Tag Archives: literary fiction

I Finished My Novel

Yes. Finally. I finished my NaNoWriMo novel. And yes, it’s long overdue, because NaNo ended in November (more about that in a minute). But this is a very special moment because last time I finished a novel… It was more than 13 years ago.

Of course, it’s just a first draft. There’s a lot of editing to do. Currently, it stands at 102 000 words. Out of these, around 86 000 were written in November, during NaNo, and the rest (the last 6 chapters) in December. You could tell I really slowed down in December (be it because I’ve encountered a problem with the plot (yes), or because I lacked the motivation and the rush NaNo gives you). In any case, I managed to finish the first draft on December 30th. I still need to write one short scene in the middle and include a couple of pages between different sections of the book, and then I will have to start cutting. My goal is to make it around 80 000 words.

Additional details

The working title was “Hardin Hades” (in lack of a more inspirational one), but towards the end I’ve decided to change it to “A Postcard From Hades” (or something along those lines). The problem is, the title seems like something more appropriate for a horror story.

Also, I still don’t know what the novel is “about”. It’s obviously, more character than plot driven, but it’s not as heavy as some literary fiction is. Alternatively (and I cringe at this), it can be seen as romance, or young adult. The problem is, there’s way too much sex for YA.

Speaking of which, the sex in the story is not erotica, but very Judy Blume style. It’s the only way those scenes could be written. (The only way that makes sense).

What I learned

I learned that I still have “it”. I still have the urge and the need, and I still have the will needed to write, plot and outline.

I learned I still enjoy it, very much.

I learned I still can’t write short: in my mind, this was a small novel, and I wondered if I’d be able to make it 50 000 words long. But it turned out to be more than 100 000 words.

I also learned I am not as bad at writing dialogues as I thought I was. Some of it came naturally to me, and writing most of it was really easy. On the other hand, I learned I have a problem with so-called transitional scenes, in which I have to describe stuff that happened but not directly show it (and no, contrary to what writing advice says, you shouldn’t always stick to “show, don’t tell” rule. Some things you have to tell (and not show), or else your novel will be either very long or fragmented).

I learned I can write explicit rape scene, but not a regular sex scene from a male POV.

And, very importantly: I learned I’m able to write “on command”, meaning, whenever I find time, no matter how small it is. This is very important, because of the time management.

In any case, I am really excited about this, and, dare to say, proud I finished this novel. It’s not my first, it’s actually my 13th, but it’s been a while. NaNoWriMO came at a perfect moment, and it helped me a lot. It gave me hope and support in a moment I really needed it.

Of course, it also helped me with my writing. My style is still unpolished and not as sharp as I want it to be, but I feel like I’m making a progress. More importantly, I am enjoying it, and I am more and more inspired to write something new. Maybe I should really start working on a novel I’ve been outlining for 7 years now (a fantasy novel I still don’t feel ready to do… But I will have to start at one point because it just won’t be any easier to do it. When novels are in your head for so long, they grow to great proportions, great significance, and it just puts a lot of pressure on you to actually start and write it).

Also, I got an idea (well, updated an older idea) for a dystopian novel about cloning. This one might have a potential. And yes, I know we don’t really need more dystopian novels about cloning (and I’m certainly not as skillful as some writers to pull it off), but it’s ok, because it won’t really be about cloning but something else (as usual). A really intimate story, you could say.

I just wanted to share this with you. :)

Thinking of joining NaNoWriMo

I am thinking of joining NaNoWriMo. It’s not that I’m not busy, but I do feel I need something like this: a goal that has nothing to do with regular daily routine. Something I can do for myself.

NaNoWriMo is a challenge and a competition you have with yourself. Writing a 50000 words novel in a month sounds like quite a challenge, but it’s not like I didn’t do that before (when I was 14, for example). So completing the novel might not be as much of a challenge as finding the time and energy to actually write.

Now when I think about it, I guess I already decided on joining the project this year (it will be my first NaNoWriMo. I did hear about it before, but I thought it was about blogging – and there’s no way I could blog for 30 days straight).

The novel itself

Of course, this brings us to another issue: the novel itself. It’s not that I don’t have the ideas (I always do), it’s the fact I am one of those writers who do extensive research, who prepare for months (and years- my current novel is 7 years in the making, and I still haven’t written a single word. I still have a lot of research to do!) Writing a novel with almost NO research and preparation scares me. I still want it to be a real novel, no matter how badly written and unedited it might turn out, and not just a 50 000 word collection of thoughts or segments that can’t be tied together in any coherent way.

But it’s not that I don’t have an outline that can work as a short novel. This story is unusual to me, since it’s not about anything in particular… It’s one of those stories about life, without much of exciting adventures or deep messages and high concepts.

However, there are several potential problems.

1. It is set in America
It is set in the a small town in the US with American characters. Needles to say, I am not an American and I’ve never been there. And while I DON’T believe writers should write only what they know (in a way of the setting, type of characters, situations, etc.) this thing can be a problem because I will, no doubt, make many, many mistakes (especially given the fact I don’t have much, if any, time to do a research). Of course, writing about another culture never stopped US writers from doing it, but… Well, since I know what is like and their frequent epic fails in this department, it seems a bit disrespectful to “just do it”. Now, it’s not like I don’t know anything about American culture, but I will obviously make many mistakes, and some of them can get in the way of the plot.

2. Genre
I am not sure about the genre. At first, I thought about the “literary fiction” category, a no-genre genre, or “boring & serious” genre. Nothing wrong with that, of course (my usual genres are historical fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy and SF). But given the fact all of the characters are 17 and it’s basically “coming of age” story, I thought that YA (Young Adult) might be more appropriate. Still, there are problems. You can’t put whatever you want in YA novels, and my story includes (but is not limited to): gang rape, violence, suicide, premarital sex. These things are usually not welcomed in YA. (Now, “premarital sex” sounds really innocent comparing to the other things listed, and it is, but even these things are not welcomed in YA). And in case somebody wonders, while the things described sound shocking and provoking, the novel will have a somewhat slow pace and I am planning on writing it in a detached, not too emotional voice (I think it suits the story the best). But all in all, I am not sure if it goes in YA category (and you must pick one when registering).

3. Pen name
I don’t really need it for this, but if I’m ever going to even bother publishing anything, I better start thinking of an appropriate pen name. And yes, I do need one. There’s no way I am going with my own name. It’s not that I don’t like it, or that is unmarketable (which is true, btw), I just don’t feel comfortable. So, how to choose a good pen name? I have no idea. All I know I want it to be gender and culturally neutral, which I know it’s virtually impossible. Crap. Not sure what to do about it.

Compared to the previous three, this one is minor, but I am one of those people who usually have a title in mind immediately after thinking about an idea for a story. The title is usually there to guide me. Not here. (And not for that monster I’ve been planning for 7 years… Only this year I figured out the working title, and it’s not even the perfect one).

NaNoWriMo website: NaNoWriMo