Writing Your First Novel
Well, it's officially the beginning of NaNoWriMo 2011. For those that don't know what this is, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. Basically, in the span of 30 days, you are expected to write a 50000 word novel. You can do some outline work before-hand, and editing after, but the point is to get 50000 words of ideas down onto paper (or word document) in the month. I've always been fascinated by this idea and have known about it for the last 4 or 5 years at least. Before though, I was always too lazy to start or never really had any ideas about anything. This month though for some reason I felt inspired to write something. I like challenges so I figured why not? I mean it's one month of my life and if I'm doing something productive with it then I should be proud that I'm doing it! I don't really expect to write a spectacular novel that will get published or anything but I do have a cool idea that I've been carrying around for about a year now. And if it does get published than that's just awesome. In the end though, I have nothing to lose. I waste a lot of time doing things that are unproductive so more than anything maybe this will build my work ethic and help me with time management.
Day 1 - 1106 Words
It's the first day and I've reached 1106 words, which is less than the recommended 1667 or whatever that you need (50000/30 days). Wow, that was way harder than I expected. Usually when I'm writing essays or something I kind of just go off on a tangent and write whatever I want. In fact, even this, I'm just writing the first thing that comes to mind. With a novel though, it's different. I find that I have trouble constructing things from my imagination. I don't really have that vast of a vocabulary to express everything that I want. Regardless, I learned that second guessing everything I write is going to waste time and not really get me anywhere. I'm following advice and just writing, and it works! Things are coming along a lot more smoothly and really of better quality (or so I think) now that I've stopped caring too much about what I'm writing.
Here are my challenges thus far. I know it's only been one day and I'm only at 1106 words but it's my first time so I'm really overwhelmed by a lot of this! Losing my novel-ginity is a lot harder than I thought.
Starting - I had no idea how to start. How the hell do you start a novel? I did the traditional describing a scene or setting thing. Is that traditional? I don't even know. I haven't read a lot of books in my life so that really doesn't help me out any. But yeah, I'm sure along the way I'll end up changing the beginning but for now at least I have a starting point.
Here's an excerpt from my starting as of now:
It was a surprisingly warm evening for Halloween at Niagara Falls. Stefani had come there from Toronto to celebrate her birthday with her boyfriend, Alex. It was always nice having a birthday on Halloween, with everyone celebrating your birthday with you.
I was told that starting is the hardest part, and once you get passed it you're good to go. It was true enough for me, the first 500 words really pissed me off and I was ready to give up, but I stopped caring and just wrote. The next 600 words were much easier and I actually enjoyed writing those. I started focusing on my protagonist's background which was really fun to make up. I felt like a god creating this person with whatever past and whatever traits I desired. I guess I'm starting to understand the rush that writer's get.
Dialogue - Writing dialogue is stressing me out. I just don't know how to do it. I know how to make the characters sound genuine, but I don't know the structure for dialogue or anything. Are you supposed to reference each person talking on every line, or is it a given when only two people are having a conversation? Are you supposed to start each new dialogue on a line of its own? And I really don't know what to do with dialogue tags without sounding redundant. Beyond "He said," "She replied," I really don't have much of a variety so my dialogues end up sounding bland. I'm also kind of annoyed (or lazy I guess) to add quotation marks every time so I find that I'm just narrating a lot of things to make the dialogue go by faster.
Resources - I don't really have a lot of background knowledge in a lot of the stuff that I plan to be writing about. Doesn't really make sense I know but I know roughly what I want to write about but not everything in detail. My story is going to involve a lot of superstition and such for example, so it would be helpful to know about myths or legends or things like that to incorporate into the story. I know a handful of the common superstitions and such but knowing some more Biblical or religious facts in general would help me out more. It's really hard to research at the same time as writing all in one month, along with balancing school and other things but I guess I'll see how it goes.
Well, my goals are of course to reach 50000 words, but I plan to be at the first 10000 word mark on the 5th day. That's 2000 words a day, and being ahead will help me relax a little in the process. All the words that I've written here could have been used towards my story I know, but writing this also helps me organize my thoughts and is a lot less stressful than writing the novel itself.
I plan to write Part 2 of "Writing My First Novel" by the 5th day and will link it here when I have to write about my new challenges or whether I've given up (which I hopefully won't!). Stay Tuned.