Ah November. That magical wordsmith month of NaNoWriMo.
Wordsmiths all across the world throw down to crank out a first draft in thirty days.
That’s not really my bag. Last year I threw down NaFiTFuThiMo, National Finish The Fucking Thing Month, as my final push for Amity. My goal wasn’t actually by the end of November, it was actually a few days later and I wrote “The End” on my first novel at exactly 3:42pm on my 29th birthday. But that was a novel I had started long before. I only actually wrote around 40% in the 34 days between my Halloween “oh shit I need to get working” moment and my birthday. So roughly 40k words, not the mythical 50k minimum that NaNoWriMo shoots for.
Even if I hadn’t already started plugging away at my current novel, thirty days is not realistic for me. I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo before back when I had more free time (i.e. before a kiddo) and it collapsed after 28k-ish words because the lack of a plot created a big vortex of suck. I need more planning than that. Most everything I write, from short stories to the novels, percolates in my head for a long time before I commit anything to paper. Even if I’m not creating formal outlines, there’s usually a large structure kicking around in my noggin before I start a thing. NaNoWriMo requires too much pantsing for my likes not to mention the mythical 1667.66 words a day isn’t practical with a toddler.
But I have made realistic goals with the idea of actually producing finished novels in a much better timeline.
To that end I actually wrote a whole entire outline for the next novel before I even started a thing. This is the one that centers around the punk rock band and Greek deities. I’ve had issues with the opening of this novel. Part of me just kept saying “Power through it and deal.” In itself, that’s not really a bad thing to do. I add much more than I subtract when I edit subsequent drafts…. except on the front end of the novel. With Amity, most of my rewriting was in the first act. Once I finished the whole thing, I knew the characters better, hence a lot of the edits early on in the novel. For the current godpunk book, I accepted this as … well, simply the way it is. No reason to fight it.
But the thing that was really tripping me up was the chemistry between the two main characters, the POV punk rock guy and the Greek goddess he ends up rolling with. They weren’t hitting the chemistry they needed to carry a whole novel. That’s a problem. I’m not writing romance, I’m writing godpunk modern fantasy with this one but nothing about the plot works without the relationship between the two protags. Seriously, the story falls apart to a pile of awkward shreds of nothing if they don’t have a romantic comparability.
I wasn’t sure it was there. There was an almost-relationship in Amity. There were feelings and attractions but it wasn’t central to the plot. It was something I let grow between two characters but it was never under a direct microscope. In the godpunk book, the relationship is the story. Beginning, middle and end. It was also turning into a stumbling block. I was actually toying with the idea of starting over and remaking the POV character into an entirely different person and hope some chemistry happened. I had actually picked a drop dead point. “If it’s not happening after this spot in the plot….” then I was going to ax roughly 10-12k words and start over. Not a fun thought.
My wife is awesome though and got me going on about all the stuff yet to come in the book and got me all excited for it again rather than dwelling on the hurdles. And then the punk rock lead singer and the Greek goddess started stealing things. And making fun of New Jersey. They’ve bonded now in the most mundane ways which are more important than the fantastical ones. And I think the book is going somewhere now.
I’m sitting on 11k-ish handwritten words and it’s starting to turn into something. Finally.
I’m gonna go write more now. They’ve got more things to steal.