Ghosts in the Mirror: The Unraveling of a NaNo Blitzkrieg

Ghosts in the Mirror has come a long way. I’m on my first round of edits and currently tearing apart Chapter #10. I’ve added almost 3k in words so far to Chapters 1-9, smoothing out the rough edges of feverishly pounding the keys a few Novembers ago. Once I’ve pour through the whole novel and stab it again with a pen with the help of the many crits my Scribophile buddies give me, I’ll edit it one more time before attempting to get a publisher to give me a chance.

While I love what NaNo challenges me to do, the quality of work suffers in the fast rush to cross that magical 50k mark. I’ve never thought anything produced in that 30 days of literary abandon to be pure spring water kissed by a nymph as the first dew drops from the opening buds of the magnolias in spring fall into the creek. They are more akin to the stuff you scrape off your Chuck Taylors when the jerk walking their dog doesn’t clean up the tootsie roll Fido left behind.

Most, I think, start the edits or polish right after NaNo ends. I, to date, have not. Scurrying to find the time to NaNo up is hell unto itself. To squeeze time in December to finish what I started? I’m asking to be found with my hands curled into claws at the bottom of the basement steps, smeared with Christmas cookie dough and tangled with Scotch tape.


Pictured: Chapter #10 page edits

Still, it has to be finished, right? My shortcomings over the year demand it at this point. So how long should I wait? I’ve tried several different methods from completely ignoring it to getting back on the horse in January after the heart attack pace of the holidays has past. I can’t say I’ve found a true formula and to say one way is better than the other is utterly and completely stupid. No two writers are the same and to try to streamline the process into one sure way isn’t possible.

A lot of it depends, also, on my muse. Will it stifle me or allow me to close my eyes and dive deep into the mind of the main character. That, I believe, is an important part of writing–becoming the character. Doing so draws out the character’s thoughts and allows you to create the situations they get themselves into and how they would, in their own unique way, get out of those situations. The best part about writing is even when things are going so wrong, they are going right. We take our character and put them in dire straits to see them kick and claw themselves out of the muck of our imagination.

It’s the most beautiful process to fashion a fictional person and breathe life into them.

With Ghosts in the Mirror, I had a lot of things to change. When I had started it in 2009, I didn’t have any idea of direction. Not so much how I wanted the story to end, but what age group I wanted to read it. At first, I used my son as the target audience and allowed him to read the chapters as I ‘completed’ them. However, somewhere along the way I drifted from Young Adult to more Mild Horror.

I had to choose which direction to go. Pulling it out a year and a half later, I knew what would work the best.

I decided that Ghosts in the Mirror would make a good Young Adult. The tricky thing about Young Adult is the age range is between thirteen and eighteen. I’ve had comments that perhaps some of the words are a little too much for YA, but I disagree. Nothing I have used could be categorized as a College-level word and quite honestly, aren’t we dumbing down enough things nowdays for our kids? Shouldn’t we challenge them to broaden their horizons?

Ghosts is the golden egg for me now. My test to finish a larger project. I used to think that Short Stories were my kryptonite. Turns out, my silver bullet is Novels.

Time to build up the immunity.

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4 responses

  1. I’m not sure I’ll do NaNo this year for the very reasons you stated. I’m just not sure I have the patience to trawl through the **** I know I’ll write if I force myself to meet that deadline. I’m too picky over each word choice, over each character action, over each word they speak, and like to ponder each piece before my fingers connect with the keys–NaNo would steal away the chance to do that because of the time limit.
    At least you have your head back in the novel game, though 🙂

  2. I’m hoping to have Ghosts finished by NaNo and move to something else. Depends on my mood. There is this thing called the Zokutou Clause in NaNo. The only ones that can fall under this are previous NaNo winners–which I am. The main goal with this clause is to take a previously unfinished work and finish it.

    The main rules are this (besides being a previous winner of NaNo): A) Written 50,000 words on one or more previous works or B) Completed your novel’s first draft.

    If I don’t reach my goal of finishing Ghosts (doubtful), I will use NaNo to finish something else I have in the pot. I don’t mind that I have so many unfinished Novels, it’s the fact that I wanted to finish them and never bothered that ticks me off. What good is starting small with publishing cred if I’m not going to follow through with a novel? Besides, if I finish a novel I can entere Amazon’s Break Through Novel Contest the next time it rolls around. 😀

  3. I feel like a slobbering puppy now (let me explain that statement – I’m not drooling or anything.) I’m planning on popping my NANO cherry this year and I’m quite excited about it. EXCELLENT idea about ABNA too! I got nowhere with that this year (with novel #1.) #2 will be finished by October ready for me to start #3 and make it my NANO novel. #2 can go in for ABNA next time round : ) Cool!

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