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I like to analyse and reflect on NaNo events. Anyone who has read my blog for a while probably knows this. I feel that it is an important ability to have in general when participating in a competition, doing a project or even just looking at how you handled a situation or event to know how to do better and learn lessons. I genuinely do not want to be preachy but I feel it needs to be said to explain why I am doing this post and possible future posts. I have done some analysis during the month when posting my updates but this is going to be the main one.
I know the reason I ended up switching stories is because I started out writing a sci-fi story without enough knowledge or experience of the genre. Whilst I have some understanding of the possibilities and the impact that could occur from more automation and more robotics coming into life and the work place, I realised I did not however know enough about science fiction and the composition of those stories. Doctor Who, Star Wars and some Star Trek is not going to cut it. If I was to ever return to that story, I would need to do more research, get a better understanding and decide how much of the story I want focused on the robots. If I pull away from that or make it background, then the feel and genre of the story will change. Perhaps I also need to ignore the fact that the story is a reworking of a very old Robot Wars fan fiction I wrote years ago. I know looking at the story planning that there are enough elements that push it into the crime-come-family drama with a sprinkling of romance because that is something I write in general.
I write romance stuff because apparently I just cannot write anything at the moment without their being a romance storyline. I also write crime because it interests me and lets me explore the human condition as I know it and from what I have observed of the world. It’s also the mystery to be solved, the gathering of information and the fact that it creates drama, plot and story. It is possibly also worth noting, I am very goal orientated. Family drama comes again from my observation of the world.
These are all genres that come from things that everyone understands from their own lives: love, lost, hurt and, let’s face it, every family has its niggles because no family is perfect. It could be as small as the teenager kicking up a fuss about having a curfew or even as big as knowing that the elderly members of the family are coming to the end of their days. We read books and watch films because it lets us experience it and write those stories to understand it.
And that one word, understand, is probably why I got bored and hit a wall with the original robotics story. So in turn, my mind ran away to fantasy land and gave me a new idea using similar or the same themes: the girl who hid her talents under a cool façade to avoid getting involved with the family business. That could have been any number of genres once I started working on the details but because I read and write fantasy a lot, it became a fantasy story, calling on my knowledge of the school story too.
The fact that it became a school story was down to me deciding the FMC was going to go to a school I had created as a child after reading the Malory Towers books by Enid Blyton. Because of the lack of understanding about planning when I was a child and because it was a story that had come to me during the month, I ended up having to do a lot of planning and breaking off from writing to figure things out. Not ideal but it did the trick as I did hit my target of 10,000 words on Day 17.
Since then, I have kept writing (aside from Windows 10 problem) but maybe not as much as I would like. One of the techniques that have really helped I feel is sometimes just getting out into the world. Go for that walk. Sit in the café or somewhere in public and people watch. And just because you are working your day job, don’t turn off your writers brain. Observe, learn and take note. Even if something doesn’t help now, it could help later in another story.
So what are the main things I have learnt from this month?:
1) If doing a new genre, research it and try to read within it to understand how it is written and how stories are plotted and unfold.
2) Challenges are maybe not the best time to be attempting something new so, if need be, put the story aside to be written another time when I have more time to devote to it.
3) Rewriting and reinventing old stories is good because I have improved a lot over the years so can give it a better spin or even just express certain things better because I may have new experience to bring to it.
4) Learning to plan more effectively wouldn’t go amiss.
5) Knowing my personality, make sure I have some form of goal or challenge for myself to make sure I am accountable to someone, even if it’s just myself. It also helps me to finish stories after such a long time not being able to write properly.
6) Don’t isolate yourself, especially if you have hit a block in your writing. Get out into the world and experience it.
And 7) if doing a massive software, DON’T do it during an event or challenge! Not even at the end of the challenge. Do it afterwards.
What have you learnt from this last NaNo or even from you last story? Is there anything you would change about the story or your writing methods? Don’t be afraid to comment below.