National Novel Writing Month 2010 Writing Log

  • The goal: Write a novel in 30 days.
  • The schedule: Insane: About 3,000 words (six pages) per day, 6,000 on weekends, all toward ~100,000 words and a full novel by the end of the month.  That’s about 100 hours of writing, much of it between 19:00 and 22:00 every day.
  • The point: Creative fulfillment!

Sunday, October 31st – Why am I doing this again? (0 words)

22:00 – Some people call it Halloween.  I call it the day where I wonder once again why I insist on writing novels in November.  This will be my eight participation to the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), with sevent previous completed manuscript and no official publication to show for it.  But I like a lot of things about NaNoWriMo, from the imposed iron discipline of structuring my month around a big writing project, to the almost impossible adventures on my way there.  Then there’s the absolute creative thrill of building a novel that didn’t exist before, one word at a time.  You can’t really understand if you’re not a writer (although artists and craftsmen of all kinds will understand something similar.)

This year’s novel is action-adventure SF on a grand scale.  The project started out as a reaction to steampunk (ie; “Steampunk is nonsense, but here’s how I could almost approach it to my own satisfaction”) and ended up something much stranger involving a bunch of classic SF power chords.  My outline is… just about as detailed as I need it to be at this stage in the planning.  (Which is to say: Intricately so for the first chunk, and progressively less so even if I have a general idea of when I’m heading.)  It’s a big ambitious project, though, and it remains to be seen whether I can do it justice.  Ah well: it all starts tomorrow.

Monday, November 1st – Here we go! (3,009 words)

21:40 – Well, that wasn’t too bad, once I got past the rusty first page and the impostor-syndrome once again.  Three scenes down, and the fourth one already well set up.  To encourage focus, I’m working in my office, which is separate from my main computer.  It seems to be sort-of-working, although I’m still cautious about this change of venue.  It’s one thing to spend nearly a year thinking about the novel and writing down an outline: It’s quite another to be in the trenches with my characters, beat-by-beat as they react to the situations.  I’m already fleshing out a number of characteristics.  Writing technicians will note that I’m writing this novel in close third-person present-tense (an entirely acceptable choice in French)  Tomorrow should see me out of Chapter 1 –I usually end up with 20 of them.

Tuesday, November 2nd – Stuck so soon? (6,082 words)

22:40 – Well, that wasn’t pleasant.  It took forever to write two scenes, in part due to the abrupt amount of world-building I had to throw into the second one.  I’m having a lot of trouble fitting a relatively complex premise in a path that the reader can follow easily.  The dramatization of the plto beats isn’t smooth and I’m not providing enough details to support the action.  All symptoms of rustiness, I suppose.  At least tomorrow’s scenes are fairly clear in my mind.  I may get out of Chapter 2 tomorrow, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Wednesday, November 3rd – Surprising accidents (9,857 words)

22:45 – Hypothetically speaking, if your workplace hosted an annual low-bandwidth half-day sit-down-and-listen event, would it be OK to bring your netbook, stay at the back of the room, listen with half an ear and type away at an unrelated creative activity?  Ah well: No matter how or when this happened, I ended up adding nearly 4,000 words to the manuscript today, including another page to the prologue to make it just a bit stronger.  (The new opening paragraph alone is a wowser.)  Otherwise, I breezed through a mostly-exposition scene, which led me to the realization that one of my biggest problems this year is managing the overwhelming amount of world-building exposition required to set up the action of the novel.  In what may be related developments, I rage at my current inability to weave descriptive detail in the prose and am getting more satisfied with a character that started out as an antagonist but is turning out to be far more nuanced.  I also added a paragraph that suggests that this novel is related to the novel I wrote two years ago, but that temporary sequelitis may or may not survive the revision process given how it raises as many questions as it satisfies thematic resonances.  I have started Chapter 3, but I don’t expect to be out of it tomorrow.

Thursday, November 4th – Steady progress (13,014 words)

22:00 – Well, that wasn’t so bad.  I wasted quite a bit of time surfing, but I still completed one scene with a decent amount of background exposition detail, wrote a committee scene that adds a lot of depth to the universe (and is hilariously inspired by a recent real-life meeting that went badly) and took a while to set up an upcoming romance.  Also: That cliché scene in contemporary steampunk where the hot ethnic girl raises her goggles over her forehead?  I totally wrote that one today.  Which is pretty funny given how the last few days have seen the SF blogosphere erupt in spontaneous “I hate steampunk” rants.  Clearly, I’m writing last year’s novel.  (On a related note, I started thinking about next year’s novel today, and the forecast calls for a contemporary character-driven thriller with no world-building whatsoever)  I’m still not happy at the lack of snappy action, but I’m still in the early setup chapters: there’s going to be at least one shocking action scene sometime this weekend.  Purists will also note that I wrote 3,000 words today, keeping my thousand-word buffer intact in case I do go see a movie tomorrow.

