NaNoWriMo 2018: Halfway

Continuing to plug away at National Novel Writing Month with great success!

Yesterday, November 15, is the halfway point of the event, and therefore of course we writers are supposed to have hit our halfway point to 50,000 words on that date.

I did.

It’s weird. On the one hand, it’s sorta reassuring; I can still write at the drop of a hat whenever I want to, and if I do it every day, a novel starts to take shape. It’s not particularly sloppy for a first draft, it’s doing some pretty cool things that are surprising me, and I think the third person storytelling is helping me avoid the tendency to get super cerebral or engage in unnecessary navel gazing.

One small issue I am having is that the romance in the story is front and center, and I’m not sure about the balance I should strike. Obviously as an asexual and aromantic author who does not engage in these kinds of relationships, I’m sorta faking it, though that’s not a hard thing to do really with the media the way it is. I’ve grown up with stories that tell me how people experience this and how they write about it. It doesn’t seem mysterious to me at all beyond the fact that I have never personally been through it, and since I’m also writing about humans and aliens living on another planet and I have never done that either, it’s about the same level of guesswork.

But I want it to feel authentic enough to NOT sound like it’s written by someone who’s guessing, and for that you need detail. So the issue then becomes, well, I’m writing about fifteen-year-olds getting interested in each other, and I’m a forty-year-old woman who doesn’t want to sound filthy if I get into too much detail about teenagers experimenting with, er, amorous relations.

So I’m aiming for sweet and a little hot sometimes, like it is for many people when they go through it. I’m focusing a lot on how it’s new or how it affects the characters as young members of families and communities, and on the unrealistic and very big thoughts they have that are nevertheless fully felt and legitimate despite lacking perspective.

I am definitely continuing to let some lessons I’ve learned from cartoons help me with my pacing. I’m still dealing with a little bit of “oh I thought of this thing, better dump it on the page now so I don’t forget,” but this is a first draft, so that’s to be expected. One thing I’ve learned from being such a¬†Steven Universe¬†fangirl is how satisfying a slow burn backstory reveal can be. I don’t have anything huge to dump to be honest, but I’ve learned that it’s still intriguing to do partial dumps of info that hint at more to come, and it will make people curious without irritating them too much when they don’t know.

It’s interesting how much of the main character’s daily life is actually super weird by our standards but I’m making it pretty everyday and only finding it important to mention when someone else finds it super weird. Because I don’t do much plotting and I make a lot of stuff up on the fly, I’m kinda discovering these things along with the characters, and I also seem to be planting things that I don’t actually know where they’ll go. I’m sure I can smooth things out later to make them look like they were intentionally moving in that direction, but for now there are a couple mysteries I’m considering actually just not solving, unless maybe the story does it for me without me trying.

There’s also the matter of a broken love triangle. In short, my protagonist’s race has a lot of beliefs that make outsiders view them as essentially a fertility cult, so their expectation that every girl will meet a boy and have babies is more than just a societal expectation; it’s a religion and a way of life. The protagonist believes she may be the first gay member of their species ever because there’s just no way to talk about it inside of her culture. But humans are also in the picture and they are known to have homosexuality in their species, so the protagonist does have some context–especially when she meets a cute human girl.

But of course, her culture is pushing her to start being interested in boys, and there is a specific boy entering the picture now. I figured when I conceived of him that he would exist, story-wise, to represent tradition and that he’d probably be pretty angry and feel slighted when the truth came out and she likes a girl. But after I actually met him in the story, it kinda seems like he’s confused about just about everything too and he doesn’t seem the type to be possessive about her. Now I’m starting to think a boy like him would be a good ally for her. And now I’m starting to think that when the time comes, he will say or do something essential for the story.

It’s weird how these things work.

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