You hear a lot in the blogosphere and twittersphere about NaNo (NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth–November). For everyone that jumps gleefully on the bandwagon there are scoffers who say you can’t write anything of value when you push yourself to write 50,000 words in 30 days.
The key, of course, is that a writer knows this is a first draft and that first drafts need additional work before submitting to agents and/or editors. Whether a quickly written first draft requires more attention than one that took longer can depend on a lot of factors.
I interviewed published author Erica Vetsch on the topic, being as I’ve cheered for her through NaNo ’08 and ’09.
VC: How many years have you done/won NaNo?
EV: Flamed out in 2007, won in 2008, and deep into 2009 and on schedule to win. (VC: Must’ve been my cheers in ’08 that made the difference!)
VC: You have a brand-new novel out, your very first! Congratulations! Was The Bartered Bride a NaNo novel?
EV: No, but the third book in the Kennebrae Brides Series was my NaNo Novel last year. I’ve signed contracts for two three book series with Heartsong Presents, and my current NaNo novel is the third book in the second series.
VC: Wow, that’s a lot of stories. Good for you! What length are your novels? If I remember correctly, they’re under 50K (the minimum for ‘winning’ NaNo). Does this mean you tend to over-write?
EV: The maximum wordcount for Heartsong Presents is 50K words. I’m usually within a hundred words or so of that max by the time I’m done with edits. For NaNo I do write a bit extra to the story and edit it out afterwards.
VC: How much prep do you do pre-NaNo?
EV: I like to have a scene by scene synopsis before I jump into NaNo. Otherwise, I spend too much time staring at the computer screen waiting for an idea to hit.
VC: How clean are your NaNo drafts?
EV: I don’t know that they are any different from my other first drafts. Which is to say, not squeaky clean, but not horrible either. That’s where the prep work comes in. As long as I know the storyline will work, anything else can be polished up afterwards.
VC: Any words of advice to those who believe that all NaNo novels are garbage?
EV: No one who writes a NaNo book should expect to turn that novel in to an editor or agent without serious editing and revision. Just as no writer should turn in ANY first draft to an editor or agent. Every manuscript improves with editing.
VC: Can you give a really brief rundown on what novels are due out, what they’re about, and when they’re due?
EV: The Marriage Masquerade, winter 2010 is the story of Noah Kennebrae’s attempt to escape his past and his arranged marriage only to find he can’t run far enough or fast enough to escape God’s love and forgiveness. And he can’t escape his bride either.
Clara and the Cowboy, spring 2010 Clara returns home to find she still loves Alec McConnell, and he’s still determined they have no future together. It takes almost losing her forever for Alec to realize what a treasure he has.
The Engineered Engagement, summer 2010 Eli Kennebrae allows himself to be pushed into an engagement in order to fulfill his dream of becoming a ship designer. When he thinks his fiancee has betrayed him to his competitor, he learns that he can’t always engineer things in life to his liking.
Lily and the Lawman, summer 2010 Trace McConnell and Lily Whitman chase the men who kidnapped Lily’s niece and wind up finding love…and the baby.
Maggie and the Maverick, fall 2010 Maggie Davis goes under cover to capture a ring of stage robbing thieves, only to find herself falling in love with her prime suspect. For Cal McConnell time is running out for him to prove his innocence of the crimes and the genuineness of his love for Maggie.
VC: Wow. With a schedule like that, Erica must be writing at NaNo pace several months of the year! Stay tuned tomorrow for a review of her first novel, The Bartered Bride. If you can’t wait to read more words about (or by!) Erica, she guest posted here last spring under my ongoing Muse topic. (See sidebar for other participants!)