It’s that time of year. April is almost upon us, and for those active in the world of Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) it’s time to consider doing the April camp. For those of you who don’t know about camp, here’s the basics: it’s a smaller additional twice a year Nanowrimo challenge in which you chose your word count or project. Finishing a started project, short stories, editing, graphic novels or screen writing are no longer rebels but official projects. Often I use the camps to give myself that extra bit of motivation to get whatever project I’m working on finished. Unfortunately I don’t always “win” camp, like I do the official event.
This happens because when I sign up they have the default 50k goal sitting in the box and when I look at it, ready to change it to my planned goal something in me goes, wait! You can do 50k, really! Why change it? After all, you really want this project done. Only, unlike in November where I’ve set aside other obligations for the last ten years and everyone knows I’m busy, I have other stuff going on during the months of April and July. But since anything I get done is a victory in a larger sense, I find it useful anyway.
This year, though, I want to do something dramatic, bold, and brave! So, off I venture into the deep woods of revision! I want to turn a good novel into a brilliant one. The book is one I’ve been working on for several years, has been through several rounds of critiques at Critique Circle, and several full book beta tests from close friends. After doing everything I could, I still didn’t feel confident about it though. Despite knowing the book and the writing were strong and supposedly market-ready, it nagged on me that I was still missing something. That it wasn’t as good a book as some of my others. So I took the book to Darcy Pattison’s novel retreat.
In a group with three other novelists, we worked through the exercises in Novel Metamorphosis interspersed with lectures from Darcy and small group discussions. What came out of that retreat was a focused map for revisions, one I’ve been honing this last week by doing some of the exercises in the book I didn’t have time for the retreat schedule being so focused. Unlike other camps, I’ve got my backpack full of tricks and a detailed map of what I’m adding and subtracting from the novel. And thus I’m going to be big, brave, and bold. The novel is 85,000 words long and I’m going to edit each and every one of them, so I’m upping that number on the nano goal to 85k.
And considering this novel is about the age of Charlemagne, I feel quite justified in using the traditional battle cry as I get myself fired up for April 1st: Monjoy!