Saturday, November 13, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Week 2: Recalibrating

I am a linear writer by - I was going to say "nature," but I think it's more "habit."  That is, I like to write from Chapter One to Chapter Twenty in order.  However, during the second week of NaNoWriMo (, I wanted to try something different.  The NaNoWriMo idea is an experiment, in my opinion, of how much you can write in a month, and, signing up for this project, I knew I also wanted to experiment in the ways I write, partly to see if how I write is what's working best and partly to see how interesting my story could get.

There are four parts and an epilogue to my novel.  During the first week, I wrote halfway between the first part, Levee Camp Moan, and, though I finished Part One during the second, I found the words did not come as easy for me as those first 12,000 in Week One.  Part of this was because I began writing scenes out of order, in Parts Two and Three and Four and a section of the Epilogue.  I call this type of writing "scatterbrain," because that's exactly what it feels like to me.

It was interesting to see where my characters have ended up and I'm excited to see just how I get there with them, but finding the words this week was much harder for me and I wonder if I haven't inadvertently created several problems in the text.  These may be easy fixes as I write more and more sections and get closer to the end of the story or they may not be fixable until revision.  The enthusiasm for the novel hasn't died down even a little, for which I'm glad because I really didn't know what would happen if I left the very safe confines of linear writing.

That said, I think writing in a linear fashion is what, for the most part, works best for me.  There are times, however, when scatterbrain writing is useful because, in a sort of roundabout way, it requires thinking ahead.  I think, for instance, if I'd had a particular scene in my head and knew it came later in the story, it would be good to write it out, get it down, even if it's just notes on what happens.  I've also found scatterbraining to be a highly effective tool for my imagination, putting characters in wildly different situations from the point they are in the linear story. 

Part of the experience of NaNoWriMo, of course, is not knowing what happens, not planning this story out, seeing where it goes on its own, and that, I think is a somewhat linear process of writing, letting these characters end up where they will in a faux-natural fashion*, without any forethought on my part.

NEXT WEEK: Novel Notes on Napkins (and the annoyance of alliteration)

Words to Date: 27,139

*I say faux-natural because when writing a novel not under the pressure of 50,000 words in 30 days, I hope to flesh out more of the storyline and the characters, to be able to scatterbrain write freely, knowing full well most of what's going to happen, but to make it all seem as though it's happening naturally.  There's nothing really "natural" writing for NaNoWriMo, but it is a lot of fun.

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