Thoughts From an Experimental NaNoWriMo

Right – so where were we?

Oh, yeah, National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo. Did I have a good month? I’d say I did.


The book I started for NaNo, The Messenger, is different for me in a lot of ways. For one thing, it’s pure space-based science fiction. While I’ve written some near-future sci-fi short stories, I’ve not done anything this long or, well, spacey. For another, I started the project having done very little prep work. So to be past 50k words and looking at another month’s writing (at least) to finish it is making me a little giddy.


Not an actual picture of the author. Think metaphorically, people!

Let me explain why.

Writers generally like to divide themselves into two groups – plotters and pantsers (putting to one side the ones who don’t accept either label). Plotters, as you might imagine, are people who do a lot of work before they actually start writing a first draft. They outline, develop characters, build worlds and all that kind of stuff before ever sitting down to write “it was a dark and stormy night.” (LINK). Pantsers are the complete opposite – they do little prep before writing and are, as the name implies, flying by the seat of their pants. In truth, I think most people are a little of both. Anybody who writes exactly the same book they planned to write or really sits down with a completely empty noggin and pours out a book are few and far between.

I tend to be a plotter. Lots of that is down to writing fantasy and the heavy lifting of world building. I like to get that stuff out of the way so I can let the story develop against a fairly fixed backdrop. Still, things never go precisely as planned, even when (as with The Bay of Sins, my last NaNo project) you lay out all the chapters you think you’ll need from the beginning. I suspect it’s something like attorneys say about oral arguments – there’s the one you plan to make, the one you actually make, and the one you wished you’d made after the fact.

So The Messenger was a very different experience for me. I had about a page of notes, compiled from thinking about the story over the years, but it was lacking lots of important things. Like, for instance, the names of the main characters or any of the names of the planets or alien races they’d encounter along their way. As for the way? I had an idea of how things began, but after that? I decided to let it see where it went. I’m glad I did, because I don’t think I would have come up with some of these things ahead of time.

It’s particularly interesting to do this one right after finishing the first draft of The Orb of Triska. That has a lot of work done on it before I started writing and I always felt like I knew where I was going. I think that first draft is a much better, more coherent final product, but, of course, neither one of them are “finished” after a first draft. It will be interesting to see how the final products compare once they’ve been polished up.

So that’s how I spent my November.

Also, we got new puppies:


Zaria (L) and Kalindi (R) are ready for their album cover.

How you all been?


2 thoughts on “Thoughts From an Experimental NaNoWriMo

  1. Pingback: The Fate of The Messenger | JD Byrne

  2. Pingback: Off to NaNoWriMo 2019! | JD Byrne

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