Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Internal Editor - a NaNo Lesson

Shutting off your internal editor is one of the hardest and most necessary lessons you can learn from NaNo. Just write! Two words of instruction. Simple.
Simply impossible sometimes.

I am expanding on a short story from my college days so I didn't spend much time in prep. I didn't want to force the story because if you really let go in NaNo, the story can take off in the most interesting directions. But those first 1,741 words were ugly. My internal editor was chattering away like a spastic monkey on my back. You're mixing time periods! That dialogue is too modern! You're making too much importance out of that detail! Your character is inconsistent. That's IT?

To begin my story, I decided to introduce my character. I finished my first chunk of words and voila, I realized I'd just summarized most of the short story. I thought, "OH no! I don't have enough for a full novel plot and all of my details will be so egregiously inaccurate that revision will be ten times nastier."

And this was the first night with a story I long intended to write. Huh.

So today, I thought about my piece and constructed a loose outline (loose because I really want this story to go where ever it may lead) and realized, well DUH! I need to leave the introduction intact (in NaNo you delete NOTHING) and then write each summary point as a scene. STOP TELLING and start showing. It's amazing how often a writer returns to the most basic of rules.

Tonight, I wrote my minimum word count, and a few extra words for good measure, without effort. Free from my internal editor for a short while, I will write prose that I'd never let the general public read. But that's the point -- to commit the story in my head to paper so I may fully meet the characters who will play these roles. Then they will tell me what's really going on and we will take an adventure together.

Here are the most important lessons of NaNo:
  1. Turn off the Internal Editor
  2. Let the story go where it will
  3. Enjoy writing 

Word count as of tonight 3,852