This whole year has flown by, so it’s not exactly surprising that November is doing the same thing. At the same time, I find myself looking around and wondering where the time is going. How can we be halfway through it already? How is Thanksgiving already next week and the beginning of December the week after that? Are we entirely sure that someone out there isn’t messing with the timeline?? (Can you tell I’m getting a little silly-brained?)
I’m still behind the official NaNoWriMo word count, but I’m still chugging along, still writing, and that’s a personal victory for me. I’ve written more for NaNoWriMo this year than I have for a NaNoWriMo since 2009, and while I might not “win,” this novel feels like something I could actually finish, which I haven’t done since 2013. So I’m calling it a win anyway.
This week’s challenge was finding the forward momentum in my story. I actually wrote a little during October: I had an idea for a scene, and I decided to just write the scene rather than outlining it, because I’m a rebel, and I just wouldn’t include those words in my official word count. But I knew when I was writing it, that the scene took place right before the main action of the story starts, but not at the beginning of the book. I would need to write all the things that led up to that scene, as well as the things that came after it, which was where most of the action would happen.
But I kept thinking of more and more things that needed to go in before it. I kept adding more and more backstory, set up, even characters who would likely never reappear. Instead of moving forward, I kept moving backwards. Yes, I was adding to my word count, but I wasn’t moving the story forward, I was just continuously setting up for the action.
I had to figure out how to move forward.
So I sat down and thought about what scenes needed to go right before the one that I had written pre-NaNoWriMo. What was actually important to that specific plot point. And then I wrote (well, am still writing) those scenes. Maybe I’ll also write one or two more scenes that go before that, but only if they are important for moving forwards.
Because there are two challenges of NaNoWriMo. First, and more obvious, is writing 50,000 words in 30 days. But the secondary challenge is writing a story that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Without those things, you don’t really have a story. You just have 50,000 words.
So here’s this week’s takeaway for me: There will always be more backstory and more world building you can do. But those things aren’t your story, they aren’t the action and the plot and the characters running around getting things done. Make your story move forward, make your characters move forward. Don’t get lost in the foundations.
This Week’s Word Counts
Day 8: 941 (5,345)
Day 9: 2,020 (7,365)
Day 10: 1,889 (9,254)
Day 11: 0 (9,254)
Day 12: 1,729 (10,983)
Day 13: 729 (11,712)
Day 14: 1,451 (13,163)