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Existential crisis in NaNo-land. - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Existential crisis in NaNo-land.
And here's where we see why I'm a prequel fan.

I'm sitting here practically spitting at my monitor because I cannot get these morons I'm writing about to wake up. (That's right. I've had all day, and except for some peevish fits in an LJ argument, I've written zip. Not a word. And my brain just can't be bothered by it, because it doesn't care any more than the rest of me.)

The story takes place years after one war, and one of the villains of that war has to take up arms against his former lover, the enemies' leader, when she escapes her prison. Well and good; my sort of story (even though The Voices remind me that high fantasy readers don't like to buy tightly focused character stories). But the only time any of them seems alive is when my errant hero is remembering the lead-up to the first war, his love for his old flame, and how he ended up going from a very bright and happy part of his world to a blood-drenched villain. The character of the child he saves (an adult at the time of the story I'm actually writing) also seems to need development, because she has no purpose. His brother, a stable character, is awake enough, but is coming off as a self-righteous prig because no one involved is likely to talk about what he went through.

So I think the story I should be telling is the one of the first war. Er, well, the second war, as it was itself a follow-up of an earlier war. This hasn't been a happy world. But that means more or less scrapping what I have of the redeemed and re-starting my quest on November 11, which means I'm so not going to make 50K by November 30.

Poll #382898 Existential NaNo crisis

I don't care about my NaNo story, and think I should do something else. What do you all think?

Keep going. Sooner or later, it has to click, and you'll never make 50k if you go back to 0.
6(13.0%)
Keep the wordcount you've got, but scrap this and tell the back story, since it interests you more. No one said the 50K has to be continguous, right?
28(60.9%)
Do the older story, but play fair--roll your word count back to 0 and deal with not making the quota.
4(8.7%)
You may as well stick with what you're doing, because if you go to the back story, you'll just decide the back story to *that* is more interesting, too. Try a front story sometime. Just for kicks.
8(17.4%)


ETA: Final decision, I'm going to keep writing backstory bits, and figure out a structure which will allow me to go back and forth. Which means the novel will have to be a lot longer than 50,000 words.
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Comments
myf From: myf Date: November 11th, 2004 06:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
I admit to knowing very little about NaNo, but as far as I can tell, it's not a competition. It's a motivational tool. So not getting to 50,000 words by December shouldn't worry you, as long as you're doing what you first started NaNo in order to do - write original fic. So if the original fic you're writing at the moment, the 'front story', is not showing you the love, then dump it. Write something else.

My two cents.
narcissam From: narcissam Date: November 11th, 2004 06:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
As far as I'm concerned, NaNo is a pyschological aid to writing. If you want to make another start, I think it'd be best to keep the count. The idea is to be proud of writing so much every day, isn't it?

NM
From: ex_olivehorn645 Date: November 11th, 2004 06:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have about 10 words or so for my NaNo novel, so even if you did start completely over it's not like you'd be THAT terribly behind some of us...

I think you should keep the word count you have, though, and just write whatever you want. It doesn't have to be continuous or even good. My novel last year jumped several scenes and left out a lot of things for the sake of my ability to continue writing when I got stuck. If you really get going, you can always go back and take out the parts you don't need. Since what you already wrote is part of your novel-writing process, I don't see a problem keeping it for now.
lannamichaels From: lannamichaels Date: November 11th, 2004 06:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm going for doing the backstory. Heaven knows that my NaNoWriMo covers 1500 years and I'm not writing it in any real order.
lessthanpie From: lessthanpie Date: November 11th, 2004 06:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Mine's turning into a lot of backstory for what I thought was the main story when I started. Just go with it and see what comes out. Part of writing so much so quickly is to make yourself just see where it leads. No one said every single word has to be a keeper in the end.

I'm going back to mine now, where the characters are talking themselves into action. :)
narnian_dreamer From: narnian_dreamer Date: November 11th, 2004 07:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow. I have the opposite problem. I can't sit down to write anything without thinking how much more interesting the sequel will be.

