Current Word Count: 0/50,000
Today is the day! Warm up your keyboards, stretch out your hands, and start a pot of coffee. National Novel Writing Month is off with a bang.
Don't know what NaNoWriMo is? Check out my last blog post which explains the challenge and gives you some good ideas for stories to get started. It's not too late to jump in on the game!
I've been participating in NaNoWriMo for 10 years on and off. I started when I was about 14 I believe. I wrote the first day, created a chart to track my progress, and had a plan to finish my novel. Unfortunately, I didn't write another day that December and stayed right around 1,000 words until the end of the month. It was a horrible, miserable fail, but it sparked an excitement in me that comes back every year around this time of the year. This is my third year in a row, my longest streak yet. I've won twice in the last 10 years and hope this year will be the third!
However, I'm taking on a strange challenge this year. In addition to the crazy writing schedule? Yes. I'm going to be co-writing this year with my husband. Who wants to take bets now as to whether or not we'll be divorced by December? I joke, mostly.
My husband has had an idea for a novel for about two years. He told me the plot and I excitedly offered to write it for him. He said he wanted to try writing it on his own. The problem is he's never written a novel or even a short story. He had the opening scene done, though and was confident he'd be able to finish it. About a month later, I asked how it was going and he asked me if I could write it for him. Turns out writing a novel is a little harder than it looks. Who knew?
With my masters thesis in the works since 2015 , I haven't had time to devote to it but this year's NaNoWriMo is the perfect opportunity. Here's the basic plot idea:
"In an alternate future, Mars has been terraformed and the site of a brutal war for national control. Jack and Frank, friends and partners in crime, deserted the armed forces and now survive by conning, fighting and stealing. However, when they come in possession of a kidnapped girl, they're forced to consult their morality and deal with the consequences."
And that's about the extent of the planning we did. I'm a pantser (non-planner) by nature, so normally that wouldn't make me nervous, but I've never tried writing a novel that's in someone else's brain without a general plan. I tried giving him a couple of character interviews, but they remain undone. Luckily, I do still have the opening scene he wrote two years ago to work off of, but we'll see what happens. At this point, I foresee that biggest challenges in co-writing with a non-writer, is trying to explain some of the elements of the craft that seem confusing to those outside of the industry.
For example, in our original plan, Mars was an outlaw planet, rather than a war-torn land. Then, Daniel came to me a couple of weeks ago and said "I think it would make more sense if there was a war and our characters are deserters, but I don't think that should affect anything else too much." I panicked, of course, and explained that changing the history of the setting will change much more than the background info. It will change the culture, the characters, and potentially the whole plot. He was confused but decided it was more important to change this one element than to hold onto the characters and plot he already had lined up. After some rearranging, we got everything settled again.
I'm waiting for the day, he tells me Jack needs to do something to progress the story and I have to be the one to tell him Jack won't do that. I've tried explaining the concept of listening to the characters to him before, to which he just nodded and uncomfortably changed the subject to something that made more sense. Non-writers seem to have this idea that writers make up characters and moved them around like puppeters on a stage. In reality, it sometimes feels like my characters are just dragging me along by the strings and I'm doing my best to keep up.
All things considered, it should be an interesting month. If you want to be buddies and track the progress of our project, head over to my NaNoWriMo page.