Nano update

Friday, November 03, 2006

5187 words in two days.  Because I’m a numbers geek, I can tell you that I’m ahead of my pace in all the other years I’ve done Nano.  Although I’m about to fall behind 2003’s Love in Black and White - I wrote 4000 a day on the 3rd and 4th that year.

So far, I’m happy with the story.  I’m a little worried that I’ve introduced too many characters, and that the timeline on the plot is going to get too hairy.  And I also am getting overwhelming urges to kill of a character or two.  I may succumb to the pressure.  I had already planned a death later in the story, but I don’t know if I can wait.

Killing a character in your story is strangely liberating.  It’s like playing God.  Even though, as far as the story is concerned, you already are God (And I mean that in the least blasphemous and least offensive way possible), but it’s still fun.  You get to say to your character, “Look at you.  You thought you were going to be a major character in this story.  And where are you now?  You’re dead!  Didn’t see that one coming, did you?”

It’s also helpful to combat writer’s block.  For example, let’s say you have a character who is absolutely vital to your plot at some point later in the story.  Let’s call him Harold.  Without Harold, your main character, Thor, will never meet Bridgitte, the green-eyed girl who works at Starbucks, fall in love, and move in with her mother.  This meeting, complete with harpsichord music in the background and a gentle snowfall, happens in chapter 12 because Harold asks Thor to meet him at the library to help him unload the secret documents that Harold smuggled out of CIA headquarters.  They meet, and Harold gets spooked by the strange elderly man reading Consumer Reports, and he takes off.  Thor follows, but loses him on the street, and finds himself in front of Bridgitte’s Starbucks.  The rest, as they say, is history.

So, let’s say now you’re in chapter seven, and Harold has just obtained the secret documents, but you have no idea how to get him to that library.  In fact, you have just spent forty minutes staring at a blinking cursor without typing a damn word, and you have stuff to do all weekend, and you know you’re going to fall behind.

At this point, Harold goes for a walk.  As he walks down the city street, a pack of wild dogs leaps from an alley and devours him, leaving behind nothing but his left shoe and the secret documents.

Do you see how you’ve conquered writer’s block?  Now you don’t have to worry about getting Harold to the library.  Harold is no longer your problem.  And now you’re scrambling to rewrite the entire second two thirds of the novel.  Soon, your imagination will awaken from its bored stupor, and realize that what Thor really needs is a plate of waffles, not a green-eyed love interest.

And there you go.  Problem solved.  See how easy that was?  And people say writing a novel is hard.

Posted in: Writing