WARNING: Long - can I count it towards my June total??
Hi, I’m Rachael, I’m a writer and I sit on the fence – I’m not a plotter like Suz or a panster like Sandie… I jump between them both. Just thought I should get that out of the way, before I tell you about NaNoWriMo, well, at least my experience of it thus far.
I finally took the plunge and signed up for NaNoWriMo in 2007. I’d wanted to do it since I first heard about it in 2004… but each year something BIG came up. First year – baby two months old, second year – early pregnancy with #2 and I get REALLY tired, third year – baby 2 only four months old and I just didn’t have the energy or inclination to try. But in those years between 2004 and my sign up in 2007, a lot changed in my life (aside from the growing litter).
For almost ten years I’ve been writing, but aimlessly writing. Focusing on writing what I suppose was chick-lit. I’d like to think I had a voice but I didn’t know much else. Then, in 2006, I joined Romance Writers of Australia. In these past few years, I discovered a love of category romance and also learnt a whole lot about how to make writing stories easier. For me, some of these things include having strong characters with clear goals, motivations and conflicts. I’d written two attempts at category since joining RWA but was still (am still) learning so much.
The week before I sat down to the keyboard, I did a lot of preparatory work on my characters. I had the idea for two ex-lovers – a magician and a comedian, but I needed more to their personalities. For the first time, I chose character archetypes for my hero and heroine before starting. From this I learnt a lot about how they’d react in different situations and how they’d react to each other. I thoroughly recommend checking out the site of the author of ‘16 Archetypes for Heroes and Heroines’ and if you’ve got a bit of spare cash… buy the book.
After this, I sat down and worked out what each character thought they wanted in life. In the case of my novel the ‘thought’ part is very important, because both characters in the end, realize thanks to each other, that their goals are misguided. I also worked out why they wanted these things so badly (their motivation) and then created things/people/each other that would get in their way (their conflicts).
From somewhere I had the first scene of my novel, which also led me to picturing a scene in the middle and the end. All three scenes are to do with a wedding dress. That’s about all I had. But, before actually starting I did a little more work. I made sure I knew what points my novel should be at by certain word counts… I wrote down where I’d need character/plot turning points and where my black moment should be. I put this all on an A4 piece of paper and when inspiration about scenes struck throughout the month I jotted them down where I thought they’d fit.
Oh and I also chose pics for my characters using celebrities. See photos on this page of Zoë and Cameron.
I believe having such strong characters really helped me during NaNoWriMo. I did have a crisis point about 35,000 words and did a big NaNo No-No… I took a few days off writing and reread what I’d written. I thought it was going AWOL and as time is precious, I didn’t want to waste it and ruin what I knew was forming up to be my best story yet. Luckily I still made the word count. I scraped in at 49897 words about two and a half hours before the month was up. But I’d deleted about a 1000 over the month, so I know I’d made it.
Since then I’ve edited this novel a bit and it placed 8th in the RWA Emerald Award. I’ve changed its title and changed it back again and am now editing a little bit more.
For anyone who’s doing this for the first time… GOOD ON YA and may the writing fairies shine down upon you!!