Wednesday, November 4, 2009

National Novel Writing Month

Well I am participating in NaNo right now. So I've only done about 400 words. And I totally need to get caught up. It is very thrilling and exciting to just be focusing on writing and not at all on the revising process. Although I may not take the whole month off of my novel. Just knowing I don't have to think about it right now has taken the weight off and reenergized me already.

The reason I only have 400 words is that the night I had time to sit down and write I fell asleep while typing. I was in one of those lucid dreams where I kept picturing the scene and I was describing it. Then I actually dozed off and my husband said something to me and I woke up and put the laptop away.

When I opened it up the next morning I was quite upset to realize that my hands had gotten off the keys and it was truly gibberish. So sad.

My NaNo name is MLC23 if you want to friend me, but there is no pressure. I don't plan on being very active except to post my updates. Hopefully tonight I will get a lot of writing done and be able to catch up by Saturday.

I love coming up with the story. This one promises to be exciting. It is post-apocalpytic and lots of explosions, bad guys, tension (both suspense and sexual). Basically it should have everything that I should want in a novel. Hopefully I can pull it off with some killer tension.

Lately I've been reading but not posting my books. I have noticed a few things. One I tried a new genre and read The Season by Sarah MacLean. I very much enjoyed this particular book. Very well written.

I have also read a few other books in the last week. One came highly recommended by someone and I am just having the hardest time with it. It is all telling and no showing and so round about it as it wanders from event to event. It came out in 1990 and I just don't know if it would fly now. The story is fun, but it so doesn't speak to me. (I don't like to criticize other authors on the blog so the book will remain absolutely nameless.)

And I read another one by a very experienced author who wrote in limited third the entire book except for two paragraphs that she pulls out of it in the middle of the book. It was so jarring. I wondered how the editor let that one slide. Once you have so many books published do they just stop checking?

Another book I read spent so much time on backstory that it took nearly 100 pages to get into the action. This was a middle grade book (which may be part of the reason why it didn't work well for me, since I really struggle reading middle grade). It was recently published. It came very highly recommended and I read the entire thing, even though I hadn't liked another book by the same author. But I didn't think the payoff was worth it on that book. The sense of adventure didn't get high enough and even though we got to know the character in the end his journey didn't matter to me at all.

So I may sound nitpicky, really I'm not. I've read a lot of great books like The Season and others, but I've been thinking a lot about story telling devices and narration and voice lately and so those things have stood out to me. I think I've decided I don't care for omniscient story telling. I like limited third or first person. If you want to switch narration between characters make sure that the voice is strong enough to really see a noticeable difference. I don't like backstory in the beginning. I don't need to know the characters past, childhood and Aunt Zelma. Give it to me as I need to know in the action of the story. I like fast moving plot and I love romantic tension. Really if that's not there the book isn't going to work for me. So I want to know what you all think about those things.

I was going to do a nifty poll, but I feel like I should get writing instead of figuring out how to do a poll. (lame I know)

So if you'd care to answer I'd love to hear your response to these four questions.

What type of narrator do you prefer or does it even matter to you?

How do you like backstory to be handled?

Do you want a good page turner or a book that wanders around?

Is romantic tension a must, a bonus or a downer?


L.T. Elliot said...

I'm totally Nano-friending you. ;)

As for your q's:
What type of narrator do you prefer or does it even matter to you?
I prefer tight 3rd person or 1st (but 3rd's my fav.)

How do you like backstory to be handled?
I like it woven in WITH the story. I'm not a big fan of flashbacks and such. Infodumps=death. I can't pick it back up after an infodump.

Do you want a good page turner or a book that wanders around?
I prefer page turners. Now and then, a slow read is okay but I'm usually reading that for the "meat" of a story. There's a few historical novels that I feel get away with this in a good way.

Is romantic tension a must, a bonus or a downer?
I like romantic tension. What can I say, I'm a hopeless romantic at heart. I don't NEED it for a story but I like it. It's ALWAYS a bonus in my book. (figuratively speaking. I don't know if I'll pull it off in my ACTUAL book or not.=P )

Cecily said...

I like 3rd person. I like knowing things that the main character doesn't.

Backstory.... I don't mind the method of backstory as long as it's shown to me and not told to me. It doesn't matter if it's a paragraph, a sentence, or a whole chapter of backstory, as long as I'm taken into the backstory, through the backstory, and out again, I'm good.

I like a page turner, but I don't like there to be so much tension that I feel forced into reading so fast. At the end of those kinds of books, I feel dazed, like "what just happened to me?" I like a book to compel me, yet leave me space to learn and love the characters as I go.

Romantic tension is a must to get on my "favorite books" list.

Good luck with Nano! I'm going to call myself successful if I get above 100 words this month.

Jessie Oliveros said...

I like first person. Like you I am not a big fan of info-dumps. The backstory should be discovered as the books progresses. Page turner and romantic tension a plus. I'll have to check out The Season. I haven't read that one yet.

Steph Gittins said...

I just found you through a comment on Aprilynne Pike's blog, and I wanted to leave a comment since we are in similar writing situations. I could use a fellow "first time novelist" friend! :)

I prefer third or 1st person; my novel is in 1st. I don't mind books that jump between narrators, but it has to be done right. Sometimes I'd rather just get in the protag's head and stay there.

I like backstory woven throughout the story. I call the info dumps "Babysitter Club" syndrome. I used to hate the 5 pages at the beginning of every book that told about each and every character. BORING!

I like a page turner. A little wandering is ok, but keep it moving!

And finally, romantic tension is a must. I like a happy ending, but not too "clean."

I am writing this while my husband plays Halo, so I can relate.