As some of you may remember from last week, I am attempting another go at NaNoWriMo. Basically, this means that I'll be chewing my own fingers off for the rest of the month.
NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month to you outsiders) is a challenge even for seasoned authors. As a fresh-faced* up-and-comer** with a growing fan base***, this competition can also be a kick in the pants to sit down and just WRITE.
That said, there are two schools of thought when it comes to mashing out some wordage in 30 days' time. Either you go into November with a plan of action, or you wing it.
Guess which one I did.
Having a plan (not necessarily an outline, just a vague idea of your story) helps immeasurably during the actual laying down of letters. Understanding your main character's motivations, for instance, helps to direct their decisions when faced with terrible scenarios.
When you, like me, go into this month without a care in the world, you often find yourself guessing at each turn, which can lead to a less-than-impressive first draft.
Which is why, at 13,000 words in, I finally figured out my plot.
Yeah, I see you shaking your head over there. Well at ease with that neck motion, soldier!
13,000 is more than 20% of the way through the novel. That seems like WAY too long to figure out where the story is going, and you are correct in thinking so. However, and I cannot stress this enough, this is DRAFT ONE! Any writer will tell you that the first pass on any written project is hot garbage. Nobody, outside of maybe Sorkin, kicks out publishable material on a whim.
So now that I've figured out my plot, do I go back and refresh everything I already wrote?
Charge through your story as you intended, but now you'll wield the PLOT TORCH of +3 KNOWING WHERE THIS STORY IS HEADED. Don't let something this minor stop your momentum. Keep going until you've completed the story, and then you can go back and fix those issues on your second pass.
Second Pass, you say, dribbling bits of Dorito mess out of your face hole.
Yeah. When you're done spending 30 straight days blasting your keyboard, it's time to fix all the terrible mistakes you've made. Remember that character you introduced on page 117? Well they don't mean a damn thing to the story unless you hint at them on page 11. Or that plot thread about the hero's fear of fish? Yeah, you dropped that like a trig class in Act 3.
Don't be afraid of revelations. You may find, halfway through your story (or, perhaps, in writing Book 2) that you made the wrong person the protagonist. How are you going to fix it, Writer? Kill them off? Make the whole first Act a dream sequence? Give up on all this and go become an accountant like your mother wanted?
Have no fear, loyal readers. You are in the same boat as every writer before you, and you are not alone in this terrifying journey.
As famed author Sam Sykes once said: Writing is easy. Just swallow six or seven hornets and scream onto the pages.
* Completely untrue. My face is horrifically weathered
** I mean, maybe? I've been at this since 2009.
*** Yeah, sure. Between you and my mom, we've got...2 people in the forum.