nanowrimo

NaNoWriMo 2021: The Second Week Slump

I don’t know that it’s fair to call this a slump as I was impossibly busy last week, but my word count did drop dramatically. I am, however, still on target thanks to a banner week one!

So, I missed the 13th, ruining my streak which is a huge personal bummer, but I was exhausted from a trip (the trip that made my word count plummet), and had a number of things to do that day, so I forgive myself. #forgiven #personallyblessed #personaljesus

I haven’t recorded words for today, but I have been writing this morning, just stopped to write up this (late) blog and to work on another project coming very soon (spoiler: it’s Vacancy in paperback!) I haven’t done a sprint in a while, I just write until I’m spent, then record the day’s words. This is not my preferred method by any means, but I’m still producing, and that’s what matters.

Even with my structured, tight plot, I’m changing things, and they’re definitely for the better. I feel like I have even more freedom to do this because, even if it changes something coming or that already happened, I have the plot to fall back on. I’m just writing as I told myself to do and making the changes where needed, knowing in the rewriting/editing process I will be able to easily clean things up.

Example: I have a mini arc in this story that involves a “mad scientist” minor character and two separate “experiments.” Originally, the plot progressed thusly:

  • Show up/intro
  • Ama’s minor chaos
  • Ama/Damien relationship progression
  • Spend the night
  • Damien down time
  • Experiment one
  • Experiment two
  • Damien personal progression
  • Spend second night
  • Leave

Writing out the plot and summarizing it a couple months ago, this felt good, it flowed, and it seemed fun. But while actively writing it? Nope, totally wrong. It’s the kind of thing you feel out as you go (though it’s clear writing it out that way that experiments back to back would not work), and just a day or two ago it hit me. Too much happened all at once, and the preceding scenes were too slow in comparison. I’m also switching POVs in this book (3rd, limited), and I was overloading one throughout the arc out of necessity due to the order of the scenes.

So my solution has been to reorder these things. Now, the arc goes:

  • Show up/intro
  • Ama’s minor chaos
  • Experiment one
  • Ama/Damien relationship progression
  • Spend the night
  • Damien down time
  • Experiment two
  • Damien personal progression
  • Spend second night
  • Leave

All I did was pull out that first experiment and plug it into a place that made more sense (I actually didn’t realize that’s all I changed until right now–it felt like a lot more!) but it makes the arc flow better, and is more realistic (or as realistic as alchemical experiments on dead flesh, enthrallment talismans, groveling imps, and homemade weather machines can be). Of course, it’s not so simple as moving the scene, there are minor occurrences that are affected by this single change–specifically a conflict between the main characters and a result with a minor character that leads to a new conflict. It’s not a hard fix, it just needs time. Thankfully, with Scrivener, I can write myself a note and stick it in the Notes section of the first chapter of the arc, so when I go back, I’ll focus on making the changes then, and for now, I just keep writing, and everything I write going forward has the new timeline in mind.

Similarly, the characters are evolving, and I’m less worried about getting their voices right this go around. Without the plot, I might have spent more time trying to make them speak/act “correctly,” but as it stands, I’m blowing through this, knowing they’ll come out in future scenes especially since I know what they have to do and how they’re going to change as people. It feels like discovery writing (perhaps it is?), but not with the plot necessarily. Sure, a drastically different character would change the plot with their actions, but I have a strong enough baseline for these people that that is unlikely.

Or, rather, the world will continue on as it sees fit regardless of what Damien or Ama do until it really matters. It’s an exciting thing to claim, “Oh, this character is acting totally on their own and doing whatever they want and changing my world!” and sure, the experience of “Uh oh, Ama wouldn’t actually do that, so I guess this has to change” happens, but I think writers really have more control than that. Even if it’s trapped in subconscious space, and it feels like the characters are doing whatever, you as an author choose what they do and say and can manipulate the world to make it all fit. That’s the point of fiction–things that fit, that you made fit. You can fail at that and make characters too inconsistent, and “that’s what they wanted to do!” is a great excuse, but really, you make these people, you make their decisions, you make the horrible things that happen to them happen. You’re god, wield your power wisely and with awarness.

Well, that’s my writing tirade for the day. Now back to more drafts, some reviewing, and even some Willful Inheritor work. That book is bound to get out in 2021, right?

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