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Author Topic: Reboot!  (Read 1586 times)
bengoodridge
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« on: November 16, 2007, 09:15:48 PM »

"So, Ben! How much did you write yesterday?"
"Oh, about 8200 words."
"Wow! That's a lot! How many words do you have, total?"
"Oh, about 8200 words."
"...Wait, what?"

So. Alex Vance may just put out a contract on my life for this, but...tough. On the thirteenth of the month, frustrated with driving an exceptional idea straight off a bridge for the third consecutive time in ten thousand words, I fed what I'd already written to the bears and started again from "Once upon a time."

You're not supposed to go back and do rewrites during NaNo, but...tough. You're not supposed to drive your car into a snowbank, either, but it does happen, and the way out is NOT to push forwards and hope the snowbank eventually gives. (I damaged a Pontiac doing that once.)

What we had here is what I call a "thirty-pager." My hard drive is littered with them. What happens is that it takes a while for a story to really hit its rhythm, its stride. The story has revealed itself, but the characters, the setting, the tone, having it all merge together into a coherent whole - that takes a while. When you do achieve a syzygy of all these elements, what do you do with what you've already written?

People do win the lottery. I've hit the ground running with a perfect synthesis of all the elements of a story. However, I don't sit around hoping that winning the lottery will solve all my problems, and I don't wait until all the planets are aligned before I start to write a story. So I get false starts. "King of Mercury" was up to 22,000 words before I hit the reset button, and when I restarted it, it was a much more robust, intense experience.

However, how does this fit in with the spirit of NaNoWriMo? When I told Alex that I had gone back to do some tinkering with some of the early scenes, he hit the ceiling with a thud that resounded for miles. What's his reaction going to be when I tell him that I threw out the whole tapestry and started knitting from the beginning?

Well, the point may be moot. After all, I'm up to about 25,000 words right now, and that's since the thirteenth, so I seem to be on track to hit the end of this thing with time to spare, even given that it was technically started after Veteran's Day (or Remembrance Day, if you're Canadian).

But even if I weren't, I'm telling the story to tell the story. NaNo is for people who need to learn to make a habit out of writing, who need the incentive to sit down and do a measure of work every day. It's a boot camp to see who's willing to put in the time and who isn't. I'm at a stage where those rules don't really apply - if I go a day without writing, Alex doesn't press the lever that drops the little food pellets. I don't have to prove that I can finish a book if I really really try. I need to prove that I can write a good story in a reasonable amount of time and on a fixed deadline.

So I've bent the rules a bit and made some major rewrites. I had a professor who told me that, given enough practice, writers learn to edit in their heads, so, over time, their editors have to do less and less work. I'll still hit fifty grand by December Oneth, and the novel's expected eighty grand sometime after that, with the satisfaction of knowing that I don't have to rewrite the whole thing from scratch a la "The Swamp Poet" or "Eleven Realms."

Stay tuned. NaNoEdMo is coming up. Smiley

Love, Ben
« Last Edit: November 16, 2007, 09:38:26 PM by bengoodridge » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2007, 05:27:20 PM »

How about NaNoFiMo before NaNoEdMo, eh?

By now you will have seen Sarah Gruene's pep talk message. She has started over more than once in some NaNo years, and we can't criticize her to easily. After all, one of her NaNo creations has been a NYT best seller, and another is coming out in print in just a few more months.
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