I spent the weekend reading 11/22/63. This book has helped guide me through a lot of issues I’ve been facing through my NaNo novel. Considering that the actual plot only begins just past half way makes you wonder what the first half of the book was all about. It was world building. It was making you care about the character. It was spent making sure that when the plot begins, you know exactly what’s at stake. If there’s one thing King always gets perfect in all his books, it’s what I’ve been struggling with: Tangible characters in a living world.
Cardboard characters. White space worlds. Cliché’s. Lack of any action/drama. I’ve spent most of my time editing what I’ve written in my NaNo first draft. Filling in the spaces. Deleting scenes that don’t work. Giving more colour to my characters. I know NaNo is about writing 50 000 words but I’ve come to realise that I have no reason to be happy writing 50 000 words for the sake of writing them while hating everything about them. I’ll probably delete or edit most of them anyway so why waste that post-NaNo time rewriting rubbish?
What I’m really enjoying about 11/22/63 is how real the characters feel. None of them feel like they exist for the sake of existing. They are real and tangible. The main character Jake Epping/George Amberson interacts with them realistically. I don’t need to remember who was who again. They have their own personalities, looks, and feelings. You can feel that it’s back in the fifties by the brief yet detailed surroundings that the characters interact with. You get the sense of an entire town from both the characters within and the environment they live in.
This is what I’m trying to achieve.
Sure the 1st draft won’t be perfect the first time but I’d be happier if I was as close to perfect as I can get it. It will make the rewrite and editing less work. It will make me happier with the effort I’ve put in. It will make this NaNo not just successful, but worthwhile.
I want to make every word count.
Have you ever used character profiles? Like writing a family history, who the character’s grandparents were, what their greatest fear is, who their heroes are, what their politics are etc. Most of it never appears in the novel, but when the characters feel a bit flat, it can help build up their identity.
Yep I have. I did that character interview thing but only for my main characters and I think that was my problem. I also only built the pieces of the world where my characters would spend their time. I just didn’t think so many side characters would pop up and we’d be shifting through so many locations haha.
😃 Most of the time it’s like herding cats. I swear I have no control over any of them.
I love being “in” on your writing process! Not being an author myself (except for my PWR blog), I am amazed at you younger authors, for an author you are! I think polishing what you have written is far more profitable and effective than writing just to get so many words. It sounds like what you’re going to end up with will be publishable or near-to-publishable that will require only a good proofing and then….