Ten days in to NaNoWriMo and I’m reminded of all the ups and downs and the general ebb and flow of both the story of my life and of my novels during this marathon of writing. For exmaple, most routines get pushed to the background so that I end up catching up on house-cleaning, laundry, e-mails, and any other life-related event late at night. I also tend to reach minor burn-outs just before the halfway point, where I start distracting myself with those very same things. And then there’s the evolution of the story.
For the first NaNoWriMo I completed, way back in ought-six (2006 for those who don’t speak grizzled prospector), I came in with an fairly detailed outline (for me) laying out the chapter progression of the story. About halfway through I realized that outline was going to leave me short, so I went rogue and added in some wacky plotlines about pirates (whatelse, amiright?), space whales, and a crazy dude who held a key to the universe (I’ll try to make this novel available sometime in the next year). This happened to a lesser degree in ’07 with my superhero story (Echoes of the Past – episode 1 is releasing in the next few weeks) and then, after returning to the event, two years ago. And it’s happening again.
It’s probably inexperience, but I seem to go into NaNoWriMo with a general story idea and not much in the way of plot or specifics. For example, this year’s story is a mundane-SF Young Adult novel set in the near future that explores how technology is an influence on our lives, for good or evil. I have the main characters set, and some general idea of the plot. Within a week of writing, it’s clear that I still don’t completely know how I’m going to develop this thing into a novel-sized story. It’s full of seemingly unrelated plots, with characters that only come together at contrived times. It needs work. And a spark.
So I’m reading over my notes from the story’s development (I began brainstorming ideas a few years ago), and I come across mention of a sister that I’d forgotten about. She’s particularly interesting because her life and development ties even more closely with technology than the main characters’. So I start writing some segments involving her and the family and gradually doors start opening. What if this happens? What about the brother/sister relationship? How does she feel about her life as it is? Then *blam* an entirely new sub-plot smacks me in the face, something that can run through many of the others, tying them together.
And that, I think, sums up what I like most about NaNoWriMo. When forced with a deadline, the brain gets creative and stories take interesting twists they may not have otherwise taken.
So, thanks NaNoWriMo, see you at the finish line.