It’s Day 15 of National Novel Writing Month. We’re halfway through the 30-day marathon during which a half a million NaNoWriMo participants worldwide, including this one, are trying to draft a complete 50,000-word novel from scratch.
So far, so good. I’ve completed nearly 25,500 words toward the goal, in 22 sequential chapters/scenes, meaning I’m on pace to complete by Nov. 29. I have a 15-day streak, even though travel did cut into one day so that I could log only a few hundred words.
My project this year, “He Said, She Said,” is a story of a 40-year friendship between two journalists — he’s a conservative, she’s a liberal. It plays out against four decades of changes in society, politics, technology, the sexual revolution, and the news industry itself.
The pantser pounces
I am, in NaNoWriMo terms, a seat-of-the-pants writer, or “pantser.” That is, I start with the setting, premise, characters and a rough idea of the plot, and I let them take me where they will. So far, just in talking to each other, the characters have revealed in themselves several conflicts, quirks and a the first major plot developments that I hadn’t even thought of before.
Half the fun of this is seeing where the story takes itself, how it tells itself. The other half, so far, is seeing how some of the historical figures are playing out along the way. (The story starts in the 1970s, when Donald Trump is a 30-year-old millionaire playboy, Geraldo Rivera has just broken the Willowbrook scandal, and the book “All the President’s Men” is inspiring a whole generation of journalists.)
Work in progress
That’s the good news. The bad news? That 40-year story is not going to be completed in this 30-day stretch. Not even close. So far, halfway through, I’m only finishing the hero’s first week at the newspaper. With luck, by the end of the month, when the 50,000 words are complete, I’ll have completed the first part of a four-parter. Eventually the four sections will be set in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s.
One oddity so far: A bug in the NaNoWriMo.org website feature that awards “badges” for meeting certain goals. When I accidentally typed an extra digit in my word total the other day, it thought I had logged 200,000 words and awarded me a completed novel. Now it won’t take back the badge even though I’ve corrected the count. So I guess I’ve got to finish, or else I’ll be a liar!
Fellow NaNoWriMos: How’s it going with you? (Some of you whose blogs I’m following haven’t posted in a while.)
Back to the keyboard (or is that what I’ve been doing here for an hour or so?)