It’s day 7 of NaNo. The slower, less capable writers have begun to fall behind and are being eyed hungrily by those of us still struggling forward. No one has yet managed to solve the Sphinx’s second puzzle. Wolves are now stalking the island.
I’m well over what the NaNo Graph tells me my wordcount should be, but I’m making far slower progress than last time- last year I did something like 18,000 words in three days, whereas I am currently not even at 15,000. It’s entirely possible that writing that quickly when I had such little experience wasn’t a good idea.
The story’s going well, though. There are these twee phrases people use (I’ve noticed that online writing communities seem to gravitate to twee phrases), “pantser” and “plotter” as in, do you write by the seat of your pants or do you plot everything out carefully. I’m not really sure that this is as binary a distinction as some people think. I plot out my story very carefully, it’s just that I don’t know what the next part of the plot is going to be until I write it. This is probably not a very smart method, but it’s getting things done I guess.
Speaking of which I’ve received a pep talk from Veronica Roth, author of the bestselling Divergent trilogy (now a major motion picture from Lionsgate) that advised me to ignore writer identities and strict formulas and just do whatever works. Which is good advice, except it was paired with the following image:
You see this image, or similar images, a lot in relation to writing and screenswriting and its always kind of baffled me. What exactly is “rising action”? What if you have more than one inciting incident? What’s with that seemingly long setup, why not just have the inciting incident happen on, like, the second page?
I think the most baffling part about this method is that very few books and movies I’ve ever read or watched actually seemed like they were following it, but it always gets trotted out like its the rosetta stone of writing.
(You can see similar arguments against graphs like these in this article written by the Hulk)
On the other hand that graph perfectly describes the plot of most videogames, which generally spend their middle sections forcing the player to walk along a repetitive treadmill of increasingly bombastic action sequences before the story is allowed to arbitrarily reach a conclusion (see this article, which wasn’t written by the Hulk).
Veronica Roth does have a good piece of advice relating to this though, which is that you should avoid the temptation to halt the story where it is or try to go back. When I was writing my previous Nano story I constantly assumed that “okay now the characters should faff around a bit and, like, do stuff or something” but the need to keep writing quickly every day meant that that wasn’t an option, And that turned out to be a good thing, because it taught me a valuable lesson about when to push the plot forward (always) and when to just tread water and stretch things out (never).
Exhaustively blogging about a certain book series with a penchant for doing the latter might have helped as well.
Anyway, I’m still having a blast. Must write more words.