Shelving Weaver for Nanowrimo

Posted on Wed 25 October 2017 in Journal • 3 min read

Since November 2015, I've been slowly rewriting my novel Weaver of Dreams. But from today, I've shelved the project to work on something new. I guess you think think of it as a holiday.

On the face of it, this is probably a dumb idea. I could finish Weaver in a month but I wouldn't be doing Nanowrimo justice. At this point, I'm mostly rewriting and editing Weaver's already existing scenes and chapters. The story has a couple of patches, but in terms of content the story is almost complete. In evaluating the new material I have to write, the word count is maybe 25 thousand at most.

When I started Nanowrimo back in 2008, I did so as a means of kickstarting new projects and experimenting with different genre. This approach jells with Nanowrimo's frantic, do-or-die pace and culture -- much more so than the painstaking process of rewriting and existing novel.

The last time I started something new was back in 2014, when I wrote the first draft of a historical novel. I had a blast doing so, in fact it was probably my most creative and productive Nanowrimo project. I wrote by the seat of my pants, with little more than a handful of well-developer characters and a vague plot idea.

For the next week, my goal is to set up the sandpit: rake the sand, place some scenery and get my box of toys ready for the game. Setting aside the metaphor that means I'm going to write some character sketches, define my core conflicts and list out the story's scenes. I've already captured some of my ideas in notes; now it's a matter of consolidating them and fleshing them out.

There's also a question of what tool I'll use to write the story. I'm using Scrivener for Weaver of Dreams because of the project's complexity, not least given how much I'm shuffling scenes across several, closely related character arcs and retrofitting new material to the original story. It's logistical hell but Scrivener's awesome for this workflow.

But do I need that kind of power for a greenfield project?

No.

Back in 2014, I eschewed complexity and wrote the manuscript in markdown using basic text editors across Linux and my iPad. For the outline, I used a basic spreadsheet. I really enjoyed this approach. One of the reasons it worked is because my story was much simpler and more linear than Weaver. My proposed project for 2017, First Byte will also have a simpler narrative structure. Being a techno-thriller/romance mashup there's also a lot less worldbuilding involved.

Originally, I planned to write this year's project in Scrivener 3 but it is not yet released. Instead, I'm sorely tempted to write the project in Ulysses, which currently offers a trial version for the duration of Nanowrimo. My review of Ulysses left me impressed with the app but I only tested it with my blog posts and not fiction. An extended trial and a new novel, seems like too good an opportunity to pass up.

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