NaNoWriMo Day 10: The Perspective Tune-up


NaNoWriMoLogo William Tiernan's blog coverage of NaNoWriMo continues! If you're new to the series, catch up on his novel writing marathon so far.

My NaNo died. On Friday it threw up its arms, muttered a few obscenities, and dragged itself into the literary shop for repairs. I’d like to compare it to a car that conked out at 300,000 miles. But I’d just driven the thing off the lot. It barely had 5,000 words on it.

I was trying to write a sequel. Several of the characters had already been established; I was passionate about the subject matter; and I’d created a detailed plot outline. A decent recipe for NaNoWriMo success – except it wasn’t working. Day 1 went well, but by Friday I knew my NaNo mobile wasn’t crossing the finish line. I was at a total loss.

I considered switching topics. Then by some small twist of NaNoWriMo fate I read Brian’s post about point of view. And it hit me: my NaNo’s plot was fine; what had crippled it was perspective. The story focuses on a girl and a boy who play equally important roles. So I chose to write in the 3rd person, hoping to give each kid the proper attention. Bad move. No matter how hard I tried last week, I couldn’t get inside their heads. They felt aloof. Stagnant. Boring. If they were boring to me, I thought, imagine how a reader would feel?

I decided to let my NaNo go for a 1st person test drive. 1st person is a comfortable voice for me, and it seems to be a good narrative match for young readers: personal, edgy, non-preachy. I just wasn’t sure which character to put behind the wheel, the boy or the girl? So I compromised on both. Kathryn Stockett wrote The Help from multiple 1st person perspectives and look how that worked out! Why not me and my NaNo?

I got started on Saturday. I actually settled on three narrators: the boy, the girl, and a retired lawyer who will represent each of them during the story. And the words flowed. I enjoyed popping in and out of each character’s head. It kept the writing process – and hopefully the writing – fresh. I felt energized.  I’d always wanted to try a novel from multiple perspectives; the NaNo was offering the chance.

By last night I’d finished 6,000 words of Take 2. Way behind in the word count, but I’m actually excited about the process again. The most celebrated are the rehabilitated, right? My NaNo’s out of the shop after a much needed tune-up. $29.99 for a perspective change and new spark plugs. I know the next break down may be just around the corner. But for now I’m enjoying the ride.

How’s everyone else doing? Did you encounter any major or minor road blocks during Week 1? If so, how'd you overcome them? And what are your goals for Week 2?


WilliamSTiernan William Scott Tiernan will happily respond to “William” or “Scott” or “Tsung Chi” — and he enjoyed being called “Mr. T” by his former middle school students. He doesn’t enjoy being called “Hey, you!” by his 3-year-old daughter. He may be 0-1 on NaNo, but he’s written for
YourTango, The Laurel of Asheville, Western North Carolina Parent, and of course, WEbook. He’s seeking representation for his YA novel, Dornoch Walking.


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  1. I am a first time Nano participant. I have been and continue to be very excited for the challenge. However, after the first day trying to get back into the heads of characters I've neglected for the better part of a year, I had a measly 700 words. Now into week two I find my wife in Hawaii on business and me taxing kids around every night, and my Nano at about 2,800 words. By the time I sit down to write I have about 90 minutes before my eyes refuse to work anymore. However, I refuse to allow despair to take over. I think I can . . . I think I can.

  2. (Cover your ears, I have a horn to toot!) So far, I’m staying ahead of the word count. I got a little behind the first 3 days, but pulled an all-nighter and put my train of thought back on track. The house is a disaster, the cat’s hungry, I’m almost positive my son consulted a Lawyer regarding emancipation - but I’m proud to say my NaNo is moving right along. (yeah, that was the toot!)

  3. O boy, I think I'm in the same boat as you William.
    I have only done 8k words so far behind by like 6k from the goal today. Yikes!!
    It seems like I take too long to think before I can type; so in an hour I pretty much only complete like 300 words :(
    In that rate I will be done early next year lolz.
    I still haven't given up though. My only hope is that my thought-typing coordination will improve; otherwise I am doomed.

  4. Sheikh mohammed samir12 November 2010 at 02:39

    I am also a newbie to NaNoWriMo and I have finished 12,035 words

  5. Keep pushing everyone! Housework can def. take a back seat. I'm holing myself up this weekend to catch up on word count. Internal editor - off!

  6. An impossible workweek and family who cannot seem to figure out why I'm upset when they bug me. The band is filming a video, which since I have some experience in storyboarding I have been pushed into the creative process of someone else's ideas.
    An impressive start for me starting at midnight on the first and in three days the sequel to Stage has Eight chapters and over 6000 words. And it still only has 6000 words. I have been plotting and character arcing since July. I have cheat sheets taped all over and files on Alt-Tab on both computers.
    I was ready.
    And on top of that, those who have been reading as I write, say I don't re-cover enough of the previous story for the new readers. Even those who read Stage are confused at the same characters in Wyldheart who are now eight years older.
    Sigh... I'm on to try again to catch back up. I was challenging myself for 75000 words this year. I made my 50K two years ago and because of work could not participate last year...
    But, wondering, anyone else posting their work here on WeBook?

  7. I am doing nanowrimo for the third year, and my story is written in first person, alternating between two characters.
    And it is going really well, I am over 36k already.

  8. i am doing nanowrimo for my first year... i AM young, but this is a challenege, isn't it? Sadly, there is not as much time for me to work on my stroy as i'd hoped, and i am very behind. I am at a LOSS FOR WORDS.

  9. Hang in there Andrea ... don't worry so much about the word count and just use this month as a reason to sit down and write for 2 hours a day ... some good stuff will come from it. Keep going!


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