It turns out I have quite a few fellow aspiring authors among my readership, and it's been really fun to chat with you through the month about my book and its progress. Here are some FAQs and my answers about my novel-writing experience.
What was the goal again?
Because I'm crazy, I signed up for National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. The challenge is to write 50,000 words in one month, from November 1 to November 30. I didn't know I wanted to write a novel this year until I woke up at 4am in a hotel room with an idea for a story (remember this post?). And then I couldn't stop thinking about that dang idea, so I figured I better write it out so I could get it out of my head.
How long is your book?
Right now it's 53,000 words, which is short for a novel. That means it's longer than The Giver, The Great Gatsby, and A Wrinkle in Time, but shorter than practically every other famous novel. A lot of scenes (read: the whole book) are very poorly written, though, and I'm sure it will be much longer when I start rewriting the entire thing.
How long did it take you per day?
It depends on the day. I don't write on Sundays, and I took off three days for Thanksgiving break, so I had to write more words per day than most people in order to hit 50,000 words by November 30. My goal was 2100 words per day.
On some days, usually when I had a really good scene coming up, all I wanted to do was write. I would type really fast during every spare second I had. I charted a lot of words on those days. But then there were other days, usually when I only had a vague plan for what had to happen next, that I was really reluctant to write. Achieving my daily goal of 2100 words took HOURS and lots of will power on those days.
Is your book any good?
The short answers is nope, it's not!
The long answer is still nope, it's not! In the middle of a writing session, I would constantly think THIS IS THE WORST THING I HAVE EVER WRITTEN. And I'm not exaggerating about that. Lots of my scenes are terrible. He said this, she said this, then this happened. Really, truly terrible writing. I know for sure that any of my old fifth graders could write a better scene than some of mine. But the goal of a first draft is just to get it all out there. No time to go back and revise.
But there was this other part of me that totally loves my story. I felt this need to keep going, to finish my novel, because, and I realize this sounds insane, I felt like my characters were real people whose stories had to be told. If I didn't write their story, who would? And I had to finish it or else my characters wouldn't get the endings they deserve. As I type this, I realize just how insane that sounds.
What is the title of your book?
I have no idea. I've thought of a few titles, each more ridiculous than the last. So.... Untitled is the title of my book right now ;)
That is the question! I guess I just need to start all over and rewrite it? Shannon Hale once said "I'm writing a first draft and reminding myself that I'm simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles." I feel like that's my first draft in a nutshell. A bunch of random words which loosely form a plot that can someday be shaped into something semi-cool. If I'm lucky.
Tips and tricks for people who want to write a novel?
I am SO not the expert you should be asking. I don't know a thing about writing a published work. (Incidentally, my aunt IS a published author, and you can check out her blog and books here.) The one thing I would say is really get to know your main character and/or narrator before you begin. I didn't do this, and it made me such a slow writer. I was always asking myself "what would my main character do in this situation? What would they think about this? How would they react to this?"
Finally, halfway through my novel, I sat down and really mapped out my character. I wrote pages and pages in my little notebook about my character. I interviewed my character in my head. I got on PlayBuzz and took some quizzes, which were actually pretty helpful in making me think about my character's personality. What would they do on a Friday night? What would their favorite TV show be? The last half of the book was much easier to write because I felt like I actually knew my character.
So that's it! I realize I'm crazy, and becoming an author is a crazy, different pathway for me to take. But I really wanted to try, and I'm proud of myself for setting a big goal and accomplishing it. And with only five thousand trips to Sodalicious along the way :)
I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who reads my blog. Thanks for showing up and reading along about all the crazy things I do and the adventures our little family goes on. To show my appreciation, how about winning $250 of cold, hard cash! Well, actually it's $250 of a cold, hard Visa gift card that can be spent anywhere. Even better, right? Enter below, and may the odds be ever in your favor!
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