Aug 10, 2012

A 90-Day Challenge

I have written three novels. Sounds impressive, right? Not so much. All three were written during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Somehow it feels like they don't count. I wrote each one in only 30 days. How good could they be? I almost completely flew by the seat of my pants. I went in with a few characters, a beginning, a few major plot points, and an inkling of how I thought the story might end.

That was it.

OK, so they weren't horrible, but none of the novels ever came out how I envisioned them. Something was missing. After the first novel I did more research and more plotting. But no matter what I did I ended up somewhat disappointed. The truth? My characters were less than exciting and the plot kind of fizzled out.

I planned on participating in the summer version of NaNoWriMo. I even had done a couple months of research and was just about ready to go when my gut told me not start. Something didn't jive. So I completely scrapped all my research and gave myself sometime to think about it. And I did. The strange thing was that I was OK with it. I thought I'd start to panic, but somehow I knew that if I started writing this novel I would only end up disappointed again. I didn't want to feel that way.

So I'm starting over and I'm doing things differently this time. I've been reading The 90-Day Novel: Unlock the Story Within by Alan Watt. I know what you're thinking - But Tracy, another novel based on a time frame? Yes and no. Yes, it's encouraging me to complete another novel in 90 days (which is way more time than NaNoWriMo), but this book is way more than that. I've realized that I've been going about this the wrong way. When I sit down to write, I want to write. I want to dive right into the story and see what happens.  But that's my problem. I jump in way too fast. Yes I think about my characters and what motivates them and how they would react in different situations, but how well do I really know them? Watt's book is teaching me to slow down and really think about the story I want to tell. Don't start writing. Heck, don't even lock yourself into a story until you've thought through all the different possibilities. The first 30 days of this challenge is about brainstorming and getting to know your characters.

I'm committing myself to this challenge - to doing things a completely different way. Yesterday was Day One and my assignment was to complete two prompts. I wrote stream-of-conscious and wrote a whole ton of stuff I never would have thought about had I just jumped into plotting.

I've been thinking about maybe giving some of my responses as long as they don't give away too much information. Since very few people actually read this blog, I think I'll be OK. are the prompts and just a couple of my responses:

1) My story is about: a woman who is desperate for someone to understand her even though she doesn't quite understand herself.

2) What I want to express through this story: is a deep sense of loss when you are forced to mourn the person you used to be.

One day down, 89 more to go!