I have been M.I.A. this month, largely due to laziness and a medical flare, but I shall place blame on Camp National Novel Writing Month, fondly known as Camp NaNoWriMo.
NaNoWriMo is technically in November, but due to its popularity, some people came together and made two months in the spring/summer that have the same mission: to make writers buckle down and complete a long-form manuscript. Conventionally NaNoWriMo requires 50,000 words attributed to one novel/novella within the thirty allotted days of November, but Camp NaNoWriMo allows for custom word goals and even other writing projects such as nonfiction and plays. I entered the rewrite of my novel in the July 2014 Camp and got quite a bit done!
But it required turning a cold shoulder to the abundance of fascinating science articles, science books and photography opportunities. Oh well. Sometimes taking a break from my obsessions is a good thing.
Even though I primarily dedicate the blog to sciency/nature-themed topics, I do have “writing” in the subhead, which I did on purpose because I do have an artsy side that I used to not give much credit to, so I’m only recently exploring it. Novel writing is the only aspect of my creative side that I have always used. Perhaps in the future there will be posts about the horrendous process of getting accepted by a traditional publisher….Yeah, I’m not looking forward to it. I just figure I may as well face the challenge and reap the experience.
Speaking of experience, this particular NaNoWriMo was different. I have struggled with redesigning my plot so it is cohesive, particularly after the first half of the story. With the success I had this month, reaching 60,000 words and whatnot (the average stand-alone novel is usually 100,000 words—a popular example would be The Hunger Games), I believe I have mastered a technique that will get me through rewrites in the future:
- Divide the story into thirds: each third can hypothetically stand alone or be a trilogy. The point is to break the story up into simpler stories and with that mindset I can pace the action in plot-development in a consistent manner.
- Divide the thirds into thirds: I originally intended to split the thirds into fourths, but what I already had would not fit and ended up being thirds. This works for me. I visualize thirds easily. Each third is like an arc in a TV series, or even an epic short story.
- Don’t plan it all out: I do best when I know what is coming up, but I don’t know all the details yet.
I planned my first 33,333 words (eh, give or take a few thousand) but did not know how I would connect into the next segment. I didn’t plan that part until I got there. I still don’t know how the last 33,333 words will go, but knowing that I can dissect it into thirds keeps me from overanalyzing.
I will likely–I intend–to finish this novel before the November event, so hopefully by then I can start a new adventure. I mean that in an outdoor way, too. My stories are pretty much feudal era road trips with a team of nerds. Sure, the plot involves fighting supernatural evil, but I always manage to integrate cultural anthropology and natural history.