Although this book is far from being completely drafted, I MET MY GOAL AND HIT 50K WORDS YESTERDAY! And with three whole days to spare which is, like, incredible for me, the great procrastinator.
This draft has simultaneously been the easiest and most difficult I’ve done so far. I’m learning skills to make the writing go faster and smoother, but I failed to plan properly, and this was my first time working on a sequel ever, so I had a lot more to juggle. I had a freak out last week and replotted like…everything? So it felt like a mad scramble there at the end, but I’m pleased where it’s ending up.
Basically I was writing these scenes that naturally led into one another and were mostly planned out, but then I realized that order of events would naturally lead to my preplotted climax instead of being the midpoint of the story. I like to work in a loose three act structure, and what I was writing was, in my head, clearly leading to the middle of the second act, but the more I looked at it, the more I realized that no, this was the perfect setup for the ending.
Except it wasn’t actually the perfect setup for the exact ending I’d already plotted, but the ending for which the story actually called, so I had to replot the third act too! I resisted this hardcore for a day or two, but that’s kind of the nice thing about NaNo: you’ve got this time frame that you really want to work inside, so you force yourself to move forward. Something I might have agonized over for a week otherwise (and maybe even petered out and never finished), I just kind of threw my hands up at and accepted the fate I felt I’d been dealt. (Sometimes I forget I’m the god of my book and can do whatever the hell I want, but a good god knows they’re not really omniscient, I think.)
So yeah, I changed X for Y, and then Y for X, but truthfully it all feels very natural now. That just leaves me with a draft with a completed first and third act and Swiss cheese for the middle–full of holes and kinda smelly. Also the middle is like 50% of the book, so that’s not super great, but it could be a lot worse, honestly. I’d rather have a missing middle than no where to go or an unsatisfying ending.
But I learned another thing from all this: having that solid ending is a huge boon. I mean, I didn’t have it, not really, but I’ve found that being forced to jump around this draft and not write linearly (which is very weird for me), it’s important to know where everything is going. This sounds hella obvious, but feeling it out in practice has opened my eyes a lot.
I like my characters to develop over the course of the story (duh, they absolutely should), but specifically I like to go through that development with them while I draft, each scene building on the last. So I know who Lorelei on page one, and I follow her linear trajectory to page 10 and 50 and so on, so it’s easy to know where her head is while I’m actively writing. But during this climax, I’ve got some people in these sorta traumatic situations, and I’m a little unsure of their reactions because I didn’t follow them beat by beat through the rest of the story. However, now I’m kind of free to go “Okay, So-And-So is going to do and say THIS” which means that at some point earlier on, I better show them developing into a person who would do and say THIS. It’s the opposite of how I usually do things, on a micro scale at least, but I’m learning that can actually be helpful because now I know I need some specific scenes, and those help me pad out the middle. This is new to me, so I’ll have to report back after it’s all done, of course, but I’m kind of excited about it.
And I can also fix it in editing because fuck Future Ashley, I guess!
So this book still needs probably 30k more words which is a big ask for three days since come May 1st, I am full speed hurling every bit of myself at She’s All Thaumaturgy (cover reveal, by the way, coming soon!) Maybe I can do it though? Weirder things have happened.