I’m afraid that my life is being totally dominated by attempts to complete a novel in a month and so, somewhat self indulgently, I’m going to witter on about it here too. If you prefer my usual postings then you’ll have to hang on until the month is over when no doubt they will return.
So it’s day 7 and I am ahead. I have written 14,990 words so far against a target of 11,669. Here are the things that I have learned so far.
1. It’s much easier writing to a clear outline rather than making it up as you go along. This may sound obvious but it isn’t something that I’ve tried before. Up until now I have had the germ of an idea for a story, worked out some characters to populate it and come up with an ending. Then I’ve just set myself off like a wind up toy to see where I end up. This method (pantsing, it’s called I gather) is terribly exciting but also a bit tricky when you get to the middle of the story. With my NaNo story I couldn’t begin until 1st November so there was nothing that I could do whilst waiting to start but plot out exactly where I was going to go. Whilst it is slightly less thrilling to write like that, it is also much easier.
2. My NaNo story is written in the first person. This is new to me. I generally prefer to have some distance between me and my characters. This space acts like a kind of security blanket to make me feel less exposed. But, throwing caution to the wind, I decided to immerse myself totally in the world of my character without having the luxury of being able to step outside her. This gives me a problem. I can only write the things that she sees or feels and I can’t be inside anybody else’s head. This would be fine except that she is 12 and so is a tad unreliable as a narrator. So I have been experimenting with ways of getting things across even if my character doesn’t fully understand what is going on through dialogue and her response to the actions of those around her- particularly her mum. I’m hoping that by the time I’ve finished some things will be clear to the reader whilst my narrator still languishes in the dark.
3. Writing from the point of view of a 12 year old girl is harder than it looks. I’ve had to rewrite the whole first chapter (which is not really what NaNo is all about ) because when she spoke she sounded far too young. I think I must have been channelling Lauren Childs (she of Charlie and Lola and Clarice Bean fame.) This would have meant that I was unable to raise the more adult themes that I had in mind because they just wouldn’t have been suitable for a reader of that age. This, in turn, would have rather ruined the point of the book. It’s a shame because I quite liked that voice. Maybe I’ll save her for something else.
So, that’s the story so far. I’ll post again in a week with an update as to how things are going. All tips gratefully received. Watch this space.