This is my seventh year writing in NaNoWriMo and I have won every year. Last year, I did it while painting the inside of a house, working full time and moving in that same month. I still was able to write fifty thousand words. How do I do it? One of the things that NaNoWriMo has taught me is that I don’t need to edit as I go. The key to writing 50k words in 30 days is to write the number of words that I need to write each day without worrying too much about the end result. Writing the designated number of words is the primary concern and to keep moving forward. If I have two ideas for the same part of the book, I write them both down. I’ll edit out what I don’t want later.
Writing What I Know
Because I am trying to write a story quickly during NaNoWriMo month, I don’t have time to necessarily write in the order that the book is going to be in the final draft. when writing a first draft, I make it a habit to write what I know at the time. Its sort of fun to see how the story develops and how eventually it all comes together in one complete story. Having proper order to the content of the book will be important to the editing phase of the book so I do try to keep everything that is written close to proper order as I am writing. I don’t always write this first draft’s content in order. I often jump around in the story and write what I know to write today. I head the chapters and mark it as a heading in word. This way I know what is where, and if I think of something to add in a specific place, I can navigate to exactly where I want to go in the book. If I have a question I thought about answering, I also put it in the navigation under a heading so that when I had an answer for that question I can go back there and answer it. The important thing for me is to know that it is all part of my process. As soon as I get a specific piece of my book puzzle written down, another one develops. By the end of the month, the story has some resemblance of being a first draft.
Writing in Scenes
One of my beta readers told me that when I write it is like watching a movie. Part of the reason for that is that I try to experience everything that happens in that scene in layers. Usually the first time I write a scene I write it in a narrative form. I just write what I think will happen. Next I write the action into the story. I tell what everyone is doing. Next I write dialog and scenery. Next I add in how different characters feel and what they are thinking. I often feel as though I am creating a multi-dimensional work, like a three dimensional painting.I believe it is a complement when my friend says that it is like watching a movie, because I too experience the scenes in much the same way. The story however is different from a movie in that we are able to get inside the characters’ heads and emotions. At least from the POV (point of view) perspective.
I don’t worry about the transitions when writing a first draft. If I see a transition, I will include it, but if I don’t it is not that important at this stage of the game. I just keep writing. I can put it in later.There are almost always a lot of holes in my fiirst drafts, but to use another metiphor, it is like building a house. Having the first draft done is like having the outside of a home built. The house may look done from the outside, but there is still the inside to finish. The first draft is the outside of the story. It may look done, but there is still a lot of work to be done.
Donna Brown is pastor at Faith in God Church in Brandsville, Missouri. As Author Cygnet Brown, she has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener
She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her books, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .