I’m a word count warrior when it comes to Nano. It helps that writing is my full time job. It also helps that I type really fast, but I don’t think that’s the only reason behind my sometimes epic word counts. I think what helps is that I write EVERYTHING I’m thinking.
So, I had a character involved in a fight scene. It was going well, and then I realized that said character needs to have an epiphany either at the beginning of this fight or maybe a tiny epiphany as she’s fighting. Since I didn’t know which I’d ultimately choose, and since I didn’t want to slow down and really think about where to put it and how long it should be, I just injected this really long epiphany right there in the middle of the fight.
Will I leave it? Hell no! Once I edit, it’s either going to get moved or cut down (probably both), but that’s the work of editing, something I don’t even think of during the rough draft/nano stage of writing.
And that’s the secret. Suddenly, I have more words for my daily word count, but I also have tons of notes written in narrative form. I have lots of choices when I go back to edit. I do the same thing when I decide I want a character to have an intense emotional reaction. I’ll think, I want sadness here, so I’ll write, “She was sad.” But that’s deadly dull, so I’ll expand on it and expand on it and decide if I want her to be the saddest she’s ever been. Then I’ll expand on that, add in a few physical reactions, way too many.
Words, words, words! And choices! This is what I love the most about writing first drafts, all the wonderful choices I give myself. I overwrite, and then I can do another of my favorite things, which is cutting huge chunks out of my work, really streamlining it and making it all fight tightly together. The rough draft is like piling huge amounts of clay onto my worktable, and then editing is sloughing off large bits before all the real sculpting and polishing.
Maybe I’m a little crazy for liking that so much, but I guarantee you’ll buff your word count if you try it, and then you’ll have a lot of raw material to play with. And those parts that I cut? I don’t throw them away. I keep them in a separate folder to use at another time or maybe on another project if I just like them. You don’t always have to murder your darlings. Sometimes, you just lock them in a cupboard. Nano-er or serial killer, you decide.
Do you do the same when you write a rough draft, or do you edit as you go? Any nano tips you’d like to share?
Now, just for your pleasure, here are my dogs in a Halloween costume I bought on sale:
The eyes light up. We’re totally trick or treating next year. “What? This is my child dressed as a dog dressed as a dinosaur. Give us candy.”