For this, my seventh NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project, I struggled with choosing a project. Then I struggled with organizing the story. I wanted to do some plotting and planning. This is a frequent endeavor I try, ignoring the fact that it has never worked for me. It feels like it could work, though. So, I tried. Some of the research was fun.
The story I finally chose was tentatively called Cursed, a novel about a half-witch, half-demon woman who’s been under the pall of a bad luck curse for almost a decade. It’s a road trip novel. The woman’s been called by the magical Council to return to Chicago. The Shifter-Sorcerer Enforcer sent to issue the summons breaks her protection charm while under the influence of a bad luck jag. So, he’s got to escort her back to Chicago. As part of my research, I looked up what problems can befall someone on a road trip. Conflict gold! I worked on the heritage of my magical characters. I had a rough outline of major plot points. It was more prep than I usually do for NaNoWriMo. The start was good, and I always kept ahead of my word goals. However, the story lacked spark, and it took me forever to get the characters moving. About twenty days in, I really wanted to switch to another project. This one wasn’t exciting. Flat. I made myself persevere. I think the issue is that I didn’t feel a close connection with the main protagonist.
Overall, though I made my 50K word goal, I think of the overall project as more failure than success. All words written help further the craft, so it’s not a fling-myself-on-the-bed-and-cry sort of failure. In fact, I learned a very valuable lesson about the importance of not just character development, but character attachment. Other writers might be able to write perfectly well without an intimate connection, but I know now that it doesn’t work for me. It’s also opened me up to some of my other works in progress. I have another project where I’m iffy on the plot but have a great feel for the character. Now I know to work on that project next. Sure, a 50K+ lesson is a bit steep, but valuable nonetheless.
Writing is a loooong process, and there are plenty of ups and downs. The key is to keep going, keep moving forward. I’m looking forward to taking a break in December to shore up the lessons for the January Savvy Authors class I’m teaching, “Unsticking Your Story.” Then, instead of cleaning up or continuing my NaNo project, I’ll turn back to It’s Raining Men, then when that’s ready for beta readers, I’ll work on my next novel, The Kybalions.