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  • Writer's pictureJessica Nacovsky

124: NaNoWriMo 2023

Howdy! I've been participating in National Novel Writing Month since 2018, when I wrote my debut novel, the YA dark fantasy, Stem & Stone. If you weren't aware, writers try to write a novel during November, generally aiming to knock out the 50,000 word count. My January 16, 2024 release, the adult fabulism novel Light Step was my 2020 NaNoWriMo project. My other NaNo manuscripts need a lot more editing before they're ready for readers. Last year (2022) I wrote a fabulist epistolary family saga, and the year before that (2021) was a YA realistic fiction inspired by my mom's life. Searching my records I've found no NaNo word count files for 2019. That may have been a painting month. Anywho, this month I'm writing a horror novel.

The premise is that a family comes home after a breif outing to find that there is another storey atop their house. It matches the rest of the house, and isn't currently under construction, despite there not having been enough time for anyone to possibly complete the building and furnishing of the space in their absense. The family shares the oddity over social media. Their local news media takes notice, and after an interview, word spreads. Public consensus is that the family is faking their miracle. The parents' recent scandal, just preceding their move into the suddenly altered home, lends them no credibility. Meanwhile, the father is set on flipping the property and hopes to profit from the circumstances of the expansion. What was merely unsettling becomes frightening as the family is plagued by apparitions, their prolonged tension waring thin what inhibitions reined in their inner demons.

Normally, I have a very detailed outline before I begin a writing project. I spend days building the plot, pin pointing where best to set the story, and fleshing out the characters. Unfortunately, my October was very busy this year. I didn't even look at my story-idea list until there was a couple of days left in the month, and it took me another day to decide which idea would be my NaNo project. I did quickly expand on the concept and break that down into a chapter outline. However, I've barely glanced at that since starting. The overall story is simple enough. Family meets house. House is some variation of haunted. The family can clean house, escape, or succumb to the evils therein.

While rushing the outline, I played with a couple of different monster ideas, before landing on one I've been meaning to write about for some time. Then I read up on the big-bad, as Buffy would've called him/them, and the monster dictated my setting, so that's handled. This monster immediately altered the style of haunting I'd been intending to write and I'm still working out how best to grow their brand of spooky meddling.

With Stem & Stone and Light Step, I'd done an insane amount of research before setting a single word to the page, and the manuscripts relfected that. In this case, after such minimal planning, I'm floundering working out the kinks in my loose plan as I go. Am I meeting my daily word count? Yes. Is it all word vomit? Also yes. Will it eventually come together into a story worth reading? I really hope so. The little baby idea has potential. I am not confident that the direction it's taken is the best one. But, that's where editing comes in. I can't fix what I haven't written.

Yesterday, I took what I had and instead of continuing my meandering path forward, I bothered to review my notes, and set about tweaking what I've written so far. The overall word count still increased by the necessary amount, and I hope, that in backtracking, I can tighten up what feels like a very loose foundation. I'm about four chapters into what will be at least an eight chapter book, for reference. As of yesterday, the 12th day of NaNoWriMo, I've written 22,198 of the 50,000 word goal. And after finishing this post, I'll jump back into the project.

Maybe this is what plantsing is? Either way, I work better as a planner. Here's hoping your NaNoWriMo project is moving more smoothly than mine. I drop a new blog post every Monday. Toodles!

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