Monday, November 2, 2009

Novel Troubles in lieu of NaNo

We've hit November!

It's National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo. Or NaNo, the four-letter word you can be certain will be spat from fiction writers' mouths all month.

Writing a 50,000-word novel in 30 days? I've yet to try it. I don't have the guts, the discipline, the time. (Any number of excuses, really. And some good reasons, too.)

I've been telling myself I'd really kick my WIP into gear instead of participating in NaNo. It's a good plan, but I've been stuck for a few weeks, and the mere promise of progress hasn't unstuck me.

The problem? My story is waiting for me to deal with the aftermath of an unexpected tragedy. (And by unexpected, I mean by me as much as by the characters.) This... thing... sort of happened, and I thought maybe it was a good turn of events, but now I'm unsure. Does it misalign the story? Will it affect the outcome I was after when I started? I think so. To both.

So I've come to this spot in the road. And a writer, at the fork, is to pick that which isn't quick and easy. And I wasn't going to, I just think the whole path may be wrong. I may have to backtrack just a bit. Find a new route, even. And then proceed.

It's a start to my November writing, anyway.

Have you ever tossed an idea, done a little backpeddling? How did you know it was the right move?



Good luck to all who are participating in NaNo 2009.

Come back tomorrow. Something special is happening...

33 comments:

Heather Sunseri said...

I think November must be a big goal setting month for many. The spirit of NaNo has inspired many to assess their writing goals whether they're planning 50k words in a month or revising their current work (like me).

I've definitely back-peddled. I think you have to be completely in touch with what you're writing and know when to stop and backpeddle to make it right. I've stopped 25k words in before to revise before I went any further. And it was the right decision.

Kristen Painter said...

If you can't write forward, you have to go backward because the problem always lies in what you've written, not what you have yet to write.

Rebecca Nazar said...

I'm a thee-steps-forward-two-steps-back writer. More often than not I throw out things to take up something else. It works out fine, adding greater depth, and I'm happy with the results.

Now this is less exhausting as a short story writer than a novelist. I don't have to sift huge amounts of narrative.

How do I know if it's a good move: instinct.

Good luck :-)

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

I'm struggling with some of the same issues. I've even gotten to the point of starting back at a blank page 1!

Terri Tiffany said...

Yes, I have been there a few times but when the idea finally comes to break through, it is full steam ahead.
So what's the surprise????

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

The right move for me has always resulted in fleshing out my characters more, inviting more conflict into their lives or drawing out more of their humanity.
Yes, I've backpeddled. On a bike, too! :D
~ Wendy

Melanie Avila said...

I'm using NaNo to inspire me to edit. I meant to start yesterday, but at least I have my document open now & even saved a new version.

I hit a crossroads as I approached the climax of my story and debated adding a fourth POV. I couldn't write anything until I figured out what to do (I worried adding the POV would be the easy way out). Eventually I figured out a way around it (not including it) but it was being open to the idea of writing MORE, even if I later cut it, that helped me decide.

If you want to bounce ideas around, let me know...

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Definitely! Roadblocks that even I didn't see come can be crazy--but they can make the story.

sherrinda said...

Don't we all back-peddle? It is a natural thing, to go back and assess. Change and revise. I'm not doing NaNo this year, but I will probably do the July NaNo. It is a much better time for me. :)

Tamika: said...

I think November will be my greatest challenge yet, fifty thousand words is a stretch for even me!

Help me Lord.

There are a lot of times where I have to back paddle, the characters go off on wild directions that I would have never expected. Follow your instincts, and stay true to your story. It will be worth it in the end.

Tess said...

Oh, yes. I've written myself into a corner many times before. I always know I have to back peddle when I have that little voice in the back of my mind saying, "just do the work and make it right, Tess".

ugh.

never want to, but am always happy once I dig in and do it.

And, like you, I'm not committing to NaNo, but am focusing on the WIP w/ an end of year goal.

Joanne said...

I've found that at that point, an outline, even a rough version of one, really helps. You can sort of plot out ahead in the book your different ideas of where the book might lead, and see if the threads all relatively come together. Giving it that visual helps to move characters and scenes around, to make them all fit.

JLC said...

