Friday, October 12, 2007

Conundrum

I've been tying my thoughts in knots ever since I signed up for 70 Days of Sweat round 2 a week ago. Right up until then I'd been blithely assuring myself that I could do both 70 Days and NaNoWriMo concurrently. I desperately want to continue working on my Fruits of the Spirit story world. Most especially I want to keep working with Faye's portion of the story. By the end of round 1 I was beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel for Faye's story. Not so much in terms of word count but in having the time line of events and the most important of the plot elements worked out and a fairly comprehensive but flexible list of the must-have scenes. Thus, it was conceivable that another seventy days of intensive work on Faye's story could find me with a completed rough draft at the end.

But NaNoWriMo puts a whole new twist on things. Because that requires starting with a brand new novel concept on November 1st and pumping out 50,000 words in thirty days. That is 1666.66 words per day. This would be my fourth attempt if I decide to do it. My first attempt garnered me around 6000 words, my second 12,000 and my third 25,000. See the pattern there? I did on November 30 last year. I realized that if I doubled that month's output the following year, I would finally earn my completion graphic to display in my sidebar.

Thus the thought of backing out of NaNo this year, even for the very good cause of staying with a story that is progressing well and has me in its grip, was dismaying. I am so emotionally invested in making the attempt one more time it is hard to let go of the dream. But if I wanted to commit to NaNo, I had to choose a virgin story and time was running out. I had two options: stay within the Fruits of the Spirit story world, picking one of the other POV characters whom I had not written any scenes for but had mapped out their story arc; or step outside the story world into something completely new.

The problem with the first choice was that even though I have bowed to the necessity of breaking what was intended as a single novel down into several, the story arcs of each novel are intricately intertwined with those of several others. Which is why I still find myself bouncing from one POV character to another, working out details in their time lines, motives, likely perceptions whenever they appear as a supporting actor in another's POV scene.

One of the reasons I struggled so hard to make word count quota during the first round of 70 Days was because I was saving back three of the POV stories as potential NaNo projects. Julia's story is nearly bursting at the seams for example. As Faye's twin sister, her story is the most entwined with Faye's. All my work with Faye's story arc over the summer advanced Julia's but I refrained from writing any scenes in order to preserve its eligibility for NaNo. And now I seriously question the possibility of maintaining the 1666.66 page per day pace with Julia's story.

But, if I give up NaNo, I could easily maintain the 700-1000 page per day pace of 70 Days if I started writing scenes for Julia's story and the two or three others I was holding back on just in case I wanted them for NaNo.

Or I could set aside Faye, Julia and all the rest of Fruits' characters for the month of November and return to them in December after spending thirty days playing in a brand new story world. But what story? Wasn't it already too late to plot out a novel by November 1st considering that starting on Monday I was already committed to start sweating for Sven?

This was my conundrum as it stood Friday morning, the deadline I'd set myself to make the decision because that was when my niece was arriving to spend a three day weekend here at her grandparent's house while her grandparents and parents are out of town. I knew I wouldn't be able to do much serious work during her visit as we have a month's worth of serious catching up to do about what we have been reading and writing and thinking since the last time we talked. And the minute she leaves for school Monday morning I have to start sweating for Sven.

I hadn't met my deadline. So this evening, I started trying to explain my dilemma to her. Believe me, it was not this organized when I described it to her. I rambled on for four hours. Of course I let her talk too. She can ask some very perceptive questions for a thirteen year old. And make very valid points based on insights she gets as she listens to me. She has the same love of story as I do and already has good instincts for what makes a good story work.

As I began to talk about the story ideas for a possible NaNo attempt, she began to ask questions like: Why did she do that? How did he feel about it? What happens next?

At one point I realized we had stayed with one story for quite awhile and were both getting quite animated about it. Not long after that I 'saw' the story arc complete like a rainbow against blue velvet with most of the major plot and motive elements for the first half in place. And I knew this story was ready to go. Except that it was completely dependent on my memory of a conversation. I hadn't been taking notes.

When my niece tired and got ready for bed I headed for my laptop. I itched to start writing down the story elements we had just gone over. But I hadn't posted yet. I had started this post before our conversation began and had been intending to post about this conundrum ever since last Friday. I decided to go ahead and write this post as planned and hope that my niece can help me put the pieces of that story back together, talking me through it again while I take notes. After we've both had a good sleep.

1 tell me a story:

Ann 10/14/2007 6:30 PM  

Sounds like you've got a story to work on if you decide to go with Nano. I thought about doind Nano this year, but have decided to stick with my WIP and Finish It! (hopefully). I am, however, planning to try Nano next year. Good luck with whichever you decide (and don't forget, if you are going to do Nano, you can use the two weeks prior to 11/1 to work on plotting).

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