Over the last couple of days, rather than thinking what I might write for the 50,000 word challenge, the National Novel Writing Month, I have been looking back at what I was thinking when I first took up the thrown down writing gauntlet, two years ago. Then i was writing what became my first novel in the Radwinter series… it’s interesting to look back on the progress i was making:
The National Novel Writing Month challenge takes place in November, so we’re halfway there and I’m surprised and pleased with what I have achieved so far and I think I should complete the 50,000 words that NaNo participants aim for.
My story is about a family’s search for their roots using genealogical resources; however I thought it would be a pretty boring book if it was just a lot of details from census returns and births, marriages and deaths data. I also thought that it could become complicated if the ancestors were just names on a page, and yet with only that sort of detail (no photos or other documents… yet…) I had to do something to engage my readers. I have made the main character reflect on his findings, imagine the people he has discovered, trying to build a picture in his mind of people who were living in Essex in the 1840’s, in Surrey in the 1850’s and were briefly in Portsea Island at the end of the decade. I have also given the family themselves story-lines; one brother has just become engaged, another brother with two failed marriages behind him is looking for a life-long partner, and the youngest brother who has been charged with the task of finding where the family came from, the youngest brother has an ambitious wife who doesn’t want to have children… as he increasingly does.
So all is going well… back to work!
‘Radwinter’ was one of the easiest novels I’ve ever written, I’m not sure why, maybe it was the magic of Nano! When the challenge was over and i was continuing to finish the novel, I obviously confronted other dilemmas:
I’ve been working my way towards the denouement of my novel, Radwinter, and I had it mapped out in my head… the main character on his genealogical quest would fit the missing pieces into the jigsaw, or so he thought, decisions would be made, difficulties resolved, new ventures heaved over the horizon and then bam! the final secret revealed on the last page.
I was working my way through various scenes, paragraph by paragraph, one of which involved my main character Thomas visiting his brother Paul… and suddenly, unexpectedly, I had the perfect ending… but wait! The ending couldn’t happen yet, there was another scene to be fitted in! The final exciting twist had not been revealed… oh my goodness, how to do this? Should I ignore the perfect ending and add another couple of scenes? Should I take the missing scene and insert it into the story a little further back… Cripes! What to do!
I’m used to my novels taking their own path ‘writing themselves’ suggested a NaNoWriMo friend (National Novel Writing Month) I’m used to characters coming on in a supporting rôle and taking over the story, I’m used to people getting lost and finding themselves somewhere completely different, with someone unexpected… I’m even used to ditching beginnings and rewriting with new inspiration… but for a story to end unexpectedly, in a different way than I had anticipated… hmmm, what to do now?!
If you haven’t yet read my Radwinter stories, you can find them here: