Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Forgive the Crap

There are so many things to forgive during NaNo:
  1. Not editing (of course)
  2. Zero contractions and overly verbose sentences because it's all about the word count
  3. Stagnating at the beginning by writing in circles to jump start the motor
  4. Excessive name variations because it takes too long to search for the original choice so, damn it, Frederic Merck becomes Ferdinand Merde then Frank Merken 
  5. Ridiculous short-cuts because IT'S ALL ABOUT THE WORD COUNT
  6. And finally, the most egregious of them all: the constant TELLING and not SHOWING
Once it's accepted that zero editing is inherent to NaNo success, it becomes painfully evident that narrating too much, outlining in broad strokes, is unavoidable in order to capture a story stumbling at a gallop.

It seems so reasonable to endlessly describe out the exact hues of the autumn colors, down to the tri-colored vein of the maple leaf held in the hand of a heroine in order to use as many words as possible. Alas, I rarely spent thousand words exploring a visual detail. Forever conscious of finishing, I constantly rushed forward, concerned with where the story was going. Thus, by discovering character motivation at a gallop, the writing informs the reader of what to think instead of permitting the reader to visualize.

For example, the heroine spent about 5000 words fretting. Once I became aware, I gave her a headache to end the infernal tail chasing, and made her acknowledge the anxious mental quibbling. The character practically steps off the page, grabs the reader's face, and says, "I'm sorry." But that wasn't the end. Oh no. I went right back to mental quibbling--in and out, in and out--allowing the character to repeatedly explain that despite having no qualms until a few thousand words ago, she was suddenly freaking out. So, as there is no editing in NaNo, I have a 5000 word scene that is more like a 1000 words with a bad echo changing ever so slightly each time.

It's one thing to begin this adventure by airly claiming that only 30,000 of 50,000 words may be viable. That seems so self-aware and mature. It's quite another to stare at a chunk of crap. So repeat after me, "I fogive this story for being a draft. I congratulate myself for having something to edit." At the end of the month (or the three years), this is the one thing that makes all those issues forgivable.