Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The NaNo Slog

It's that time of year again. November: The month of writing my little heart out. In past years, I've jumped naked into the writing pool and splashed around wildly while my inner editor was tied up and gagged in a closet. This year, I don't have the time or desire to write so haphazardly. This year, I'm following a plan, doing my best not to waste words, and trying to build a solid skeleton. In other words, I'm taking my time.

Unfortunately, time is short in the NaNoWriMo game, so I'm falling behind. Getting a story down quickly has its benefits, sure, but this one needs special attention. I do hope to catch up. Still I'd rather get the skeleton than win the game. So I'm slogging along, writing a scene, then stopping to put important messages to myself in brackets, like [Come back and fill in character details here], or [Fix this later, it's total crap], or [You've lost the voice, restart of scene below]. I spend time flipping back to my notes about the story arc and what conflicts I want to build in and where and how to resolve them. I stop and stare out the window and think about what I already know and make notes about what I still need to figure out: [Research chicken coops; go see one in real life], [Find out what it looks like when an evergreen forest is on fire], [If this character disappeared, would it matter?] And, in the midst of all that thinking and planning and stopping, I get a little writing done.

So wish me luck. Updates to come. Here's a short excerpt from yesterday's writing just to prove words are actually appearing on the page:

They followed Ruth and her candle around the side of the house to the cellar door, a heavy wooden square with a sheet of metal nailed to the top. Jessie had been down a few times to get beans and pickled eggs and jars of okra for dinner. The room was lined with the preserves Ruth had slowly packed away and gathered by trading with neighbors for firewood and quilts. Bob opened the door and climbed in ahead of Ruth before reaching out a hand to help the old woman down the stairs. About that time, a loud crack of thunder blasted through the hills and lightning lit up the entire valley. Jessie felt like she could see every needle on every tree. Then it was dark again. As soon as she climbed down the steps and Bob closed the door, a slow and heavy tap, tap, tap sounded on the tin then quickly sped up to the roar of pounding on a thousand metal drums. Jessie was about to learn the meaning of the words 'mountain squall'.