Monday, December 16, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013 Winner: 'The Smoke Will Rise' by Jeff Dodge

Aside from the usual Article Archive posts, this blog was absent of activity on my part during the month of November. If you follow me on Twitter, you know why. But if you don't, I'll mention it now. I took part for the first time in NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month, where the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November.

To put it simply, the whole experience was exciting and fun and thrilling, while at the same time exhausting and even excruciating.

Going in, I knew the basic gist of what my story was going to be about, who the main characters were, etc. But I didn't create an elaborate outline or anything to strictly follow. I knew there were certain plot points I needed to hit eventually, so I left it open to explore what would naturally happen with these characters along the way of getting to those points.

After writing for the day, a lot of the time I would write down some notes for where I knew the story was going next so I had something to work with for writing the next day. Though there were a couple days in maybe the second week where I never wrote any notes down, so those days were the excruciating part because I was having such a hard time trying to think of what to write, to make sure I could fill up at least the 1,667 average word count goal for the day.

It's already halfway through December, but before it got any later, I wanted to take the time to share my experience here on my blog, and tell you a little of what my story's about.

My novel is called The Smoke Will Rise, and it is a teen/young adult fiction story written in epistolary form. Usually, epistolary means you're writing it in the form of letters, though there are all sorts of other ways to write in this form, whether it's adding in newspaper articles, e-mails, etc.

For mine, it was all about being in the digital age. So my protagonist is essentially telling the story through e-mails, Instant Messages, texting, Facebook posts, etc. But I do have parts of it grounded in more old-fashioned forms like diary entries, which I found to be a great way to get certain information across that was in her head that she probably wouldn't normally tell others.

Here is the synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Samantha Burrell--scratch that, just Sam, never call her Samantha--is now settled into her new home after moving away a year ago from not only her hometown but her best friend, Graham. She may have made new friends since then, but her parents are exasperated with her constant need to be on her computer and phone, the lifeblood of any normal teenager.

But none of that matters to Sam when she suspects her father may be harboring a secret (and let's face it, where there's smoke, there's fire) that, if exposed, could upend their entire family. Should she confront him or leave it be? She pours everything out in therapy--which, by the way, she doesn't need to go to, let's make that very clear--and struggles to continue her life as normal, including trying to date girls she's met online.

Journey into Sam's world of texting, instant messaging, e-mail, social media and, yes, even her diary (isn't that so old-fashioned?) in The Smoke Will Rise.

Regardless of how tired and exhausted I was from participating in NaNoWriMo, I had so much fun. I've had the basic idea for this story for quite a while now, and leading up to November this year, I thought, I should just finally do it for once and see how it goes. And when it came to what I wanted to write, this is the story that immediately came to mind.

And after all was said and done, on November 30, the final day of the month, I finished and met the goal, with 50,084 words written, as you can see below with my Stats:

You can click on the above image to see a bigger version.

And once I verified my word count with NaNoWriMo, I received my certificate:

Again, click the image for a larger version.

Now that my very first NaNoWriMo is behind me, that doesn't mean it's all over. I'm taking a much-needed rest and break during December. But 2014 is when I start the process of rewriting and revising and editing and all that.

And who knows what will come of this. Maybe I can get it published someday, which would be great. And if that doesn't work out, it doesn't negate the experience I went through to produce this novel.

Then the next question is: will I participate in NaNoWriMo again? And the answer is yes. There's still a long way to go until the next one, but I would love to do it again. Ever since I finished this one, this thought came into my head for a sequel to The Smoke Will Rise. That's all it is at this point, that it'd be cool to do a sequel. No plot ideas or anything right now. But I'm not even going to think about that aspect of it for months, probably.

But it may be a sequel, maybe a prequel, or maybe some sort of companion novel that relates to it in some other way. Who knows! And if I think I have a strong enough idea to work with come next November, then I might very well use that for NaNoWriMo 2014.

Again, this was a fantastic experience. I had fun reading through everyone's tweets on their own experiences along the way. And here's to next year!

No comments:

Post a Comment