By this time next week I will be charging into my 2013 NaNoWriMo novel. My outline is looking pretty solid, but I still have a fairly large number of names to come up with (although the list is getting smaller).
Ordinarily I would be champing at the bit right now, eager to get started.
But I’m not
And that has been bugging me because I love NaNoWriMo. I have ever since the first time I did it. I remember winning – hitting 50k and finishing my first ever novel and sitting back and staring at my laptop and thinking, “Wow. I just wrote a novel. A novel!” And then an odd sense of letdown from the euphoria… sort of a “Now what do I do with myself?” And then a sense of loss: “It’s eleven months until I can do this again.” (That was before there were Camp Sessions.)
It is because of that first NaNoWriMo that I now write year round.
But despite that, despite writing year round, there remains something special about November and NaNoWriMo. (The Camp Sessions are pretty special too, in a different way.)
I’m not sure what it is – maybe it’s the challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. Or maybe it’s the rush, the mad push to get those 50,000 words out of my head and into a word doc. Or maybe it’s the sense of camaraderie, of knowing that there are over 100,000 other people from all around the world involved in the same endeavor.
Whatever it is, there is something special about NaNoWriMo. Something wild and inspiring and addictive and fun and crazy and energizing…
So why are my fingers not twitching to start?
Because I’m not in love with my story.
Oh, I don’t hate it (and I’m already seeing the possibility of a sequel) but I don’t love it, either. I’m pretty sure that the plot is solid and free from holes (although I’ll be going over it at least twice more between now and the stroke of midnight that signals writing time). I’m hoping that I can maintain the intrigue and danger while still focusing on the interplay of the characters, although that’s going to be a tough juggling act.
I think the problem is the characters. I’m not in love with my main characters, and that’s why I’m not in love with the story. I don’t hate the main characters (well, I sort of hate one of them but she’s a spoiled brat so hating her is permitted, even encouraged) but I’m just not really looking forward to spending every moment of the next month with them.
And since my writing tends to be very character-driven, this is presenting a problem.
Not to mention that if I don’t love them, no one else will either.
So, I foresee myself doing some heavy-duty character work in this next week. I’ll start tonight when I do my 750 words using a technique I read about last year and tried out… When I tried it, it was with characters that I had been working with for over a year, and I learned so much about them… I’m curious to see how it’s going to work with characters that I don’t know well.
Here’s the technique:
Writing in first person point of view, have each of your characters describe the others.
So, I have five main characters – Taliya Swan, Jad Nidral, Luzita Fronen, and two aliens that have names that I haven’t figured out how to spell yet – so each night for the next five nights one of them will describe the others.
(One of the aliens doesn’t even have a physical description yet, and the other has an almost complete description. The one without a physical description is from a race that is genderless, which is going to make pronoun usage tough.)
So now my problem is…. who talks first – or who gets talked about first…