Category Archives: NaNoWriMo

NaNo Update and PoV

I actually stayed up late last night and wrote! I didn’t quite hit my 2,000 word goal, but I got close (1818). I fleshed out my outline while waiting for trick-or-treaters on Monday night and I’m feeling pretty good about the overall structure of my novel.

While opndering my outline, I was reading through some articles that Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files, The Codex Aleria) put on his LiveJournal a few years ago and it got me thinking. I love the Dreseden Files (urban fantasy) with a consuming passion, but I was way less enthusiastic about the Codex Aleria (fantasy). I think part of the difference in my reaction is about genre – I’m out of the fantasy mood the last few years, even though for the bulk of my life it’s been my preferred genre. But as I ponder these books with a writing eye, I realzed that it’s more about HOW the two series are written.

Each series shows Butcher’s characteristic complex plotting – multiple story lines, insurmountable odds, everything coming together at the last possible minute when the hero grasps victory. But the Dresden Files is first person and the Codex Aleria is third… And I think that’s my issue.

The character if Harry Dresden is engrossing. He’s witty, irreverent, sarcastic, and kind of a jerk. But he’s still a hero. And he makes heroic choices at great personal cost. And that’s just so attractive! And from a first person perspective, I feel like I really get to know him through the books and so I’ve really invested. But in the Codex Aleria, there are multiple points of view and I don’t think I ever really commit to any of them. By the second book there’s a clear “main” character, and I like him and his story, but Butcher switches back and forth between him and his story line and a handful of other characters and I just don’t care about them enough to sustain my interest. So I found myself skimming through those sections and that’s never good.

So, I started thinking about my other favorite books and I realized that many of them are first person – or at least, third person limited. And I write in first person (I started my current project in third, but every time I went back to re-read I discovered that I’d slipped back into first person. So I gave up). So clearly I’ve got an ingrained preference. But I think it’s a good observation about reader investment and splitting that investment between too many characters. I feel like my interest is totally focused in the Dresden Files – I like the other characters but they aren’t fighting over my affections. In the Codex, my affections are split too many ways and so I never love any of them enough to really commit. So, I guess I’m a literary monogamist.

That being said, I still bought all the Codex Aleria books. I guess my love of Jim Butcher is focused enough to sustain me through books I’m lukewarm about. Another lesson on reader loyalty? Good for you, Jim Butcher.

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NaNoWriMo – Gah.

So, I’ve been going back and forth about NaNoWriMo… I had this great list of totally valid and reasonable excuses for NOT participating but as of today, I decided to go for it. What’s the worst that can happen?

For those of you who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is (and given the target audience of this blog, that’s probably just my mother-in-law – Hi Gael!), it’s a month long writing extravaganza where people from all over the world celebrate National Novel Writing Month by trying to get 50,ooo words between November 1 and 30.

Now, I have some legitimate concerns about doing this. First, I have two little kids. One of them is four and one will be celebrating the big #1 in the middle of the month. And I stay at home with them and have no daycare. So this will pose the largest problem. Also, there’s Thanksgiving (which will be out of state this year) at the end of the month. And I have two full weekend traveling commitments, one of which involves 16 hours or so of solo driving.

But at the root of my hesitation is my writing style. I like to write deliberately and edit as I go and that isn’t the supported philosophy of NaNoWriMo. The idea for this is more carpet-bombing and cleaning up the mess in December. But I don’t love re-writing. In my world, I’d rather take the time to do it properly (whatever that means) the first time. That’s not to say that I don’t expect re-writes anyway, but I think they would be less global if I write more slowly.

But there’s a nagging little voice in my head that tells me I’m just whining and to suck it up. The fact is that, enthusiastic as I am about my current project, I’ve managed a whopping 10,000 words in the last month and a half. I’m simply not making the time that I need to write. If I want to finish this project then I need to make it a priority and maybe NaNoWriMo will help me get serious. We’ll see.

I am cheating already, though. You’re supposed to start NaNo with a fresh project – you can plan but you’re supposed to have a word count of 0 on November 1. Whoops. So here’s to writing 50,000 NEW words this month!

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