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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Nano Reality Check

I'm a week into Camp Nano. I feel like a runner ready to see how far I can get in this race to get another rough draft under my belt. A runner still sitting on the sidelines! Even though I started this month with 7000 words of the story already on the page, I'm floundering.

Not because I don't know where the story is going. No, I've got that all mapped out. I keep getting sidetracked by book two in this series. It's almost ready to hand over to an editor. Almost.

My publisher sent a note last week saying she was having trouble remembering who these characters are and what happened in book one. It's been two years after all! So, this week I've been trying to find the right balance of reintroducing the characters without completely rehashing the first book. It's a good thing because now I know I need to do that in book three as well. With any luck, I'll get back to it...next week.

Now, on to the point of this post. Did you catch that word in the first paragraph? I'm working on a rough draft. That word rough is very important. When drafting a new story during the summer, you should not expect to to query it in the fall.

Now most of you are going, "DUH! You shouldn't have to tell us that."

But, and oh what a large but it is. There are some who see Nano as the miracle pill to catapult them to published author. For the many years I've sat back in utter amazement at how many people start posting their query letters for review every December on the Nano forums.

I'm glad everyone is so enthusiastic about their work, but come on.

Ok, the first year I actually thought something must be wrong with me because I didn't produce a polished manuscript ready for publication at the end of Nano in 2008. What I had was a really good idea. The skeleton of a story at 60,000 words. I knew it wasn't ready. For the next two years (Yes two whole years!) I added the flesh and skin to those bones. I ballooned to over 90,000 words and then cut back to 83,000 (drat that backstory!).

The point is, Nano is wonderful if you have realistic expectations. It works for me because my only goal is to get the skeleton of my story on paper. Then I always walk away. I need time to let the story sit, percolate in my mind a little. Maybe read some great books. Then when I come back I can read my story as a reader. It helps me notice the problem areas before I dig into revisions. There's a deep satisfaction at the end of the revision and editing process. Don't miss out on becoming a better writer by calling it quits on December 1st (or August 1st, whatever the case may be).

There is an excellent post on Storyfix.com titled A Little Help for Nanowrimo Writers. I highly recommend it.

While you are at it, check out The Lyon's Tale: Top 5 Ways to Stay Sane as a Writer.

Have you ever picked up a free book on Amazon and felt like it must have been someone's first draft?
I have. I refuse to be THAT author.


Liz A. said...

Oh yes, I've seen those books. I can't finish those books. Yikes.

Angela said...

Ugh! Yes, I have. It can be pretty horrible.

Hmm...you make an interesting point, and it may very well explain something I noticed, but didn't attribute to Nano. Musa always closed near the end and beginning of the year. Part of December and either all or most of January of the following year. When we reopened, there was an influx of manuscripts that were in no way ready. I don't have my records anymore, but I'd be willing to bet I rejected more submissions (as opposed to full manuscripts) during that time. I know Nano is in November, but I never made the connection before. It's possible Nano was the reason for this influx.

Interesting post!