Tag Archives: first person singular narration

NaNoooOOOoooWriMo…

I may have done something foolish yesterday.

No. Scratch the ‘may have done.’ I did do something foolish. It could, however, turn out to be the best thing I’ve done in quite a while.

So, what did I do? Well, I signed myself up for NaNoWriMo, didn’t I.

Image: thesnapper.com

Image: thesnapper.com

‘NaNoWhat?‘ I’m sure some of you are saying – well, fear no more. I shall explain.

(At this point I cannot resist a picture of Inigo Montoya. Please stand by:

Image: quickmeme.com

Image: quickmeme.com

Okay. Normal service can resume.)

NaNoWriMo stands for ‘National Novel Writing Month.’ Every November, people all over the world pledge to write 50,000 words during the calendar month, and at the end of that time they submit their work (for counting purposes only) to the NaNoWriMo website. If they have reached the grand total of 50,000 words, or more, they are declared ‘winners’; if not, well, there’s always next year.

The idea behind it is to encourage people to write enough words to form a first draft – you’re only supposed to write for the month, not edit or any of that fancy stuff – so, in theory, there should be just enough time to get it done. The website offers encouragement, tips and tricks, all the help you could want and lots of support from your fellow NaNoWriMo-ers, and I think it’s a great idea. I’ve been wondering about taking part for a while now, and so yesterday I did what I normally do when I’m making a big decision, i.e. I agonised about it forever and then just threw caution to the wind and signed myself up before I could talk myself out of it.

I spent some time yesterday, once the deed was done, putting a little bit of flesh on the bones of an idea I’ve had stewing for a while. It’s an idea I haven’t thought about too deeply, so the story was a total sketch – all I had was a title, and a vague notion of the central characters. (NaNo is supposed to be about writing a story from scratch, not about putting the finishing touches to a project you’ve had on the go for a while, but I don’t think anyone really minds as long as you’re writing.) As you might expect for me, it’s going to be a children’s book, and it’s going to involve family ties and friendship, and noble self-sacrifice for others, and deep, life-changing love (but not the yucky kind. This will most definitely not be a ‘kissing book.’)

I promise, I promise it won't be a kissing book. Okay? Image: smallreview.blogspot.com

I promise, I promise it won’t be a kissing book. Okay?
Image: smallreview.blogspot.com

One character who I am quite clear on is the Antagonist – and he deserves that capital A, for he is a nasty creature – and I’m letting him settle in my head. The whole book will take shape around him. An ancient evil force, whose prison is made weak and who is finally released in error by a child, he will wreak all kinds of dreadful havoc. In preparation for getting started, I’m thinking deeply about a few things, including: ‘When I was eleven, what were the things I was most scared of?’ and ‘When I was eleven, who were the people I loved the deepest?’

Of course, I haven’t written a word. I can’t even write the title into my Word document before November 1st, because I would consider that cheating. However, I think a bit of mental preparation can’t hurt.

I’m also going to write this book in the third person. I’ve made that very clear to my brain just in case it starts to write in first-person, which seems to be its default setting. I haven’t tackled a full-length project like this in the third person for a long, long time, and I’m looking forward to that. Third-person gives the writer a bit more freedom than first-person, but it also means the reader isn’t as involved in the action. As a reader, I don’t really have a preference for one over the other, but as a writer I want to make sure I can handle both types of narrative voice with equal ease. So, this is my chance.

Of course, my NaNoWriMo project may well turn out to be nothing. The story may work, or it may not. I might reach my 50,000 word target, or I might burn out at the 20,000 word mark. I’m hopeful something great will come out of it, something I can work on and perfect well into the new year, but even if it fizzles out I know that nothing related to writing is a waste of time.

I still feel like I’m being a reckless so-and-so, though. Will you wish me luck? I’d really appreciate it.

And hey! If you want to take part yourself, here’s the link you need: NaNoWriMo. Have you always wanted to write a novel? Well, here’s your chance!

Happy Tuesday, folks. While I’m here, thanks for all the feedback I got – not all of it via WordPress – on yesterday’s blog post. It seems to have struck a chord with some of you, and I’m glad.

Sir, Yes Sir!

I know, now, why so many people who aspire to writing never actually manage to achieve their aims. It’s not necessarily down to a lack of talent, or a dearth of ambition, or a shortfall in the amount of effort they put into it, but perhaps – at least, if I’m anything to go by – it’s because they try too hard.

Image: ecocatlady.blogspot.com

Image: ecocatlady.blogspot.com

I’ve been working very hard on ‘Tider’ over the past few days. Since I finished draft 1 last Friday, I’ve managed to get to the end of draft 2, which involved making major content changes; I’ve also gone through the text again fixing and tweaking as I go, which I wouldn’t consider a ‘draft’, as such, but it was still hard work. It has been a challenge, and I am tired.

Even as I write all this out, I’m telling myself that it’s silly to do so much so quickly. I know, however, that there’s no other way I can do it. It’s they way I work, and has always been the way I work, to tackle a job head-on and to throw myself into it right from the start. I also have a hard time taking a rest until the job is done. Even as a student at school, I used to push myself to reach a certain point in my studies before I could take a break; if I didn’t manage to reach a certain chapter, or write a particular number of pages worth of work, or whatever it was, I wouldn’t allow myself to have a snack or go to the loo.

Who needs a Drill Sergeant when you do this to yourself?

Image: newgrounds.com

Image: newgrounds.com

This is all very well when you’re preparing for exams, or when you have a major project at work that needs to be done, or when you have a manager or a boss breathing down your neck. Of course, I’m not saying it’s wrong to have a work ethic, or to be motivated to do a job quickly and to the best of your ability. I’m just not so sure it’s always easily applicable to the job of writing a book, which is something that requires perfect balance between a person’s body and mind, and which you can’t do if you’re tired or burnt out, and which you’ll find challenging if you’re screaming at yourself inside your head, urging yourself on to the next goal. ‘Get the Job Done!’ doesn’t always help you to achieve a delicate thing like creating, sustaining and finishing a story.

I know all this, but it’s hard to switch your mind from one ‘mode’ of working to another. I haven’t been successful, as yet.

There’s a lot about ‘Tider’ that I’m not happy with. I don’t like the ending – I seem to have a problem with endings, no matter how long or short the piece I’m writing is! – and there’s not enough peril; the stakes aren’t high enough for our brave protagonist. I’m still working through the challenges that come with writing a story which is narrated in the first person, where your protagonist has deliberately been kept in the dark about a lot of issues which turn out to be very important ones for her; as she learns, the reader learns. For a writer, though, trying to get this across without ‘info-dumping,’ or telling the reader too much in too blunt a manner, is difficult.

I think, however, for the sake of the book’s future, and in an attempt to make sure I don’t end up flinging the whole thing in the bin in frustration, I’d better take a step back and try to rest today. I know my brain will yell at me, and I’ll probably feel an inexplicable urge to stand to attention (though hopefully not to shave my head), but I’ll have to cope with that as and when it happens.

Ten… Hut!

Have a good Thursday. Try to take it easy on yourself, if you can.