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November 17th, 2013

NaNo is clicking along at a brisk pace. As of last night I was roughly 1,000 words above par, so I should be able to maintain that fairly easily today by churning out a scene or two. I have reached a thin point in my outline, where I have to come up with some sort of interesting shenanigans for everyone to get involved in that will keep things moving and keep the reader engaged, without leading straight into the big finish. This is where subplots would be handy, but unfortunately I don't have any at the moment and I haven't been able to come up with any that didn't feel stapled on. [1]

The story has just ticked over the plot point ending the first act, and I'm at ~27k. For NaNoWriMo purposes, that's not a bad place to be as it gives me a little over 10k words each for acts two and three, which should be plenty. For "published novel" purposes, however, it's wholly inadequate. As a first-time novelist in the "urban fantasy" genre (for lack of a better label), my target wordcount should actually be ~90k. I'm only a third of the way through the book! *flails*

Writing is hard. :P

I am learning a lot with this exercise, so even if at the very end I wind up chucking the whole book, it will still be time well spent. Some things I've learned:

  • Setting your book in "the real world" doesn't mean any less worldbuilding than in a fantasy world, really. You have to know where stuff is; you have to know how long it takes to get from point A to point B. You have to know some details about your characters' professions. I had to look up a training manual on police dispatch procedures and apparently I still got it wrong. Not really a problem in the first draft, but something that has to be properly fixed before it's publishable.

  • Don't be afraid to write an entertaining scene just because it's entertaining; but unless you can make it do story work somehow, you'll probably end up needing to cut it.

  • Having your hero work solo makes for a lot of awkward exposition. Give your hero someone to talk to.

  • I never noticed how much filler there actually is in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency before. Once the Electric Monk hides Gordon Way's body, he actually has nothing more to do with the story, but he still has scenes. Or more accurately, his horse has scenes that have the Electric Monk in them. And Dirk Gently is a pretty short book.


I'm sure there's more, particularly in terms of what actually constitutes a plot point and what just constitutes an incident, but I'm still working that out.

Anyway! That's enough rambling for now. Once more unto the breach and all that. Catcha later!

-The Gneech

[1] "Apparently there's a sub-plot about a horseshoe?" --Mike Nelson, MST3K: The Wild World of Batwoman

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