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Skipping to the Good Bits

November 14, 2011

I’m behind on NaNoWriMo. I should be at a little over 23,000 words on my novel by the end of today, but I woke up this morning with just under 15k and only a few hundred not-yet-typed words to add to it from the weekend.

To tell the truth, this is not a huge surprise to me. I’m following something close to my usual pattern for this event when it comes to my word count. Most years, I have a few miserable days in a row of little to no writing during the first or second week, and I get five or six thousand words behind. Then, I tend to start up the writing again in week three but stay consistently behind until the final week. When I get close to the end, I can generally manage a last surge of words to catch up and get me over the goal of 50k by the end of the month.

Returning to greener days

This week, I’ve been stuck in a particularly awkward spot in my NaNo draft of Fragments. It’s one of those places where I know what needs to happen a little further ahead, but I’m not sure of how immediate events will lead up to the later scene that I can visualize. The characters need to get from one place to another, but I just can’t quite figure out how to get them to their future destination where things start happening again.

Last week, the folks at NaNoWriMo sent out a pep-talk by Jonathan Lethem to all the participants. As of this blog post, the pep-talk hasn’t yet been added to the part of the website non-participants can see, but he writes about transitions and how we should skip them to get to the interesting bits in our stories.

“Write like you’d read—” he says, “and notice how much you customarily skip as you read.” It finally sunk in today that I’ve been trying to write all the stuff that I’d skip—or at least skim through—if I were reading it. And it’s no more fun to write that stuff than it is to read it.

This morning, when I sat down to write in my spare hour before work started, I did it. I skipped the boring transitional stuff about how my characters got from one place to another and just put them in the new place. Suddenly the words started flowing again. I’ve added a little over 2,000 words to my word count, and things are actually happening in my story. I’m getting to write some of those scenes that are so vivid in my head, but that I thought I had to wade through the mud of transitions to get to.

And, of course, I already know what my first major revisions are going to entail once I’m finished with this draft. But that’s something for December.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 14, 2011 8:50 pm

    Yay!
    I don’t quite know where my story is going, still. So I can’t really skip to the good bits yet.
    Still trying to figure out how to incorporate the babysitting challenge. I’m gonna make it happen though.

    • Anita M. King permalink*
      November 15, 2011 12:53 am

      Where has your story gone so far?

      Maybe, even if you don’t know where you’re going overall, you could think of a few scenes that would be really fun to write and see how you can fit them in (or just write them and figure out where and whether they fit in December).

  2. November 14, 2011 11:02 pm

    Good luck with NaNoWriMo! Good luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck!!

    🙂

    uponatlas.

    • Anita M. King permalink*
      November 15, 2011 12:53 am

      Thanks! Are you participating?

      • November 15, 2011 5:37 am

        Unfortunately, no 😦 I have exams during November, and seeing as it’s my last two years of high school, I don’t want to take any chances of doing badly.

        I can’t wait until school is over though, so that I can finally participate in it! 🙂

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