Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Reports from the Novelling Front: Day Six

This will be short, because I am behind inevitably behind in my Nano, and it is late. But here is a brief update on how things are going at the end of Week One of Nanowrimo.

I am writing two novels

Yes, it is true. No, I don’t know why I am doing this to myself. Well, I do know why, but I don’t know why. I started writing the first one – a fantasy novel  - and I just felt like it wasn’t working. So then I started writing a dystopian future instead. But then someone critiqued the excerpt I’d posted for the first novel, and I realised that one wasn’t so bad. So now I’m doing both. Surprisingly, it’s not as bad as all that – although admittedly I am a thousand words behind in one, and two thousand behind in the other. But I’m actually finding it pretty easy to get out at least two thousand words a day. I think it’s because when I get sick of one Nano, I can just switch to the other, and I’ll still be adding to my wordcount.

Planning is crushing my characters

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on how beneficial it is to plan before you write, and how much easier it makes it easier to fix problems such as plot-holes and flat characters. But now I have discovered an unexpected downside. I planned both my novels this month, and the reason I originally tried – and failed – to drop the fantasy one was because my characters were feeling incredibly flat. Because I have a plan, I feel like they are carrying out their actions because that’s what it says they do in the plan, not because they are motivated by their personality or experiences. For example, I find myself giving them lines that they probably wouldn’t say otherwise, because I know they have to say that at this point in the plot. Their characters have become secondary to plot, and so they’re really failing to develop distinctive personalities.

In my other novel, the dystopian future, my character’s personalities are doing fine. I planned this one too, but I spent a lot more time on character and character development when I did, which I think has actually made a huge difference. (I’m usually very cynical about planning characters, so this surprised me.) In future, if I plan a novel, I’m going to make sure I make it very heavily character based. Because I know my fantasy characters have personalities – I just can’t find them under all the plot.

Outside of that, I think having planned my novels is making me write a lot faster, since I never have to spend time staring at my screen wondering what should happen next, and if I skip a scene, I know exactly where to skip to, and what happened in the part I skipped.

So those are my two thoughts from Nano so far. How are you other Wrimos going?


  1. I find myself with the same problem in planning out the plot. If I don't spend enough time on thinking about my characters, they get suffocated by the plot.

    Also, wow. Two novels at once. Writing them. I'm revising and drafting at the same time, but it feels different from writing two separate beasts at once. Have fun, and keep us posted!

    1. I'm finding the characterisation problem gets better if I spend more time on them just chilling and chatting in between important plot points (which is difficult, in an fantasy-country-at-war type setting, but when I do find space, it does help). =)

  2. It's funny how the characters take over sometimes. With my NaNo project, I was thinking of having the part of the boy's grandpa's background play into things. (The grandfather raised him when his dad died.) But so far that's just hasn't come out at all in the writing. So I'm not sure now I'll be using it.

    That's cool that you're doing 2. As long as you get the words, it doesn't matter. I just hope you're not trying to get 50,000 for each novel. I'd really be impressed then! :)

    1. I'm letting my characters take over a lot more now, and just sort of writing what comes into my head, and I think it's working a lot better! =)
      (Also, yes, I am aiming for 100,000 words. Falling behind a bit, though.)