Some things I’m learning from this year’s NaNoWriMo

When I finished working on NaNoWriMo last night, I had finally completed a word count ahead of schedule for the first time this NaNo year. By the end of the day November 11, I should have had 18, 337 words and last night around 9:30pm, I had 18,597. I’m also learning some new things along the way. Here’s my first evaluation of how it’s going so far:

  • Scene stealers: One of my characters ended up being a blast to write. I needed an aunt for my protagonist to visit. He brought his girlfriend to meet his rich aunt who raised him after his parents died. I thought of ways to make the aunt interesting, so what I did was make the aunt a six-foot-five, muscular, hairy-chested cross dresser. She goes around in high heels wearing long robes with matching turbans and sporting a five o’clock shadow. C’mon, guys dressed up as dames are hilarious–and fun to write.
  • Five hundred word chunks-It seems so much less daunting when I write in chunks of five hundred words a session. Five hundred words in the morning at the coffee shop before I go to work; five hundred words at lunch time; five hundred words in the evening. All I have left is 167 words and I have my daily quota. If I have to skip one of these sessions, then I’m only behind five hundred words.
  • Flashlight in the darkness plan-As far as planning my novel, I knew most of the characters–but didn’t spend too much time developing them beforehand; I knew how the story began and ended, but I didn’t know exactly how I would get there. I have just enough information to see three or four scenes ahead. It’s like walking in the dark with a flashlight: I can see three or four steps ahead. The characters grow as I give them actions and dialogue. The story unfolds in fun and surprising ways as I write.
  • Write as if your mother isn’t going to read this-You know what I’m talking about. There is some language that mom taught me not to use growing up. There’s some pretty steaming scenes, too. Nothing pornographic, but I wouldn’t pick those scenes to read to my mom in order to get her opinion on my writing. But, hey, if this manuscript ends up being publishable, all I can say to mom is, “It’s not me saying and doing those things–it’s  my characters.” So there.

I’m going to be honest with you. I am having more fun than I have ever had for a NaNoWriMo, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every year. I can’ t wait to start writing tonight. I’m already 1,000 words done for my daily quota–it’s a good feeling.

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