OK, so I know November isn’t over, but I wanted to share my approach to NaNoWriMo anyway. I won’t be “winning” this year, but I did make some progress on my book, and I’m curious how the month is going for others. I didn’t set a goal to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, but when I got an idea for a YA novel over the summer, I thought maybe I’d give it a try.
I had every intention of outlining my whole book before November, but then I started this second blog, and begin a new job, and other things took priority over writing a book. I did create an overall outline of the main plot of the book and sketch out the main characters. And I outlined the first 5 chapters back in July.
When my library shared that they would be opening a conference room to NaNoWriMo writers throughout the month, I decided to just start there. I went to the first day, Saturday, November 5th for 3 hours in the afternoon. I had found some images online earlier that week to give me some visual inspiration for my characters, and then I used my outlines for the first 5 chapters to start writing. I had written 5 bullet points or so per chapter, and I had decided who would be the narrator for each chapter (because of course my book needs to have alternating voices – my favorite!).
The writing went fairly well, except that my chapters were only 3-4 pages each. I ended up with 7 chapters after that first day because I had skipped over some important details in my outlining. But I had a profound realization after that day.
Of course I hadn’t expected to write a complete novel in 1 draft, but I hadn’t anticipated how hard it would be to write EVERYTHING that happened to my characters – from their movements, to their thoughts, to their every spoken work and interaction. That seems pretty obvious, right? When I told my husband’s friend that I realized I had to write literally everything, he thought I was insane. (Because of course you have to write everything that happens in a book. Duh!) But it wasn’t that clear to me when I started. Going from an outline of what needs to happen to actually having that action play out on the page is hard. Way harder than I thought it would be.
Rather than ruminate on those short chapters, I decided that it would be best to get each chapter down, no matter how short, and then come back around once I have the full plot written and layer on the details, enhance the dialog, and expand where relevant.
I haven’t gotten to work on the book since then, but I may go back to the library on Sunday when they have another session in the conference room.
Last Saturday I saw Marissa Meyer on her Heartless tour, and she said something that resonated with me. She talked about writing her books in layers, and it’s exactly what I had discovered. Maybe I’m on to something here?
Either way, I’m going to keep going. Maybe not this November, but I will finish this first draft, and then I’ll go back through the book again and beef it up. It’s kind of cool to say I’m trying to write a book, even if I never end up letting anyone else read it.
Feature image from Pexels