Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My NaNoWriMo experience

Now that November and NaNoWriMo is done and I have some free time I thought that I’d sum up my NaNoWriMo experience.

I signed up for NaNoWriMo in early October, and I spent the next several weeks trying to come up with a story to work on. I had a great idea for a story about a romance between two college students, but it just didn’t feel quite right so I tried to forget it and move on. However, I couldn’t. I kept going back to it, and I even had a dream about it at one point. So I started trying to figure out ways to change the story so that it would be long enough and interesting enough for me to use. I tried making the male lead a con artist. I tried making the female lead a telepath, which almost worked. I tried everything I could think of, but nothing worked. Then I got incredibly lucky. First I stumbled across a picture of a woman and a tiger, and I started to think. Then one night I was talking to Ella about werewolves and it was interesting, but it just wasn’t my style . Then I remembered something I’d heard once “The Lady and The Tiger,” so I googled it and it led me to a very interesting short story. As soon as I read it the pieces started falling into place, and I knew exactly what I was going to do. I ended up making some changes to the premis behind “The Lady and The Tiger” and then combining it with my college romance idea.

After I had figured out my idea I spent the last week of October trying to map out my story, and I think that I may have gone kind of overboard on it. By the first day of November I had color coded note cards with plot points written on them tacked up on the wall, a chapter summary outline, an outline for the first 4 chapters, and character outlines. I think that one of my friends summed it up best when she walked into my room and said “wow you‘re really into this.”

I was really nervous going into November because the previous year I had only gotten 8,000 words and this year my plate was even fuller. However, my outlines got me through the first few days and that gave me time to fall into a nice rhythm. Every night I’d change into my pajamas and get ready for bed at 8:30. Then I’d get in bed with my computer and type until I had 2,000 words, and once I did I’d stop right where I was up load any new chapters to Fiction Press and then turn off my computer and head to bed.

Then on the third day of NaNoWriMo my roommate Cara bought me my two goldfish, and I named them Tolya and Janice after my main characters. That was the day that I first realized that I actually wanted to win.

Because of my family’s aversion to creative writing over Thanksgiving break I ended up writing at 1:00AM under the covers, so that no one would realize what I was doing. However, at 8:00PM on November 27th I finally found someone in my family that I could talk to about my novel. The only problem was that it was my 4 month old nephew. He was tired and fussy, and I quickly learned, no thanks to my brother who had taken off somewhere to play sports, that one of the only things that would calm him down was if I walked all over the house carrying him with his head resting against my neck so that he could feel the vibrations from my throat as I talked. Since I didn’t have anything better to talk about I spent 2 hours quietly brain storming story ideas and testing out dialog.

Moving on, I kept pretty much on track until about 2:00AM on Tuesday November 29. That was when my 5 year old laptop got a virus and died. Thankfully right before it died I managed to grab my flash drive, which I had tucked into the bag I had taken home with me for Thanksgiving, and save my homework and 47,000 word NaNoWriMo novel. Then when I got back to school I went to the IT people and they told me that my laptop was completely dead, and all of my files were lost. Luckily, my flash drive was by some miracle virus free and my story was saved from a gruesome death. I was prepared to spend the night at the library pounding out the last 3,000 words on one of the public computers, but then my dad, who had given me a ride back up to school, told me to meet him back at the dorms because I was not going to be spending finals without a computer. He and my mom had decided to get me a new laptop as an early Christmas present.

On the night of November 30 I managed to figure out my new laptop to the point that I could pound out 3,000 words putting myself at 50,093 words. However, I almost met my demise when the very basic version of Microsoft Word that I was refused to scramble my story, and then using froze up every time I tried to copy and paste the hand scrambled story into the word valuator. As it drew closer and closer to midnight I was still sitting at my laptop transferring my story a few pages at a time into the word count valuator. Then with only minutes to spare I hit submit and the purple bar appeared.

To rap things up, even though I made it to 50,000 words I’m only half way through my story, so I’m planning on spending December trying to finish up my story, which I think may be 100 times harder than NaNoWriMo ever way.


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