Nanowrimo has now finished. There are now 50,000 words, 50,027 if you want to be pedantic, that didn’t exist before.
So what did I learn from this? Here are seven things.
This is the same ‘never again’ that some people seem to experience with alcohol. They go out, drink, get a hangover, and declare it to be the last time. That declaration doesn’t survive contact with the next weekend. I vary rarely drink, perversely only when at my parents, and have therefore never experienced a hangover.
The point is that at the moment I’m thinking I wouldn’t want to embark on something like nanowrimo again soon. On the plus side it was my November excuse for not going to the gym.
Plan it to Within an Inch of its Life!
I did some planning but the planning didn’t survive contact with the enemy. I’m terrible for getting drawn into research and knew I couldn’t do that this time so I changed it from a fantasy setting to a science fiction one.
This made it just a little easier. At least it was easier when writing on the fly. I didn’t have to work stuff out. You have to make sure that you have historical accuracy if the story has any connection to the world we know.
If the story takes place on many planets, instead of islands, then I don’t need to know just how far, or how fast, a one sail ship would travel for instance.
Beyond that though if I am doing it again I’d make sure I had a long plan.
It Came Down to the Wire
I might have more time to write than most. I mostly work six hour shifts so there is time. Nevertheless I was writing everyday. I needed all 30 days so if I’m working more next year this could be a problem. Although that might indicate more planning was needed. QED – I think that’s the right use of that phrase.
Write Something! Write Anything!
When it came down to the end I realised I’d made a bit of a cockup. I had two characters expressing their feelings for one another but no buildup to it. To fix it I’d have needed to read over the previous chapters and make sure that idea flowed naturally – no time for that in Nanowrimo.
Instead I wrote something completely different. Something that I didn’t know where it was going – and not in a good way.
Which leads me to point five…
Fix it in Post
I said this before I embarked on this ridiculous project. Don’t worry about it making sense.
My ending was bad. It was essentially had a deaus ex machine.
Do you remember the DS9 episode A Time to Stand? Minimal story points a-coming. In this episode Sisko takes a captured Dominion ship behind enemy lines. The ship they used had been established in a previous episode called The Ship – so it was continuity.
Continuity is good.
If they’d just had the Federation randomly having the vessel. It might have been seen as a cop-out. Even though Starfleet has other ships – well allegedly – they always seem to be on a tea break when someone is invading.
The point is that I had structured my story so it looked like the ending came out of nowhere. Technically it worked. The solution came in the form of classified information which the protagonist become privy too. It could have worked but I decided to go with the Chekhov’s Gun, or Chekhov’s starship approach.
<Science to Come>
I realise all these points are similar but that is what I’ve learned.
If you’ve ever seen behind the scenes stuff for The Big Bang Theory you may have seen the phrase <science to come> written in the scripts. This is used as a place holder for the writers.
i.e: They can have Sheldon condescendingly saying that a theory is wrong but the specifics are filled in later. That is what I need to learn how to do. Instead I’ll sit and stare at the screen.
This was a most useful experience and, despite what I said at the beginning, probably is something I would attempt again.
The novel now needs finishing and editing, editing, and more editing. When will it be done? Give that I have another novel that has been in draft for a decade it could be a while.
Actually the nanowrimo novel is, after only a month, far closer to being finished than the other one. This is because it had few characters and all in the same place and time.
Maybe that is what I take from nanowrimo – I should not attempt to write stories set in different places and different times… at least without some plan for how the individual timelines match up.
On a completely unrelated note my next post will talk about Doctor Who.
I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.