Yesterday afternoon, I finished the first draft for “Under Her Wing” at 50850 words and won NaNo. Yay!
It was a completely different experience from NaNo 2011. After the first few days, when I first posted about this year’s NaNo, there was no doubt in me that I’d make it. Oh, I had many and diverse doubts, just not that one. I doubt my ability to create believable characters and interactions, write natural-sounding dialog, show and not tell, and other aspects of good story-telling in general. My main insecurities related to this particular story are about the explicit sexual content and about the ending. I don’t know which genre this story belongs to, if there’s an audience for such a thing, and if yes, how I might even begin to search for it. I’ve never read a book like this myself! But — I wrote one anyway.
As I mentioned before, I plunged into this with only a silhouette of a plan. In the beginning, I knew nothing about the two point-of-view characters, and didn’t really care for them. They only started to grow on me about the half-mark, when I started feeling the pressure to start making decisions that would define them. By the end, they became fairly fleshed-out, and I suspect they even gained distinctive voices. But writing the final chapters, I became certain that the beginning would need major modifications in order to make the ending as effective as it can be.
So, I intend to launch into an extensive revision. It will include expansion of existing and addition of new scenes and chapters, tweaks to the setting, and major rewriting of one of the lead characters, to make his transformation through the events of the story two-fold (currently it’s one-dimensional). The experience I had with Ghost in the Machine showed me how difficult and dangerous revising can be. I must not allow myself to make the same mistakes with UHW; I will try to finish the revision by the end of January, and launch the novel on Kindle Scout under the auspices of NaNo 2017. It’s a tangible, and hopefully realistic goal that should prevent me from going off on tangents.
I also intend to keep writing new things — but until the revision of UHW is complete, I’ll stick to the characters and setting I created for it, and work on short stories, spin-offs and tie-ins to the main story. Again, the experience with GITM taught me that revising isn’t the same as writing, even when it includes quite a bit of it. I must work on new stories to keep the machinery well-oiled.
UHW is the first work of original fiction I managed to complete since my teens; an important milestone. Knowing that I have it in me — the ability to come up with characters and setting I can care for, on my own — opens up a whole world of possibilities that always seemed just out of reach before. I’m now dreaming about getting published, and earning money from writing, and perhaps devoting to it full time some day.
One step at a time, of course. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. But writing a novel in a month is a great way to start the journey, if I do say so myself.