I had never tried my hand at a romance and thought it would be fun to try something different. Or maybe it was just the urge to give my fiction writing a kick-start, because work has stalled since I finished the last draft of my historical novel.
The traditional November NaNoWriMo is great fun. It’s what started me writing fiction in the first place. And I always manage to finish, usually exceeding the mandatory 50K words with plenty to spare. The beauty of Camp NaNo is you set your own target. But, since the typical M&B style romance is only 50,000 words long, the usual NaNo target of 50K seemed right to me.
I completed my major-characters’ sketches and mapped out a fairly detailed synopsis before I began, using the corkboard facility in Scrivener. But, despite this preparation, I found the writing process surprisingly hard. Maybe I am just not romantic enough!
Here are the problems I encountered:
- The characters, as usual, took on a life of their own and refused to stick to the synopsis.
- In a romance novel you should keep the focus on your two major characters, but I found new minor characters kept popping up and demanding larger roles for themselves.
- I found it very hard to avoid clichés. How many ways can you find to describe physical attraction? Without using the words thrill, heat, tingle, etc. It’s hard! (Oops. Perhaps I should say it’s difficult.) This really impeded the flow of writing.
- During the month of July, I went on two walking jaunts and received feedback on my Reluctant Scribe novel. All this got in the way of my romance writing and I resented the self-imposed discipline of keeping up with my word count.
What did I learn?
- Sticking to a synopsis is hard. But if you only have 50K words to play with, and a genre formula to follow, you have to try.
- Avoiding clichés is really, really difficult. In the end, I just had to relax and let them flow out onto the paper, knowing I can go back and reword each one later. This is, after all, why we must edit and re-edit our work.
- As usual, I am really good at setting myself difficult tasks, and distracting myself from my original goals. Next time, I need to look at my diary and ask myself one important question: is this what I really, really, want to do and do I have to do it now?
Did I finish Camp NaNo? You bet I did. But I had to revise my word count down from 50K to 40K, to take into account my two walking breaks. Luckily, in Camp NaNo you can set your own targets and revise them at any time up to the final week.