The Fourth NaNo 2017 Progress Report: Endings

It’s been an interesting month for sure. Like many creatives, this year was not a very productive one, and I started November without much hope, having written a fraction of what I normally do each year. On the other hand, according to the NaNo site, I’ve spent fourteen years (not including this one) building up the habit of writing a lot in November.

There have been years when I swore I could not, and would not, do NaNo; years I prepped in advance; years I jumped in at the last minute; and years I switched projects right before starting, making waste of all my preparations. I’ve experienced pretty much every variant except not writing. They say forming a habit makes things easier, and that might just be the case, because despite everything this year has thrown at me, I’m on the verge of finishing my seventeenthfifteenth NaNo.

However, don’t let that make you think things went as planned. They most certainly did not. Traps and Treachery has passed 85,000 words and will have at least another 1,000 added on, meaning I never started my second project. I did realize I haven’t published Steam and Shadows yet, so I may shift the “bridging conflict” from the beginning of Traps to the end of Steam if that is workable. It depends on a lot of factors I don’t have time to assess right now, but it is one of the advantages to having a closely knit series rather than a collection of standalone novels (at least when you look at the volumes in The Steamship Chronicles).

Beyond length, an interesting thing happened during this book.

Something that should have been the main crisis, and has been what the characters were fighting for/struggling toward throughout the second volume, may just have turned into an epilogue. That is not remotely to say the characters weren’t involved in the true crisis, or that their choices and labors weren’t key to the resolution, but something they learned on the journey turned out to be more pressing. It’s hard to explain without spoilers, but once I have the second volume all out, I’ll be fascinated to see people’s reactions (well, I always am), because it’s an odd thing to have done, and yet it’s the right, logical choice.

This is one of the consequences of letting the characters drive the story, and curiously enough, it still matches the outline perfectly. Maybe somewhere in the back of my mind, I already knew we were headed in this direction. I certainly hadn’t predicted the return of one particular character, and yet, she wouldn’t have been herself if she hadn’t had one final moment in the sun before the volume completes.

This is the fun part about writing. It’s as much as a journey of discovery for me as it is for my readers, regardless of having a road map from the start. My outline is like a map with a line drawn for the route you plan to follow. It says nothing of what you will see, learn, or discover on the way. It doesn’t show the roadblocks that send you on sometimes fascinating detours. It fails to speak to the changes you experience in your perspective either. All it does is tell you where to point the car each day so that you can be confident of finding the end to your journey…eventually.

As to the end of this particular journey, when I was chatting with my husband over texts about the final scene being almost more of an epilogue, he jotted down what he thought it should be (joking of course) and then agreed to let me share it with you:

Colin:

Sadly, no one lived happily ever after as a re-occurrence of the Black Plague wiped out every human on the planet leaving the Naturals, who had an inherent immunity, to play with all the machines at their leisure until one developed sentience and led the rise of the machines that wiped out the Naturals. The otters were pleased as they destroyed the machines and inherited the earth.

Note: He apologizes for the run-on sentence as he didn’t know I would be sharing it (with his permission) *grin*.

You might think his thought is a little out of left field, and it certainly is for this series, but the funny part is how I’ve already written a novel that swallows up at least half of that premise. Maybe you’ll remember this moment when I release that one someday.

Right. Stats. Here they are for the last full week of NaNo:

Day Total New Words
21 36,533 1818
22 38,247 1714
23 40,444 2197
24 43,356 2912
25 45,056 1700
26 46,335 1279
27 49,015 2680
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