These words don’t count.


Nano frenzy iz here.

Actually, I’m having a *lot* of fun – I just nudged past the 20k mark which, considering my goal for the week was 11,700, is not too shabby at all. What’s possibly more important is that I’m really enjoying writing this novel. Considering I’m a practitioner of what is variously known as the crappy first draft, or the ‘exploratory draft’ (version zero), this is looking surprisingly strong, when I stack it up against previous initial drafts.

Chinese Courtesan


There’s a few things I’m doing differently this year. First off, I’m using Holly Lisle’s Boot Camp for writers ‘Think Sideways’ course – immensely practical and designed to be used to write a novel alongside, so it works perfectly. What’s key is that it’s given me a better understanding of both plot dynamics and how to better use conflict to keep the story wheels spinning. That means the outline I’m working from is stronger than previous outlines, to start with.

I think the second element, also connected to Holly’s lessons, is that although I’ve done less worldbuilding and character development in terms of volume, what I do have is relevant, so I already have my characters straight, so they’re hitting the ground running without any of the initial probing to establish their identities. It also means that when it comes to throwing in the odd twist or ratcheting things up, I know where to hit them so it properly hurts.

Those are the direct-line techniques I’m using.

Others are more about focus and concentration.

I’m not letting myself get hung up on correct words or beautiful sentence construction – I’m just getting the story down. So although a part of me goes ‘hey, hang on, you can’t use ‘strode’ again because someone else did that two lines ago’, I’m able to go ‘doesn’t matter, we’ll fix it in the edit. No time to think of a better word now’, and just plugging on with it.

I start a new notebook for each novel, and it carries everything from the initial idea sketches to the worldbuilding, outline, and eventual edit notes. What I’m doing this time that I’ve not done before is keeping a daily journal in that same notebook. That’s where the potential diversions go, the list of names of additional characters I throw in as we go along, and other ephemera (such as the name of the currency). And, at the end of the day, I note my daily word-count, the total word-count, and the number of scenes completed. That’s working well – it means less rummaging through the MS to find the name of such-and-such a person, and it also helps me keep track of any little surprises along the way. One such is a new character who popped up to fill a role in one scene, but then surfaced again in another. At the end of the writing session, it occured to me that I could use him in a couple of other ways, which might give some interesting depths to the story, or at least add another dimension of conflict. But by keeping him out of the story for now, tucked away in the notebook, I’m giving my muse time to play with him away from the main story. I’m not committing to him yet – I certainly don’t want him to derail or hijack the whole story, but he *is* interesting.

And finally, the music. I’ve got into the habit of using music to block out background distractions, and have gradually developed that, so that the music I listen to is in some way connected to the overall ‘feel’ of the novel. So, for example, when I wrote DISCONNECTION, I listened to a lot of electronica, and for CONTAIN THIS HOUR, a lot of 40’s big band. I’m not sure whether it’s just because I believe it’s so that my mood changes to fit the era in which I’m writing, or if there is something in the way the music is structured that reflects the underlying social mores of the period, but it definitely has an impact. In this instance, although I’m not writing an historic novel, there are a lot of oriental elements in the structure of Sere’s society, so Koto music is the sound of choice. I don’t know that I’m learning anything about it, since I don’t actively ‘hear’ anything while I’m writing (it only impacts on my awareness as I come out of a writing phase), but I’m sure it’s percolating around my subconscious somewhere and informing the ‘voice’ I’m using in the novel. It’s certainly a different voice to any I’ve used before, and it’s fascinating, wondering if the music is an influence or a consequence of that process.

Anyway, none of these words count towards that Nano total, and having stayed up late last night to push through the 20k barrier, I’m a little weary. So, for that reason, I’m going to stop whittering on and get back to work.

For all you fellow Nano-ers out there, I hope your muse is treating you kindly and the words are flowing well. For everyone else, I can only apologise for my incoherence. Normal service will be resumed at the end of November.


One Response to “These words don’t count.”

  1. Thanx for the info.

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