Wednesday, November 9, 2011

NaNoWriMo tips, day 9

Permission to suck.

Hello, WriMos! I’m writing this for you, but if you’re not a WriMo, you might enjoy this anyway, so feel free to read on because it’s going to be here and you’re probably putting off something that you don’t really want to do anyway.

It’s week 2. I know it, you know it, and it’s difficult. Week 2 is the hardest week of NaNoWriMo. You’re getting into the plot, you know the characters, you’re stressed out, and that pile of dirty clothes on the floor is probably approaching apocalyptic size. If you’re me, you’ve also reached the point where you’re writing on a borrowed computer because yours is broken, and trying to not worry about your wallet, which got stolen.

So trust me on this, however bad you think it’s getting this week, it could get worse.

Do you guys know anything about cartomancy? It’s like tarot, but with normal playing cards. I had to study it for NaNo ’09, in which it was also a method of time travel, but that’s a whole other story. Anyway, in Cartomancy, the ten of spades is the worst card in the deck. You’ve hit rock bottom. Everything that could go wrong does. On the other hand, it’s a comfort. When you’ve hit the bottom, you have to go up. Things can’t get worse.

That’s this week. This week is the ten of spades. You’ve got this nice world, and you know the characters, and then you have to stab them with pitchforks and they have to loose their spleens and you have to mess up their lives. This is difficult. This is the part where you’re feeling connected to the characters, and you want to give them a good story, and you realize that the story you’re writing isn’t good enough for your characters.

And now you want to start over. There was that scene back there that you weren’t very happy with, and that scene that directly contradicts what you want to do now, and you don’t really like your main character but hot damn, your villain is awesome and you really want your antihero to be the star of the story. This is the part where things start to get tricky.

So what do you do when your writing feels terrible and you just want to kill all of your characters?

Well, there are a couple of things you can do. Number 1) you can kill all of your characters.

That’s right. I said that. If you really hate everyone, and you don’t know what to do, and you’ve totally written yourself into a corner, you can have your character’s house’s carbon monoxide detector fail and everyone dies. You can do this. This is a totally acceptable option. Where do you go from there? Well, just keep writing. Something will happen.

Option 2, you can do something else. You can kill your main character and make this story be about your antihero and your villain and how they end up almost destroying the world and then having to work together to save it. This is also a totally acceptable option. You can take what you have, and mix it up a little bit, and suddenly your subplot has become your main plot. This is also okay.

Option 3, you can just keep writing. That’s right. Just stick to your story, set a timer, and pound words out of your keyboard until you realize that you do kind of like your main character. You will, eventually, finish.

You cannot stop writing. That is not an option. What you need to do is to stop worrying about that massive pile of laundry, and stop worrying about doing justice to your characters and your world, and just keep writing. Your brain is a powerful thing. It will put the pieces of the story together, and you will have something awesome. Everything makes sense at the end.

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