Friday, November 5th – Warning: Low-Entropy Zone (16,024 words)

22:40 – I don’t think I could describe today without sounding like a freaky paranoid, but in-between strange meetings, knotty coding, Book Fair escapades, perfect timing on a fire drill (the third workspace shutdown in three days!) and a theater unable to fix a 35mm projector and refunding an entire theater, this day has exceeded comfortable values of “strange”.  It was a relief to be back in a fictional universe where two hundred years of technological progress are collapsed in a big messy concoction.  In any case, I plugged at the novel some more, finishing chapter 3, writing scenes that had a bit more movement than the setup so far.  Most satisfying is the novel’s gradual shift in “real-time”, which is to say scenes that closely feed back on the previous ones rather than explain, set-up and prepare further events.  I’m getting a handle on chapter structure (nothing fancy: each chapter has one scene per viewpoint character) and an impromptu poll to my think-tank had me clarifying subtle points about one faction involved in the story.  I’m still writing a touch too slowly and not yet comfortable with my prose, but things are slooowly clicking together.

Saturday, November 6th – Low weekend expectations (Part 1) (19,122 words)

14:30 – I usually want to write 6,000 words per weekend day, but this is not going to happen today, and only maybe tomorrow: This isn the first full-ish day I’m spending home in two weeks, and so there’s laundry and cleaning and other things to do.  There’s a Book Fair to attend, groceries to do (rather than doing it Monday evening) and a houseguest coming here later.  I was still able to write a decent 3,000 words, transitioning further from setup to plot development and spending some time in an alternate Ottawa. (Which, by 1861, was already well on its way to becoming the government town it is today.) The writing was slow in starting, but flowed fairly smoothly once on its way.

Sunday, November 7th, Low weekend expectations (Part 2) (22,012 words)

22:50 – Still not a 6,000-words day, but given my whacked-out schedule (in-between house-guest, a visit to parents, some more groceries, further cleaning-up and EST/EAT time shift) I’m happy that I got my usual 3,000 words done… even though it took quite a while this evening to do them.  I indulged in one more lengthy scene of exposition (which, after much throat-clearing, is finally developing in the spectacular SF sensawunda kick I was hoping for) and had one character taken out of the plot by some good old-fashioned Ottawa inner-city rioting.  I’m very tired right now, and that does not bode well for either tomorrow and/or the rest of the week.  Still; I’m more or less still on target!

Monday, November 8th – Flatlined (23,113 words)

23:00 – Aaaargh, I’m sick.  And tired.  (Methinks a Book Fair in a germs-friendly grade-school environment plus tiredness from the weekend equals cold bugs and no effective resistance)  After a full day of sore throat and headaches, I came back home and crashed from 18:30 to 22:00, followed by an hour’s worth of work (mostly outlining the next chapters, because I’m running out of detailed outline) in bed.  (I’ve written in many places, from planes to hotel room to moving cars, but never in bed.  And considering how uncomfortable and inefficient it is, I’m not going to do it another time.)  Now I’m off to sleep, again.

Tuesday, November 9th – Back on track (27,009 words)

22:05 – After a day spent nursing a very sore throat and sinuses and working fairly productively from home, I sat down thirty minutes before 7:00 and pounded my way through 4,000 words, catching up my nominal deficit and finishing Chapter 5 / Section1 with an effective pair of scenes.  (One of them fully reveals an initial set of secrets.  The other one is an action scene featuring Nikola Tesla as a target of an inhuman assassin.)  Writing was, for once, not entirely bad, mostly because I had a day to think about what I was about to write and could dramatize the sequences rather than wallpaper pages with exposition.  Things get more difficult tomorrow as we move to an entirely different setting and start introducing a new set of characters.  I am, however, back on track for the word-count and couldn’t be more pleased by that.

