Saturday, November 9, 2013

Why I write the way I do

So you've heard me babble on and on about NaNoWriMo. For anyone who doesn't know, here's the deal:

You sign on and you track your writing. And the goal here is to write a 50,000-word novel in the month of November.

I signed on November 1. Some people signed up two months ago, some more. Then they waited. And they started out on November 1. I think I actually got to start on November 2, but I'd have to look. Anyway, the idea is to write 1,667 words per day.

Yesterday, I wrote over 11,000. Today I wrote over 3,000. I only have 5,205 words to go to hit the 50,000 mark. And that won't finish my novel. Why, you ask?

Mark Coker of Smashwords says that if you can't come up with 40,000 words to put in a book, you should go and do something else. What I've found is that if you have a minimum of three people in a book, you might be able to get by with 60,000 words. And that's if you only introduce your characters and don't really develop them. But I don't do that. I want my readers to really get to know the characters, to feel what they feel, understand what they think and why they do what they do, and, most importantly, to relate to them. I want them to think to themselves while they're reading my book, "Hey, that woman reminds me of my cousin Claudia!" That's relating. That's what I want.

I've had several people tell me, "You have the best, most well-developed characters I've ever seen. I love them. I feel like I really know them. I'm invested in their stories." That's what I'm working toward.

You see, something horrible happened to me one time. I read a book by a famous author (if I've told you this story before, forgive me) and, at the end of the book, I still didn't give a damn about the female protagonist. That's a shame.

Do you care about what you read? Have you ever read a book and, when you finished, you thought, Well, that was a huge waste of my time? I have. And it sucks.

So if you wonder why I would write over 11,000 words in one day, I can explain it this way: I write them because as I write, I get caught up in their stories. I get invested in their lives. I don't want to stop, because I want to see what they do next. Sometimes they surprise me. Those are the times I love best. When Laura's parents walk into Tony and Nikki's house on Memorial Day and she starts a slow burn. When Tony falls apart because he knows he has to do something that will destroy Vic. When Little T climbs up into the judge's lap. When Raffaella corners poor Nikki in the restroom. When their whole world goes to hell in a handbasket, and when it all spins around and comes up sunny again. When the one person who can help you pull your life together is bleeding to death underneath your hands. When those things start happening . . .

I just keep writing. I don't know what most writers would do, but I can't tear myself away from it. And my goal is that my readers feel the exact same way.

So if at times I don't make sense, I sound crazy, or drugged, or incoherent, know that it's because I just wrote 11,000+ words. And I'm exhausted.

And tomorrow, I'll get up, sit down, and do it all again. Because with all the crap out there on the shelves, you deserve at least one good story. And I intend to deliver.

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