The NaNo experiment

Some of my favourite writing advice, but I still screw this kind of thing up.*

For November I ran a writing experiment (most everything is an experiment for me, a side effect of being a scientist in my day job), I signed up for the National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. The goal was to write 50,000 words over the month. A whole horde of people do this, including a large group on my Pacific Island, there was even a steady stream of writing get togethers (I went to one).

The book I chose to write was book 3 of my Settler Chronicles series titled Abandoned Ships, Hijacked Minds, which can as simply summed up as space horror. By the end of the month, I successfully completed a first draft. Considering it’s a ‘shitty first draft’ I’m very happy with it – especially the ending. I’m itching to share it, but I need to finish polishing the first two books first.

So here’s what worked for me (and this is all common advice):

  1. I started with a moderately detailed outline, so I knew where I was going. Whenever I’ve tried working without an outline, I’ve always reached a point where I have to stop and write one. To write a book in a month (while working full time and not totally ignoring my family), I knew I wouldn’t have time to stop and worry about story structure.
  2. I found a writing buddy for support and we regularly got together to write. Find her here.
  3. I wrote every day, which went better than expected. My daily word count ranged between 200-2700. A migraine struck on one of the weekends (why do migraines always strike on weekends?), but I managed to do a bit of writing reaching the low end of my word count range.

With an outline to work from, I decided to start in the middle. Since I typically follow a three act structure, my starting point was the beginning of the second act (yeah, I started in that ‘muddy middle’). I came back to the beginning scenes at the end of the month. The reason I did that is my middle was full of action, which I prefer writing, while the beginning was focused on character development, which I find much harder to write.

I thought I’d be done with two days to spare. But, when I inputted my wordcount onto the official site, my total came to 49,999 words. I was a single word short! What was the probability, I’d get that close? I since added another few lines of dialogue, which put my comfortably over the required number.

I found NaNoWriMo a great way to get a draft novel done and I think I’ll do it again next year (assuming my writing buddy is willing).

*sadly I don’t know who originally made the zombie image

Abandoned Ships; Hijacked Minds

In perhaps a moment of foolishness, I’ve officially signed up to do National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this year – which is where I’ve set a goal (along with many, many others) to write a novel in a month. More specifically, 50,000 words. My books so far have been just over 70,000 words – so, assuming I succeed and hit that 50,000 word mark, what I write will be a good first draft. Or, another way to look at it, the clay to mould a book out of.

What I’ll be writing is: Abandoned Ships; Hijacked Minds, the third instalment in my Settler Chronicles series (this is book 1, book 2 has a couple more drafts to go).

Currently (and I reserve the right to change things as I go) Abandoned Ships; Hijacked Minds is a horror/romance mash-up with plenty of action planned with references to Alice in Wonderland.

This morning I started (my outline was pre-written), and now I’m almost 2000 words in. I’m curious how my productivity will go and how my planned story will morph.

And, I’ve signed up with an author friend (you can find her stuff here)

Sadly, words written for my blog don’t count.