29 September 2013

NaNoWriMo - and those who [don’t] can’t

For reasons I won’t go into – it’s a lengthy list – I’ve been nearly three weeks away from applying a keystroke to The Bull At The Gate. This is not good. Especially as I am well within its last quarter.

Not only have I lost the emotional surge of the main character that went with cranking up the ante, but the quiet tapping from the shaky structure of one of the three intersecting storylines has changed into a bass echo from the abyss.

So today I have spent a good amount of time updating the written chapter outline – when, where & with whom; harvested seeds sown and sown seeds for harvesting later; conflict & motivation; atmosphere; mental tone of the viewpoint character; and all the rest of the small fry that most readers glance over but together become Big Fry. I wanted this detailed overview to see if I was worrying unduly (unfortunately, no) and to help put together a plan to SORT IT.

Into this, like the timely Irish fairy that she is, came into my Inbox a blogpost from Catherine, Caffeinated on the length of time it takes her to write, punctuated by what passes for a certain amount of gnashing of teeth. Apart from soothing my own fevered brow – writers always think they are alone when these sinkholes appear – she asked for readers’ solutions in the Comments.

Oooh, some of them are very instructive. Do go look. If you’ve ever found youself in a bind, it may well prove a writing-process-changing moment.

[Note: for those who’ve never heard of NaNoWriMo, it’s the (Inter)National Novel Writing Month of November organisation where plucky individuals sign themselves up to write 50,000 words of a dirty draft in 30 days. No pondering allowed. As I intimated at the top, not much point me signing up then.]


  1. I feel your pain, Linda. I was intending to complete the first draft go book 3 of my fantasy trilogy before leaving for a well-deserved (I think so, anyway!) break. As it does, life got in the way and I managed to get only half the story told. Now, when is return from the break, I will have to re-read the draft in Oder to continue with the storytelling. Irritating

  2. Unfortunatley, Stuart, that can be the way it goes. And if you are like me you start tweaking as you read. Thank goodness for Comments, that's all I can say. I have oodles of Notes to Self in the margin, from "check research" to "did x character say this in Chapter 18?" to the ubiquetous "clumsy phrasing - sort".

    All I can suggest is take the re-read at your leisure. The pacing and nuances of syntax can't permeate your brain at a dead run. Good luck with it.