I don’t have anything deep or philosophical to talk to you about today, so I’m going to tell you thoughts I’ve had about my book in stead.
You may or may not know that November is National Novel Writing Month or, NaNoWriMo for short. The idea is to write 50,000 words towards your novel within the month. People do variations on this, working on scripts, thesis, a short story collection, or having timed goals in stead of word counts if they are editing pieces, or whatever. The main point of the event is to dedicate yourself to working on an important project for a full month.
I first had a go at this 10 years ago. I was young and excited and had no idea how much work it would actually be. I did not reach my target. I had another go in 2011, 2012, and 2014. I never got close. The most words I ever wrote was 17,566. But this year will be different. I signed up to WritersHQ back in August and I’ve been writing more consistently and refining my methods to make writing large pieces easier. This year is my year.
I had originally planned to write the full 50,000 words since I’ve been isolating since April with little to do, but then, just before November began, my employers found me a job that I could do from home. So now I’m working I have less time to write but, determined not to let my novel fall by the wayside, I in stead decided to do a ‘half NaNo’, setting my target at 25,000 words. Call this cheating if you like, but considering I’ve never even made it to 20,000 before, I think this is still a good target for me. And if I reach 25,000 before the end of November, I’m not going to just stop there, I’ll keep going, it’s just motivating to have a realistic target to strive for.
But now to the thing that I actually wanted to talk about. The most integral part of any novel is interesting, 3-dimentional, characters. If you don’t care about the character then you don’t care about their story. One of the skills that I’ve recently developed is deciding who my main characters are before I begin writing. The exercise is to write a sort of bio for them. What are their likes and dislikes? What is their background, their history? Do they have any particular catch phrases or nuances? Etc. This not only makes sure that they are well rounded characters, but it makes the story writing easier because the characters already have personalities so you know how they would act or react in certain situations without having to think about it too hard.
The thing that I was thinking about the other day is this: My main character is a troubled person with a troubled past, and as such she behaves in some questionable ways and can often be irrationally cruel to others and to herself. But because I’m focused on word count right now rather than quality, some of her history and reasoning is being momentarily left out so I can really delve into it on my second run through. This means that my protagonist is doing some pretty horrendous things without any real explanation, and I wonder if she would be mad at me for making her do them.
Obviously I know that she doesn’t really have thoughts or feelings of her own, and I’m fully aware that I made her up, but when you put that much time and thought into creating a person, it is difficult sometimes to not think of them as a real, living being. So sometimes I feel as though, by writing her story, I’m making her do and say things that she may not want to. If I had taken the time to write in her backstory she might understand why she is acting so strangely. So I guess I feel sorry for her because I have inside knowledge that she doesn’t, and even though I know that it will eventually all make sense to her, I wonder if, at this moment in time, she actually hates me for screwing up her life the way I am. The idea of it makes me sad because I have a real fondness for her, after all, I did bring her into existence. And as much as I would love to make her happy, she’s not, she just doesn’t understand why yet.
If you’re not a writer (or avid reader or RPG gamer) I’m sure I must sound crazy to you, but you know, welcome to the inner ramblings of my mind.