Monday, November 29, 2010

What I Learned From NaNo

As the final hours of NaNoWriMo come to a close, I must take a few moments to reflect on the experience. Don't worry ... it' ll be short. ;)

For my very first NaNo I have to say, it was pretty darn fun. I was as dedicated as a working mom can be, and even finished with days to spare. I've never written a first draft with a deadline before--well, not with a thirty day deadline, anyway. So knowing I had to have the 50k words down by Nov. 30 was a little daunting.

However, I think it really pushed me to get the story out. I feel bloody awesome! I just finished an entire story in a month and now I'm ready for the first round of edits! *grins* Now, I'm not one of those peeps who think that, now I have my first draft, I'm ready to query. I'll put my ms through a few rounds of revisions and beta readers. I'll even take a month break from it so I can return with a fresh perspective.

So what I've learned from NaNo, is that I can write a story pretty quickly if I know what I want to happen. I went in with a full chapter outline and character sketches. I never got writer's block because I knew what was going to happen (for the most part). With each chapter I set the scene, then let my characters have free reign and see where their conversations took them.

A little about my WIP--the story formerly known as Sapphire--I changed the name to Starsong. What do you think? Does it have any appeal? Before I wrote the story I wrote a logline, which pretty much sums up the gist:

All-American teenager, Wynonna Pinks, never expected to fall in love with the oddball neighbor kid. As if teen love isn't intense enough, her new love's devout Muslim upbringing will make some awkward waves for them in their small Bible Belt town, leaving them no alternative but to focus on the harmony that brought them together in the first place.

It's a contemporary literary story, so it focuses mainly on dialogue and the angst of a teen romance with conflicting religious backgrounds. The focus is not on the actual conflicting beliefs of Islam and Christianity, but on the ordeal of trying to make a relationship work when everything is against it.

So that's it. I'm wrapping it up at just about 70k words before revisions. I'm sure it needs some major work after  writing it so fast, I don't even remember everything--which makes it exciting during the first round of edits ... then by the fourth time around I wanna puke... lol!

Thank you, NaNo! I've learned that I can crank out a story with dedication and diligence. But with the understanding it is nowhere near ready for submission. I'm looking forward to tweaking it into shape.

How about you? Did you learn anything from NaNo? If you didn't do NaNo ... what are you working on? Tell me everything!


Susan Antony said...

Congratulations on your success. Your story sounds intriguing. I want to try next year!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Starsong is a good name!
I hit the target yesterday. Still a lot more to write in the story, but I'm cruising toward the ending now.
I learned that I might really have another story in me. Thought CassaStar was it, but the sequel might be even cooler.

The Blogger Formerly Known As said...

Although I haven’t admitted it yet, I am envious of those of you who’ve put yourself through NaNo. I don’t think I would have participated this year anyway, but there’s always another year.

Congratulation to you for doing so well.

My own feeble little effort has been temporarily abandoned as my muse has gone on holiday (or run away completely, I’m not sure which yet).
The enigmatic, masked blogger

Talei said...

Fantastic work on Nano! Well done! ;) I'm still working on my revisions, hoping before end of Dec to have draft 2 completed.

Have a lovely week. x

Tracy said...

I'm still finishing my NaNo, but that's what I love about it. I don't stress out because I tend to use certain unneccesary words too often. I can perform a that-ectomy (as Janet Reid put it) later. I love just getting the story out and worrying about polishing it later.

Congrats on completing it!!

As far as the querying, I've decided to hold off until January. The holidays are just too crazy for me to add more querying stress on top of it all.

Marissa Farrar said...

Congrats on finishing! I've still got 3K to go, which is no problem. I'll be done for the deadline and I'm glad to have done it.
I like the same Starsong, though it does imply some kind of fantasy element I couldn't see in the blurb.
Everyone should hold off querying until well into the new year. Publishers and agents have their eyes open for rushed Nano m/s and won't give them the time of day.
Taking a month out is the right thing to do. I plan to do the same. It makes you see things you would have missed before.

LTM said...

that sounds fantastic! I love it! And is it Starsong b/c they sing together or something? Like a Glee type deal?

Rock on--congrats on winning Nano~ <3

Anonymous said...

Congrats on NaNo! I've never participated but I hope to next year.

As for my current writings...still revising :)

Christi Corbett

William Kendall said...

Congratulations on finishing!

Starsong sounds good!

The Happy Whisk said...

Congrats on all your hard work. Go you.

Quinn said...

Congrats on NaNo! I didnt do NaNo or much of anything this month. I have been thinking about my new sex demon project. Ive written a few scenes for that. Next week I wanna do some editing on my last manuscript and get my query ready since I have vacation.

Was great to hear all about you NaNo experience and what you learned.

kmckendry said...

Congrats! Sounds like a great story. Would love to read it. Teens these days definitely need help steering through the many roadblocks of life. I didn't do Nano this year, but I think I might next time. Currently, I am working on a couple of children's picture books. I have finished, revised, and begun sending them out, but no luck yet. Maybe will revise some more.

The Golden Eagle said...


It sounds like a fascinating story!

Oddyoddyo13 said...

50k in a month! That just makes my head spin around! That's what I really need to work on with writing though-diligence. :) Congrats on your new story!

Pk Hrezo said...

THanks everyone! All your comments really make my day!! :)

Lizz said...

Congrats on finishing!!! What I learned from NaNo is that I really need some sleep....

Lola Sharp said...


I love your story premise...timely and intriguing. I do love the title Starsong, BUT, I agree with someone above who mentioned that it does have a fantasy sound to it. But I do like it.


Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

Ahhh--how was I not following your blog? I swear I thought I was! #Shannonfail

Anyway, I've corrected the problem *waves from the sidebar* and while I didn't do NaNo, I've learned kind of the same thing you have over the last few months. I'm not a big outliner, but I do so much better with a draft if I do at least SOME pre-planning. Especially with my characters.

Hope you're having a great week!

T C Mckee said...

Oh, I totally love STARSONG. I loved Sapphire too but I have to say this one sounds better. So proud of you for NaNO. I didn't do it this year. too busy in revisions so maybe next year. The blurb sounds very intriguing not to mention original:)

Florence said...

My update gets posted tonight. I have completed my challenge and like yourself, face the daunting task of editing.

Loved all you NaNo posts. It sounds like you had a great experience and produced something you will be proud of ... congrats :)