NaNoWriMo 2021

 This is my tenth NaNoWriMo.

I made the 50,000 word goal seven times.

The other three?

Well, one I finished later and published (Cyborgs), one got trimmed down and bashed around a bit into a short story (Listen To Me) that will be coming out in an anthology in a month or so. Zombies . . . well, maybe someday I’ll finish writing the book that comes before it and, knowing me, wind up publishing an urban fantasy series.

Which is why I really love NaNoWriMo. It makes me focus on writing, not stopping to edit, and you’d better do it every single day! And the end results are (1) better writing habits and (2) seven books and a short story. So far.

This year’s efforts—as I write, my word count is 45,962—are starting to look like they need to be broken up into three mystery novellas. I blame it on me writing too many series. My writer’s brain has no trouble leaping from plot-to-plot as I’m usually writing at least three books ahead of my publishing and going back to drop in a hint of foreshadowing, or dropping something that will be awkward to get around later.

Three mix-and-match murders at three different points in my detective’s life, no problem.

Mainly because my editor’s brain is locked up for the month. (I have been ignoring the screams and thumping; seems to be down to hopeless sobbing, today.)

Now, as a dedicated SF/F writer, deliberately writing a police procedural type mystery has been interesting. (It’ll be a learning experience, I told myself.)

And I’ve read a bunch of them, so deliberately hitting all the old mystery tropes . . .

All the while keeping it in my SF/F Multiverse . . .

From all the British Mysteries I’ve read I’ve got an intelligent aristocratic type fellow, a bit of military service in his past, bachelor. And a good solid dependable lower-class Sergeanty type, ultra competent, good at chatting with the servants and collecting all the gossip. (Of course he’s a cyborg, on this World.)

And I need a victim. With multiple people who might want him dead. A politician, a lousy husband, a so-so father . . . That’ll work.

From the pulps, I need a charming old wino. (What? You think the Future will be devoid of Winos?)

Plucky Kid? Not sure why my subconscious says I need a plucky kid . . .

Star-crossed lovers, one of them the hot suspect? Check.

A high strung widow? Check.

Brother who might need money? Check.

Heir with a water tight alibi? Check.

Political opponents? Check.

Looming world-wide disaster? Wait, what is this doing there?

Foreign spies? Stop! Just stop! This is a police procedural!

Chilly, uptight, suspicious lady agent from the government? Uh . . .

Oh Kay . . . backing away slowly . . .

This is about the point at which I realized I’d crossed plots and was writing a minimum of three stories that were going to have to be pried apart at some point.

However, I have solved the murder. Once I go back and (probably) remove the big fight scene and explosion I may find that I need to find a new twist to the plot. Or leave it in and finish the next story real quick before the readers scream about the huge dangling thread (BUT WHAT ABOUT THE SPIES!) and then there are all those hints that the Detective had previously met the Star Crossed Lovers. And if the Wino was the Detective’s old University Professor, what was the Detective studying, and how’d he wind up a cop, and . . .

The other thing about NaNoWriMo is that afterwards, whether you reached the 50K goal or not,  you’ve got this heap of words that probably needs to be added to, even before you start the editing process.

And let me tell you, this baby is going to need a lot of editing.

From Stone my 2017 NaNoWriMo Shapechanger story:

Chapter One

Freeway to Death

Or from, hard to say until you arrive

My paws hurt.

Didn’t matter if I walked on the dry brittle grass of the verge, or the rough pavement of the shoulder. Too tired to Change. Too stubborn to quit.

If I had any sense I’d walk out into traffic and end it all. Death behind me and . . . nothing to walk forward into but a slower death than I’d dealt out to those back there. I had set out to find out what I was . . . and the answer was unthinkable.

I turned my head enough to see the cars and trucks coming up behind me. Not many, all going quite fast. I put my head back down and limped on.

Not just because of the paws. I heal fast. Maybe because of what I am. I’d lain unconscious for . . . maybe a day? After the fight. All the cuts and bites had healed on the surface, but there was a lot still going on inside. Especially in the hip joint. Damn near lost a leg . . .

Another car passed me, swerved to try and miss some trash on the road, ran right over it. Tossed it in the air. It clanged down a dozen feet away, then I could hear the thump, thump, thump of a flat tire. The car slowed and pulled over to the shoulder, a quarter mile down the road.

Another poor sod, dead on the road, going through the motions.

Well, no.

This was a pissed off blonde woman, kicking her car and glaring at the tire. Full of life, throwing her hands in the air and stomping around to pop the trunk of the car and start pulling stuff out.

By the time I limped up there was a pile of three suitcases, boxes, bags . . . nothing that smelled like food, unfortunately.

She stopped long enough to eye me, then turned back to the trunk to pull out a tool kit.

I flopped into the narrow bit of shade the biggest suitcase offered and watched her pull out the jack, the spare . . . So much energy, so much emotion. So alive and so real.

I closed my eyes. And “saw” with that faint sense, not quite sight but . . . the woman was a ghostly aura darting about. Nothing like the sick green of those people . . . my people.

Another car pulled over, stopped. Another faint white aura. I opened my eyes.

A man getting out of a bright red sports car. Grinning. “Hey Honey, need some help?”

Not one of the good grins. He swaggered up and loomed. “I can help you, if you’re nice . . . “

I hadn’t meant to growl. But I was careful to not limp as I got up to stalk closer.

The guy stopped. I’m a very large dog.

The woman smiled. “No thanks, I’ve got this.”

The man eyed me, shrugged, and walked back to his car. Slammed the door.

I watched carefully, but he didn’t try to run me down when he drove off.

“Huh.” The woman eyed me. “Thanks, pup. Pity you didn’t wait until after he’d changed the tire, though.”

She leaned over and looked at the tags clipped on the twisted fabric around my neck. “Stone, eh? And a phone number . . . 404? Isn’t that an Atlanta area code? You’re a long way from home, Stone.”

I wagged my tail and limped back to the shade.

“So am I. Why the hell my sister moved to Phoenix . . . eh, love. At least she found a good one.” She changed the tire with no more than a few curses, loaded everything back into the trunk and offered me a lift.

I accepted.

7 comments

  1. I’m up to 36K on the NaNo project. My goal is to knock out the rest of the 50K over Thanksgiving break. The book will be longer, probably 80-90K, but that’s fine. It’s a complicated story about a complicated protagonist. And once again, I’m swearing I will never do NaNo again unless they move it to, oh. July. 😉

  2. I started the month off writing on a story, not caring that I’ve put a fair bit of work already into it. Finish it, since I don’t write at NaNooNaNoo speeds, eh? (Sometimes I do, but not every day for a whole month)

    Then my brain blocked on a scene, went sideways, and came up with “You know the projects you’d resurrected from 2016, and were poking at, going “I still like this setup? Yeah, here’s the missing bit of worldbuilding, and backstory on your characters, and the crucial decision that sends it in a completely different direction.” So I started writing that instead. 15K later, it’s not going to be finished this month, but it’s going interesting places.

    …I’m just hoping I can finish it, then get back and finish the project before while this one is out to betas. And swearing that Nanook needs to be in July, or some other period when Day Job isn’t so busy that I’m burning the candle at both ends if I try to push productivity on the writing.

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