Monday, November 28, 2011

NaNoWriMonday (5)

Word Count: 30027/50000
Day: 21/30
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Like many other bloggers, I am participating in this year's National Novel Writing Month for the first time. I thought it would be fun to touch base each week and see how everyone is progressing, as well as cheer each other on!

Well, here we are. The last Monday of NaNoWriMo. Where did the month go?! *deep sigh* I got rather behind over the holiday, but I am determined that I AM going to finish. I have a paper and exam to get through tomorrow, but once that's over, I'm devoting my Tuesday evening and all day Wednesday to finishing this thing. All the winner tweets on Twitter are making me go both "OMG YAY YOU ARE AWESOME!" and also "OMG WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?" Is anyone else having that reaction? But it is fortunately the kick I need to keep me going. As my wonderful Noveling Club leader says, NaNoMiracles DO happen. It CAN be done! *waves pompoms* (I'm saying this as much for my benefit as for yours, dear reader.) And no matter what, 30K is more words than I have ever written on any of the projects I've started in the past, so I kind of already feel like a winner -- and so should you. *pats self on the back* *passes around cookies*

For this last NaNoWriMonday, I wanted to talk a little bit about the authors who inspire me. These are the people who made me want to try writing in the first place. Their beautiful words and worlds and insight made me go, "Hey! I want to do that!" These are the people who I think are the best at what they do, and whose writing I study to figure out what they're doing so very right.

(This might look a bit like my Top Ten Tuesday post last week...) In no particular order:

J.K. Rowling: I'm not going to say much about this, because it's pretty self-explanatory, right? Actually, I find J.K. Rowling more intimidating than inspiring. I literally cannot fathom the creative energy it took to write Harry Potter. She just wins. First place is taken, and now everyone else is competing for second.

Suzanne Collins: Even though I just finished Mockingjay and I'm kind of mad at her right now, The Hunger Games is still the most perfect book I've ever read. I didn't think it could be done, but congrats, Suzanne, you wrote the perfect book. I'm still trying to work out how she did it, to be honest. I think what I like best about THG, though, is Katniss. Katniss is the kind of heroine I want to read and write. Girls who can take care of themselves, who survive and fight and never give up. The one thing that I always come back to about the first book is how Collins put Katniss in this unfathomable situation, and made her do what she had to do, but never let her become a monster. She had to have exerted conscious effort to achieve that, and she did it flawlessly.

Franny Billingsley: Chime was beautiful. Even without the plot, the way Franny used words would have been enough to keep the reader interested. Ordinary writing seems stale by comparison. While I don't think I would want to write an entire book in that style (though I loved reading one), I do want to be more creative with my language. The onomatopoeia and the near-poetics of it makes the act of reading itself an adventure. Franny has flair, and that's all there is to it.

Maggie Stiefvater: Maggie has a way with characterization (not to mention words). She knows her characters and she makes you know them without ever spelling it out for you. It manifests in the way they speak and think and act, but the characters aren't even necessarily aware of it themselves. That's what I want to learn how to do. How to create a self-consistent character with personality and traits and hopes and wants and hates and flaws, and have these things show up naturally -- like they do in real life with real people -- without having to spell it out. I think that's the sort of thing that will only come with time and practice, though. Maggie has actually done some great posts on these things, which I will link to in a minute.

Laini Taylor: Daughter of Smoke and Bone was gorgeous in every sense of the word. Laini's writing is understated but magical, and her world-building is vibrant and rich and complex, but also unobtrusive. I was left just sitting there in awe when I finished Smoke and Bone. The kind of imagination that would take... I would love to write something so vast and epic. I don't know if I even could, but it's certainly something to aspire toward.

Julie Kagawa: Julie knows how to write an adventure. I love the structure of her novels -- with the journeys through the Nevernever, quests for something magical. Her world is incredible and imaginative, but it doesn't beat you over the head. Every stop Meghan makes, every interaction with a new creature, serves a purpose. I just love novels like The Iron Fey and The Hunger Games and Harry Potter where there's a clear narrative thrust, and there's nothing unnecessary to drag down the plot and the pacing. It's just so neat and clever and tight. Right now I feel like my NaNo is a sprawling mess of tangled roots and winding paths, but my ultimate goal is to have it be as streamlined as so many of my favorite reads.

What about you? Whose writing inspires you to learn and grow and be better?

Finally, here are the last tips of NaNoWriMo:

And for a bit of inspiration, Maggie also did a great post on Writing the Book I Always Meant To, featuring this tidbit:

Write the book you've always wanted to read, but can't find on the shelf.

I've heard this somewhere before, but I've never been quite sure what that book would be for me. Perhaps, as Laini Taylor suggested, I should make a list of the things I like. I know my NaNo features some of them -- things like fierce heroines and quests through fantasy worlds -- but I still have this lofty, hazy image of my ideal read in my mind that I have no idea how to nail down to reality. The knowledge that you can make whatever you want happen in your novel is sometimes surprising and overwhelming to me. There are so many things I would love to read -- the challenge is figuring out how to make a coherent narrative out of them.

Are you writing the book you've always wanted to read this month?

So, congratulations on making it this far, whether you're ahead or behind -- the important thing is that you're writing. If you're like me, NaNoWriMo has been the kick you needed to finally stop plotting and start writing -- and the first step is always the hardest, so pat yourself on the back for taking that scary plunge. This has been a ton of fun, and I think from here on out it's going to be so much easier to keep myself motivated.

As you strive toward that finish line, just remember:

Congratulations, everyone! *throws confetti*


Anne said...

I've kind of fallen out of posting about NaNo on the blog as life has exploded crazy all over everywhere. I can still cheer you on though! GO GO GO YOU CAN DO IT!!! =) Good luck and let us know how you do!

barmybex said...

I'm still behind but a lot closer than I ever thought I would be.
Come on we can make it, it IS possible.
I'm only 3,000 words ahead of you, and If i can do it so can you. SO come on let's get writing!
my NaNoWriMonday post is up here:


Coreena McBurnie said...

You can do it, but no matter what, you have written a HUGE amount. Good for you and good luck with the rest!!

Shelagh said...

I am pretty much in the same boat (although mine has a few less words in it as I paddle rapidly for the finish line).

*waves pom-poms and then runs off for tea and typing*

The Word Fiend

Nancy Kelley said...

20K in two days is TOTALLY DOABLE, Casey. I see people do it every year, and even crazier feats. I'll be cheering you on the entire way--you can do it!!

Speaking of, I should probably work on my novel... or something.

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