Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NaNoWriMo Progress and Pros & Cons

Woot! I'm at 40.700 words and have seven days to go, which makes an average of 1400 words per day I have to get through. My plan was to write four-hundred words per weekday, and at least five-thousand words per weekend. By that calculation I’d manage approximately 52k by the end of November. I’m lagging a tad behind, but not by much.

Surprising, considering I only really had time on weekends and am trying to write good prose as well as a lot of words. People in the writing biz seem to be divided on the NaNo concept for this very reason. A lot of authors, agents and editors say the as-many-words-in-a-month plan isn’t very productive quality-wise, because the only important factor of NaNo is quantity.

I completely understand agents who are apprehensive about the coming months, when some (or, apparently, quite a lot of) authors of NaNo stories query them with their first, unrevised drafts. From the author’s, or rather the manuscript’s point of view, that’d be like conducting a caesarean four months into the pregnancy – that poor baby would have no chance of survival. In this scenario, the agent would be the doctor trying to tell hundreds of soon-to-be mothers that they’ll have to keep that bun in the oven a little while longer before they can even begin to cuddle with it and nurse it to maturity.

Okay, bad comparison; writing a novel isn’t usually a life-or-death matter (but wouldn't that be a fun premise for a novel?!). Just trying to point out where I see that NaNo has its drawbacks concerning quality. Which is why I tweaked the concept and added my own personal goal to the NaNo-premise: manage at least 35k while doing my best to make it a viable first part of a first draft. Because, if all goes well, I think this story has publishing potential. Ergo, I don’t want to ruin my delight in writing it by just slapping out as many words as possible and making it odious and taking the fun out of revisions because it is so terrible.

This is where I see the NaNo-concept as helpful – it got me seriously started on this project. Judging by my outline (and, yes, word count), I’m almost halfway through (I estimated approximately 90k for this novel). And even though a lot of it is still filler – stuff I know I’ll have to revise – the most important scenes are well-written and pose the fundamental groundwork on which the novel will be built further.

My point being that the first draft won’t be perfect even if I put quality over quantity, but at least NaNo got me started on it effectively and efficiently. That, to me, is the beauty of NaNoWriMo.

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