NaNoWriMo – a novel in a month

National November Writing Month… I’ve wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo for several years now, but I’m usually in the middle of a writing project when it starts. If you write year round, it can be trickier to plan a novel and start it on November 1. This year, however, I got an idea on Oct 30, and decided to jump in.

I’m still amazed that I did, but I finished on November 28 with 50,000 words.

What was the biggest thing I learned? It takes passion and excitement about your story to write that much in that short of a time. Because I’m also a freelancer, I had other writing and editing projects too. So my actual word count was around 80,000 for the month.

The second lesson was to use my creative time–I often worked on my novel at nine at night, when I have a really creative hour or two.

As far as my novel writing method, I’m not sure I’d recommend it to other authors, and especially not newer authors. But here goes:

I get an idea out of the blue (which actually means different things in my life suddenly mixing together) and once I see the story line, I start writing. With this story, and some before it, I busted out 10,000 words in the first day in my giddiness over the idea.

So at that point, I usually pause and realize I need some structure. I start putting in headers before my scenes (marked with Header 2 in Word) and open the Navigation Map, which displays an outline to the left of the text. I’ll start jotting down scene ideas too, right in the manuscript, so I have something to jump into when I sit down to write. I like keeping it all together in one file.

I write in a mostly linear way, but if I don’t feel too motivated on a section, I’ll jump to a different part. Then later, when I feel more focused, I go back and figure out why I wasn’t excited about that problem scene–because when it’s working, I love to write.

I haven’t always used this fly-through-the-novel method. When I began writing in grade school, I would create an outline and type it up on my electric typewriter. Then I’d write chapter by chapter, and if I changed the story, I retyped the outline.

Later on, I went through a phase in my twenties where I’d plan my novel, write it, and then go through a long revising stage where I’d rearrange the story and add quite a bit. A few times I even changed entire novels from third to first person and then back to third.

I think it’s all that writing that got me to my present method. But even though I jump right into it, I do have the story and characters clearly in my head. I even start by writing the book blurb. And on that note, here’s the blurb for my NaNoWriMo novel, Covetous:

Two couples are found murdered in their beds. The only link comes from their phone records, leading Detective Hounder to Lucy Marshal.

Lucy and her live-in boyfriend might be next on the hit list. She doesn’t know who she can turn to. If Luke knew the truth about Lucy, he would have more motive than anyone, but does he know? Her best friend Emma is someone connected to this mess—and hiding now. Her other close friend James was still in love with one of the victims…and involved with Lucy without knowing her connection.

She wants to hold onto everyone but can’t control the web she’s weaved around herself. Lucy can’t trust anyone anymore, not herself, and not the stranger leaving messages for her.

You may have noticed… it’s not like my previous novels. This is more of domestic thriller. (Murder mystery psychological thriller–is that a genre?)  I’m currently polishing the story, and adding to it because 50k is a pretty short novel, and then I plan to submit to agents. 

Will I try to write another novel in a month? We’ll see; maybe if I get another awesome story idea… like the sequel for this one.  

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