Yay! As of 8.30pm on the 21st of November, I’ve validated my novel, and won NaNoWriMo 2015~
It’s been a wonderful ride. The only thing is Mirror Madness is only about 60% completed! I’ll continue the rest of Mirror Madness after I’ve finished writing a short story for a competition that ends on the 30th of November.
If you’d like to read the rough, unedited, sketchy version of Mirror Madness you can check it out on Tablo. I don’t like how it’s so rough and probably terrible, but I hope there’s something in there that will attract you.
Please do comment and tell me what you like/dislike about the book.
I’d also like to blog about the various things I did during November to complete 50000 words! I don’t think its easy to just write 50000 words of a novel, especially when you’ve work or other prior engagements. So here are some of the methods I used to help me along this journey!
Things I learnt while writing during NaNoWriMo
Having an outline helps!
Or rather, a writing beat. I had no idea it actually had a term till I talked about it in a NaNoWriMo group. It isn’t an outline per se. Rather a brief paragraph, or bullet points on the chapter I’m about to write.
For example, for Chapter 1, I’d write:
Saranya has a traumatic experience with the shadow people. They tried to capture her. She escapes! However, she then locks herself in her room for FIVE years!
It’s merely a brief summary of what I want to write for that Chapter. I then continued writing this brief summary. Occasionally I get stuck, then I write down scenes that I want incorporated into the story. If the scenes fit a particular chapter, I then add it to that chapter itself.
Chapter 2 would be:
Mun Keat and his family. Write about how he has seen the monsters too, but he pays them no heed. At this moment in time, Saranya is captured and forced inside the mirror world. She runs after being chased by Cerberus. She ends up sitting by a rock and crying. Mun Keat hears her cries, and out of curiousity he peeks into the mirror, but he falls into it instead.
Several scenes are placed together to form a chapter.
Thus, I have a general idea of where my novel is heading, and what I want happening in each chapter.
At some point I realize that my outline has become shorter and shorter till it’s only one sentence!
Like Chapter 11:
Mun Keat is scared but Saranya is brave.
They may be short but they do help in guiding me to where I want to go with my story.
So yes, write an outline!
5 minutes of writing longhand.
Before writing a chapter, I’d take my pen and notebook, and write. I’d write based on the summary I’ve already done. But this time I’m expanding the scenes. So I’ll write about the exact incident that traumatizes Saranya. But when I’m writing longhand, I don’t have all the details yet. Just the general idea of what I want happening again. I’m writing down all the emotions I want depicted. I’m concerned about the flow of the story, and so I write.
Later, I’ll transfer it to the computer, and this time, with the draft I’ve written out on paper. The words will come easier, than if I had just say there typing from the start. Sure, I’d get stuck, but with a little break to pen my thought down on paper, I would come back to continue the flow that broke off for a moment there.
Letting my characters move the story.
There were plenty of times when I didn’t know what to do. Sure, I had the general idea of where I wanted the novel to go to, but I didn’t know exactly what the scenes should be like!
That’s when I thought hard about my characters and their motivations before writing the scenes accordingly. Also, it was because of sudden new characters popping up that more subplots developed themselves and moved the story even better.
Because of that I have had a humanoid creature suddenly turning into a cat with wings wearing a tophat. Or a sneaky Adonis lookalike turning evil just so he can save his own skin.
So yes, let it happen! It might bring your novel to greater adventures!
I write more than the expected word count when I can.
There are some days when I write more. I force myself to sit down and just write. Those are the days when I know I won’t be disturbed, when I have time to myself to just write. This is to get ahead.
Because there are some days when life just gets in your way. Getting thrown out of the house, forced to clean your filthy room, days when you’ve just gotten your period and you can only lie down on the bed and cry. Okay, there are always days like that. The days when the words won’t come.
To prevent panic from settling in, I write more than what’s expected for the day, on the days that I can.
That’s why my NaNoWriMo calendar looks a bit wonky on some days. Those are the days when I just can’t write.
On the days when I can’t write, I usually read comics, watch some shows, or just walk around to think about my novel. Then the next day when the words come back, I’ll sit my ass down.. And write.
I read a lot of pep talks.
I would get depressed after writing. Sometimes I would feel as if it wasn’t worth writing anymore. Who would read it? Who would care if I quit anyway?
Especially when I got to the middle, the muddling middle. The initial joy of writing has faded and now I’m going crazy. That’s when I sit down, search for the wonderful pep talks on NaNoWriMo or go search the forums for others like me.
This pep talk by Neil Gaiman helped me get through the horrifying middle part of my novel.
“You write. That’s the hard bit that nobody sees. You write on the good days and you write on the lousy days. Like a shark, you have to keep moving forward or you die. Writing may or may not be your salvation; it might or might not be your destiny. But that does not matter. What matters right now are the words, one after another. Find the next word. Write it down. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.”
– Neil Gaiman
Another pep talk by Stephanie Perkins really got to me as well. Because I’ve wanted to write this novel for ages! So why was I fumbling now?
“Sometimes the things that matter the most to us are the hardest things to actually do. Sometimes they matter so much that we never do them, because our fear of failure is stronger than our fear of not even trying.”
– Stephanie Perkins
And that was exactly it, wasn’t it? I was so scared of writing terribly, that I’d rather not write at all! But that wasn’t the way! The only way to be better, is TO KEEP ON WRITING.
And that was what I did. I kept writing.
Now, there’s nothing left but to write on even if I’ve won NaNoWriMo. This is just the beginning after all! Just a push for me to get started.
Saranya and Mun Keat’s story is just starting to get interesting. And I’m going to finish this novel. Perhaps you’ll see it on Wattpad by next year.
Thank you for reading this lengthy post.