Progress report #2 – the NaNoWriMo Prep Edition!

As a preface, I wrote this on the bus on the way to and from work today. On the way home I was doing a quick edit and the guy behind me kept laughing. Well I don’t think what I’ve written is anywhere near funny enough to warrant persistent laughter that isn’t some form of mockery. I also have a phobia of people reading over my shoulder while I’m writing. It freaks me out something awful.

I gave up and shut the document and turned my computer off. And he stopped laughing. Could have been a coincidence, right? Hmmm….

Moral of the story: next time I will make sure I get a seat up the VERY BACK OF THE BUS even if I have to sit next to teenagers making out or smelly drunk people secretly eating hamburgers or well, anybody, really. Then I will know that definitely nobody will be sitting behind me reading over my shoulder, and I’ll be saved some pain.

To the actual blog!

As November approaches I am taking stock of where my current work in progress is up to and figuring out how best to use the whirlwind of writerly fervor that is nanowrimo. (Is anyone else excited? I’m excited! I’m so excited I wrote a love letter to November!)

In previous years I’ve put projects aside to start something new for nano and each time I’ve done this, the thing I put aside has never been picked up again. So although the sheer thrill of starting a story from scratch at the crack of dawn on November 1 with bazillions of other hopefuls across the world is so much of what nanowrimo is about for me, I’ve decided that this year my nano effort will be to attempt to finish my current manuscript.

So, update on basic stats. The story, a young adult fantasy, is sitting around 209 pages, 80 something thousand words. I’m thinking another 50K should definitely see the first draft to its end, please god. It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever written.

Last week I undertook a momentous and incredibly frustrating battle to get our printer to talk to my laptop, whilst simultaneously wrangling a one-year-old boy whose favourite thing in the whole world is my computer mouse, followed closely by any type of electrical cord or cable. This process culminated, after much swearing and some help from my partner, in a print copy of my manuscript sitting, impressively huge, on my kitchen table.

So I’ve been reading the story through from the start, cringing at the terrible bits, kind of relaxing and enjoying some sections, half of my mind thinking about all the revisions I’m going to need to do the other half trying to see the way ahead. I have some idea of where it’s going, but to call that idea foggy would be an overstatement. I have slightly more than ‘no fucking idea’ – which is still significantly more than usual for me.

Something that’s taken me by surprise on reading my manuscript through is how quickly I forget plot lines I’ve set up and previous interactions between characters. For example, my MC is meant to be suspicious of this guy because of something she overheard, but now she’s trusting his advice without question, and she’s kind of half in love with this other person but now he’s gone off looking for the truth about her parents and she doesn’t seem to even notice that he’s gone. It’s like she’s got short term memory loss. So it’s definitely been useful doing a read through.

TIP: Maintain a spreadsheet setting out the MCs current relationship status with other characters to remind self how they should interact in the scenes to come.

This isn’t the sort of thing I would usually need to do but I’m playing with a much larger cast of characters and a much longer story than I usually write. (And doing it on not a lot of sleep).

My aim, once I’ve finished reading through, is to make a plan that will get me from where I am now through to the end of the first draft of the story, to be executed in November.

I’m going to try to work my way through the main plot points for my MC and the secondary characters, and write up scene by scene through to the story’s end. This isn’t something I’ve done before, so I’ll let you know how I go attempting it and whether it ends up being useful, or if, when the spirit of November strikes, I just abandon my plans and let the story follow its own path.

Hellooo! Any other nanoers out there? How’s your planning going for nanowrimo? Are you starting something new?

Sharing is caring, except when it’s an STD, then not sharing is caring. (Words of wisdom, overheard from a guy on my bus.)

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