I’ve been working on my new story, and as always, I’ve hit that midpoint stall. Happens all the time. I was expecting it, really. Whenever I come to this point, I always try to do something different to get my creative juices flowing. Whether it be watch a movie, read a book, go to a new place I’ve never been before, or take a really long walk. In this case, I decided to spend a couple of hours at a local Barnes and Noble before I met up with my friend to see a movie.
Usually when I go to a bookstore, I have a list of the books I want in my hand, but I had no list this time. Instead, I just wandered around, looking at whatever caught my eye. I eventually ended up in the Writing section. No surprise there. As I was scanning over the books, a bright yellow book caught my eye. So I picked it up and started thumbing through it. I actually spent a lot of time reading it, which I don’t normally do in bookstores. If a book interests me, I get it. If not, I put it back on the shelf. Needless to say, I got this one. It’s “Write Your Novel In A Month” by Jeff Gerke. And it’s fantastic! (At least the first two parts are. I haven’t read the third part yet because that’s all about editing, and I’m not ready for that.)
I’ve heard of the NaNoWriMo challenge before. I actually was going to attempt it this year, but I didn’t have a lot of time on my hands during that month, so that would have just been setting myself up for disaster. I wasn’t even thinking about doing the challenge when I purchased the book, but as I read it, I figured, what the heck. When school is out, I’ll have the entire summer to write—minus my road trip, of course. I’ll still have school, but I won’t have both school and work. So, I decided to start the NaNoWriMo challenge the first day of June so I could get my first draft to my wonderful friend and coworker who edits my stories for me, and to my other friend who loves to read and sits down and talks to me about the story. Things she liked or didn’t like or didn’t understand or what was funny. Of course that means I need the first draft completed by the beginning of summer so they have time to read it. This week, I just finished going over what I needed to read in the book before completing the first draft, and it has helped me so much. Mainly with getting out the major information I needed. And, yes, some of that was even the names of my main characters.
I had changed the names of two of my main characters twice at that point, and I still wasn’t settled on the names I selected for about ten of the characters. They just weren’t working, and they didn’t feel right as I wrote, if that makes sense. For about a week and a half now I’ve thought and thought about the names. As soon as I thought I had a good one, I realized it wasn’t so good after all. And when I liked one, I had to change another because they were too closely related. Since I’m writing this to be a series, I have a lot more characters on my hand than what I’m used to. Plus, some of the main characters don’t show up until a couple books in, so I thought I could hold off on their names and just start. Man, was I wrong. Not having their names established totally threw me off, and I was really struggling. But after asking everyone who would listen, I FINALLY have them! At least the main characters. The secondary characters are a lot easier for me to name. I’m not sure why. My friends sure had a fun time tossing names at me and watching me change my mind at least fifty times—for each character.
My absolute ending—so, like, the last twenty pages or so—I have no idea how to end. But that’s how I usually write. I typically have my beginning and middle, and the beginning of the end, but not the end of the end. I have a few ideas rolling around in my head, and I have faith it will come to me when I get to that point. Besides, when I don’t have an ending, I feel a bitter freer with the story. If I know the last twenty pages, then I always feel like no matter what happens in the story, I always have to end up at the same point. That always feels a bit stuck to me. But when I don’t have an ending, it can be anything. The possibilities are endless. And, to be honest, my ending usually turns out to be something I have never thought of before I wrote the story, and only comes to me after I go through the journey with the characters.
Since it’s Memorial Day, and I have a long weekend, I’ve decided to start the NaNoWriMo challenge today. It won’t hurt to start it a week early, right? Especially since it’s the end of the school year and I have a longer weekend. Even though I already have about 20,000 words already typed—I still have pages and pages of writing I need to transfer to the computer—I’m still going to keep the 50,000 word challenge. So, that should give me a grand total of over 70,000, yes? And just like “Write Your Novel In A Month” says, if I don’t make that goal, no worries.
It was funny to see the reaction of my friends and coworkers when I mentioned the 50,000 word goal. Yes, it is a lot, but I’m sure they speak at least 50,000 words in a month, and they don’t even think about that.
In the book, there’s a section with a lot of writing suggestions from the author and other authors, and I found that part to be the most helpful. It’s simple stuff you don’t realize that suck up all your time. Like surfing the Internet and even just looking at your phone. Two seconds soon turn into two hours. Not all of the tips were something I would do, but a lot of them were, and I’ve laid out a plan. I think that was the main thing the book taught me. Do most, if not all, of your prep work beforehand. Research can be very time consuming. I’ve even made a type of calendar to help me with this challenge, and I’ll be crossing off each day and recording my progress.
There have been people who have given me support with this endeavor, and there have also been people who have told me I can’t do it. I love it when people tell me I can’t do something because then I won’t stop until I prove to them that I can. Well, I better stop talking to you and get writing.