Thursday, November 25, 2010

National Novel Writing Month 2010 - Progress Report #3

The third progress report for this year’s National Novel Writing Month finds me at just past 40,000 words - more than double what I had last year, and still on pace to get to 50,000 by month’s end. However, I was looking at the calendar at work last night, and I realized that November 30th is a Tuesday, which is the one night a week that I have to close at work; and Tuesday afternoons, one of the two afternoons a week when I have Jackson to take care of by myself, are not generally big writing afternoons. What all of that means is that I’m going to have to up the daily output to make sure I have enough time to write what I need to write next Tuesday and upload the finished product to the website for word count verification before I go to work.

And as for the story itself, it has gone in directions I had not anticipated, which is usually what happens when I write. I’ve always believed that it’s healthy to let the story sort of lead you by the hand, as long as you have a general idea of where you want it to go. Unfortunately, this has not yet proved a successful strategy for writing a whole novel - at least not for me; and yet I feel constrained even thinking about working up an outline. This story was supposed to be mostly about one character and a series of short glimpses into his life at various stages, starting in college and moving into his twenties as an adult. But at 40,000 words, it’s still in the college phase, and still in the “main” character’s freshman year. This is territory I have always wanted to mine, but I have never been able to get it just right. I’m not sure that this just right, either, but I have managed to keep it on course and mostly focused - though the focus has drifted from one “main” character to three - one of whom is a sort of alter ego of the “main” character, and the other of whom is something of a foil (also of the “main” character).

Also, what was supposed to have been five 10,000 word sections has turned into four sections of varying length. Each of the three sections has been from a different point of view, and in a different person - both of which were things I wanted to accomplish when I started this project. The final section - which is what I have left to write - will revert back to the same point of view and person as the first section, bringing the focus back around to the “main” character. And if all of that works out the way I have it planned in my head, then I should have a very solid piece of writing in hand at the end of the month; and I will have hopefully exorcised a demon that has been gnawing at me for years. The work will not be ready for prime time, of course; but if it holds up to a re-read, probably after the new year, then it will have been a very successful National Novel Writing Month.

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