Wednesday, November 10th – Hanging on (30,105 words)

22:30 – Oy: Still sick, in the “liquid phase” of colds that yucks everyone out.  I made it to the office (albeit came back a bit early when if became obvious that I was leaking all over the place) and took far longer than usual to do my 3,000 words tonight.  But they’re there, and the action has been advanced by a few scenes.  Nothing terribly good, but at least there’s an attempt at dramatization of the exposition required to get to the next scenes.  Tomrrow is going to be a nightmare, though, as I begin re-building another setting.

Thursday, November 11th – Remembrance progress (36,163 words)

21:50 – Remembrance Day is a holiday at my workplace, which means that I had the dubious twin opportunity to get better from my cold and write a double-dose of daily wordage while quietly holed up at home.  Of course I did all sorts of other things, with a very late start to the writing (my computer was, at times, as sick as I was), but once I got rolling, things advanced pretty quickly, with a number of surprising scenes.  I’m definitely doing the dramatization of exposition quite a bit better now, my new setting is defining itself nicely and I’m having more fun moving my characters around.  Nonetheless, my big fear at this point is that I’m entering a relatively less-plotted area of my novel, and so can’t rely on a daily plan of action like I’ve been able to do so far.  Much of the mid-level plotting is happening as I type, which is thrilling but unnerving as well.  Fortunately, I’m entering the golden days of NaNoWriMo –the next few entries should be quite a ride!

Friday, November 12th – Steadier prose (39,167 words)

22:00 – Not a bad day.  I’m still setting up the next leg of the novel, but at least I’m doing this in a semi-entertaining fashion, with a bit more showing than straight-up telling.  My narrative is fracturing nicely between characters, and I even had a semi-clever bit of scene-switching in which more or less the same information was given to different characters in different settings.  I’m starting to understand the form of the next few thousand words, and they may end up being a bit of a challenge to mastermind.

Saturday, November 13th – Another busy weekend (Part 1) (41,745 words)

15:00 – Well, that’s all he wrote for the day.  I have a lot of things to juggle this month, and my “6,000 words weekend days” aren’t viable these days.  So that’s nearly 3,000 words done anyway: I’m stopping a bit short given that I’m out of time and have to go, but also because I’m about to pull the trigger on a semi-major action scene, and I’m still figuring out what I’m trying to do in which order.  Otherwise, the day’s writing started up late but proceeded smoothly: I’m in a section of the novel where a lot of characters are intersecting, and some fast-switching was required to set up what comes next.  I’m also pleased at the way patching up a mistake ended up providing another rich and ominous subplot.  (If you find out that your characters don’t know something that should have been told to them earlier, don’t go back to fix if there’s a better answer in “maybe there’s a reason why they weren’t told.”)

Sunday, November 14th – Another busy weekend (Part 2) (45,006 words)

22:30 – This is a bit too late for my taste, but given everything else I’ve done today, another 3,000 words isn’t too bad considering that it involved a complex action sequence that I practically had to invent out of all pieces as I went along.  (On the other hand, I did have a brilliant idea during the night and held on to it today.)  Now, I’m a bit fried, especially given how I’ve got to straighten bit and pieces of the plot before continuing tomorrow.

Monday, November 15th – M’okay Monday (48,012 words)

21:55 – Generally speaking, not a good day today: headache, fatigue, etc.  But I took a few minutes during lunch to plot my next small plot beats, and the result was a not-so-bad writing session tonight that advanced a few pieces on the checkerboard.  I wish I had time to write an extra thousand words to nullify Thursday night’s anticipated shortfall, but right now I need more sleep more than anything else.

Tuesday, November 16th – Past 50,000 (51,034 words)

22:00 – Well, that’s it: the big bad 50,000 words are done, mostly on the carried-over inertia of yesterday’s mid-level plotting.  Another landmark: I received my NaNoWriMo stickers/postcard by mail today, after making my yearly donation to nanowrimo.org about ten days ago. Today’s sequence was fun to write in that it cut rapidly between various viewpoints, raising the stakes almost continuously and giving me plenty of crunchy end-of-scene lines.  There’s a lot of action tomorrow, which should make it even more fun to write.  I’m not looking so fondly at the next few days after that, for reasons that will become obvious in summarizing those days.  Here’s one calculation I wasn’t expecting to make tonight: Extrapolating the size of a 100,000-people colony fifty years later, and the number of books written every year by that population.  (The answer, based on Wikipedia-informed estimates: 2,000,000 people, and 1,400 books/year.)

