This year for National Novel Writing Month, I’m committing a cardinal sin: I’m cheating.
Normally, one starts a novel fresh at the start of the month, writing at least 50,000 words, while using only pre-writing material like outlines, character profiles, etc. (Some of my friends charge in with no plan at all, literally starting from scratch.) I’ve bent the rules a bit my past two attempts, using a story nugget in a much shorter work as the basis for a novel-length draft, but I’d always written 99% of those November words fresh.
Not this time. I’m rewriting a 98,000-word draft from 2012 (then titled The Coral Gate, now Altars and Acolytes), a process I began several months ago, and one I can’t interrupt. I tossed out about 60% of my original novel, and the remaining 40% is being significantly revised. When I wrote my rough draft, I was aiming for an 80s-era Stephen King feel, which was ultimately inappropriate for the story itself. My new goal is around 80K, with far fewer POVs, stylistic tricks, and tangents. Less David Foster Wallace, more Ernest Hemingway. I might get into the minutiae of my revision process later on if the mood strikes.
I’m still writing a good chunk of those words from scratch, which I’ll use to update my word count. Old words won’t be counted. I don’t expect to win this year, as I’ll only write 40K at most for this story, at a slower pace than if I were starting fresh. But this story is important to me. I don’t want to stop this process just to start something new.
If you want to follow along, check out my profile page. If you’re going for the pure NaNoWriMo experience and feel the need to scoff at my exercise in contrarianism, go ahead. I’ll be typing away right next to you in that coffee shop.