NaNoFeed: NaNo 2011 is finished, and now a backward look

Last night around 9:30pm I finished writing the endgame of my 2011 National Novel Writing Month project, The Necromancer and the Barbarian: A Love Story. I promptly sent the revised full manuscript and the replacement final chapters to my beta readers.

And then I sat up until 2 a.m., on a work night no less, doing celebratory goofing-off, which is to say, rereading the stuff I’d just written, reviewing chats with my writing buddies, and thinking about the next steps.

There’s a lot to occupy me in the six to eight weeks before I look at this project again. For one, there’s the copy-editing and second-pass beta reading I owe my good buddies, as well as a pile of editing for other projects. Oh yes, and taxes, and blog posts, and other things that pass the time.

Retrospective statistics on NaNo 2011:

  • October 2011 (plus the last week of September): 65,000 words of background material, including character interviews, plot outlines, and research notes. There was a fair amount of research time, which hasn’t been logged yet, which felt a lot like leisure reading or fooling-about on the internet.
  • November 2011: 85,000 words of first draft.
  • December 2011: 2,000 more words of first draft, 3500 words of plot notes
  • January 2012: Villain’s character interview (12,000 words); 6,000 words of first draft
  • February 2012: 2,000 words of first draft, finishing the novel on 2/7/2012 around 9:30pm. Completed first draft manuscript weighs in at around 95,000 words.




Total time: 4.5 months; total words: 175,500 words (95,000-word novel draft, 80,500 words of character interview and plot notes).

Research materials: probably something in the range of 200-300 pages of on-line materials; estimated 10-12 hours of video viewed; additional 500-1000 pages of references to follow up for second-draft revision. Key here (what doesn’t show up in the stats) is that it’s all fun stuff.

Early reactions from my most ambitious beta-reader echo my own impression of a fairly well-built novel. It’s not a true NaNo novel, because the full project spanned four and a half months. I did leverage the November novel-writing event to do the majority of the first-draft writing, but some of that was re-writing or clarifying scenes that already popped up in the character interviews. On the other hand, I’m a lot happier with the result.

The hardest part was stitching together the lead-in to the climactic confrontation and finding the right scene to end on. This time I decided to leave the ending a little bit open, with the thought that the end of one story is the beginning of another. The end and the beginning were the slowest parts; most of the work during high production was done in 30-45 minute bouts.

And now, on to the next thing.



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4 Responses to NaNoFeed: NaNo 2011 is finished, and now a backward look

  1. Congratulations! You deserve to celebrate- am impressed by the output plus that you were able to quantify it. I’ve never had the nerve to send a first draft to betas- are you a reviser of first draft as you go kind of writer? My first drafts are unholy messes 🙂

    • epbeaumont says:

      My beta readers are fellow NaNo novelists, so we’ve all seen each other’s work in first draft. But that’s not to minimize at all the apprehension I feel every time I send a draft off to a reader — any reader — for the first time! It’s really important to pick someone you trust.

      Well, there’s another topic for a blog post. 🙂

  2. Sue says:

    Well done! I admire your dedication. My first drafts are ideas then I have to fill in descrption and dialogue and yes, the endings – oddly for my devil one I knew the beginning and the ending, but ah the middle…
    Good point about readers you can trust. I only have 2 1/2 readers (the 1/2 is only for shorter words due to her schedule) and the other two read totally differently from each other but taken together lead me along. One of them knows my characters well and will advise scene changes or offer plot ideas. It is a good idea for a blog 😀

    • epbeaumont says:

      I call the middle the Great Desert of the Interior. It all looks the same, but it’s the place where all the changes happen. Ideas turn into novels by a variety of different paths–even for the same writer–but the thing that makes the difference is persistence.

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