Wednesday, November 17th – Underwriting scandal! (53,014 words)

22:10 – What, what, only 2,000 words today?  Well, yes: I’m out of time, I need sleep and considering everything else I’ve been able to do since getting out of the office (gas fill-up, haircut, dinner with parent, mail, laundry, suitcase packing, etc.) I’m not displeased at what I’ve been able to do.  Why the madness?  You’ll see during the next few days… but don’t expect any writing tomorrow.  In the meantime, lunchtime daydreaming solidified some upcoming plot threads; a good thing since I’m switching sections in about 5,000 words.  This evening’s writing session was interesting in that I wrote a few non-consecutive scenes before going back to the action spectacular that is the chapter’s standout sequence.

Thursday, November 18th – No words; gone to Montréal and back (53,014 words)

22:00 – Whew.  As some of you may have guessed, the days where I have trouble making my word-count are usually days where I have a really good excuse.  So it is that I left work today, drove two hours to Montréal’s downtown (facing terrible traffic along the way) for the Salon du Livre de Montréal, said hello to a few compadres, bought a few books, then drove back to Ottawa in time for sleep. Why do I punish myself so?  I’m not sure yet.

Friday, November 19th – Few words; running through Toronto (53,554 words)

22:00 – Baaaah.  Rose too early, took the train from Ottawa to Toronto for a convention, wrote a measly page on the train (dozing and discussing with my travel mate most of the time) and couldn’t get a break as soon as I was on the ground in Toronto, from meeting up with friends, doing the bookstore crawl, indulging in a bit of tourism and chilling for supper.  Great food, great times, good purchases, but -wow- am I trashed tonight: Sore throat, tired legs and no energy for anything.

Saturday, November 20th – Hit the alarm button (55,010 words)

24:00++ – NaNoWriMo, we have a problem.  I have pushed my body beyond what it is ready to tolerate, and now it’s exacting its revenge.  My sore throat has escalated into a full-blown it-hurts-when-I-swallow, I-can’t-contemplate-solid-foods-anymore status, and I’m functionally useless enough to fall asleep at the drop of a page.  I barely wrote a page during the day, and as I type this after midnight, my computer turned down to minimum brightness as so not to disturb my roommate, there’s enough chatter coming through the hotel room door to make it impossible to sleep.  As it turns out, we ended up having a room on the convention’s party floor, and I know from experience that this won’t really wrap up until 2:00.  Good thing I slept from roughly 19:00 to 22:00.  Now that the chatter is finally dying down and I’m once again sleepy, I did type a few more pages.

Sunday, November 21th – From Toronto back to Ottawa, sickly. (60,150 words)

20:00 – Woke up at about 10:30, T-Shirt and Sweater drenched in sweat, with the same terrible sore throat as yesterday.  This is my body’s way to rebel against NaNoWriMo, and I’m determined not to let it win. I managed to type about 4,000 words on the train (finishing up a section along the way), and revised much of the weekend’s output at home before going to sleep.  I am a day late on my own self-imposed 3,000 words-per-day regimen, and headed for a shortfall regarding my increasingly implausible 100,000-words objective.

Monday, November 22nd – Sick day (63,093 words)

21:10 – My sore throat hasn’t gone away, and neither have I for most of the day: Teleworking rather than going to the office, I took an hour midway through the afternoon to get diagnosed at the local medical clinic (“70% it’s bacterial strep throat, 30% it’s viral” said the doctor, “if it’s viral it’ll go away soon, if it’s bacterial we should treat it right away”), get an antibiotic prescription and get it fulfilled at the nearest drugstore.  Advil helps a lot in keeping the swallowing pain down, but now let’s wait for the antibiotics to work their magic.  This has been my least-pleasant NaNoWriMo so far, and it still has some potential to get worse, so let’s hope for the best.  At least one thing that’s still going OK is the writing, even though today’s stuff was more scene-setting for the next section of the book rather than anything particularly exciting.

Tuesday, November 23rd – Getting better (somewhat, in some ways) (65,079 words)

21:30 – The improvements in my condition today have been minimal, but noticeable: The biggest one is that swallowing is now unpleasant but tolerably painless without steady doses of Advil.  I spent a rather indifferent day at work: I was lucky enough to be kept busy by a day-long analysis project which kept me out of trouble and away from other colleagues –a good thing given how I had no voice, no interest in solid foods (for a fourth straight days: don’t worry, I managed to force myself to eat an omelet for supper) and no real appetite for any kind of human interaction.  I was, however, incredibly slow today, something that kept up in the evening’s writing.  It doesn’t help that I’m moving plot pieces around at the moment.  In any case, I need early sleep more than I need more than 2,000 words today, and so this will do for now.

