NaNoWriMo Diary 3: Rules

illusThe big news: I hit 100k today, a day early! I’m as confused and impressed as anyone else.

To celebrate, my final NaNoWriMo blog and something a bit different. I’m still building up experience – I’m always building up experience – but this is my third novel in the last two or so years and I’ve arrived at some noveling rules that I’m trying to stick to this month:

1. Everyone is the hero of their own story

On one level, this means that supporting characters should not revolve around the hero. I want to create the sense that everyone in this novel is at the centre of their own narrative, is living and existing when my narrators aren’t around to witness it.

On another level, more literally, I enjoy having my characters ‘cross over’ with other novels. There’s whole groups of characters having their own – clearly exciting – adventures that my characters encounter only occasionally. It’s a lot of fun.

2. Characters should not withhold information from each other without good reason

Naturally, what constitutes ‘good reason’ varies enormously depending on the character and the context and what the information is, but there needs to be an in universe reason. Characters should not withhold information simply because it makes it easier for me, the writer, or because it would be more dramatic to reveal it later.

Characters withholding information is irritatingly common in fiction and it’s tripped me up a couple of times already – I occasionally have this instinct that characters should keep quiet about important things till later on, but often that just doesn’t make sense – and often revealing things early sends the narrative in a new and interesting direction!

3. If there’s an obvious solution to a problem, take it

This, I think, is closely related to the above. If characters have an obvious solution available to them, they need a very good reason not to take it. They certainly shouldn’t ignore the obvious just because it’s easier for me, the author.

The flip side of this, of course, is that there can’t always been an obvious solution – and sometimes when there is, there need to be reasons why the characters can’t take it, ie, conflict.

So: that, I suppose, is what I learned from this month of intensive novel-writing! Double NaNoWriMo has been a great experience but I think in future I’ll stick to my usual strategy of ‘writing however much I feel like’.

Back next week with your regularly scheduled Doctor Who blogging!

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