Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I Was My Own Mystery (Or, NaNoWriMo's Coming Up!)

I'm gearing up for National Novel Writing Month, which I highly suggest you give a shot if you haven't yet. The goal is to write 50,000 words - a short novel - between November 1st and November 30th. It really helps you practice getting a complete draft out without freaking out about how good or painfully terrible it is (because you really don't have time to edit). I've done NaNoWrimo 4 times, and every time, I've had a premise in mind, a jumping-off point that I got really excited to write about beforehand:

2007- A middle grade-ish mystery based on a question: if a whole town revolves around one person, what would happen if that person were removed? What if the removal was either because of suicide or murder?

2008- A sequel to my main WIP. I've found that the best way to stay excited about my WIP is to keep writing the same characters.

2009- In the form of a diary, one New Adult's (well, the genre wasn't really a thing I knew about yet) journey to uncover the mystery of why five promising teenage actors started disappearing off the face of the earth when they reached adulthood.

2010- A la CSI, an investigation team looks into the murder of legendary characters such as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. (Don't worry, they came back to life easily.) Kind of like the show Grimm, but more holiday-based.

The 2010 novel was the only time I "lost" NaNoWriMo, probably because in November:
-I was in a play
-I sprained my wrist during said play
-My laptop fan broke, rendering my laptop out of commission

Even with that against me, I churned out over 30,000 words. But it wasn't finished. So although the other 3 NaNo Novels have gone through many edits and reworkings, I haven't really revisited the 2010 one in the two years since. *dramatic pause* Until tonight.

And man... it's weird.

I had a lot of "Oh YEAH!" moments while perusing the manuscript - i.e, I totally forgot I named the MC "Phil Morane" - which might have been a reference to Phillip Glass and Robert Moran who wrote the opera "The Juniper Tree." And I came across a scene involving music and wine that I remembered was really significant to me at one point - and I described the music as "almost folksy but had a dark edge to it. When the singer entered, his voice was low and pretty gravely." Which seems a lot like this song, which I recall being obsessed with, probably around that time.

But mostly? I don't remember the novel. Which weirds me out. I usually stay very close to my characters in my WIPs, even the NaNos. So was this just more stream-of-consciousness than usual due to lack of sleep? How much of the characters' rants are things I was actually thinking and feeling at the time? Were their wants my own?

To some degree...yeah, looks like it. It's so bizarre.

My point of this whole thing? I'm really excited for NaNoWriMo 2012, especially because I opted out of doing it last year. Even if the new premise in mind is really weird (it's sort of a semi-surrealist speculative look at my generation in ten years) and even if nothing else comes of it past November, the frantic writing will say things about Tome in November 2012 in ways far better than a diary could. So even if you don't think you can "win" NaNoWriMo, I really think you should do it. You'll surprise yourself.

Have you done NaNoWriMo before? If yes, what do you think of your MSs now? If not, do you think you'll try it?



  1. The 2009 manuscript sounds interesting! So does the one from 2007.

    I have never participated, nor do I see myself doing so any time in the near future. November is a tough month for teachers -- report cards and parent conferences.

    Maybe when I retire, I might give it a try for fun. Writing straight through without editing and revising along the way is not really my style, but I can see how this would be a fun way to stretch your writing skills.

    1. Oh I see what you mean by November being tough! That's a shame. :[ Maybe you could set a personal goal, like 20,000 words? It's such a good exercise, this process of writing whatever without a care- of course, each year I have to convince myself that it's okay if it's awful, no one will EVER read it.