It's the end of the month, I've met my NaNoWriMo quota and I have the rough bones of a novel complete. Now it's time for me to step back and evaluate the novel I wrote as well as the way I wrote it.
Here's my evaluation about the novel itself:
State of the Draft: I have about half-scriptment and half draft. I would have been fine with just a scriptment, but that would have been only 20,000 words (about one third of the final word-count), so I drafted some of the scenes more fully. The first third and some of the second two thirds are done, pockmarked with scenes in between that are still just outline plus dialogue. About four scenes are outline only.
My Feelings About the Novel: During the month, I read three types of books to help me write the novel. I read books on How To Write Mysteries, books on How To Write Comedy and autobiographies by heroin addicts because of the heroin subplot in my book. I also spent a night staying up late watching both Trainspotting and Requiem for a Dream, one after the other. I'd never watched either movie before because I feared they would depress me.
They depressed me.
Even as I was finishing my draft, therefore, I was beginning to re-think a huge subplot in the novel, and feel like I couldn't include it without either (a) dragging down the novel into a really bleak zone, or (b) making light of a subject that deserved a heavier treatment. The humor was supposed to balance this... I wanted a Dark Humor effect, but the humor wasn't coming out strongly enough yet (because the jokes are at the sentence level and I hadn't gotten to them), so I wasn't satisfied with the project.
I had a larger problem too, because the tone for this novel would determine the tone for the other novels in the series I planned (such as September Knight, which I'd also outlined.)
In short, I hit the Hating This Novel stage, and hit it hard.
Does this mean the whole novel needs re-writing, drastic revision or even the trashcan folder? Not necessarily. What it means is that I need a break from this novel. I'll put it aside and read it again in January. Maybe I'll realize it's not as bad as I thought.
Things I Still Like About the Novel:
I will definitely return to this novel and this series. I like the world-building, the ability to use modern slang freely because it's contemporary fantasy (aka "urban fantasy"). I like my character and I want to complete his story.
My goal is to have this series (of either 3 or 4 books) finished by August next year. If I don't (it will depend on when I finish The Unfinished Song series), I will push it back another year. I won't make the same mistake I made with the Unfinished Song and start publishing it before it is completely finished, so if I say I can publish a new book in the series each month, I can keep my word.
Here's my evaluation of the process of writing the novel:Outlining Works:
I admit I was nervous going two weeks into NaNoWriMo with a big fat Zero (0) wordcount. It really paid off in the end though, as I was able to write quickly and even reached one day of 10,000+ in a day (albeit, that was more than 8 hours of work...I worked 6 hours during the day and then six hours during the night). I hope my Tips helped other writers. They definitely did help me.
New Writing Techniques:
I learned a lot about writing a mystery. In the end, I ended up writing about 10,000 words from the point of view of the murderer Off-stage in between the scenes On-stage which will be in the actual novel. I need more practice with mysteries, but this was a big step for me.
Same goes for comedy writing. I always wanted to know how to write "funny" but bought into the belief that it had to be innate. Turns out that comedy, like most things, owes more to hard work than natural talent. Yay! Score another point for the naturally talentless!
Reading While Writing
I also read a lot of books during November. I read about 15 nonfiction books and 5-6 novels. (I should write a list.) This is surprising to me, since up until now, I've found it hard to write and read heavily at the same time. I think the secret is that I read a lot early in the month, when I was outlining, and what I read composted nicely in my mind to help me during the writing itself. What didn't work as well was reading during the heavy writing days... especially not reading heroin addict autobiographies. Although perhaps there's never a "good" time for that.
Blogging While Noveling
I was also pleased that I was able to keep up my blog while writing my novel. The secret was that I was writing about writing, so I always had something to say. I still don't think writing about writing is probably the most interesting thing to blog about from a readers' perspective, but if it turns a blog from a distraction into a helpful tool of inspiration, the trade off is worth it. I don't know if I'll be able to keep up 2 blog posts a day, but I will not dismiss blogging as "goofing off" anymore. What worked best was writing the blog posts ahead of the day I posted, however, not rushing to get a post out on the same day. (As I'm doing with this post!)
Here's What I Plan to Do Next:Same Thing, Different Book
Here's the thing...I've been writing professionally for two years now. That means I do NaNoWriMo every month. Now, I don't always write 55,000 words a month, as I did this time. Sometimes I write more. Sometimes I write nothing at all, especially if I fall into a really deep depression. (Annual January-February Funk, my nemesis, I shake my fist at you!) Depression is a soul-sucking ninja that slashes the throat of the Muse and leaves inspiration bleeding to death on the bathroom floor, next to an empty bag of cheesy poofs. This year, I'm going to try to fight back! I hope you'll help me....
Anyway, I have a busy December planned. We are driving half-way across the country for the week around Christmas, and I feel that deadline hanging over me like a guillotine blade. (As much as I am also looking forward to it.) So I have, I figure, only half a month to do a whole month's work. There's a certain book I took a break from to work on October Knight, and now, freshly enthusiastic, I intend to get back to Blood, book 6 of The Unfinished Song. I hope to apply some of the same super-writing tips that helped me during NaNaWriMo. And perhaps I will blog about them!
By the way, keep your eyes peeled. The Cover Reveal for Blood is coming soon!