Saturday, November 30, 2013

Reflections on NaNoWriMo

The day is done, the race is run and my NaNoWriMo sprint has been satisfactorily completed,even though I had to stop with 500 words to go last night so I could finish this morning. Now it is time for reflection on the experience.

What I learned
 One of the take-aways from this one-month excursion into creative writing was that writing the long form seems easier than for short stories.  I enjoyed being able to ignore the boundaries of brevity and  precision that are required in writing shorts.  Being able to divert from the plot to explore the by-ways of exposition without concern for length provide a freedom I did not otherwise enjoy.

I found that my style, my voice, did not change. Sentence lengths and paragraph constructions remained as always for one of my first drafts. I did have to restrain myself from editing and not going back to change this or that scene to keep the whole piece coherent.  The objective was to complete a 50k draft, not to have it perfect (or even complete!)

I also realized that writing without a road map is dangerous and can lead you into blind alleys, unresolved puzzles, and characters whose behaviors vary unrealistically.  One must maintain some idea of the goal of the entire piece, the major arc from which all subplots and narrative expositions dangle like ornaments on a Christmas tree.

What I vow to do next
Now that I have some assurance that word production is not a problem and that the pace can be sustained over a long period,  I might consider writing in the long form to actually produce a novel but only if I also promise to:
1. Establish a clear objective/end state before starting.
2. Perform some research in advance in sufficient detail that major errors are avoided.
3. Block out at least two subplots, but not in detail.
4. Give the main characters NAMES and histories at the beginning.
5. Give myself permission to ignore the previous four items.
6. Vow to finish within a reasonable period of time.


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