Missed it again.
But I still feel like I learned a fair amount from this year's attempt and here in my foggy and slightly twitchy state I want to share some of these wisdom nuggets with you.
- It Is Important To Try And Write In Voices Other Than Your Own
This year was the first time I tried to write a prolonged piece in a character voice significantly different from my own, specifically my main character was a teenage boy.
I am not and have never been a teenage boy. I didn't entirely understand what made them tick when I was their peer and certainly don't claim to have deciphered their mystery now but in trying to write in this voice I had to work a few things out.
I had to have a proper think about the behaviour of different friends and relatives during that time in their life and try shape actions, dialogue and thoughts around this framework. I had to consider the different set of motivations that would drive my character, especially as I decided to give him a spectacularly messed up family life just to make it more eventful and provide an opportunity to work in more adjectives.
I realised that the best way for me to write a character that seems genuine is to keep things fairly simple, pick a few issues or behaviours to highlight and just let the character grow.
- The More I Write The More I Realise I Need To Write
Whilst NaNoWriMo is great for getting people to attempt writing a novel at all, you can't just write furiously for all of November and then do nothing else during the rest of the year, or at least I can't. I write all year round but don't confront my shortcomings as a writer or challenge myself with longer pieces and I really should
Without constant practice I will never improve and oh do I want to. My brain delivers ideas on a strange schedule and oftentimes I get my best stuff out when I'm just wittering away and letting it happen. I don't often have inspiration strike complete with a plot and character bios, it usually just grows as it goes like a watermelon vine in the stomach of a child who has swallowed a seed in summer*.
- Sometimes Show Don't Tell Takes More Effort Than You Think
It is a treacherous and thin line to walk, that barrier between explaining too much and completely losing your reader by being too subtle. The tricky thing about being the writer is you know the characters' back stories and motivations** and what you think is a vital and gripping clue might be missed altogether by a reader who is not you. If you have someone who's judgement and taste you trust who is willing to read your work and critique it without being unkind or - even worse- too kind, you love that person and you never let them go!
*You know it's true!
**Or at least you have your suspicions...