Wednesday, November 20, 2013

NaNo Fail (Lauren Bjorkman)

NaNo is about turning off your internal editor and going for broke—an amazing premise. But even when I'm prepared with a shiny idea, characters, premise, theme, and a bare bones plot plot, it quickly collapses for me. I get bored with my outline. My creativity deflates like a balloon the day after the party.

As I draft, I usually reevaluate after every chapter. Do some research. Ponder. This takes time.

For example, in my current WIP, I planned a scene at a funeral in Hawaii based one I attended where the friends and family of a surfer that died gathered at the beach to distribute his ashes. At the end of the ceremony, a dozen surfers paddled out to sea on boards covered in leis, leaving the flower garlands on the water surface like living prayers.

The images were so deeply etched into my memory, the scene should’ve written itself. I knew in advance the funeral would be the backdrop for the first interaction between my main character and her antagonist. But as I dove in, questions came up? Was the ceremony I attended typical? Early Hawaiians hid their dead in caves so the bones holding their mana wouldn’t be found by enemies. Cremation destroys bones.

Before writing the scene, I spent a few hours researching Hawaiian funerals—both ancient and modern. And that led to a discovery of ancient burial caves only a few miles from where my novel is set. Legend has it that if you look at a Hawaiian's gravesite, the spirit will follow you home. Wouldn't that make a cool new scene? 

An hour of research may result in big changes or none at all. Still, for me, it serves a greater function. It re-ignites my passion for the story.

Still, I wonder what I'm missing. I have to try again. 

Next year.


  1. Fascinating how the pauses ignite your story passion! I tend to get really bogged down in the middle; pushing forward at an intense pace keeps my fire burning!

    1. I love hearing about the processes of others. Great topic!

  2. That's interesting; I didn't know anything about their burial traditions, but I have to admit it'd be kind of scary to followed home by someone's spirit.

  3. What an interesting topic! I love learning about other cultures.