November is officially over, and with it NaNoWriMo. So, it’s time for another wrap up post. I might as well get it out of the way first as last, I didn’t reach the target. I got to 39,020 around a week ago, and stopped there. So, what happened?

The first and main problem was that I stopped having fun with it. Sure, last year’s book had some dark themes in it, but it was overall pulpy fun. This year I decided I’d use NaNo to push myself and dive into something more literary, with themes of bigotry, religious intolerance, alcoholism… Not an unworthy goal, but maybe not one conducive to writing a set amount of words per day.

Which leads to problem two. Last year I wrote something simple and fun, just to learn exactly how to write something longer than 10,000 words or so. This year, I pushed just a little too far and realised I’m not good enough yet to write such lofty fiction. Genre lends itself well to NaNo, because you can get away with a degree of crappiness as long as the overall product is fun to read (no offence to rabid genre fans) whereas literary fiction requires more finesse than my prose currently has.

When I got to the 39,000 mark, I knew I wanted to stop. My first thought was to keep going and hit the 50,000 goal by the end of the month. But then, what would the point be? I’m not going to learn anything from another 11,000 words of making the same mistakes. So instead, I started going back over what I had already written to identify my problem areas.

By far my biggest issue is that I lean too heavily on dialogue. There are pages upon pages of some of the best dialogue I have ever written, while description and action get barely a second thought. So, for the next eleven months, that’s my focus. I’ll deconstruct how my favourite writers tackle action and description, and try some of my own. Maybe get people to send me random photos that I can do a quick 500 word description of, just to work out that particular muscle. And then hopefully by November 1st 2014, I’ll be a bit more skilled and a bit more confident in my abilities.

So, I may not have met the goal for NaNo. But I did identify several key weaknesses, and I made several new friends over the course of the month. And that feels like a win to me.


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