Thursday starts another go at NaNoWriMo! National Novel Writing Month is a month-long project in which participants attempt to write 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30. It is a big deal, and though I don’t have the current number, almost half a million people participated in 2015.
When I started November last year, I was excited about the journey to write my first novel. I “won” NaNoWriMo early on November 26, but I wasn’t quite done with the story yet. I wrapped up my first draft in December and then spent many months editing, rewriting, and polishing it until the whole thing was complete.
This year is a bit more challenging as I know what I’m getting myself into, and it is a bit scary. Also, they warned us on the Writing Excuses cruise that writing might be hard for us for a while due to all the new information, and I’ve found that to be true. October has seen bits and pieces of writing, but certainly not the 1667 words per day required to win again.
Six of Crows
Thankfully, I have been reading. This month, I read Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. I’d somehow managed to miss this one, published in 2015, and found it when someone on the cruise described it as “Oceans 11 meets Sarah J. Maas.” I really, really liked Six of Crows. I couldn’t put it down once I started and have been talking about it ever since.
As I read it right after the cruise, I was hyper-focused on my reactions as a reader with the hope some information might help me as a writer. At some point, I realized I had some concerns with the plot. Something happened that made me hop out of the story and into my own head, and I started to apply logic to the corners of the novel. It was a great story, but like all stories, requires a certain suspension of disbelief. And like all stories, I lost mine for a moment. In the same instant, I realized I didn’t care. I needed to know what happened to the characters. I needed to know if they were okay at the end. I needed to know if the romances bubbling beneath the surface broke forth. I needed the characters. Period.
At that moment, I also realized why I want to write. I want to evoke the same emotion. I want for a reader not to care about my failings, but be so in tune with the characters they flip the page anyway. I should have known this already, but it has taken several novels where this has happened to me for me to notice. I want to lead to the ending that makes other writers forget why they love the story to begin with. I want the ending that makes people pissed it is over. I want that feeling I had when Dalinar exchanged his sword for slaves, when I realized what Ender had done (and when Ender realized what Ender had done), when the Reavers pop out behind Serenity. I think this makes me emotionally manipulative, and I don’t care.
NaNoWriMo may be more difficult this year because I know more, but I feel more confident about it precisely because I do know more.