“NaNotes #2” or “Conflict On the Rise for Characters and Their Authors”

For National Novel Writing Month 2012, I’m chronicling my novel-writing journey! Need more NaNo in your life? Follow along. (:

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11:00pm: So tired… so very tired… I was up too late last night, for a couple of reasons – one of them being that I was having trouble with the then-current scene in my book. It’s hard to add words when you don’t feel you know what you’re talking about, and that’s pretty much always how I feel when I’m dealing with an action scene. I’m horrible at choreographing fights and physical stuff like that, because I can’t visualize that kind of thing well. My writing life would be so much easier if nobody did anything other than sit there and talk about their feelings and stuff. But after a quick night’s rest, I attacked my book’s monster vs. monster battle with renewed vigor, and I do not hate the scene nearly as much as I did this time last night. And then more stuff happened, which I’m too exhausted to say anything clever about it. 31,967 words. Bedtime.


10:30pm: I’m discovering something about me and NaNo. I love that it means major novel output. What I don’t love so much is how it makes me obsess about word-count. I like to measure my progress in terms of just that: Progress. Did I move the plot forward today? Did I finally get to that scene I’ve been looking forward to (or, occasionally, dreading) writing? Did I finish a chapter? Did I sit there and gape as my characters’ conversion took an expectedly dramatic turn that adds a whole new layer to the story? Those things are progress. Saying that I sat there and typed for yea many hours (minus distractions) isn’t progress. Noting that I put down so many hundreds of words is progress, but… it’s just a number. And now I’m bugged that I didn’t just cut out a certain 1K words today that I know the book doesn’t need, all because I didn’t want my word-count to take the knock. It’s not cheating; all’s fair in love, war, and NaNo. It’s just, grr, those words don’t belong there! Get them out, out, out! I’ll erase them once the book’s over. Ah, a finished book… that’s progress! In the meantime, 40, 950 words.

DAY 12

12:27am: As of a few hours ago, I’ve finished “So Super Dead”. I had wondered whether I would be able to manage it, since Day 10 had been a real crawl of a day. Turns out that maybe a paragraph an hour is the best I can do while I’m half-socializing with the woman braiding my hair. Noise/distractions and my writing do not mix well. But even with the first half of the day yielding a pittance of an output, and much of my evening spent either on the road to/from or attending a hilarious pantomime based on Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol (gotta love a “Christmas Carol” spoof), I was able to produce something a little beyond the standard NaNo minimum of 1,667 words – about a quarter of what I would have considered ideal. And like I said, by the end of Day 11, I arrived at THE END. It didn’t quite hit 50 thousand words, but it was my anticipation of that back in October which prompted me to go for a second novel in a month. I may put off beginning Project #2 until Thursday the 15th, because later today (after I eventually go to sleep; ‘cause, y’know, it’s after midnight), and quite possibly Tuesday, I shall turn my attention to the matter of packing my bags so I can run away to California on Wednesday. Why? Oh, I imagine there will be one or more future blog posts to explain it all, eventually…

DAY 13

12:30pm: It feels so weird to not be writing, right now… I gave myself these days off for a reason, and they’re still good reasons, and it’s not a matter of worrying that 15 days will prove too few to write my second novel, because that was the budget for Project #2 from the get-go, and I’ve just demonstrated that almost 47K words in 11 days is doable for me. So it’s not worry. It’s just the same case of antsy fingers that I had back at the end of October. I’m chomping at the bit and pawing at the gate and otherwise displaying my transformation from human to impatient horse. Neigh, nicker, snort!!! (Translation: Hurry up, Thursday!)

DAY 15

The fact that Tirzah is on her laptop and I’m fooling around with a camera suggests that she could be getting more writing done than me.

9:16pm, California Time: Writing again at last! This morning was crazy slow, thanks to a whole bunch of factors. I was still tired from my travel day yesterday (my first time flying in a plane all by myself!), was trying and failing to concentrate in an unfamiliar environment (my first time writing in a Starbucks with Tirzah!), and, of course, this was my first day taking a crack at Project #2, “Singer of Skycastle, and Other Tales Within a Tale”. As with Project #1, I started off with a voice that just wouldn’t fly, and scrapping the first tortured efforts to begin anew helped immensely. 2,023 words done today, 49,016 overall. If I don’t blow by 50K tomorrow (or maybe tonight? ^^ Not likely, the way I’ve been dawdl— I mean, socializing), bigger shame on me.

DAY 18

8:20am, Cali Time: Hoping an early start will help to really pack in the words, today. Super fun distractions (bless/curse you, San Francisco!) have made it difficult to get into a rhythm with this book as quickly as I’d like. I’ve more than once contemplated scrapping this idea for now and rushing headlong into something else, but I daren’t do that; I promised the MC that it was his turn in the story queue, and it would really upset him if I went back on my word. So I’m once again approaching the narrative from a slightly different angle, and hoping that will make things go more smoothly. If nothing else, it’s got me feeling eager to write, rather than forced at mental gunpoint, so that can only be for the good, right? Back to the book!

2 thoughts on ““NaNotes #2” or “Conflict On the Rise for Characters and Their Authors”

  1. I thought I’d chime in to say: you don’t have to be good at fight choreography to write a good fight scene. Just focus on what you do best! If emotions and feelings are your forte, then get in your character’s headspace during the fight. What do they see, hear, taste, and smell? And how does that make them feel? That could help make your fights more immediate, and less “He swung his sword. She parried, stepping back. Etc.”

    • The character headspace route’s been the solution I find works best for me. It still takes me a longer time than I’d like to feel my way there (seems I can’t get over an initial, unsuccessful attempt at the “swing, parry, step back” way before starting over with what I know works better), but I’m usually fairly pleased with the end result.

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