I’m proud to say that I have finally won NaNoWriMo 2011! Never one to rush ahead, I always leave things to the last minute and this was no exception. I was feeling considerably lazy for most of the month (I blame the cold weather and long, dark nights) and so I only actually wrote anything on sixteen days out of thirty. So to get to 50,000 words in that time was quite an achievement for me, although I do wonder how much I could have done had I written on every single day of the month!
My NaNo experience this year has been quite different to last year. Last year was my first serious attempt, so I took it well, a lot more seriously. I posted updates about it everyday, wrote on most days and was so desperate to win that I was using a lot of lame ‘tricks’ to try to bump up my word count. My novel was supposed to be pychological thriller, but I found the subject matter so depressing that I didn’t want to face writing about it, and instead I actually resorted having one character ask ther others the same set of boring interview questions. I did win NaNoWriMo, but the end product was not quite the first draft of a novel that I had been hoping for. Aside from what I still consider a good couple of first chapters and some interesting character back-stories (which have the potential to work as good short stories), it was mostly a lot of nonsensical drivel.
This year I feel I have done much better. Don’t get me wrong, I am not even close to completing the first draft of my novel yet. I realise that the first couple of chapters about the MC in his ordinary world and the inciting event that triggers the whole plot need radically changing. I recognise that I overuse a lot of cliched ideas and tropes, and that I need to do much more research into my novel’s setting to write about it realistically. I also realise that the mythology of my fictional world is a crude patchwork of beliefs and legends taken from conflicting sources and simplified, which would probably be judged as a gross misunderstanding of African tribal culture. I know that many of the details I used (the language the character’s spoke, the clothes they wore etc.) are probably very inaccurate and that a lot of the dialogue was boring and repetative.
But still, a lot of good came out of this experience. I have discovered that while my writing needs considerable improvement, my character and world-building skills are pretty good. I have got to know my characters a lot better, and some of them have developed from vague stereotyped ideas to more well-rounded and realistic people that I am interested in and care about. I have discovered that although I really need to work on my plot to stop it from sounding like a poor rip-off of The Lion King, there are some really good ideas underneath all that, and most importantly- a story that I still feel the need to tell. That is why, next year, after a month’s break from working on my novel I will go back to it again instead of ignoring it like last year’s. This story is worth working on, and I feel that now I’ve had the courage to start it, it can only get better with time. I will need to do A LOT of editing. I will also need to do some more writing to actually finish the plot (I’m guessing it will need to be about 80,000 words in total. But I don’t care. Right now I’m very proud of myself for having taken that first baby step and accomplished something pretty awesome.
I want to give a big shout-out and thank you to all those in the blogosphere, twitter, facebook and the NaNoWriMo forums who have provided support, resources and encouragement along the way. I love the way NaNo brings the writing community together and gives everyone from all walks of life and different stages in their writing career a chance to achieve something special. A big congratulations to everyone who took part, even if you didn’t make it to 50k. Now it’s time for a well-deserved cup of tea, a good book and some chocolate before bed.
Day no.: 30
Days written: 16
Words written: 50,065
Percent complete: 100%
Average words per day: 3125
Most number of words written in a day: 7529
Chapters completed: 6+ (I stopped writing chapters and just started writing random scenes in no order whatsoever!)
Characters introduced:12 (ish)
Characters killed off: 1 (I didn’t even get to the good deaths)
No.times characters sigh: 5
No. tropes used: At least 6
Mood: Triumphantly exhausted