How’s that novel coming?

Oh, you know……

If anyone has checked out my NaNoWriMo profile lately, you’ll know that I’m seriously behind in terms of word count. I’ll be honest – I’m a little stuck.  You see, first I learned that people actually plan these novels.  Months in advance.  They have plot outlines, titles ready to go, even book cover designs (?!).  I don’t know how you could possibly settle on a “cover” for an unwritten and unpublished novel, but then again most of the covers are horrendously bad anyway. I’m mean.   I’ve also discovered several flaws in the NaNo system.  One of these is that 50,000 words actually amounts to a novella at best.  So although I still hope to hit a point one of these days when I just can’t stop because my characters are so believable and my plot is so riveting, my goals have become (only slightly) smaller:  write a whole lot, try to do it every day, and don’t feel bad about stopping to plan sometimes instead of ending up writing things like, “She went into the kitchen.  She thought about how her dad really wasn’t who he said he was.”  (Don’t worry, those sentences are not in my novel.  But I’d be lying if I said the quality of my content thus far is much more interesting…).

Please don’t think I’m making excuses.  I’m my worst critic (this I promise you) and yet despite my measly word count I feel like I have accomplished a slew of intangibles that have set me well on my way to learning more about this evasive novel-writing business. And, as with most hard things worth doing, the more I learn, the more I realize I do not know a single thing.  Really, I have no business even starting down this road.

But silly me, here I go.

Three things I’ve learned so far (of many):

1. Goodness gracious, first drafts are bad when I refuse to let my inner editor out of its cage.  I’m talking bad.  Like, can’t even explain.  I somehow summoned the guts to let Sara read my first few pages, which were horrible, and I can honestly say nothing I’ve written since those first couple days has been even as good as that mess.  But, first drafts are first drafts.  I might throw away 80% of it, but hopefully what I keep is worth keeping.  Look at me being optimistic.

2. I’ve learned that to write a novel you have to have a plot. Sounds obvious, right? Ha. I’ve learned how to create a snowflake plot, which sounds pretty cute.  Cuter than it is.  Although I haven’t completed my snowflake plot diagram, I imagine this to be fairly close to the way my brain works.  I’ve also tried some backwards design — working backward from a scene or line of dialogue I know I want to include to find out how my character got there.

3. Sometimes writing makes me feel like kicking and screaming, but it feels pretty good to be able to honestly say, “I’m working on a novel.”  No one needs to know how bad it is, or that it’s in its totally helpless infant stage and that it wakes up crying every few hours and I don’t know what to do with it.  If that sense of satisfaction is any indication of how utterly satisfying it would be to actually finish the thing, I’ll take it.  It just might take a while.

I don’t want to tell you how many times Eric has had to force me write this week.  So I won’t.


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3 Responses to “How’s that novel coming?”

  1. Anna says:

    Good for you, Brynna! I hope you finish it sometime because I would totally read it. :-)

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