Normally I have posts centered around a theme each month, and this month it’s all about NaNo and blogging my progress. Today’s post is going to be how I first got interested in NaNo, previous wins, how today went, and what I hope to accomplish this month.
I don’t remember when I first heard about NaNo, just that I didn’t feel confident that I had a story idea that could make it to 50,000 words since all of my previous writing attempts ended after a few pages. I had a few friends who participated in NaNo, and in 2014 I felt like I finally had an idea that would work.
I barely made it to 50,000 words, only doing after writing an afterword and stretching out names and contractions. That novel is mostly dialogue and exposition, and isn’t my best work.
But it was a learning experience, mainly how to outline a novel and an introduction to world building. The following year I wrote a different novel with just over 50,000 words. Even after some additional work and being at roughly 80,000 words, it’s only 85% of the way done, and in need of some editing and rewrites. I hope to go back to it someday. I didn’t participate in NaNo in 2016 due to spending a week at Disney and admitting I wouldn’t have enough time to write.
2017 was a completely different experience. In the months leading up to November I was planning on either revisiting my 2015 novel, or finally writing a story that I’ve had in mind for years. In August, my plans were completely derailed. I had a random idea pop into my head that started off as a parody on fantasy stories, fitting in as many tropes as possible— the Chosen One, magical MacGuffins to collect, old wise wizard, the Big Damn Prophecy, Evil Dark Lord, Epic End Battle— and more. At first I thought once I got an outline in my head, it’d leave me alone. But it didn’t. The more I worked on the story, the more invested I got in the characters and taking those tropes and figuring out how to twist them around.
I then spent the next few months world building more and more, and my initial idea grew out of control. By the time November came, I was extremely invested in my story and managed to reach my goal of over 100,000 words without a problem, though still not finishing the novel.
After that NaNo my life got busy and I was unable to start editing until this summer. A few chapters into editing, I realized the fact that my chapters were averaging around 10,000 words, which meant unless I did something drastic my novel could be around 300,000. From what I’ve been able to find, the average young adult fantasy debut novel shouldn’t be more than 120,000.
So my novel went through some serious restructuring. Chapter order got moved around; instead of having two parts to the novel revolving around a handful of characters I now have three parts revolving around two main characters and their similar yet different journeys. I still have a lot of background material on characters and world building, but it won’t make into in the novel beyond a reference or two.
I’m now in the process of rewriting it with my new outline. My hope for November is to get through the majority of the novel, and have it finished by the end of the year. That way I can edit it next year and move on to the next step in my path to publication.
My first day of NaNo went well and I managed to write 2,638 words today between my lunch break and a little more once I got home. I’m optimistic at the moment that I’ll actually get the rewrite done before the end of the year.
That’s all for today. The next update will probably be around November 15th, followed by November 30th. That way I can still update on my NaNo progress, without resorting to the same basic word count update every day. If you have specific questions about NaNo, my writing process, WIP, or anything else NaNo related you wish to see, let me know in a comment.
—Kay S. Beckett