking about writing rather than actually writing.

NaNoWriMo is a great way to get past this: you just write. Don't think about anything else other than getting the words out and trying to enjoy yourself while doing it. I have no idea if I will ever do anything with what I have written, other than keep them for my own amusement. Doing NaNoWriMo gives me a little annual injection of hope that I might be capable of writing something worth getting out there.

More on my progress in the coming weeks.

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