First Draft: Trigger Warning (working title)

Early in June I finished the first draft of my novel, Trigger Warning. I started writing it in May 2021 as a memoir, but because of my memory lapses (due to ECT), by June 2021 it became a novel, mainly because I had to somehow fill in the blanks that I couldn’t remember. From there I worked straight through to June 2022.

Much of it was written during NaNoWriMo 2021. I didn’t meet the 50,000-word goal but my main reason for doing it was to get this draft written. And in fact, it needs plenty more words because at this point, it’s probably a novella, and that’s okay according to my writing instructor.

It’s also nothing like the memoir version. For one thing it’s in third person, but also because with fiction writing, I have the freedom to create stuff without them having to resemble how it really happened. Other than her mental illness, the main character, Trina, and I have little in common.

Next step: revisions.

NaNoWriMo 2021

November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. It started in 1999, and is basically a challenge to write 50,000 words during the month of November—a first draft of a novel.

I was going to do it in 2008, but I chickened out. The whole idea was really daunting. This year, since I’ve started work on a novel anyway, I’m going to do it. However, I’m not holding myself up to 50,000 words (1,667 a day). I’ll be happy if I write 500 words.

For me, this is to keep me writing and to build up momentum. My novel actually began as a memoir, but I couldn’t remember all of the details of events. So I decided to fictionalize it. I already had the bulk of it written, but little did I know that fictionalizing it would be more work than merely changing all of the pronouns from first-person to third! Fictionalizing gave me a lot of freedom, and I changed a ton of what I’d written so far.

However, after the Beginning Novel Writing class I took through the Iowa Summer Writers Festival last summer ended, I hit a standstill and have been stuck until now. I have a partial outline that’s barely organized. It’s messy, and outlines aren’t my strong suit. This is the first time I’m writing one. I signed up for the Writer’s Digest University’s class, Outlining Your Novel. It has helped me get back on track, and I’m hoping this continues through November.

On the NaNoWriMo forums I noticed that some people believe writing all 50,000 words is a win, and not doing so is a loss. I don’t see it this way. For me it’s a win no matter how much I write.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Have you done it previously?