NaNoWriMo Day 4

NaNoWriMo par: 1,667 words/day
NaNoWriMo total: 6,667 words
Personal par: 2,000 words/day
Personal total: 9,227 words

Since the novel I am attempting to write is a science fiction novel, and since it is, specifically, a hard science fiction novel, there is a certain amount of technical information that has to be conveyed.  It has to be interesting and it has to be somewhat realistic, barring certain assumptions.  In the case of my story, these technical details have to do with a technology that allows people to travel to the stars at nearly the speed of light.  This is nothing new in science fiction, but I am trying to portray it realistically.  That means research, and that means getting it right, to the best of my ability.  It also means doing all of this without wordy exposition.  I figured today’s pace would be slower because it was the first part of the story that I was writing that had to provide some of this technical information.  As it turns out, I had my second best day so far, writing 2,444 words in 2 hours, and bringing my 4 day total to 9,227 words, some 2500 words above par.  I also passed the 9,000 word mark, which was nice and which virtually ensure my passing of the 10,000 word mark tomorrow.  In fact, at this pace, I should hit 15,000 by the end of the week.

Two things helped to make today better than I thought:

  1. I didn’t research while writing.  The technical research took place before I started my writing session.  My research was not exhaustive and there weren’t too many calculations.  Just some rough back of the envelop stuff.  (And using Mathematica’s Notebook feature for these notes works really well, as it turns out.).  I wanted a general sense of the technical details and challenges.  More details and accurate calculations will come later.
  2. In describing the technical problem, I didn’t get too detailed.  I am trying to follow the spirit of NaNoWriMo which is to write as much as I can, regardless of quality (or in this case, accuracy).  In this case,Scrivener, the tool in which I do my writing, helps out immensely.  I can keep notes separately, but what really helps is the annotations and ghost notes features.  In several places in today’s text, there are red annotations that contain phrases like, "look up technical details later," or "expand on this", or "less exposition here eventually.   Rather than getting bogged down, I made quick notes in the manuscript and pressed on.

I am still not quite finished with Chapter 1.  When all is said and done, I imagine it will be around 5,000 words long.  That’s a pretty long chapter, I suppose; I really don’t know since I’ve never written a novel before, but assuming that is the average length for a chapter in my book, then I’m looking at somewhere around 18 chapters when the first draft is complete.  That sounds about right to me.

I expect to finish Chapter 1 tomorrow.  Chapter 1 establishes some key characters, sets up the overarching problem of the story, and provides a direction in which the characters go to solve the problem.  There is a little back-story, but not much.  I expect to add more in second draft.  Chapter 2 will add more characters and start to build on the action and momentum of the story.  I am beginning to see a little more clearly where that chapter is heading.  I haven’t thought much about Chapter 3 yet, but I am really only thinking one chapter ahead at this point, so I think I’m okay.

Incidentally, I also started providing some of the background of the setting of the story (which begins some 200+ years in the future).  It is an Earth that has been stricken by global warming, which has changed the geographical landscape, political landscape, and washed away some 3 billion people.  Not the brightest future.  It’s the one area I’m not completely satisfied with yet, and which I will definitely have to come back to and weave that element into how it affects the characters, the problem of the story, and how it helps to shape the solution.

A good morning, over all.  I wake up eager to get started writing and I write steadily from about 5:10 – 7:10 am.  I feel accomplished when I finish up for the day.  Not pressing myself gives me time for my mind to fill up for the next days writing session.  I am really enjoying the routine at this point.  It feels great.