Whats happening tomorrow? Whats happening tomorrow? Whats happening tomorrow? :)

Ugh, I hate rewrites. Hate them! So I totally understand why you are having a 'pause' in your writing. I often never return. This might be why I am sticking with short stories. I just don't have the tenacity to do re-writes and edits on a novel.

Wishing you luck with your new path! :D

Cindy said...

I've definitely done this before. Dropped something huge into my character's lives and then realized there wasn't a story beyond that. It might look good on paper, it might be a good twist, but somehow it's not right for that particular story.

Strange challenges we come across sometimes in novel writing, right?

Anyway, I can't wait to see what the excitements about for tomorrow!

JLC said...

Oh! I just figured out why tomorrow is special! :D *Claps hands excitedly*

Deb Shucka said...

Yikes, that's a hard dilemma to face. I like Kristen's advice. Maybe go back until it does feel right again. Or just keep going, knowing you can undo if you hate where you end up. I hope you'll share how you resolve this.

Lynnette Labelle said...

I'm not doing the NanoWriMo thing either. My husband would kill me. LOL

Back-peddled? This is the second (and last) time I'm starting over with this story. The first time I wrote it, there were too many characters and not enough focus on the main plot. The second time I discovered my killer just couldn't be dark enough. So, now that I've cut some characters and changed the killer, I should be on the right track. *gulp* I hope.

I answered your questions on my blog today. Check it out.

Lynnette Labelle
http://lynnettelabelle.blogspot.com

Need More Words said...

Blessings and direction as you figure out the changes you need to make to bring out the story that has been dropped in your heart.
Diane

Glynis said...

I am not entering the NaNo thingy, I am busy with Ripper My Love. I have just thrashed out a sticking point after backpeddling, so am a happy bunny at the moment. Good luck with yours.

WendyCinNYC said...

Oh yeah, I'm always going back, changing things, moving stuff around. The ms is usually all the better for it.

Good luck with your goals! November is going to be a big writing month for me, too, after I get past this insane week.

Nadine said...

I'm not doing NaNo cause of the commitment, but I am determined to make November a good rewriting/editing month for my WIP. Someone called it Nanremo, I think, and I liked that.

Best wishes for your WIP!!

Susan R. Mills said...

Oh, I can't wait till tomorrow. :) The reason I'm having to spend so much time on revisions right now instead of starting on a new project is because I decided that a crucial turning point in the beginning of my novel doesn't work. I've completely changed that, which means changing the rest of the story. I think it will be worth it in the end.

Deb@RGRamblings said...

I've hit roadblocks like that. For me the answer was to cut the scene (save it in a new document just in case) and rewrite from the last place I was happy with. It's worth a shot.

Kathy said...

Good question. I wrote most of a novel and then got stuck.

And I've started some novels and then quit.

I really need to do an outline first.

Regina Quentin said...

I have to back pedal in every story it seems. Okay actually, I take that back. I back pedal in the stories that I map out in detail. I edit and add to the stories I don't map out.

Good luck with your current work.

Karen said...

Yes I'm trying nano this month. I actually finished it last year. But I have travel and other stuff, this year, but who knows, maybe I can kick myself into gear and finish. Good writing down the new road.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

A week ago, I discovered the mode of transportation I selected for my characters would not work. At first it seemed like a major problem, but I'll be able to fix it during the editing stage.

Whew! Dodged that bullet.

LOL! NaNo reminds me of the old show, "Mork & Mindy," with Robin Williams. Nano was one of his frequent expressions.

Blessings,
Susan :)

septembermom said...

I like to revisit a passage or two. Play around with language again. I may even find it reinvigorating to back peddle and see if another route pops into view.

Barbara said...

Yeah, usually it's a wrong turn, character-wise or plot-wise...So it's fine to go back to where it was still working, stand on your head for a moment and look at it anew. When you sort of have your eye on the end game (if you do) then you can asess whethere where you've taken it is going to get you there.

But sometimes, I cannot move another inch until I go back, darn it. They're very stubborn, these characters.... Good luck.

Janna Qualman said...

Thanks for the advice, everyone! Today I made the concise decision to cut the last scene and a half, and start over from there. So far, so good.

LeSan said...

I think it is terrific that your characters and their story have enough life in them to surprise you with twists and tuns in the road. I don't think you should consider it backpeddling as much as an invigorating ride on a mountain bike. Lots of bumps and rough terrain but it's exciting.

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Spam. :(