Nanowrimo, or the great writing adventure


Doing nanowrimo again this year–like last year and the year before last, I’m mostly using it as a springboard to kickstart a novel-in-progress: this time is Harbinger of the Storm. Truth is, Nanowrimo is slightly above what I deem a comfortable writing speed: I’m more a 1,000-words-a-day kind of person than a 1,666-words-a-day madwoman. But the key point is peer pressure: seeing how everyone else is doing forces me to hammer away at the keyboard every day, or to make up for lost time.

Last year, it didn’t work out so well: I wrote perhaps 1/3 of Foreign Ghosts before real life intervened and I had to reschedule. However, in 2007, I got 50,000 words of Servant of the Underworld done over November (and, because I’m just that kind of madwoman, I got the other 50,000 words done over December. The BF’s comment on the whole process was something like “never again”, because he scarcely saw me for two months). This time, I’m allowing myself a longer period to write the draft (though winning nano would still be kind of cool).

Like 2007 and 2008, I have my roadmap: a more-or-less complete synopsis: 25 chapters, 4,000 words per chapter, knowing that the average length of a scene is around 2,000 words (1,000 words for the small ones, 3,000 for those where lots of things happen and/or lots of characters are present). The last three or four chapters are a great deal fuzzier than the first, because no novel plan survives the writing of the first draft; I’ll always end up making up stuff at the end according to what has gone on before, so might as well not waste time planning them in great detail. So far, so good. There have been a few hitches: namely, a lack of suspects (soon remedied: populating the imperial court with suspects was amazingly easy), and some research failure (the aforementioned dating problems which required me to spend a long evening poring over Aztec-to-Julian calendar correlations). But so far it’s going well.

Of course, things always deteriorate later on, in the Dreaded Middle. I’m hoping that if I write fast enough, I won’t have time to second guess myself (which happened with Foreign Ghosts, grinding everything to a halt because I was stupid enough to listen to my chattering inane monkeys and stop writing). Fingers crossed…

On related matters, there’s now a release date for books 1 and 2 in the US: Servant of the Underworld will be in bookstores in August 2010, and Harbinger of the Storm in November 2010. Wow. Sounds like World Fantasy will be a lot closer to my book release than I thought.


  1. I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.

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