Progress Report: NaNoWriMo

Image of typewriter keys and the words The Alternate NaNoWriMo.

The Alternate NaNoWriMo, as proposed by Cafe Aphra (

We’re a bit past halfway through National Novel Writing Month and my word count is 28,550. Since I’m participating in Cafe Aphra’s Alternate NaNoWriMo (or just being a NaNo Rebel, depending on how you look at it), I did not start with a blank page and begin writing a new novel at 12:01 am on November 1. Instead, my goal is to finish my novel, The Trickster Entanglement (which is a sequel to my novel The Trickster Apocalypse) by the end of the month.

Because of my past experiences of trying to tie a personal story-finishing goal into the creative energy of the NaNoWriMo experience, I also set myself a goal of writing t least 1000 words a day, updating my word count regularly on the NaNoWriMo website (where I am Fontfolly—if you’re participating in and have an account, feel free to add me as a Writing Buddy). I have also tried to be racing with a few of my friends as an additional incentive.

This weekend was not very productive. I knew it would be a challenge, because we were hosting the monthly Writers’ Night at our house and I was scheduled to gamemaster a SteamPunk game on Sunday. Hosting Writers’ Night meant cleaning the house and cooking for a bunch of people, in addition to the time of the actual event. Running the game meant doing some research and cooking food to bring to the potluck in addition to the time of the actual event.

Plus, as if that wasn’t enough, on Friday afternoon, while I was working from home, and specifically when I was getting ready to run out for a doctor’s appointment, the toilet decided to overflow! That created an unexpected amount of work that day, as you can imagine.

I had about 75,000 words of the novel written before I started. Those words were arranged into 14 and a couple half-chapters, the chapters consisting generally of 3 to 5 scenes each. One of the reasons for the two half-chapters has been that for some months I’ve been mucking about trying to re-organize what was there. The reasons for the re-org were two-fold. About half the attendees of the monthly writer’s meeting had raised the issue a few times that the story either had two many characters for people to keep track of, or too many sub-plots to follow. The other half of the group seemed to think that the characters and subplots were okay (and they could see how subplots were converging), but admitted it was difficult for them to say how it held together with so much going on, and gaps of a month in-between reading what came next.

Thus, I’d been spinning my wheels engaged in a lot of re-considering and re-arranging as I tried to figure out which parts were truly vital to the main plot.

Since starting NaNoWriMo, I’ve written 37 complete new scenes. I have advanced several of the subplots fairly well. I’m more or less organizing the scenes into chapters, though at the moment some of those chapters are a lot longer than I had previously been letting them go. At the moment I have 21 chapters, I think (it’s a little weird because I have three chapter 13s and three chapter 17s for reasons that are a bit long to explain at this juncture; but cleaning all of that up is something to do after NaNoWriMo, right?).

As a consequence of taking the NaNoWriMo philosophy to heart—keep writing, just keep writing, don’t stop to edit and revise—one thing that has been different about the new chapters is that I’m sticking with one set of characters for several scenes in a row. Based on comments at the Writers’ meeting this last weekend, I think one of the main problems in the earlier chapters was that I was grouping scenes into chapters such that the reader was constantly jumping from one set of characters to another. There are some points in the plot where that really is necessary, but I think with the complicated plot I have (the word “entanglement” is in the title for more than one reason!), that allowing the reader to focus on few characters at a time will work out better in the end.

My lynx plushy seated at my laptop.

One wonders how I hit 105 wpm with those paws.

So, while this last weekend wasn’t productive, I have made a lot of good progress. Even with a workday that had a doctor appointment and a plumbing accident, I still managed to write 1574 words on Friday. Saturday was quite a bit less at about 512, and Sunday with 849. I suspect I’ll be able to go back to regularly beating my 1000 word minimum. I also feel quite strongly that I am going to finish the first draft by the end of November.

Wish me luck!

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About fontfolly

I've loved reading for as long as I can remember. I write fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and nonfiction. For more than 20 years I edited and published an anthropomorphic sci-fi/space opera literary fanzine. I attend and work on the staff for several anthropormorphics, anime, and science fiction conventions. I live near Seattle with my wonderful husband, still completely amazed that he puts up with me at all.

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