So, I managed it again. I sat down on November 1st, and wrote out a story until November 30th, starting with Once upon a Time and ending with The End. It was relatively easy this year (as far as writing 50k in 30 days can be considered easy), mostly because I spent about six months honing my ideas and plans into an outline that made sense, held together logically, and yet still gave me some wiggle room for when something came up that I just had to add.
The story is aimed at the middle-grade reader, and is full of pranks, mistaken identities, time travel, steampunk-society sentient dinosaurs (and no, I didn’t forget a comma there, some of the characters are dinosaurs living in a steam-powered, highly advanced society in the late Cretaceous), rockets, and historical celebrity cameos. One of the things I changed on the fly, for instance, is that the heroine, a Maker girl called Elisa has to go on a quest to find a dinosaur that escaped into modern times; I originally had her mother helping her, but opted instead for Mark Twain to come help out and crack wise throughout the helping. I think his character really made the story jump.
It’s also not finished yet. While I wrote “The End” on November 30th, and I passed the fifty thousand word mark, I have many areas where I stubbed out the action, because I “wasn’t feeling it” for that part, and I wanted to make sure that I kept moving forward. Nota Bene: None of these parts were boring parts that I wanted to skip, but more that they were parts that needed a lot of care to get just right, or I found that I needed a bit more research to get the information correct (part of that whole describe something in detail so that when you gloss over the next thing, you’ve already shown that you could have described it if you wanted to, but just decided against it…). I still need to go back and take care of those things, and to fix the names of some of the characters. I also changed my mind in a couple of places about who would be accompanying Elisa at a certain point or another in the story, but rather than going back and rewriting, I merely left myself a note to fix it up in post. I also need to get my dinos to be from at least a modicum of the same era. Currently, they are from all over the dinosaur age, Jurassic, Triassic, Cretaceous, you name it, I’ve got a dinosaur from it.
One of the most important things about NaNoWriMo, I think, is the normalization of the writing process. I already write every day, sometimes just little pieces, sometimes parts of bigger wholes. But I tend to let things drop. The laser focus that the thirty days of November requires really helps me get my rhythm, and while I usually complain about a lack of regular writing hours, I managed to find a schedule and rhythm that really worked for me. I’d write on the bus in the morning, at lunch at a write-in, and on the bus home. That would get me almost 2000 words every weekday. The weekends were tough, since I had chock-a-block activities, but the solid outline and the constant eating away at the word pile got me through to the end. I have to use this momentum to finish off the stubbed out bits, and then edit this manuscript into a sellable condition, and then I think I’m going to be good. I think I can sell this one. Fingers crossed!
PS: I have to thank the MLs of the Ottawa Region for putting on such good write-ins, and my writing group at work for being such awesome boosters. Maybe I could have done it without you, but it would not have been half as satisfying or a quarter as fun. Thanks all!