8 Jan 2017

NaNo 2016 - The Aftermath

November has come and gone and with it, NaNoWriMo,  My eleventh outing saw my eleventh win, with 56 536 words total.  LTV Paranormalists still has a working title, but it now has two arcs completed with a third started.  Each NaNo provides its own lessons.  This year had a few new ones.

First, flashbacks are finicky things and should not be abused.  The first arc's first four chapters had them, in part to show how the characters came together.  It didn't work out the way I wanted.  If I edit out the flashbacks, that takes out two chapters' worth of work.  Should I have done that?  If I hadn't, I wouldn't have known how it worked out.  So, the experiment was a failure, but I did learn from it, beyond, "don't do that!"  Flashbacks need support, which was lacking, and need to keep the flow going instead of interrupting matters.  I can pull out the flashbacks with some effort, and figure out how to show the group getting together.

Second, I have a good pace and pushing beyond it can leave me empty for a day or two afterwards.  The weekend of November 11-13 saw me writing 8772 words over the three days.  The Monday following, I only wrote 609 words*, a huge drop off.  Everything I wanted to add in went into the story over the weekend and I had nothing ready to continue with.  The result, some floundering as I tried to work out what was to come.  That Monday, though, I didn't fall behind, thanks to the sheer amount written over the previous three days.  Two thousand words per day is a good pace for me, with some brief pushes beyond possible without running out of energy or story.  Three thousand words is beyond a sustainable rate, and NaNo is a marathon, not a sprint.

Third, distractions come in all shapes and sizes.  I can't work in complete silence, but I also can't work with a new DVD playing.  I tend to fall back on familiar, comfortable series that I don't need to pay full attention to anymore.  But television isn't the only distraction...

"I will not be denied."  Photo by author.
Mischief is very insistent on getting what she wants.  She will paw at her treat drawer, and anything on the desk, and at me, depending on what it is she wants.  It takes time to deal with her, and there goes a good chunk of writing time.  Mischief will also repeat the requests every time I get up for anything.  I do better at write-ins because I don't have a cute and fuzzy attention beast at my side.

With NaNo 2016 over, it's time to start working out ideas for NaNo 2016.  I have a few, but none at the point where there's a direction, just characters in search of a plot.  Eventually, the plot arrives, but not just yet.

* I maintain a spreadsheet to track total and daily word count, then working out daily average and how many days ahead or behind I am.  It helps with motivation.


  1. The thing with flashbacks is they slow/break the forward momentum of the story, so (according to some reading I've done) they need to: (1) focus on a single experience/event to support what's going on now, and (2) involve character(s) that the reader already has some investment in. One website that looked at "The Hunger Games" talked about the use of a flashback in Chapter 2 being potentially "too early", but how it worked because of already being hooked into Katniss' "Games" situation. Another serial writer I follow (ChrysKelly) once had in mind some larger flashback parts, but with only one detail of them being relevant to the present. He has backed away from that, in favour of showing that detail some other way (so as to not "bury the lead", in a sense).

    Having the additional insight of having read a chunk of your LTV work, I'd say the main issue is the flashbacks therein served to give backstory on the main characters that is useful for the author, but the audience doesn't care enough about them - yet. Meaning for the reader, there needed to be a stronger plot connection to the current case (versus the company as a whole). Of course, in NaNoWriMo, this is fine - it all counts as words, and you can eliminate the flashbacks later if they served author more than audience. The supplement here is you were writing specifically with "serial" in mind, and as you point out, excising the flashbacks removes "two chapters". That adds a second element to this scenario; the length of the Chapters/Arc. I don't know to what degree that's an issue for you.

    As to the rest, personally, I feel like there are pieces of a story that are easier & harder to write, so the idea of getting ahead only to stall out makes sense. I had the luxury of being able to aim for about the same amount every day, to the point of figuring I'd never reach a 5,000 word day. Then, of course, it happened, because Paige. I think I took a bit of a breather after; I tracked daily on the NaNo website but probably should have kept tracking into December. Good plan with the spreadsheet. I'm also similar in that I can't have silence, but need something that won't pull my attention too much... radio is sometimes good for that. Kudos on taking the time to do some analysis.

    1. It's odd. Lethal Ladies needed more flashbacks, but I overdid it this time out. That first arc needs a rewrite at this point. The backstory can be brought out another way. I just have to sit down and fix things. That might be a full rewrite.

      I seem to have a decent pace. It feels wrong having a short day, but going above it significantly throws me off, too. I also have scenes that are easier - the ones that I have in mind before starting, mostly - and some harder. The spreadsheet helps with motivation, too; I need to reach x words, either for the day or for the month, and I can see movement. Next NaNo, the new thing is pre-planning a day or two ahead.