Monday, November 21, 2011

NaNoMoWri Reflections

NaNoMoWri showed me I'm not a plotter. I went into NaNo month with a five pronged plot, and even though I finished my fifty thousand words in ten days, I became sick of my story. Writing felt like constructing a model kit. Glue this tab to that one. Construct the propeller assembly, then stick it on the wing assembly.

As I checked off my plot points and completed the scenes, I became more and more divorced from the characters. They were wooden. They did not belong to me, and I certainly didn't live their lives. Just actors across a stage, they flitted in and out of the pages. Their stomachs rumbled, their hearts dropped, their palms sweated, and chills ran down their spines. They bled and fought on schedule. Kissed or killed because the plot dictated it.

Can the story be saved? Yes. But I need to get away from it first. Then go back and rewrite. Let the characters go where they want, and who knows? Maybe they'll end up somewhere else. But I would have gone along with them and gotten to know them. And that takes time. Time to absorb their personalities, explore their desires, dig into their motivations, and discover their deepest secrets.

I started another story November 15. It's not a NaNo story. I'm up to 37K words, but I'm not racing the clock. I don't do character sheets, not really. I live the story, and daydream their backstories. I run scenes from their lives in my mind, and I dream their dreams. I cannot force the story out. It has to come to me organically. How to fake emotions on a schedule is a skill I do not have.

It was fun and I enjoyed it. The camaraderie was great. Would I do it again? It depends on whether I can resurrect my NaNo story or not. Will I ever get the enthusiasm back for those characters? Or did the NaNo  overdose inoculate me against them forever?


  1. I think the best thing about NaNo is that it shows you what type of writer you are.

    Although I have to admit, I don't really understand pantsers. ;)

  2. Oh man, sorry it killed your story, I know you were looking forward to NaNo! The funny thing is, NaNo showed me I was a pantser but for a different reason than you-- I went into it last year with my seed idea (museum curator goes back in time and meets hunky lord with a mysterious past) and that was it and basically discovered my characters and their story by the seat of my pants for 30 days! I finished 2 days early (whereas the previous year I finished by the skin of my teeth and it was plotted w/character sheets, etc.) Sure I had to go back and revise heavily to fill in missing scenes, deepen the characters and the conflict, but I had fun discovering the story through NaNo. Maybe, before you give up on NaNo, try it going in without the plot...

  3. Thanks gals. My second story, while not officially NaNo is turning out to be the real NaNo story for me. I went in without a lot, started November 15 and have 38,457 words. I'm not trying to get to 50K by Nov 30, but at the rate I'm going I think I'll get there. It's my accidental NaNo book. I think I'll post an excerpt at my NaNo profile.