In November 2015 I participated in National Novel Writing Month. If you don’t know what that is, it’s basically the biggest month of the year for writers. Well, for those who participate. The objective is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. That’s around 1,667 words each day. Now, I’ve known about National Novel Writing month since probably about 2010 or 2011. In the years up until 2014 I attempted to participate in the challenge, but I never got very far and usually stopped after a few days of writing.
It wasn’t until November 2014 when I was in my first year of college that I actually buckled down and tried hard to hit that 50k mark. I got about 14,000 words into my novel before I just fizzled out. I was stuck. I didn’t know where my story was going next. I think that was where I went wrong. I had a basic premise for my story and an idea for the beginning and ending, but I had absolutely no idea how it was going to reach the end. Seat of the pants writing just wasn’t for me, even though I wanted it to be!
2015 really changed everything for me. I decided that this was the year I was going to participate in National Novel Writing Month. I would plan out my story and have a basic outline, but I didn’t want to limit myself too much. So, in a matter of about a week or two before NaNoWriMo began, I planned out the story for a contemporary novel. This was the first year that I actually got somewhat involved on the NaNoWriMo website (entering my daily word count, making a cover for my story, putting up a synopsis, etc.). It was also the year I finally hit the 50,000 word mark AND finished the entire story of my novel. It was also the first ever draft of a manuscript I ever completely finished.
I let my manuscript sit for about a month, as you should do after finishing the first draft of a story, and came back to it in January with fresh eyes. I dragged my feet through reading through my manuscript over and writing down everything that I needed to change to make my story good. It was going to be a lot of work, I realized. So I dug in. I started making revisions and changing around a lot of the chapters. But through about a quarter of the way through my first round of revisions, I realized that there was just TOO MUCH to change. There were some glaring problems with my manuscript.
The main character lacked substantial development and was sort of out shined by another character. The story just didn’t have enough action. The stakes weren’t high enough. Some of the decisions my characters made just didn’t make sense. There was a lot of filler. There were some characters that needed to be written out entirely. It was very predictable. As much as I hated to admit it, I knew my story needed to be MAJORLY reworked.
I realized this in about late March, early April. I completely stopped trying to revise my manuscript. I didn’t have time to think about other projects because I was so caught up in finals and a massive research paper I had to tackle for my English class. But since the spring semester ended in mid-May, I’ve been dabbling in other ideas for stories and even started to plan out a fantasy series that I think I can make a great story out of. I haven’t been doing as much writing, but rather just daydreaming about that idea. But still, at the back of my mind, I still haven’t been able to let go of my original idea from NaNoWriMo. I missed writing about the characters and that story.
So that’s why I decided to rewrite the entire manuscript I wrote in November from scratch.
The story is going to have the same characters and the same premise, but I want to fix the mistakes I made last time and hopefully avoid any other major mistakes. Right now I’m in the phase where I’m coming up with a couple of options for the direction my story will go. After that, I plan to thoroughly outline. I certainly learned my lesson. I want to take enough time to plan out everything and make it the best story it can be, rather than just trying to hit a daily word count.
I will keep you all updated on the progress I make!