Monday, December 01, 2014

Nanowrimo Now What?

by Alexandra Sokoloff


YAY!!! You survived! Or maybe I shouldn’t make any assumptions, there.

But for the sake of argument, let’s say you survived and now have a rough draft (maybe very, very, very rough draft) of about 50,000 words.

What next?

Well, first of all, did you write to “The End”? Because if not, then you may have survived, but you’re not done. You must get through to The End, no matter how rough it is (rough meaning the process AND the pages…). If you did not get to The End, I would strongly urge that you NOT take a break, no matter how tired you are (well, maybe a day). You can slow down your schedule, set a lower per-day word or page count, but do not stop. Write every day, or every other day if that’s your schedule, but get the sucker done.

You may end up throwing away most of what you write, but it is a really, really, really bad idea not to get all the way through a story. That is how most books, scripts and probably most all other things in life worth doing are abandoned.

Conversely, if you DID get all the way to “The End”, then definitely, take a breakAs long a break as possible. You should keep to a writing schedule, start brainstorming the next project, maybe do some random collaging to see what images come up that might lead to something fantastic - but if you have a completed draft, then what you need right now is SPACE from it. You are going to need fresh eyes to do the read-through that is going to take you to the next level, and the only way for you to get those fresh eyes is to leave the story alone for a while.

In the next month I'll be posting about rewriting. But not now.

Today, no matter where you are in the process, celebrate! You showed up and have the pages to show for it.

Then - 

1. Keep going if you’re not done

OR

2. Take a good long break if you have a whole first draft, and if you MUST think about writing, maybe start thinking about another project.


And in the meantime, I’d love to hear how you all who were Nanoing did.

Alex


=====================================================

All the information on this blog and more is in the writing workbooks. Screenwriting Tricks for Authors and Writing Love, Screenwriting Tricks for Authors, II, are available for just $3.99 and $2.99.









If you're a romance writer, or have a strong love plot or subplot in your novel or script, then Writing Love: Screenwriting Tricks II is an expanded version of the first workbook with a special emphasis on love stories, and more full story breakdowns.


Smashwords (includes online viewing and pdf file)

Amazon US

Barnes & Noble/Nook

Amazon UK

Amazon DE







10 comments:

Rebecca Cantrell said...

I didn't do NanoWriMo, but I did just finish a novel yesterday. I second your advice to take a break and step back. I'm sitting here in Berlin looking down at a decorated Christmas tree forest (about 70 trees, which feels like a forest), drinking some chai tea and celebrating getting to The End. Even though I know that means "it's not really the end as more rewrites are coming next week." Thanks, Alex, for the reminder to take a break and celebrate!

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Fantastic news, Becky!! You absolutely deserve to celebrate, and it sounds like you found the perfect place. Enjoy it! xx

provocativepraise said...

My "Nanowrimo" experience was kinda crazy: Early in October I decided to write a draft script for my graphic novel. During the prep phase I got totally derailed. This may sound bad, but actually, what I got derailed into was awesome:

First, I managed to launch my blog Provocative Praise on Oct 31st.

Second, I got in contact with an awesome artist and webcomic creator who had ideas for a cool project and some lovely character sketches, but no plot or story for them. After we talked about possible directions for the project, I send her some sample page scripts and a draft story outline, which she liked enough to invite me to collaborate on the project.

At the end of the month, instead of having done my own script, with little chance of ever finding an artist to realize it, I'm now on a long-term project - the comic won't probably go online before 2016 - in close collaboration with an awesome artist whose work I admire.

If this is what "failure to finish my nanowrimo project" looks like, failure may just be my style.

Kenny Crowe said...

just keep writing, just keep writing....

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Provocative Praise, that's what I really love about Nanowrimo. You committed to a creative project, and you found yourself in a creative project. So what it it wasn't the one you thought it would be? Sometimes the Universe has better plans for us than we have for ourselves. Thanks for telling us about it, and good luck!

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Kenny, that's my mantra this month, too! :)

Eric Mead said...

I've just begun writing my first draft (for the third time). I never made it more than half-way through the previous attempts. Does it even qualify as a first draft any longer? Not sure. I suck at math.
Since discovering your blog a little over a month ago, it has caused me to rethink my approach to writing a novel. I've also learned a great deal about my characters since reading a few of your novels after also reading "Screenwriting Tricks."
Your instruction allowed me to imagine my characters in a well framed structure which actually transformed critical aspects of their nature.
I'm pleasantly surprised at the continuity it has added to the behavior of my characters. It has also diminished the anxiety of 'writing myself into a corner,' a fear which caused me great distress during previous attempts at a first draft.
Perhaps the most valuable lesson I've drawn from your blog and books thus far is to just keep writing no matter what. It's actually a great confidence builder to barge my way through a scene in faithful surrender that the direction of the story and convergence of the characters will occur organically if I just step out of the way and let them.
That approach has worked much better than my previous tactic of trying to force the story inside an overly defined compartment.
I know the beginning, I know how it ends. Now, I find myself getting excited by the turn of events which occur in the rest of the story as I write it. It's like, "Wow! I didn't know he was going to do that...can't wait to see what happens next."
Hopefully, that sentiment will materialize in the mind of the reader when that time comes.
Lastly, I greatly appreciate reading your words allowing my first draft to "suck." Funny how much stress is relieved simply by gaining someone's permission to allow that to happen. Armed with that authorization I'm now off to write what I hope will be the suckiest first draft ever, fingers crossed!
Have a great holiday season everyone.

Silas Payton said...

Hi Alex,

I just wanted to update you. I went into nano. with a goal of 25k words and hit 45k. I credit the planning and outlining for this. I've slowed the pace a bit and just hit 51k of what I now project to be a 65k word book. Thanks for the guidance and great information.

Silas

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Eric Mead, you have completely made my December! THIS is why I do this story structure work when I really don't have any time outside my own books. It is so gratifying to me that I can help make a terrifying process enough less terrifying that people like you make these breakthroughs.

I especially love to hear things like this:

"Perhaps the most valuable lesson I've drawn from your blog and books thus far is to just keep writing no matter what. It's actually a great confidence builder to barge my way through a scene in faithful surrender that the direction of the story and convergence of the characters will occur organically if I just step out of the way and let them."

Yes! It's part structure and part belief in the process.

And And you definitely win for the best guiding principle: "I'm now off to write what I hope will be the suckiest first draft ever, fingers crossed!"

We should all be so lucky.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Silas, wow, you did great! Almost double what you thought and you're in the home stretch. Awesome work.