No sense burying the lede: I hit 50,000 words on Thursday, November 22, 2018.

On Friday the 23rd I did my best day so far with 7,111 words. After I “won”.

Because, you see, Fletcher & Cooper is not NEARLY finished. Maybe half-way? I am hoping it’s half-way because PLEASE ALL-SEEING ODIN DON’T LET ME WRITE ANOTHER 160K PLUSSER. My heart can’t take the strain (of having it be rejected over and over because it’s too long).

(Not that I am necessarily planning on sending F&C out to agents. Once bitten, 100 times submitted-and-rejected shy.)

When I started this month I had three goals:

  • hit 50K
  • hit 75K (stretch goal)
  • finish the plot (by skipping ahead if need be).

Achieved the first one in 22 days (new personal best) and if I push myself this week I might hit the stretch goal too. (Currently at 58,722 with 4 writing days left which would mean doing 4.1K each day. Pretty unlikely. I will definitely hit 75K, just not this week.)

The last goal is… very unlikely.

Part of what I did to prepare was fashion my showrunner’s bible, brainstorming a bunch of potential obstacles and scenarios that Our Heroes could find themselves in without committing to anything more than a very rough outline of a plot. I very deliberately did not take myself past the 3/4 mark of the plot, (namely, when Fletcher and Cooper finally encounter Livingstone).

I made sure I had zero idea what would happen after that, so that I didn’t know Too Much about how things turn out (which kills the story dead in my mind because #pantser4life). I took off at the start of November and, as you can tell from the above graphic, had few problems keeping up. Being able to look at a list of potential plot obstacles whenever I needed to write my characters into a corner was super handy and I will 100% incorporate this technique into future projects.

So all fine and dandy like cotton candy!

Until I suddenly had a major problem.

I discovered, lurking in the shadows, a Big Bad. A Big Bad in the middle of my book that until that point had not had one. And then there was the Chekhovian shotgun–RIGHT FROM THE FIRST CHAPTER–that was 100% not accounted for in my showrunner’s bible. Big ol’ shotgun in the very last scene of the first chapter and I had no idea what it WAS, let alone when it was going to go off.

I was lying on my couch last night, listening to some music on my headphones and thinking about a very minor character named Trapper and what it was that she wanted out of life and why she’d taken up with Fletcher & Cooper (besides the fact that they’d washed up on her island half-dead of the Borderlands ague). And while I was thinking about Trapper it made me think about Cooper and how the necromancers in Jennet society are not exactly outcasts–they perform important functions for the good of society after all–but not exactly respected either and in a very stratified socie–HOLY SWEET MERCIFUL CRAP I KNOW WHAT THE BIG BAD WANTS AND WHAT THE SHOTGUN IS FOR AND WHEN IT’S GOING TO GO OFF.

I sat up really suddenly and then exactly like our cat Marty–who forgets that the arms of the sofa are not actually arms but big cushions and therefore not attached to anything when she leaps on them only to tumble back to the ground in surprise as a cushion lands on her (she has done this for five years running)–I forgot in my excitement that the arms of my sofa are not actually arms and not attached to anything (despite having said couch for eight years) and in sitting up so suddenly I accidentally launched myself on to the floor because I am a grown-ass adult.

And in a big flash of insight exactly the way that so many writers say that writing doesn’t work and that’s Hollywood’s idea of what writing is like and outlines! outlines! outlines!–I figured out the who, what, why, and how of the Big Bad. After jotting it all down I sat back and admired how succinctly The Couch Revelation tied in A BUNCH of dangling threads without them looking like they were connected until after the fact (my favourite kind of plot, btw).

And then I felt very pleased with myself because if I HAD done an outline (“OUTLINES! OUTLINES! OUTLINES! GOOD WRITERS USE OUTLINES! YOU WILL NEVER BE A! TRUE! WRITER! UNLESS YOU OUTLINE! AURGHIBBLE SAVE-THE-CAT”: I hate this line of reasoning with the passion of 1000 suns which by the way I am officially designating as a kilo-hate) there was no way I would have had a) this level of complexity b) this well-rounded a villain and c) this amount of sneaky threading. SO I AM FEELING VERY PLEASED WITH MYSELF AT THIS MOMENT INDEED (don’t ask me about it again when I am in editing mode).

Anyway. I still don’t have an ending but I know now what’s going to happen after F&C find Livingstone at least, so I am making that my “counts as a win”, if I can get Fletcher & Cooper to Null Island by EOD on the 30th.

Either way, I’m going to be continuing my NaNo methodology of 2500 words a day M-Th (with Friday being a weekly attempt to hit 5K) and taking weekends off to recharge/read-over/edit for the foreseeable future until F&C is DONE, because I know that if I set it down for even a few weeks I am going to completely forget whatever is rumbling around in the back of my subconscious.

So National Novel Writing Month may be soon over but December will be a second verse much like the first.

(If you feel like joining me over on Twitter, I often live-tweet my 5K misadventures. Minor spoilers may show up, as might Hiddles gifs. Be thee fairly warned, says I.)

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