Wednesday, 2 November 2016

NaNoWriMo Scheming

November is NaNoWriMo month: National Novel Writing Month. A story needs to be at least 50,000 words long to be called a novel. Most novels are over 70,000 words. NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write 50,000 words in one month.

I have entered NaNoWriMo several times in the past, but only made the 50,000 words once. Not because I couldn’t write an average of 1,667 words a day, but because I ran out of plot! This has taught me that my plots are not complex enough, my characters not deep enough and my descriptions not detailed enough.

Participants in NaNoWriMo are supposed to start a new novel for the challenge, and encouraged to carry on working on it after November to complete the story. I’m going to do something else. I’m going to take the beginning of a novel and try to add 50,000 words to it. There are no prizes, just kudos, so I’m not cheating.

The Kestrel
My current project is the second novel in my science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel, currently called Adept. I originally wrote it in NaNoWriMo and it finished at 36,000 words. When I returned to it after publishing Intruders (book 1), I decided it was actually two stories, so I split it and ended up with 18,000 words. Quite a task, to turn it into a full-blown novel, especially as it has the standard of Intruders to live up to.

I have been redrafting the existing work, finding the holes, and coming up with loads more plot. The novel is 26,000 words at the moment, so adding 50,000 words will make it an acceptable length. It’s astonishing how you can finish a work and be really pleased with it, then put it down for a while and, when you come back, realise how much is wrong with it! For example, my original draft had a very abrupt ending, which I now realise is totally implausible.

So, I’ve had to plan for the added work and finish redrafting the original work, by the end of October. Any completely new scenes I need in the existing work have been saved for NaNoWriMo and all the extra chapters on the end. By keeping a clear distinction between existing work, which will not be touched, and the new scenes and chapters, I hope to be able to easily distinguish the new work. Then I can submit the new work for validation at the end of November.

Oh yes, and I had to write lots of blog posts and tweets in advance and do as much as I could to get ahead of everything in my life so they don’t take up valuable writing time in November. Hey ho!

Ann Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now.

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