WRITING: NaNoWriMo and the Non-Comfort Zone

I’m not a prose writer. As a kid I devoured books like they were a vital sustenance  but my writings have been all scripts and essays for a good eight years now, barring a couple ill-fated short story attempts. And so it is indescribably weird, the experience of going from ‘almost never’ to full-speed ahead, writing over 6500 words of prose in four days.

Because I am so much more comfortable with hearing the voices in my head – that is, letting the characters speak for themselves – the main early decision I made was to write in first-person. Oddly enough, I’m writing in present-tense as well, giving my process the feel of the character sitting down with me and giving me a play by play of my story from within their own head. There’s a great feeling of surrendering so far. Surrendering to a voice that’s been waiting for its chance to shine for a long time now, and gorging on the opportunity. This particular character, who seemed of the strong and reserved type in script, is not so reserved inside his own head. A whirlwind of sarcastic asides and backstory destroys the myth of the man as seen through the other characters’ eyes, and as in the scripted version of the story, through the eye of the camera.

I’m also finding that I’m burning through words without necessarily making much progress on my story. I’m already over 10% through my NaNo wordcount, and yet the story I wish to tell has barely even begun. Forget adapting Two Roads’ first season plans; it seems a good chunk of this 50,000 words will be devoted to adapting the pilot story! That said, the ability to tell exposition plainly, telling and holding back as much as I like, is very handy.

That said, I can’t wait to spend time with these characters once the rules and world have been properly established. It’s the screenwriter in me that misses the dialogue interplay, even as I write what’s looking like a 50,000 word monologue. As of yet, only two of the five main characters have even spoken to one another. I feel like I’m just breaking out of the prologue level of a video game and getting to the real meat.

I’m finding the pace pretty bracing, though, considering the format switch – and that all of my other projects are bubbling along. I’ve barely managed to keep up. We’ll see if my momentum keeps me going or if I spend most of the month playing catch up, a fate I’ve largely avoided so far.

How are your NaNos going, gentlefolk?


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