Can you hear the distant screams of writers everywhere? The eve of National Novel Writing Month is upon us!
The goal of National Novel Writing Month (or lovingly nicknamed NaNoWriMo) is to write a novel, or 50,000 words, in the month of November. Last year, I participated in NaNo as a bit of a joke. I wrote about 11,000 words of a poorly slapped together parody of my life—a college student with superpowers who only wants to write a novel, but can’t because he is constantly being called out to save the day. I got onto the forums on the NaNo website and took any abandoned plot points, left over characters, and weird factoids and put it into the story without much of a tie to each other.
It was ridiculous, to say the least. I didn’t even try to finish, because I knew I was writing it for fun rather than for actual profit.
But this year, it’s different. This year, I will be participating in NaNo for real. You see, I have a completed manuscript that needs some TLC—it needs to be edited and a few thousand words need to be added. But, instead of giving me the inspiration to wrap up this story and send it out to an editor, my brain decided to pull together a plot for a lone story idea that has been bouncing around in my head for about half a year now.
The story involves a lot of world-building and fantasy, something that I know is not my strongest area of expertise. To be honest, I’m panicking trying to piece together the last bits of storyboarding before next week.
But through this horrible outlining process, I’m starting to recognize that I’m challenging myself in ways I haven’t before. (But how, you ask?) Let me elaborate.
One of the main characters of the story is a twelve year old African American boy named J.R. who lives in a foster home and skips class to smoke behind dumpsters. He is easily the most challenging character I have ever attempted to write, simply because he is a stark contrast of everything that I am. I’m a white woman who has never skipped class or done anything illegal (give or take), especially not when I was that young. I don’t listen to rap, I don’t start fights, and I don’t talk back to adults or people who I consider my superiors.
However, J.R. is not a stereotypical “hood” boy, either. He wants to study astrology and has a telescope he sets up in his room in order to track the movements of the planets—a hard task in the middle of the city that never goes completely dark. This puts him in the right place at the wrong time to witness a magical murder. Add in a wizard-in-training who is also trying to solve the murder, and you have the basic bones of my plot.
Despite my chattering nerves, I’m excited to write J.R.. I can feel him stirring inside of my head already, just waiting to escape onto the pages. In order to correctly channel him and give him justice, I have been trying to listen to more R&B and Hip Hop than ever, and trying to find what my tastes are in within a new genre of music is more work than what I bargained for.
Needless to say, I haven’t won NaNoWriMo. I honestly don’t think I ever will. One of my writing professors thinks it is absolutely impossible to produce any kind of quality work during a one month writing window, and I agree with him. However, while my first draft of my upcoming manuscript might lack in quality, it certainly won’t lack in emotion, which is all I will be focusing on this November.
Writing anything else, much less a consistent blog post, is going to be a tough task. But as I close this little post, I wish all the writers out there the best of luck! May the word count odds be ever in your favor.