Do you remember last November? Do you miss that heady rush of racing through thousands of words each day, and the thrill of seeing the page count rise as you chased down the dream? Did you fall in love with your main character? Were you filled with triumph—or crestfallen—around Thanksgiving when it became glaringly apparent that you only had a few days left to win the challenge?
If you’re a writer then you already know I’m talking about NaNoWriMo. And if you completed the challenge then I’m willing to bet that you have that sloppy first draft manuscript shoved away in a drawer somewhere. You said you were going to get to it, clean it up and edit it and really make something out of it because you know it has promise…but somehow the days slipped away and now here we are at the end of March and you still haven’t touched it.
Writing a novel is a big undertaking. All those words! My friends and family have said to me. How do you have it in you to write all those pages? But the word count is the least of a writer’s concerns. There’s also plot structure, character development, pacing and language to worry about, among other things.
Novels are complicated. With all the moving parts involved, they’re a lot like a complex machine that no one has ever seen before. And you’re the inventor.
Writers frequently find themselves searching for answers to the strangest questions.
What’s the difference between telepathy and telekinesis? Have the Rolling Stones ever played a show in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania? What actually lives in underwater caves?
If you’re writing a story—any story—chances are that you’ll run into questions that need answers. And these answers are usually relevant, if not essential, to your storyline. When you hit an impasse like this it suddenly seems urgent that you stop writing and turn to research instead. The rational, logical part of your brain steps in and advises that you can’t possibly go on creating your story if you don’t have all the facts yet.