Sunday, November 6, 2011

Polly's NaNoWriMo Tips, November 6, 2011

As November approaches its 6th day, I feel like a few of you may be needing a pep talk or something. I know I do, and this is my 4th WriMo. So yeah, maybe I’m giving myself a pep talk. Shut up. I totally can do that. Sometimes you totally need that.

By day 6, you’re probably getting over the “This will be super fun!” stage of NaNo, and you’re getting into Week Two.

Week Two is a scary thing. During Week Two, you take the world that you set up, and you start breaking it. You know who your characters are, and you’re starting to know where your plot is going (or you think you do. You don’t. You never know where your plot is going. Because of that, you cannot loose your plot, it can just take a surprise twist that no one saw coming. And that’s okay).

And because you know what’s going on, you’re going to start having some trouble. I was writing with my MMC for a while (NaNoSpeak Translation: MMC: Main Male Character, though in my case it could also stand for Main Mail Carrier, but I digress) and I realized that he was a total Gary Stu with no character flaws and all in all he was a character that I just wanted to throw off a bus.

So I started giving him some character flaws and after a page I’d taken that too far and he’d crossed the moral event horizon and I felt like there was no saving him. So I mentioned to my friend, who is also a WriMo, and was in the room at the time, that I hated Steve.

And she asked me, why, and I told her.

And she looked at me and said, “Well, he was on drugs. Keep writing.”

That felt pathetic. It felt like a hand-wave of a scene that I really ought to rewrite because it was really bad, but you know what else it was? GLORIOUS. That, my friends, is the Spirit of NaNo right there.

Your plot feels predictable and suddenly you realized that you’re just telling the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in space? Go for it. Keep writing. You just noticed that you’ve copied every third line from Pirates of the Caribbean and your MFC (NaNoSpeak Tranalation: Main Female Character) is just female Jack Sparrow? Keep writing.

The thing that should really hit home this week is that your writing style may be bad, and your plot may be terrible, and you may hate the entire thing and want to start over or go back and fix a scene or realize that something didn’t work. The thing you are going to realize this week is that you cannot write a good novel in the first go.

And you know what? That’s okay.

This month, you are just going to write. You’re going to write a story that makes no sense in parts, where sometimes you don’t know what you’re doing, where you reread it during December and find yourself making notes like “Ebe needs a personality transfusion STAT!” and all of this is okay.

This is very important to understand. Even if you don’t know where your story is taking you, even if you don’t know who your characters are, even if you just realized that that scene you wrote three pages ago was long and boring and pointless, keep going with it.

Here’s another piece of advice: If you had an idea to change something in the past, write the scene you’re on like you’ve already changed it. If you want, take a little sticky note (or use the notes section in Scrivener. Seriously. Scrivener. Use it) and mark down what change you made on which page and stick it on your Wall of Plot and Notes and What Am I Doing. You don’t really need to, though. It’s easy enough to realize what you’re doing when you edit.

So yeah. Your challenge for the week: Just write. Week 2 is hard. Power through it. Most people give up in week 2, but you’re not going to be one of them. You’re going to realize that this takes a lot more time than you thought it would, you’re going to be stressed about a lot of things and forget to do a lot of things, and that’s going to be fine. Every time you have free time, put your fingers to the keys, put your pen to the paper, and just write. Turn off your brain, stop thinking about it, and let your characters take control of the story.

Because you want to know a secret? When you are done with NaNo, and you take that first draft that you just printed out on your work’s laser printer when no one was looking, and you read it, you will realize that it’s really bad. You will also realize that it’s really, REALLY good in ways that you never thought you could do. And you will like it and be proud. And that feeling is worth so much. Really, nothing short of seeing a plane that you designed flying can match that feeling. It is the feeling of creation. It is the feeling of being a novelist! And you can feel it.

Just write.

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