Wednesday, October 3, 2012

NaNoWriMo: Whether or Not to Participate in the Writing Challenge

I've participated in National Novel Writing Month twice now, and each time was an amazing experience. Writing 50,000 words in only 30 days was a fabulous challenge, and taking part in the forums and local events made it loads of fun.

Every year, I push the event on my blog, and 2012 will be no different. However, I can't decide whether or not I will do it this time around.

Usually I scoff at all the excuses not to do Nano... You don't have the time? Pah! That's nonsense. You think it will hurt the quality of your writing? Humbug! You think it's too difficult? Don't be ridiculous!

But this year my book will be a historical fiction, and in my opinion, that's a whole different ball game.

You see, some historical inaccuracies are easy to fix. If I have my ancient Romans eat tomatoes when there weren't tomatoes in Italy until later, it's no big deal. I can wait to deal with those details when the challenge is over.

Other inaccuracies, on the other hand, might determine the plot of my novel. When that happens, I have no choice but to keep the inaccuracy or start from scratch.

For example: In my WIP Voodoo Queen, a character becomes the sex slave of a rich Creole business man. (Usually that would be too intense for me, but since black Catherine Henry had mulatto children, it's pretty obvious what happened.) 

I had this dramatic scene planned out of Henry Roche going to a slave market, seeing this gorgeous African queen, and falling so deeply in love with her that he bought her on the spot. Sadly, I discovered shortly thereafter that Henry Roche owned Catherine's parents. She grew up in his household. 

That changes their entire relationship, and by extension, Catherine's whole story. Now Henry is an aloof slave owner who pays no attention to little Catherine until she becomes a woman. Her mother has to watch him take an interest in her, knowing all along where his interest will eventually lead.

This is why I don't start writing my stories until after all my research is finished.

When I think about finishing a draft for Voodoo Queen only two months from now - after sitting on this idea for six years - you  have no idea how much joy it brings me. On the other hand, when I think about spending so many hours on crap I'll just throw away, it makes me very unhappy. I only have 28 days to decide!

This is indeed a dilemma.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? What about it appeals to you or doesn't appeal to you?


  1. These are valid points! I would try to cram a lot of research in to October and then set a reasonable goal for November, maybe be a NaNo Rebel. Good luck!

  2. I do NaNo every year, but not once have I come out with a workable draft (mostly because I am an incessant reviser and perfectionist) But that's okay, because my goal for Nano is to get the ideas, the words out not write a masterpiece. I use as a reason to write and write hard each day. Some days it takes me two hours to get those 500 words out, some days it takes me fifteen minutes, but either way I am writing and that can't be a bad thing.

  3. You've got valid points here. I'm in a similar boat. I've had a story idea in mind and the setting is in Japan, I've been before and can remember a lot of the streets and transport, but there's a lot of research (some can have drastic effects on the plot). I would suggest to try and cram as much research into this month and see where you stand when November starts. Good luck!

  4. Last year was my first time with NaNo, and I'm still working on that MS! So I might use it as a motivator to finish it off - daily revision time. Mine is also historical (romance) and I spent last October preparing - although there are still lots of small historical details to be ironed out as you mentioned. I got to 40k during NaNo and finished off the draft in June.

    If you have a plot idea in mind, at the very least you could give yourself a 1 November deadline to get the bulk of the research done.


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