Some Thoughts on Noveling

I’ve been hacking away at my first fictional masterpiece for almost a week now. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) So, what’s it like? Here are some thoughts and experiences.

  •  It amazes me how quickly the characters and story can take on a life of their own and continually develop with the plot, independent of the author’s original intent. Three hours into writing, I scrapped my outline, character charts, and setting ideas and decided to start from scratch and take some risks. I predict many inconsistencies.
  • I’m far more creative than I ever could have imagined and storytelling isn’t as hard as I thought it would be. There have actually been a few occasions on which I’ve smiled to myself, thoroughly impressed with something I came up with.
  • I don’t think I could do this for a living. I haven’t been able to sleep because the story and characters have permeated every area of my life and I’m constantly editing past scenes, changing characters, thinking up new adverse situations, recalling everyday things a person may do, and coming up with unique elements to add. I can’t help myself and it’s draining.
  • That being said, I apologize if I’m slacking on reading and commenting on other blogs. My head is and shall continue to be in the clouds through the duration of November.
  • I’m a cruel, cruel NaNoWriMo god. The idea was to put a nice, innocent girl in stressful, aversive situations, but I think I’ve gone overboard. I actually feel really bad for my protagonist. Hopefully it at least makes for a good story.
  • I’m continually rearranging chapters and jumping around. 50,000 words in 30 days is basically a disorganized array of genius and rubbish. I have scene ideas for about 30% of the book so far, but I’m not sure if the order makes sense. The real challenge will be going back and sorting through everything.
  • Reading Young Adult Fiction (e.g. The Hunger Games, Unwind) while writing fiction is a good idea. It’s given me ideas of how to approach, structure, and word my own writings. Young adult books are the perfect balance of complex and simple.
  • Rereading bits of favorite novels (e.g. 2666, Bright Shiny Morning) is both good and bad. The ideas and inspiration are valuable, yet it’s tempting to compare yourself to the pros. Clearly as a first-timer, I will pale in comparison to the big guys.
  • Noveling is fun! I’m a workaholic, so having one more thing to obsess about and mull over is fantastic.
  • I’m open to suggestion and ideas. Prop/plot/character ideas from friends and readers so far include: character named “Jack”, Lion King comforter, the word “curmudgeon,” pink stick-on mustache, gila monster, inflatable kiddie pool and/or skinny dipping, parakeet with British accent, a cute boy at a café, and transgender dwarf studies. I’m working on incorporating these things and more into my story!
  • I’m going so start posting as I finish, rather than every other day. I’ve got some impatient readers out there who are requesting “more, more, more!”
  • I’ve been listening to this song on repeat the last few days – it’s a nice balance between subtle background music and intensely emotional. Perfect noveling music. Actually, I’ve been listening to Alexi Murdoch’s entire album Time Without Consequence a lot lately and am pretty much in love with it.
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Let’s Get Ready to NaNoWriMo!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve constructed a loose plot outline for my novel, crafted characters, brainstormed themes, and have asked myself countless times “What on earth did you sign up for?” Over the course of the next month, I intend to share excerpts from my novel, likely the parts I find to be profound, poetic, or key turning points. I can’t promise you’ll have any idea what’s going on. Although I have several pages of notes, I have no idea what to expect.

Before I begin, I’d like to give you a heads up about my writing style and what I have planned:

  • The genre will be mainstream fiction, I think. Plans always change, but I can promise you there will be no vampires, zombies, wizards, time-travel, or epidemics. Just real life, everyday young adult drama and confusion.
  • I love subjective reality, stories that are painfully realistic, novels that make me cry, and books that make me reel in horror. Shock and awe, intensity, and deeply affective emotions are what draw me into a story, so I intend to use these elements whenever possible, where appropriate. This means a lack of censorship and potentially some vulgar language or graphic descriptions for effect. I plan to filter what a share here, to an extent.
  • My main character lives in her head, so much of the plot is written in a reflective, yet instantaneous stream-of-consciousness style. Being tossed into adverse situations, there is going to be some highly charged negative emotion and dark thoughts. Please keep in mind that the character, her thoughts, and her actions are nothing more than a product of my morbidly over-active imagination and years of “if I were to write a book, I would do this…” (I used to worry about the mental health of my favorite authors until I realized that maybe they’re just good writers and having fun.)
  • The story is fiction, based loosely on my own experiences; an embellished extrapolation and exaggeration of the crazy “what ifs.” I’m not going to reveal which parts are true and made up, so don’t bother asking.
  • As you’ve probably noted in my blog posts, I love metaphors, conjuring up vivid imagery with concision, really probing thoughts and ideas, and finding the silver lining and lessons learned. Expect a lot of these things in my novel.
  • I’m open to constructive criticism and suggestions. If something is absolutely awful or unbelievably good, let me know! I haven’t written fiction before beyond short stories in my head, so I would greatly appreciate any and all feedback.

In summation, I’m aiming for intense and deeply affective, I don’t plan to censor characters’ thoughts or dialogue, I intend to use a lot of fancy words, this is mostly made up and not reflective of my current mental health, and feedback would be awesome. Oh yeah, and in thirty days I’ll be able to call myself a novelist!

Good luck to everyone else who is participating in National Novel Writing Month 2011! I’ll see you at the finish line. Now, let’s do this!

*I plan on alternating NaNoWriMo passages and progress with regular posts every other day throughout the month of November (NaNo posts on odd days, Regular posts on even days, in case you only want to follow one or the other).