Snippet Sunday is a monthly meme organized by Stephanie Dray in which historical authors post six sentence snippets of their novels. For the sake of organization, I’ve decided to post mine on the first Sunday of the month. You can read my previous snippets here.
November’s snippet is from the Next Novel, which is set in 1851 England. (This post offers more details.) This excerpt occurs early in the novel. My protagonist Robert has just been deposited in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night after traveling hours from London. To his dismay, no one is there to meet him.
The coachmen held out his hand for a tip just as Robert felt the first drop of rain hit his forehead. “I think I see someone coming this way.”
“You’re saying that because you want to be off before the rain arrives,” Robert said, forcing a tight smile to hide his unease.
But the coachman was right: someone was coming. Someone on foot. A distant slash of lightning revealed that he or she was cloaked in what appeared to be a black cape.
Photographed during a recent visit to Brooklyn’s Green-wood Cemetery using Hipstamatic’s new Tintype lens. A real treat!
Today may be Halloween. But tomorrow is November first, which marks the official start of National Novel Writing Month. For those of you not in the know, National Novel Writing Month—NaNoWriMo for short—challenges writers to churn out a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. And in 2013, over 300,000 people did just this according to the official NaNoWriMo site:
310,095 participants started the month of November as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.
(For the record, 50,000 words would make for a rather short novel. Here’s more information on standard word lengths for various novel genres. Even so, 50,000 words in one month?! How amazing is that?!)
I have a heart-full of gratitude toward NaNoWriMo. After all, my debut novel A GATHERING OF SHADOWS first took form as a NaNo novel in November 2009. Five years and many revisions later, I’m launched into the next phase of my creative life, and am deep at work on the Next Novel. Before NaNo 2009, I thought of myself as an illustrator and nonfiction author. Today, I think of myself as a novelist. Would I have had the courage and craziness to write a novel without NaNoWriMo? Perhaps, but I hadn’t until that fateful November 2009. To state that NaNoWriMi changed my life would not be an understatement.
That said, from my experience you can’t write a finished novel in a month. This makes stating you can “write a novel in a month” seem a bit of a trick. Even if 50,000 words wasn’t too short for most novel genres, the main work of writing a novel comes in the revising and editing of it. This, as I’ve learned too well, can take years. (National Novel Editing Year/s, anyone?)
However, don’t let this harsh slap of reality discourage you from participating in the treat that is NaNoWriMo. Instead, think of these first 50,000 words you’ll write in November as the skeleton draft you’ll flesh out in December and beyond.
Big difference, eh?
So, if you’re doing NaNoWriMo this year, go forth and write—but bear in mind NaNo is only the beginning of a long, wondrous journey. As for myself, I will be over on the NaNo website this month aiming to add 50,000 words to my Next Novel. Come by and say hello!
Want to know more? Here’s other posts on this blog about National Novel Writing Month:
Photographed recently in Paris on the Pont des Arts. Yes, the next one is the good one.
Photographed during my recent trip to Paris: Thea takes in the Opera Garnier. What’s not to like?
Semi-random Pre-Raphaelite sighting in the London Underground. The photograph in my photograph is of Angelo Colarossi posing as Iago for Julia Margaret Cameron. Gorgeous, no?