Friday, November 6, 2015

Château Soleil Update 8: Major Milestone 1

Better known as: Why I'm Not Doing NaNoWriMo This Year

Current word count: 79,560
Chapters done: 25/52
Projected length: 165,484 words

So I finally finished off Book 1. I've got the novel subdivided into three "books". The first is the longest--obviously, since I'm nearly halfway through my outline. But this gets me to the first major breakpoint in the narrative. If you compare the numbers here to those in the previous update, you'll see that I've added one chapter and close to ten thousand words. So, did I just write a ten-thousand word chapter?

No. But I did flesh out a lot of what I'd written before. I'd thought that, if I could get a good pace going, I could treat Book 2 as a NaNo project, so I rushed through some chapters to try and get to the end of this stretch of my outline so I could try and get the first fifty thousand words of Book 2 done in November. The result was... I don't want to say it was disastrous, but I was very much not pleased with what I'd written.

It's not about editing. It's that what I'd written was too thin. I had some chapters that were barely a thousand words long, which is entirely too short for this project. Trying to get through the material quickly, I'd deprived myself of the joy of finding the story. My outline has the major story beats, but not nearly enough detail to justify my anticipated word counts. A lot of the writing of a chapter is moving people around, delving into (read as: inventing) their backstories and motivations, and finding those little moments that make a sequence come together.

I use this to set up character elements that will ultimately come back in the end to give characters a satisfying arc in their quest. But since I find them in the moment, I can't just skip them--because later, I'll need to already know what they are. So instead of pressing forward, I went back and re-wrote a lot of what I'd written, more than doubling some of those chapters, and finding more of those little moments and character elements that make it feel more fleshy and real, and that set up things I can use in the later chapters.

Writing this way is slow. For me. I'll be lucky to get thirty-thousand words done this month. But they'll be thirty-thousand words that I won't have to go back and re-write. I'll end up with a more polished first draft and then I can really spend the next pass focusing on wordsmithing and continuity. It also means saying bye-bye NaNoWriMo. Maybe I'll do it next year, but I'm starting think that NaNo needs to stay behind me. I can keep the pace, but I've never written anything for NaNo that I felt like I could do something with later. And since I'm trying to write something I can sell, and I clearly don't need the added motivation to get it completed, I'm probably better off eschewing the event and committing myself to a slower pace that fits better with my process.

C'est la vie, n'est pas?
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