Wednesday, November 24th – About to Leave Again (66,503 words)

22:00 – Another small day, in part due to packing for yet another trip. (This one will rock your socks; wait to read it tomorrow) Fortunately, the throat situation is slowly getting better: I’ve gone through most of the day without Advil assistance for pain, and felt noticeably more functional at work than yesterday.  I ate two slices of heavy-duty pizza, even though much of it was an effort not to get any toasty part scratch my sensitive throat tissues.  Writing-write, I have advanced things a little bit more, ready for a fairly dramatic scene tomorrow… and a trip for my characters that, through managed coincidence, will mirror my own.  On a different note, have a look at Lemony Snickett’s NaNoWriMo Pep Talk: Most of these are a bit bland, but Snickett’s one is, as you may expect… special.

Thursday, November 25th – To Mexico! (70,043 words)

18:00 – That’s right, NaNoWriMo fans: I’m in Mexico now, at a Cozumel beach resort through an unbelievable combination of planes-to-Cancun, bus-to-Playa-del-Carmen, ferry-to-San-Miguel and taxi-to-hotel.  I’m here for a wedding (not mine!), but the happy after-effect is that I may get to indulge in my inner Hemingway and write on the beach a few times.  In any case, the Internet access here is usurious and brief, so I’m just checking in early in the evening having written a workmanlike 4,000 words for the day already, in two separate airports, on a plane (writing over the Carolinas about a plane crash over the Carolinas), on a boat and, maybe soon, in my tropical hotel room.  (Picture the ceiling fan spinning lazily above me as I do so.)

Friday, November 26th – Writing on the beach (78,001 words)

22:15 – I’m at a beach resort in Mexico to celebrate a friend’s wedding, but the sunset beach wedding itself only took up a small part of the day.  The rest was spent writing: on a hammock outside my room; on a long chair under the shade of palm trees on the beach; and (more often than not) under the ceiling fans of the resort’s lobby.  The big story of the day, aside from the writing environment, is how I had a late change of mind concerning my antagonists, making them go from one dull archetype to a considerably more interesting (and subversive) variation.

Saturday, November 27th – Temperature falling; word-count rising (86,003 words)

22:00 – Oy, what a day.  Returning home meant leaving a 30c/90% humidity beach resort at 10:00 in the morning to end up in -5c/0% humidity Ottawa by midnight (As I was scraping a thick layer of accumulated ice on my car, I thought “That’s it!  I’m hopping back on the plane!”).  Fortunately, I dulled most of the pain by writing at the resort, writing at the Cozumel airport; writing on the 3.5-hour flight back to Toronto and writing in Toronto airport while waiting for the final flight to Ottawa.  I made significant progress; significant enough, in fact, that the whole book has, in three days, gone from “I’m not sure I’m going to finish this in time” to “Oh, yeah, we’re good for the 30th”.  I have one big 5,000-words sequence left to write, then the mopping-up and epilogue.  If I can just stay focused and healthy for the next three days…

Sunday, November 28th – Pre-ending (89,069 words)

22:10 – We’re touching the end of it; I’m just about ready to write the last substantial action sequence (it’s a tough one).  I wish I could have written a bit more today, but there’s a limit to what one can ask of someone spending, at last, one full non-sick, non-traveling day home.  (The Mexico trip was, depending on how you count, my tenth or twelfth major out-of-Ottawa trip of the year.  Now, at last, I’m done for the year!)  I’m still pretty sure that I will end this novel in the next two days, but there may be some fairly intense after-word chair-bound activity in order to get there.  I’m just about sure to need 95,000 words to wrap it up; it may go a bit higher once I get in the thick of it, but i hope not.

Monday, November 29th – Last-minute sprint (93,808 words)

22:40 – Whew: nearly five thousand words in four hours… but we’re practically done: Only one epilogue to wrap up everything left to write, and this eighth novel is over.  Much of today’s writing session was a frantic race through a large-scale action sequence involving two dozen airships, three nuclear detonations, as much high-tech aerial devices as can be imagined, and a crash in downtown Paris.  But for all the destruction, I’m proudest of the way a throwaway details from my own experience in Paris ends up forming a cornerstone of one final character arc. Tomorrow’s four-barreled epilogue should taken us somewhere near 95-96,000 words, with a few notes on a first-chapter scene to add during the hypothetical rewrite.  I’m nearly giddy at having pulled it off, but let’s wait until tomorrow until the celebrations.  For now, I have some sleep to catch.