I nearly always write chronologically, starting with the beginning of the story and moving towards the end. Right now, I have half-done manuscripts of two stories, each of which is divided into two parts. One takes place in the same world and just a few years after the other, but it's in a different country and with a whole new set of characters, so I'm counting it as completely seperate story. I have plans for a third novel, of which nothing is yet written, that will be a direct sequel to the first and tie the two together as the characters from both come into contact. I've been working on both of these for a long time, and why is neither of them finished? Because the one I really want to write is this third unit, which doesn't even have a complete plot outline yet! When I work on Part I of either, all I can think of is how much more exciting Part II will be. When I finally get to Part II, all I can think of is how much more fun it will be five chapters later when they arrive at such-a-place or so-and-so character is introduced. And when they get to such-a-place or meet so-and-so, what am I thinking of? The sequel. That's the main reason why I'm trying to write as much as I can in November, in spite of the fact that the pre-written prose disqualifies the story from the actual online contest. I will get through Part I of the first story, darn it!

I'm sorry for using your comments for my rant, but the point of all that is that a) everyone's writing talent works differently and b) you're the only one who knows what yours really does. If you sincerely feel that this story isn't working and you really need to write the prequel first, then start the prequel. Make your own personal NaNo contest with a due date of 50,000 words by 31 days after you start the new story, or keep the old word count and deadline if you think you won't be as dedicated to meeting your own deadline. If you think that this loosing interest is a phase you go through with everything you're currently writing and that you can write your way through it, or you at least want to see if you can write your way through it, then leech every bit of psychological motivation that you can out of NaNo and stick with the original story until you have a workable draft. Only you can tell if what you're feeling is genuine uninterest in your current project or normal dissatisfaction with the first draft that most writers go through and that won't disappear with a project change, or at least, won't disappear for long.

That's what I think.
leelastarsky From: leelastarsky Date: November 11th, 2004 07:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
If the backstory is where your Muse is taking you right now, follow her! Consider it all part of the greater word count. In fact, maybe you could look at the whole exercise as a way to write a nice thorough synopsis? Then, once you've finished and can look at the story as a whole, you can go back and sort out which parts you'd most like to really sink your teeth into. :~)
furiosity From: furiosity Date: November 11th, 2004 07:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Who said you couldn't write the backstory, then go back to what you're doing? Just start a new file, write the backstory, and once you've done that, you can quickly round off whatever you're writing now, beacuse you'll have the benefit of all that backstory and better knowledge of the character. [/my2cents]
ivylore From: ivylore Date: November 11th, 2004 07:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think I need a better definition of NaNo.

I must live in another world. You keep mentioning it, and I keep thinking that magically by osmosis, one day I'll clue in to what it is.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 11th, 2004 07:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Check it out at http://www.nanowrimo.org

The point is to write 50,000 words of a novel in November. Gotta say, it's not working all that well for me. I just didn't have anything I was passionate about at the beginning of the month, and trying to push out all those words has induced more contempt than passion.
arclevel From: arclevel Date: November 11th, 2004 08:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
NaNo's rules say that to "win," you have to write 50,000 words of a novel, but you can define "novel" however you like. Don't scrap what you've got, but temporarily lay it aside (even if temporary eventually becomes permanent) and keep your word count. They're the same universe, so they can still be considered the same story, even if they're discontinuous books. At least, that's my interpretation. :-)
necessaryspace From: necessaryspace Date: November 11th, 2004 08:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
What if you kept what you have and let the hero go on a massive memory spree? Or start telling another character about something really important that happened in the past?

**tightly focused character stories** I may already know this, but what is a tightly focused character story and why don't High Fantasy readers like it?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 11th, 2004 08:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Basically, it's a question of how the story is impacting the character--how does it feel to be in this position. Because high fantasy is very into world-building and detailed exploration of the milieu, the character study tends not to go over all that well.
michelle_ravel From: michelle_ravel Date: November 11th, 2004 10:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm not voting in the poll because I don't care what you do with your wordcount. Just... write what you want.
lyras From: lyras Date: November 12th, 2004 12:40 am (UTC) (Link)
If it's any consolation (no, I don't suppose it is!) I'm writing about a character who's extremely bitter about some past experiences, and the only time my wordcount shoots up substantially is when she gets lost in reminiscence. Otherwise, the story limps along in snippets of dialogue. I was wondering myself whether it wouldn't be better to go and write these past experiences, which are close to my heart. At the moment, though, I'm sticking to the present, because that was my aim from the beginning - to write about how the character finally deals with all the bitterness.

Good luck, anyway, whether you stick to the present or the backstory : ).
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