There has been, for example, The Year of The Novel We Don’t Speak Of. In 2010, I went into NaNoWriMo without any kind of plan. I had a cool title, a character’s first name, and that was it. I pushed myself to write every day for the month of November, and came out on the other end with 50,000 words of mish-mashed ideas that really didn’t go anywhere. I still love the title, though!
I thought I had learned my lesson. The next year, I started November with a 38,000-word outline. Yes, you read that number correctly. This outline included underlying motivations, and hair colors, and the sound of even the most minor character’s voice. The result: at the end of my month of fast-drafting, I tried to read back my well-plotted novel, and it was the driest piece of rubbish I’d ever laid eyes on. There was no life to any of the characters. They were simply a transferred version of my story from outline to narrative, with really nothing extra.
The following year I went in with a plan that had been partially designed by my agent. I found partway through the month that I just had no love for the plotline of this story. It didn’t feel organic or like it was “mine.” I pushed my way through, forced myself to write it all the way until the end. Then I put it away, stating that “I hate that book!” I didn’t look back at it for A FULL YEAR. But when I did, you know what happened? I actually fell in love with it. With my renewed perspective, I knew exactly what needed changing, and that is one of my favorite books to this day.
I’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2007, and one thing that has been consistent is that I’ve learned something new every year. I’ve put a book together, Fast Fiction, which will be out from New World Library in February. If you struggle with motivation to finish, Fast Fiction includes daily inspirations, things I’ve said to myself over the years, which will hopefully help. If you, like me, struggle with how to go about outlining, my guided brainstorming and Story Plan should help. I can’t say I have all the answers, but I want you to know that you’re not alone if you’re feeling discouraged after this year’s NaNoWriMo attempt, and you should not let it stop you from trying again.
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Denise Jaden's novels have been shortlisted or received awards through the Romance Writers of America, Inspy, and SCBWI. The first draft of her debut novel, Losing Faith (Simon & Schuster), was written in 21 days during NaNoWriMo 2007. Her second novel, Never Enough (Simon & Schuster), took about eight years longer. Her first non-fiction book for writers, Writing With A Heavy Heart: Using Grief and Loss to Stretch Your Fiction, includes a variety of clear guidance and practical exercises to help writers get to the heart of their stories. Her second non-fiction book, Fast Fiction (New World Library) includes tips on constructing a story plan that works, as well as daily inspiration to keep writers writing, regardless of when the mood strikes.
Denise spends most of her time homeschooling her young son (who is also a fast-drafter of fiction) and dancing with a professional Polynesian dance troupe.
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