NaNoWriMo: All done, only minor disappointment

As you can see from the image, I’ve finished the 50,000 word project! I reached the wordcount yesterday morning, four days ahead of the 30-day target. Now I’m feeling a mix of celebration (with champagne last night, although I did protest) and minor disappointment. The final couple of thousand words were shocking – not so much in terms of quality, but I was racing breakneck towards the finish line and introduced action scenes that were dispensed with in record time. I didn’t even let characters speak in case it slowed me down. And, most disappointingly, I ended on a cliffhanger after all, leaving the story open for a second volume that I (currently) have no interest in writing.

I still feel that this project will help me to write more, and more speedily, in future. But, around the halfway mark I felt that the novel on was salvageable, despite the loose ends and non sequiturs. But now it seems that if I were to tidy it up, I’d have to totally rewrite the final third.

So, lessons for the future.

In a speedwriting project of this nature, I was naïve to think that the final part of the plot would somehow fall into place. While I introduced new segments throughout, the basic plot milestones remained the same and the fear of a lack of direction was made worse due to having no endgame to end for. So I need to plan out possible conclusions, before I start.

Similarly, more than four days planning are needed at the beginning. Anyway, that was one of the most exciting parts of the whole project, so I think it’s ok to wallow in the plot and character outlines for at least a fortnight.
Fewer characters, next time. I introduced characters, sent them packing, had missing people return, and so on. All of this would have been ok if I hadn’t also seen fit to introduce a whole city full of supporting characters, only some of whom I had the energy to flesh out.

But one aspect that really worked for me was missing out complicated or research-driven parts of the plot, carrying on when I had momentum. I just put notes in square brackets, to come back to later, and I don’t think that harmed the writing at all. One main character was labelled [*ladyname] for several days.

So, that’s one new year’s resolution dispensed with, and it feels good. I think that I’ll have to set similar daily targets if I start editing the novel – but for now, I think I’ll allow myself a week off and them maybe start mind-mapping another idea.

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