Monday, November 30, 2015

The NaNoWriMo Experience

This year I decided to take a leap of faith and participate in something called National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, that consists of writing 50,000 words for a novel from November 1st to the 30th. The only writing I've ever really done is blogging and school papers, but I've had a story playing around in my head for around five or six years, and I figured it was about time to get it out.

The story I wrote is called "The Tapestries that Covered the Stairs" (a working title), and is based on a dream I had a while back. The dream was more of a nightmare to start out with, but was one of those dreams where I told myself I wouldn't be scared anymore, and so I wasn't. But when I woke up in the morning, and recalled this crazy dream, I found that while the circumstances in it hadn't made much sense, the atmosphere had been quite amazing. It was creepy, dark, detailed, and decadent, and I knew that I wanted to do something with it. I played around with drawing it out, or having my mom write a story on it (my mom actually is a very talented writer), or maybe even making a short story about it, but none of that seemed to do it justice. So it sat untouched in the back of my mind for years. Until this month, that is.

The decision to try out NaNoWriMo was completely last minute. I'd watched a fellow blogger, Hedgefairy Tales, participate for a few years, and I'd always thought it was interesting but not something I'd ever participate in. But a few weeks before November began I stumbled across the NaNoWriMo website for the first time, and it awoke an interest in me. I browsed the site for a few minutes, before I decided to take the plunge.

I've been writing much more in these past months than I ever have, what with starting college and all, and I felt a bit more prepared for something like this. But I honestly thought that the story I had in my mind would only be about half of the 50,000 word count, and I prepared myself to not meet the goal, and only get a little bit of writing done. I had very little idea of just what I was getting into though, and I read through all of the emails that the NaNoWriMo people sent me very carefully, as if they were my syllabus for the month.

As I began to write, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly the words came to me. They seemed to flow out of me naturally, and in no time at all I had my first chapter written and a storyline established in my head. The word count still seemed like an impossible goal, but I was having fun writing, so who really cared about that?

But as I continued to write, this simple story grew and changed.

I started out with one character who had actually been in my dream, and her father. I named her Emile, gave her a back story for my own reference, and decided that those would be my only characters, just like in the dream. I began writing with that notion in mind.

But then I found John. He wrote himself into my story so smoothly as a plot device, but he decided to stay when I discovered all the possibilities he could bring. So then I had two main characters, and I decided that would be it. I continued writing, and I tweaked my plot slightly to fit him in.

But, surprise surprise, I found another main character on the way. Eileen wrote herself in as well, and just like John, she was supposed to be a plot device. She charmed me enough, though, that I kept her around as a main character as well.

After that I wrote in a few more characters that I hadn't planned, but I managed to stick with my three main characters.

The story took a change in genre as well. The original feel of it, simplistic and psychological horror, began to change into a complex psychological horror story coupled with a mystery. As it stands right now, it reminds me of something one of my favorite authors, Frank Peretti, would write, coupled with one of my favorite books, Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I'm quite happy with it so far.

I ended up reaching the 50,000 word count goal in the end, and I've still have quite a lot more story left to write. But I've learned so much this month about writing, and perseverance.

I've taken time out of my busy schedule everyday, and written sometimes a little, and sometimes a lot. But I wrote something every day, and I managed to not get stuck with any serious writers block (miraculously).

I write all of this not only to update you on what I've been up to, but to tell you this: NaNoWriMo is a fantastic experience that you should be a part of. It's a chance to stretch yourself, and to use your imagination in ways you've never used it before. So for everyone who's been teetering on the edge of whether or not to do this, or maybe for those who have never even heard of it, I want to let you know that participating will not be a waste of your time. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised!

And who knows, maybe next year I'll be writing alongside some of my followers and friends?

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