Friday, November 19, 2010

Why I Broke Up with NaNoWriMo and Decided to Just Be Friends

I know, I know. Last post I'm so cocky that I'll finish NaNoWriMo this year, even if it means I have to write 20,000 words in four days.

But as I was working on my NaNo manuscript, I realized something important. I wasn't having fun. Yeah, there are times when NaNoWriMo is as much fun as pulling a scab off, but it's still its own kind of masochistic fun.

The reason I'm not having fun is because my heart isn't into it. Last year, NaNoWriMo was exactly the kick in the pants I needed to write the YA novel kicking around in my brain. Trouble is, I'm still revising last year's manuscript. It's close to being done. Real close. So now's not the time to leave it at the party while I go off with the new manuscript. Not cool, man. Not cool at all.

And all I did with the new manuscript was tell it how great the old manuscript was. The new MC wasn't happy with that. She wants to speak with her voice, not some other MC's. She wants her story, not some rehash of what my other MC did.

So, really, the break up was mutual. One day, we'll probably get back together again. On our terms. In our own time. And I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

3 Reasons Why I'm Not Concerned That My NaNoWriMo Word Count Is Dismal

Maybe the end of October was a bad time to start screwing around with Twitter (I'm @YAWriterNews). Because now in November I find myself fiddling around with Twitter and tweets and whatnot instead cranking out those words.

But this is why I'm not worried (yet!):

1. I can write fast. Last year I cranked out around 5,000 words a day for the last 4 days of NaNoWriMo. While I don't recommend this for everyone, and I don't particularly want to repeat that feat, I can thank years of working in television production for the ability to write fast. Good is another thing. Good will come later.

2. I'm not afraid to rewrite (remember, good comes later). So I let myself go. "Dare to be stupid" was a great piece of writing advice I once read from Sue Grafton. And if there's any place to get stupid it's NaNoWriMo. This is not the time for self-editing. Good will come later.

3. I recognize that what I'm writing for NaNoWriMo is unpublishable. There's been some backlash about NaNoWriMo. I recognize that it's not for everyone. Especially writers who don't rewrite. Or think 1 or 2 revisions makes their novel publishable. Dude, it's not. You need at least a year, probably 2 or more, to make that NaoNoWriMo puppy even readable. (P.S. Laura Miller: You need the crap to get to the good stuff. Though most writers don't time the time --or have the craft-- to take their pile of crap and find that nugget of good.)

So I'm not going to tell you my current word count because it sucks. All that matters is that I have until November 30th. And on December 1, that when good starts.

(Updated 11-12-10)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dear Lucky Agent Contest Redux

Writers' Digest is hosting another "Dear Lucky Agent" contest for YA novels and tomorrow's the last day to enter! Guest judge Tamar Rydzinski at the Laura Dail Literary Agency will choose three winners who get a 10-page critique and a free one-year subscription to WritersMarket.com. Sweet!

Since I've gotten feedback on my YA novel, I've changed the title, the opening scene, and the tense that the novel's written in. I'm curious to know how the rewrite flies, so I'm going to submit and see how well it fares.

The rest of the novel still needs some tweaks, but it's pretty solid. This contest gives me the opportunity to give my novel (at least the first 150-200 words) a test drive before I do the serious agent querying.

The query is another thing I worked on during my hiatus. I've completely rewritten it at least a dozen times. Getting feedback on my YA novel really helped me articulate what the novel is about and now I'm pretty happy with the query. I think newbie writers are so anxious to get their manuscript out there that they don't spend the time working on their queries.

For me, getting that feedback was essential to writing my query. And I plan to get feedback on the query before I send it out, too. Because I get so close to the project that sometimes I don't see what others see. So my advice for writing a query:

  • Take a step back.
  • Have others read it.
  • Repeat as necessary.

Monday, November 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo Rides Again

So I took a hiatus there for awhile. Spent some time rewriting a screenplay. Got some fabulous feedback on the YA novel. And now it's November again. Which means ...

NaNoWriMo!

I'm working on the fifth rewrite of the YA novel from last year's NaNo-extravaganza (which will be referred to from now on as YA1), but I decided to plow ahead and start on a new YA novel (which will referred to as YA2). It's an idea that I've been kicking around for awhile and I'm pretty excited about it. Although I have no idea what's going to happen. That's part of the excitement.

There are some cons to working on YA2 while revising YA1. Mixing voice and tone is the biggie. My character in YA2 is younger, but more jaded. I also was going to write YA2 in third person, but it came out as first person. Probably because YA1 is first person and that's what I've gotten used to. This will probably mean a huge tense rewrite in the future. (Has Word developed an Tense Change function yet? Cuz I'd use that. A lot.) But that's the future. I'm concerned about now. Getting those 50,000 words on the page.

And I'm off to a good start. Not a great start. Fell a little short today on the word count. Went to a Starbucks after work and put in a couple of hours. I'll pick up the slack later. After all, I've got 29 days to go.

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