Saturday, November 14, 2020

NaNoWriMo 2020 – Mid-book brainstorming sessions


Scott D. Parker

As of today, all NaNoWriMo writers should have reached the end of the second full week. It really helps when 1 November is a Sunday. And we have reached the halfway point in the month. By the numbers, as of today, all writers should be around 28,000 words in their 50,000-word novels. First of all, if this is where you are, Congrats! You are more than halfway through the month of November and more than halfway through your book. It’s an awesome feeling, isnt’ it? Just wait until you type “The End.” That never gets old, no matter how many books you write.

I’m curious: how many of y’all are writing your NaNoWriMo novel without an outline? Writing into the dark, as Dean Wesley Smith calls it. I’ve done them both ways, but sometimes when you write into the dark, you can hit a snag or write yourself into a corner. I’m then compelled to think my way out of the corner. Sometimes, that comes in the form of backtracking to a point where my story went ‘off track’ and then start again.

What that entails for me is to put a halt to writing the current scene and ask myself a few questions about the scene, why I’m even writing it, and where do I think the story is going from there. Naturally, this process puts the kibosh on new words, but it also opens the door to the next scene.

I use the quotes on ‘off track’ because you can make a genuine argument that no story, no words you may have to delete, is truly a waste. They may not make it into your final manuscript, but they were essential to getting you to The End.

Mid-book brainstorming sessions. It happened to me back in NaNoWriMo 2018 and even as far back as NaNoWriMo 2015. Interestingly, in both years, I hit my snags around days 11 through 17.

Of those seven days back in 2015, five of them involved not only writing but reviewing the scope of that novel. It seemed I was writing scenes that kept affecting subsequent scenes and I just had to keep going. Two things happened back then. One, I had my best day of writing at that point with 3,538 words. Two days later, I experienced my worst at 1,703.

Writing a novel is not a short process. It is long. There will be good days and there will be bad days. The key factor is to keep going. Just keep moving forward. You can do it.

And the theme for this week is simple: if you have to stop or slow down and reassess your novel from the vantage point of the middle, do it. What’ll happen is that you will likely open the floodgates for the rest of the book.

But here’s a more down-to-earth, nuts and bolts piece of advice: If you are truly stuck, finish the scene/chapter you are currently writing. Look no further than that. Just finish this scene, and trust your creative subconscious to help you along. Chances are good you will see light at the end of the tunnel.

So, NaNoWriMo folks, how are y’all doing? 

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