Thursday, November 7, 2013

Perils of the Writer: Writing on Shuffle

I am not a NaNoWriMo person.  I don't think it's a bad thing to do, per se, but I do think it sets an artificial ideal of breakneck pace over, you know, writing a good novel.  But I do think it's a good way to learn about your own writing habits and needs, and to learn how to write a novel. 

But you eventually reach a point where every month is a NoWriMo, and you've got to run that at your own pace. 

Which is what I've been doing with Banshee.  Since mid-September, when I really officially "started" it (I had had about 4,000 words and copious notes already), I've been writing 500 words per day as a minimum quota.  Every day*, I've written at least that, sometimes more.  Now, on no day did I write the NaNo minimum (1,666), but that's probably a good thing.  A. I've got other stuff to do, and B. that could burn me out.

Burn-out pace is no way to write. 

That said, I've hit several walls.  Several times I've hit points where, on any other project, I would get stuck, and spin my wheels, stare at a blank screen, etc.  But here?  I've been jumping around.

Now, I've jumped around before, but usually it's along the lines of, "I'm stuck here, so I'm going to jump ahead to THIS PART, and then come back to fill in the gaps between later" or "I need a scene where X happens somewhere down the road, so I'll write it now and figure out how to get to it when I need to."   In other words, I'll jump, but remain fairly linear in my jumping. 

This is not what I'm doing on Banshee

I am jumping ALL OVER THE PLACE.  I mean, I know the general outline, so I know how the plot goes from A to B to C to D.  And most of my shuffling has been between A and B.  So far A involves setting up a bunch of dominoes, and B involves rebuilding after knocking them all down.  Both are fun in their own way.  Both are frustrating and blocking in their own way.

So I'm jumping around. 

Which can be very helpful, because I can write something in B, and think, "Oh, I need to properly set this up", and slip it in something in A. 

On the other hand, it can be confusing, because I sometimes forget what I need to set up, or what I've already set up.  For example, last night, I started writing a bit where one character talks about needing to ask another character to do something.  Except I already wrote the bit where he asks, and that bit takes place before the bit I was writing.  It was utterly redundant. 

And that's where I run into trouble: I'm not quite sure, at this stage, when I'm reiterating or reinforcing a key point, or if I'm just repeating it. 

Not to mention, I get confused about how my main character feels about certain characters at any given point.  She has a fair amount of trust in one character at B that she wants nothing to do with in A... and sometimes I screw that up and the trust retroactively bleeds into A.  Whoops.

It's a rough draft, of course, but it's shaping up to be a far rougher rough draft than I typically write.  Which is okay.  That's what editing is for.

*- To be fair, on Saturday I only hit 300ish words.  But I also was doing a ton of prep work and organization for a huge event on Sunday, while also hosting a house guest.  Frankly, only failing quota by a small margin under those circumstances was pretty damn impressive, in my humble opinion.

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