So, I finished. Just barely. I started out so strongly, but I was derailed by a few things:
1. Laziness. Or procrastination. Whatever you want to call it. But yeah, that thing.
2. Violent disgusting upper respiratory infection of death. I believe that is the actual medical term for it. Cue the steroid shot, z-pack, and hydrocodone-laced cough syrup.
3. Death in the family. Even though it was expected, losing my grandmother was pretty awful.
4. Trip to Paris! Straight from the funeral, still sick with the upper respiratory infection, I spent Thanksgiving in Paris! Who wants to write when you have a lovely apartment, delicious food, wine for days, and you can curl up on the couch with your husband and watch music videos (sometimes in French!)?
So anyway, that made for a lot of last-minute typing and truly awful writing. I’m not even calling this a first draft, because it’s really just the skeleton of a zero draft. All bones and a little muscle but no real meat or fat. But it’s a complete story, beginning-middle-end and everything.
I guess that’s not a bad thing, right? That’s what NaNoWriMo is about, for me at least. Force yourself to write. Get words on the page. Go back and fix later.
But I would have been a lot happier if I hadn’t waited until the last four days to write OVER HALF THE BOOK.
Some observations from my process and the finished (ha ha!) product:
I need to work on the characters. Right now, the four main characters are somewhat loosely-defined. They have backstories and jobs and wants and pressures, but they all. sound. exactly. the. same. When they talk, I mean. I need to give them their own voices, and I need their personalities to shine a bit more. Or a lot more.
I had a hard time at first with my narrator, Bea. I just could not get into her head at all. It got easier as it went on, especially as she grew and changed. The other three main characters (the love interest, the best friend, the cousin) are all new favorites of mine. I had a lot of fun writing them. I just need to spend more time with them, I think.
Secondary characters? Oh, they’re all pretty one-note right now. They need depth and nuance and I just need to sit down and think about them. The book is set in a small town, where everyone knows everyone, so you know there are kooky characters and crazy backstories just waiting to pop out of the woodwork. But I don’t want it to get all Gilmore Girls, right? One can only take so many characters.
First person point of view means inner monologue. Yeah. I kind of forgot all about that. And it’s one of the reasons I love some of my favorite books. So, must fix this.
Description, description, description. I kept forgetting to use my senses. There are huge chunks of mostly-just-dialogue and one sentence paragraphs. We go on an amazing hike with the characters through the Ozark National Forest, and I’m all “the mountains were beautiful.” Really? That’s what I came up with? Beautiful mountains? Break out the thesaurus! Read some poetry! Go on the damn hike yourself, and write down what you see! I need to utilize the part of Scrivener where you write about settings… maybe that would help.
I’ve written before that I’m just not very good at this sort of thing. Must get better.
Writing a book for adults is fun (sorta!). Sex scenes and cursing! And work schedules! Wait, what? Yeah. While I got to let loose a little with the content, I had a host of new things to worry about. How is Bea paying her mortgage? Who’s watching the shop while she’s off fighting battles with her ex-fiance’s wife? What’s Parker’s work schedule anyway – he always seems to be hanging around the bookstore, so when is he actually earning money? Did we remember to feed the dog and let her pee? Can a hipster farmer actually make a living with an organic vegetable stand? Do I understand any of the legal issues I bring up in the book?
And does any of that actually matter? How important is that type of realism to this book?
Location scouting time! I need to spend a weekend in the little town that my fictional town is based upon. That will help with everything, I think. The town is almost a character itself, and even though I come from the backwoods, I’ve been in the big city for so long that I need to revisit small town life. It’s geographically very un-similar to Dallas, too, and I think I need to reacquaint myself with that type of topography.
It’s very close to my parents’ house, so perhaps I can sneak in a little trip over Christmas. Otherwise, though, I think this calls for a weekend away. A cozy, relaxing, refreshing weekend away.