30 November 2015

NaNoWriMo - An illustrated look at my Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month. I hadn't known about that little fact up until last year when I promptly decided to take part in it.

I'm not an author, strictly speaking. I have written, drawn and then gotten published comic books, but never before attempted to tell a story only in writing. So, on to new things!

Of course, I had to draw some character sketches on the by...

In any case, I used November 2014 to get going with a story idea I'd been playing around with for some years. Normally, when doing story concepts for comic books, I'd only write summaries, scene descriptions, portions of important dialogue and character studies before then heading into a detailed script mostly comprised of sketches. This works well enough, but every now and then, plotholes remain uncovered, or something from the beginning doesn't quite add up with the following narrative. And, with the publishing world being what it is and drawing being a run against time, changes become nearly impossible if one doesn't want to redraw the whole book once one reaches the end. Being into whimsical, complicated, sometimes overly crowded storytelling doesn't make it any easier.

So for that particular story idea, I wanted to do it right. I wanted to have the time to edit, to adjust and to polish before even sending the concept to my editor.
Writing came surprisingly easy. Not that it's good writing - but I was surprised at how naturally the scenes I'd imagined drawn came to life with just words. The 50'000 words were over way too fast, and the story only about a quarter done.

I had to focus on some other stories (Lost Ctrl was published in 2015, text editing had to be done, and then I started freelancing as an illustrator and working on a Korean fairytale retelling) but with NaNoWriMo 2015 rolling around, I was ready to dive into that little beast of a story again.

Trying to sort out some timeline issues...
I have some kind of mad scientist approach to story planning.
This is only the mindmap of the second quarter, most of the overall planning was
done back in 2014.
Fantasy is a genre I love, especially if religion, magic and mysticism take a front-row seat. But it's also a genre that's not forgiving to half-hearted worldbuilding and haphazard plots. Writing scenes, plot points and dialogue ahead of bothering with even the roughest of sketches helps me to find my way through the maze of my ideas and to bring them together. Adding in scenes from the point of view of secondary characters helps sort out some inconsistencies I wouldn't have noticed otherwise. Writing action scenes (hopefully) will help me to draw them as more engaging later on.

Hit 50k on day 26 - YAY!

I tried, and managed, to write more than the required 1667 words a day, never slacking off even when ahead of wordcount. As I was quite busy working at the restaurant, drawing commissions and freelancing, I forced myself to only start writing once all of the day's work was done, which often meant 11 pm or later. By that point, I was looking forward to an hour of concentrated writing so much that it was hard to stop myself from just keeping at it all night long. I reined myself in and wrote an average of 2000 words a day.

I can really recommend using writing during NaNoWriMo as a reward after the rest of your to-do list is checked off - it makes writing a treat instead of a chore.

Another character concept illustration I'm still in the middle of drawing...
I did squeeze in some quick character illustrations during October and November (can't quite stop myself from drawing after all...) and am now looking forward to keeping on writing in December. I'll be visiting my family in Switzerland, and as I have neither a scanner nor all my materials over there, the amount of drawing commissions I can do keeps itself in check. Which means: Forced Freedom. Vacation. Time to write during the days, hopefully.

I've got three main characters, three women that grew up in the same temple and have the same name. They were like sisters once, but the story starts years later, when they're all at very different places in life. 
I'm really looking forward to drawing their very different points of view. Especially the viewpoint of the blind priestess will be a challenge when it comes to depicting it.

I'm also experimenting with a more realistic art style mixed with my normal manga style, to fit the more sombre mood of the story I want to create. Maybe something like this? Still struggling.

This would be more typical for me (and easier to keep up over hundreds of pages, mind you), but I'll keep doing style tests until I've finished the script.

Did you participate in NaNoWriMo? Would you like to try? What were your experiences?

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