The Continuing Story

I wanted to build on the blog post I wrote yesterday about my experiences with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2008. I also wanted to take the plunge and publish my novel on the internet. Thank you Google Docs.

And I’m not being facetious here, I love Google Docs. It allowed me to work remotely on the novel on 3 different PCs over the course of 29 days and for that I am extremely grateful.

Of course, I could have auto-published all 50,020 words as a blog post, but that seemed excessive. I want to keep the source as pure as possible, and that includes not uploaded it as a static file or page here. At least not yet. And since I didn’t want to invite each and every person who expressed a desire to read the work – both in the comments of the prior post and via email and phone – I chose to publish.

Enjoy now or later; here come the additional insights.

Show, don’t Tell
This is hard to do in practice, especially because you’re writing. You have to tell people what’s going on, that’s all part of the act of writing. It’s telling a story.

But you have to be descriptive without describing everything, if that makes zen sense. You must work to limit your use of adverbs and expand your knowledge and awareness of adjectives and other determiners.

I, for example, fail this test miserably. See that previous sentence? Perfect example.

If I learned nothing else from the novel-writing experience it was that my particular style hinged too heavily on describing the way things were done – adverbially – versus describing the scene and the people in it, developing the characters.

Have a style
I’ve read Strunk & White’s Elements of Style, I’ve borrowed a copy of King’s On Writing and I spent a good eight weeks or so during the Summer participating in Ficlet Fridays, so I feel like I had a good foundation of knowledge and practical experience as the base for my novel. I was wrong.

I changed voice several times.
I wrote a story within a story to keep things moving (SPOILER: it’s a MacGuffin, by the way) and keep myself interested.
I think I even merged a few of the secondary and tertiary characters into one amalgamated stew (gumbo?) of a character.

I know I’m a fussy writer. I like parentheticals and triune lists. I enjoy Kevin Smith movies and Dawson’s Creek, so my dialogue has some similar qualities (shoot me or yourself now).

But writing a novel is about finding a voice for the novel, for the narrator and for the characters. I think that the style and voice of the novel suffered mightily at the hands – my own typing hands – of my personal style. While I think some of it was good, I needed to find a way to interject the better parts of that overwrought inclination and jettison the rest and just write the words.

But that’s a minor quibble. I imagine if I was ever to edit this piece down and add the back 50,000 words (since I didn’t finish the whole story, I just found a good stopping point just past the finish line), I’d be happy I had some of my signature style to guide my knife and hatchet-wielding editor’s pen.

Anyhow, no big revelations. They’re somewhat intertwined but I thought they both merited mention.

The big news: the novel is on the internet. It was intended to be called “Land O’ Goshen” but that was before I took it to a different place. For now the title is NaNoWriMo 2008. I figure keeping it nameless is like delaying the naming of a baby in a hospital nursery: it keeps me from accepting the fact that it’s real.

If you read any portion – I don’t require or expect you to finish it – please feel free to give me constructive criticism or just an attaboy.


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