It's nearly 2017. Yep. In 30 days it will be New Year's Eve, an event celebrated around the world. For many 2016 has been a difficult and challenging year that they want to see left behind, forgotten. For some it has been a year of enlightenment and growth.
I have been working on a particular novel off and on for a number of years. I just didn't seem to be able to get control of it, or to figure out how I wanted to present the story, or how to set it up. Should it be one huge novel? (Have you ever read The Far Pavilions? Hmmmm. Maybe I should read it again. That was a long-ago read for me.) Or should it be a series of stories covering the lives of several generations in the family. (A saga.) Then 2016 NaNoWriMo came along and I knew what to do with it.
One day as I walked down the stairs ahead of my husband I said, "I don't know how to get everything done. I can't finish anything because I'm so busy jumping from one thing to another to another." In the simple way he is known for he said, "Why don't you try doing one thing at a time."
Well, for a man that makes a lot of sense, right? But we women, we have to do so many things at one time that we are constantly shifting gears and just doing what we can before we have to jump to the next thing. But like my husband's suggestion about doing one thing at a time, NaNoWriMo asked for a commitment of 50,000 words of a novel. No, 50,000 words doesn't necessarily a novel make. But it managed to get me focused on one part of the complete tale. I titled it FOURTEEN. And it will be part of a series. But it starts with a young woman who has reached the age when the workings of the world become clearer, not the "everyone is equal and accepted" stage of childhood. The realities of her world become harsh and come thick and fast as she seeks to find the person she was born to be.
As I worked on NaNo (and I did not write everyday. I may have written 15 of the 30 days because of other commitments and Thanksgiving.) I kept a notebook in which I put my notes. As author Carter Sickels said at the workshop in July, the only things that goes into that notebook are the things that pertain to the novel you are working on. If I had a question, that's where I wrote it down. If I had references that will have relevance in future stories in the series, that's where I wrote them down because it's all part of the saga. It's just going to be broken down into digestible parts.
So, if you're struggling with your novel, maybe you have too much going on and you need to take another look. If you had 30 days and 50,000 words for that story, what would be the most important points of that story? What would you focus on? Give it a shot.
(c) 2016 Cathy Thomas Brownfield
All rights reserved.