Friday, November 18, 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016 Update: Over Halfway There!

Do you like this new graphic? I made it myself with a photo I took of one of my typewriters.
November 15th marked the halfway point for National Novel Writing Month, and so far I haven't been behind on my word count for a single day, and have in fact been ahead for most of the month. That alone is an improvement over last year's attempt, in which I was occasionally a few hundred words behind on the day's goal.

I like to try something new with everything I write, whether that means putting a greater effort into a particular aspect of the craft that I feel I need practice on or stepping out of my comfort zone to do something totally different. Last year's experiment was simply to see if I could actually churn out a 50,000 word story in a single month, which I'm glad to say was a success.

This novel's experiment (or to be more accurate, this draft's experiment) is to try writing a long-form story out of sequential order for the first time. You see, when I initially got into writing, I wrote nothing but short stories of which I either knew the entire plot from beginning to end or felt like I had a good enough grasp of the concept to just start writing from the beginning and see where it took me. I carried that method with me when I later decided to try my hand at writing novels, and so my first handful of attempts were all written as they were to be read, from beginning to end.

I rationalized this by saying that, like with short stories, the novel's second half was heavily reliant on what came out of actually sitting down and writing the first. If I had a good idea while writing that would affect the later parts of the story, I didn't want to feel confined by having already written the later section of the story. Sure, I had heard from most of my writer friends and strangers online that they always wrote out of order and couldn't fathom having to write anything sequentially, but I took pride in the feeling that I was unique and found something special that worked for me.

However, it turns out that writing in order makes the whole process incredibly difficult and often turns the hobby I love into a mind-splitting chore. The thing is that I didn't realize this before, after, or even as I was writing sequentially - it wasn't until someone online explained why they preferred writing out of order that I saw how difficult my way of writing had been.

The Advantage of Writing Out Of Order

So for NaNoWriMo this year, I decided to give out-of-order writing a shot, and so far it's been going wonderfully! The biggest advantage that I was initially looking forward to was the ability to write whatever scene I was most interested in rather than having to trudge through some earlier scenes I'm not as enthused about in order to eventually get to the more interesting stuff. Not only would this allow me to follow my muse wherever it took me and deal with the connecting or missing transitional scenes later, but it would prevent me from worrying about forgetting some cool idea I had before I had time to write it down.

However, what has so far turned out to be the actual biggest advantage of writing out of order isn't actually writing the big scenes, but the small ones. You see, when writing the first draft of my novel, I had to repeatedly go back to figure out what exactly it was "that one secondary character" said the last time we saw them because it had been so long since I actually wrote the damn scene and I totally forgot where that subplot was going. Writing out of order has allowed me to treat those subplots almost as if they're stories in and of themselves, meaning that I can spend a few days in a row only writing the scenes in which "secondary character X" shows up, getting their entire story/character arc out of the way while it's all fresh in my mind.

Overall, this method of writing has been like a breath of fresh air, and I think I will continue to write novels in this manner in the future.

As for how the novel itself is coming along? Pretty good, I'd say. I think it will easily go above 50,000 words when all is said and done, and I feel a lot more confident about the overall quality of this draft as compared to the first. My only real concern at this moment (aside from a few scenes I'm avoiding writing until the end because I'm not really sure how they should go) is that I may need to do some revisions for tone, as I've always wanted Nothing But The Boots to be a dramatic story with lighthearted narration, and so far it feels like it's been mostly a dramatic story with dramatic narration. It needs more levity. Otherwise, everything is going splendid!

I'll update you again once December rolls around!

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