Friday, November 19, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Week 3: Writing Out Loud

Week 3 of NaNoWriMo almost killed me.  I've hit the middle of the story, which for me, has always been the hardest part.  The middle, and I suspect a lot of writers feel the same way, is the place where I get stuck.  There's a simple explanation for it: the middle of a novel, when you're writing it, is like that place in a relationship where you get used to each other, where you don't have to tell your partner you miss them every time they're away, the part where you don't always go to bed at the same time: you know, the part where the excitement and that shiny new smell have worn off a little bit.  The enthusiasm of the beginning is over, you've built up these characters...and now what?  How do you keep what you're writing interesting not only to your potential readers, but most importantly, to yourself?

I don't really have an answer to that question, except to continue to be spontaneous.  During Week 3 of NaNoWriMo (, I tried to keep the writing fresh by letting the characters speak for themselves.  That is to say, all those plots and tangles I was creating in Weeks 1 and 2, I let go of.  I didn't want the story to become static and I certainly didn't want it to become predictable.  So, I let the characters start writing out loud.  This experiment allowed me to add another viewpoint - one I didn't think would be important in the first half of the book but, as it turns out, is very important to the middle and will continue to be important in the last part.  If I'd stayed on the course I set in the first weeks, this character, Tok Willow, would not have had his time to speak and I'm very grateful he did: his voice is one of the more interesting ones in the novel.

Having the characters essentially writing their own parts has also allowed me to better understand what it is I'm writing about.  As it happens, there's a lot going on in this story: the doom of mathematics, the multiverse, faster than light travel, and a couple of lowlife criminals getting involved in things far too complex to be getting into; but at the heart of this story, I hope, are these characters' everyday lives, their flaws and perfections brought to light by strange circumstances.

The word count is down this week again, though I'm still ahead of the curve and expect to reach the 50,000 goal just before Thanksgiving.  But the word count is down for a good reason: the characters are talking to me and to each other and taking each other out to dinner and buying each other flowers...and I'm not really sure how far I'm willing to take this metaphor...

Though, as I said, I'll more than likely hit the word count goal, I don't expect the novel to be finished by November 30th.  I'm not entirely sure how long the novel will end up being, but I definitely feel as though I'm in the middle of the middle and the end is still a long way away.  This next week will show me if I can keep the threads (however spontaneous they may have been at the time) in the first weeks and the true spontaneity of character back-and-forth this week from falling apart.

NEXT WEEK: Analogical Accountability and the Necessity of Banging One's Head Against a Wall

Words to Date - 39,702

(SIDENOTE: The artwork for this post was done by Mandy Monk.)

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