It’s been seven days of November, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, as the cool kids say).
In that time, I’ve written 10,435 words. That’s an average of 1491 words per day. It’s not quite at NaNoWriMo levels (that would be 1600), but it’s pretty good. It would be higher, but one evening I had a flat tire that took way too much time to resolve. I should have made that loss of time up on another day, but haven’t been able to do that yet.
The novel’s current word count is 71,204. I’m on track to break 100,000 by the end of the month if I maintain the current pace. I’d like to do better and break 110,000, if the book goes that long.
My initial target for this novel was 100,000 words. When I reached 50,000, it seemed right on track, because that was around what I considered the midpoint of the story. Now that I’m into the latter half, I’m starting to think it may be longer. There’s a lot of story left that may take more space to tell.
I’ll update the blog again in another week or so. This one will be difficult for numerous reasons, and the week after that includes Thanksgiving. November’s not the perfect month for this kind of thing, but what month is?
November is NaNoWriMo! Or, to use the full title: National Novel Writing Month! If you’re not familiar with that, it’s a challenge for writers, aspiring and otherwise. The goal is to write a full novel, or 50,000 words, during the month of November.
Last year, I took part in this challenge for the first time, writing 50,000 words in my YA fantasy, Viridia (which I finished a few weeks into December). It was my attempt to jump-start my writing, to actually accomplish something, and to prove that I could write at that rate.
I didn’t sign up on the website or anything, but I made the goal and kept track of it. I updated some people and kept myself accountable, and I pulled it off. It was a great feeling.
As November approaches this time, I’m in the middle of my current novel. As I write this, I’m at 54,530 words, with a goal of 60,000 by the end of this week. While I’ve been working hard, I haven’t kept myself to a strong pace.
Ever since Hurricane Harvey derailed things, I’ve been slowly working my writing pace and schedule back into place. I’m generally achieving 1,100+ words per day this week.
My goal for NaNoWriMo this year is to finish this novel. If I write 50K in November, the book will reach 110K. I don’t think it’ll be quite that long (though I could be wrong). Therefore, if I accelerate to the pace of 1600+ words per day for November, I should be able to finish.
I’ll update the blog with the word count as I find time. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to figure out why this supporting character feels so creepy every time he walks into a room.
The Stormlight Archives, by Brandon Sanderson, is a series that inspires me and depresses me at the same time. As a reader, it inspires me and moves me in ways few stories do. As a writer, it depresses me, because if something this awesome exists, why should I bother?
Sanderson doesn’t need me to sing his praises. He’s a best-selling author many times over. If you enjoy fantasy and haven’t read his books, then what is wrong with you? Get to a library or Barnes & Noble right now!
Seriously. His writing is fantastic, and The Stormlight Archives are the best of the best. So far, there are two books (out of planned ten) in the series available, and the third one comes out in November. I’ve just finished re-reading the first two, to refresh my memory and whet my appetite for book three.
The first thing that awes me in these books is the worldbuilding. Many fantasy writers think they’re very clever when they devise a unique magic system, or do something unusual with language or flora & fauna. Some like to create a massive history of their world, in detail, going back thousands of years. Or maybe craft a fairly original mythology for their people, complete with ideas about religion or fantastical beings. Sanderson is not satisfied with doing one or two of those things; he does them ALL. He brings in the magic, the history, the peoples, the creatures, the mythology, the legends… and all of it connects. None of it is just thrown in for fun. There’s a logic to every element that makes it fit with all of the other elements. I am absolutely amazed at how much detail is packed into the world of Roshar. Just the ecosystem alone is incredible!
And if that weren’t enough, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. The world of Roshar is linked in with many of Sanderson’s other books in one grand mythology (cosmere). It’s practically overwhelming. If you’re not interested in that, it doesn’t interfere with the main story at all, but it’s an interesting aside. Fantheories go nuts over this, by the way.
Second, Sanderson awes me with his characters. There are times that I’ve seen magnificent worldbuilding, but the writer is horrible at portraying true-to-life people. Not so here. Kaladin, Shallan, Dalinar, Szeth… all of them are fascinating people with complete personalities. Kaladin, especially, is a protagonist to rival any in fantasy fiction.
Third, Sanderson knows the art of the surprise. More than that, he’s brilliant at hiding a surprise in plain sight! I absolutely adore it when something is revealed, usually at a crucial moment in the climax, and it’s something absolutely stunning that should have been obvious. (See the Mistborn books…)
Speaking of the climax of the story… that’s where Sanderson is unbelievable. As a reader, I can’t wait to get to the conclusion of a Sanderson book, because I know it’s going to blow me away. Even when I already know what’s going to happen, I’m excited. While re-reading Words of Radiance, I was on the edge of my seat, so anxious to get to the climax… and I already knew what was going to happen! It’s not just action-packed; it matches up with the character arcs in beautiful ways.
I find very little to complain about in Brandon Sanderson’s writing. Even though his books are very long, the pacing is usually spot on. In The Way of Kings, I’ll admit that I felt like it took a little too long to get to Kaladin’s story arc climax, but only just a little.
The Stormlight Archives are planned as a ten-volume series. I’m hoping for great things, but I’ll admit to a little nervousness about whether he can maintain the greatness for that long. The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan, was the picture of an epic series that lasted way too long for me. I felt like five or six books could have been left out and it would have been a better story. I sincerely hope I don’t feel that way when Stormlight ends.
As a writer, I can’t help but feel intimidated by Brandon Sanderson. It feels natural to ask, “If something this awesome is being published right now, why should I even bother? I can’t match this quality.” Logically, I know this is a fallacy. I know it makes no sense. Convincing my emotions is another thing.
The stories I write are not the same as the stories Brandon Sanderson writes. I think they’re not as good. But that shouldn’t change anything. They’re my stories. I’m the one telling them. Even if no one else ever enjoys them the way I do, that’s okay. But maybe someone will. Maybe a lot of people will. I won’t know until I try, and try again.