Friday, 11 November 2011

NaNoWriMo Update

Another week, and tonight I hit and passed the halfway mark.  Currently, I'm at 26,853 words, so I think I'll probably make the 50K target.

More important than the target word number, though, is what I've realised this past week. This novel is a "re-write" of a novel I wrote thirty years ago. I have put re-write deliberately in inverted commas, because it's becoming far more than that.

First, I've had to update the story itself. Set in a High School in the 1970's, I've had to change the issues in the school. In the original the hero was trying to introduce something new at the school based on Equal Opportunities which was the 'in' thing at the time. Obviously it no longer applies, so I had to find something different. I've been out of teaching now for nearly 20 years so had no knowledge of current initiatives. Fortunately, one of my daughters is now a teacher, so several phone calls to her gave me new ideas, supplemented by some online research. And how much easier it is now to do that research now compared with the pre-internet era.

Other 'updates' have included the use of mobile phones and computers too. Communication is so much easier these days, which sometimes works to our disadvantage when writing romance novels, since we have to find alternative reasons why our characters can't contact each other to sort out some misunderstanding (losing phone, internet down, even dead batteries on phone or laptop are options).

Another update has simply been the language. Reading through my original story, I decided my characters tended to talk like people in a 1940's movie. Totally unrealistic and not how people talk in 'real life' today. Updating their dialogue has been fun.

The other great 'learning curve' with NaNoWri Mo has been to turn off the inner editor, and to accept that this is very much a first draft, concentrating on quantity rather than quality. I had my doubts about whether I could turn off my 'inner editor' - and there have still been times when I've agonised over the right word to use. But, during this past week, I've realised I actually CAN do it.  It doesn't actually matter, at this stage, how many time the heroine's heart jerks or the hero raises his eyebows. I'm aware of my repeats and I can sort those out later.

That's been the biggest lesson I've learned. Get the actual story down in a first draft.  Time later to edit, revise and refine. I know already how much work I'll need to do after the end of November. I've read recently that a first draft is where you draw the outline, and then, once that draft is done, you can then colour in the whole picture. Since I've always said the editing process is the part I really enjoy, NaNoWriMo has taught me the value of getting that outline or draft done first, without agonising over the details.  Then, once it's done, the real work starts.  



  1. congrats on the word count and being to turn off that editor.

  2. Wow, Paula! You are doing fabulous.

    I was excited over this past week to get past 4,000 words on a're putting me to shame.

    Good luck and keep up the good work!


  3. Congratulations, and how fun to be able to update an old friend :-)

  4. That's a brilliant total, Paula - well done. I probably won't make the traget but I've certainly moved that next novel on!

  5. Thanks, all - it's certainly different writing for quantity and not agonising for an hour voer just one paragraph - but that will come later!