Two weeks ago NaNo reached its finale, and many were able to cross that finish line with fists raised in victory for having conquered the 50k challenge ─ others even going well above and beyond that. To all those who’ve striven to reach their goals: I commend you. Writing is not easy. For those who fell short and didn’t quite make it: you’re in good company. You tried, you made progress, and that alone is its own kind of victory. After all, writing is not easy.
I didn’t make the 50k goal this year. But, though I did not get very many words written, I did make some significant progress with the story as a whole, and today’s Know the Novel, graciously hosted by Christine Smith, is all about the aftermath.
1. Firstly, how did writing this novel go all around?
Well, considering that I have yet to finish it, after three NaNos, I can say it’s been a long, hard road with ups and downs, pleasant, grassy areas, and rocky bits. I’ve stubbed my toes a lot, but there’s no way I’m going back. Every hill climbed gives a view of how far I’ve come and a glimpse of what all it could be when it’s finished.
2. Did it turn out like you expected or completely different? And how do you feel about the outcome?
It’s not turning out anything like I expected. It’s better.
3. What aspect of the story did you love writing about the most? (Characters, plot, setting, prose, etc.)
Uh . . . setting. I love setting. But there’s also the interaction between characters that I enjoy. Some of them like each other, and some of them really don’t, so it’s fun (sometimes) navigating friendships and arguments.
4. How about your least favorite part?
Getting to the end and realizing I have to start from the very, very beginning with a new cast of characters, requiring character development and plot and the nitty-gritty details mortaring those stones together. It has a very “This is never actually going to end, is it?” kind of feeling.
5. What do you feel like needs the most work?
Tying together all the character arcs and making sure they are expressed well and resolved appropriately by the end, for sure. It scares me a little, actually.
6. How do you feel about your characters now that the novel is done? Who’s your favorite? Least favorite? Anyone surprise you? Give us all the details!
I’m not done. As expressed before, sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be done. The characters have slowly been coming to life for me, although recently I’ve been working most with Roscha and Judah (who frustrate me. Seriously.) and Gydean (who also frustrates me, for very similar reasons). I want to bang all their heads together and take a plunger to all of their emotional constipation (pardon me). There are three other characters in the second book that I’d like to flesh out more, and then there’s Mr. New Guy who popped up a few weeks ago. He’s interesting. I haven’t spent much time with him yet, but I get the sense we’ll get along well, aside from some fundamentals.
I feel kind of bad saying that no one’s really surprised me, like I’ve not been letting them be themselves or something. I always think it’s great when I hear other writers talking about how their characters are behaving contrary to what the writer wants and all that, but I’ve not had that experience myself. I’m not super easy to surprise, in some respects. I don’t dislike working with any of them, either. We’ve been at this awhile. We’re used to each other.
7. What’s your next plan of action with this novel?
Finish it. Still. At this point I really need to tackle the Big Edit by adding the antagonists’ side of the story, which bears a lot of figuring out yet. It’ll be better once I get started, but starting is the hardest part.
8. If you could have your greatest dream realized for this novel, what would it be?
Well, since we’re dreaming . . . A rich story that is truly beautiful, one that people can resonate with. I’d like it to be something that will last, one that people will want to read again. I’d also like pretty covers, honestly. It’d be nice if the story was dressed well.
9. Share some of your favorite snippets!
. . . My favorites are rather spoiler-y. So . . . hrm . . .
Era woke early in the morning to the sound of water dripping off the eaves, the repetitive plop, plop, plopping grinding on his nerves. He sat up and pushed the hair out of his face. It was about time he cut it short again. Nana slept with her head on his leg, her mouth hanging open and drool soaking the cloth of his trousers. Carefully, so as not to wake her, he lifted her head and shoulders and laid her back down on the twisted blankets so that he could get up. His hand lingered, though, his thumb hovering over her lips, then shifting down her chin and then to her throat.Falconsbane
It prompted a smile in response before Judah even realized, and the feeling of his lips pulled back in such a simple human display of happiness was strange, even awkward. But not uncomfortable. He remembered this feeling from long ago, from irretrievable days now lying on the other side of deep shadow, but this made it seem like they weren’t lost. Like if he reached out he could pluck them and play their music. His ears ached to hear it.Falconsbane
10. Did you glean any new writing and/or life lessons from writing this novel?
Not really . . .? Is that bad? I’ve been trying to figure out and condense the ‘moral of the story’, per se, since the beginning. Maybe ‘don’t ever think you’ve got it down, because that’s when it slips from your fingers and bites your nose’. Every time I’ve thought I was almost done, some character or plot point came up and reminded me that I’m far from finished. There are still places to go and things to do.
Have any of you tackled NaNo? Or even some other large, daunting project recently?