Tuesday, November 30th – And, we’re done (95,377 words)

20:35 – That’s it: “End” has been written, along with the ridiculously long log-line of where this thing was written.  I’m not entirely happy with the Epilogue, but the high points are there, and it’s time to go do something else for a while.  All in all, it’s been a difficult month: My outline didn’t haven enough detail to it, my health was severely compromised by the pacing of adding the NaNoWriMo over everything else, and the amount of traveling I’ve done was not just ridiculously, but actively dangerous.  I’m not happy with my time-management: If it hadn’t been for that Mexico trip and consequent free time, I’m not sure I would have reached my objective.  Nonetheless, I have managed to reach most of my goals, including the most important one (“write a novel”) and the one that spurred this novel a year ago (“write something fun, for a change”).  I’ll have a few notes on the novel’s biggest problems tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 1st – Post-Novel Thoughts (95,377 words)

21:45 – How nice to live a bit more normally again.  To celebrate the successful end of the odyssey, I printed off the novel, went to see a movie (I only saw two of them in November!), went to an Indian restaurant for supper, had time for groceries and did not obsess over making my 3,000 words or the next plot beat.  The treadmill starts (literally) tomorrow, through, as I have to catch up on an accumulated backlog of reviews and gear up for another 7,000 words of professional writing before the end of the month.  Still, this is the last entry on this particular writing log, and I might as well do a quick post-mortem while the events are still fresh in my mind.

This year’s distinguishing features?

  • This is the NaNoWriMo that came closest to killing me. I exaggerate, but I still went through a cold, followed by a very unusual strep throat episode that saw me knocked down flat in a hotel room far from home. Sure, I went to Montréal, Toronto and Cozumel, but the accumulated fatigue of the day job, plus the novel, plus the travel, plus other things I haven’t really mentioned here all took its toll. The obvious lesson is not to try to do too much, but the application of that resolution is always tricky once commitments pile up.
  • The satisfying aspect of my novel is that I went back to the “multi-viewpoint, large-scale action/adventure SF canvas” that I like best and had quite a bit of fun along the way.  Once I was into the story, the process reached that elusive “creative fun factor” that keeps me coming back to NaNoWriMo year after year despite everything that’s insane about it.  It’s pleasant to live in another world for a month, and I suppose that the “creative fulfillment” with which I began this log was reached.  (You may notice that my next few reviews will be considerably kinder to the authors.)
  • The less-satisfying aspect of it is that this was probably my most ambitious world-building effort yet, and at times it got obvious that I had undercooked the setting: Several “this ought to be cool” moments fell flat for lack of ideas, and the setting only attained some clarity maybe a third of the way in.  This is related to the other thing I really disliked about this year’s novel: I had to do so much scene-setting that the first third of the story is unforgivably dull as I spend my time explaining (often way too flatly) what the reader has to know in order for the rest of the story to be understandable.
  • Upon editing, the priority will be to dramatize the scene-setting, punch up the coolness factor, reduce the throat-clearing bloat and sharpen the thematic content.  Something that didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped was the exploration of the colonialism theme or, more generally, the tendency of stronger entities to impose their will on weaker ones in various ways. This may or may not be a flaw: I avoided to write the scene (you know the one) in which the characters carefully spell out the novel’s themes.  Still, a bit more embodiment may not be a bad thing, as is a more skeptical viewpoint from time to time.  (One irony I didn’t have time to fix, for instance, is that the characters spend much of the novel fighting against something… only to propose something very similar during the epilogue.  It makes sense to me, but it will have to be smoothed out upon editing.)
  • On a sentence-per-sentence writing level, I also noticed a first-draft tendency to focus on the substance of the storytelling (ie; just telling what’s happening) rather than making it pleasant to read through descriptions, scene-blocking, sensory detail or pretty prose.  This frankly isn’t a big deal given who fast NaNoWriMo forces writers to go in the quest for their daily word-counts (or the way my first drafts tend to read like full-scale outlines and real-time loud thinking), but it suggests that the second draft may be much, much longer once I flesh out the scenes.
  • One thing I love doing well, however, is ending a scene at just the right moment, with either a good quip or ominous foreshadowing.  One of my favorite lines in the entire novel won’t make much sense out of context, but is “Frankly, sir right now we’re not so sure about that.”  (Those of you with access to the draft will find it on page 141): In one reaction line, it encapsulates a major shift in how one character is perceived by the others.

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