Camp NaNoWriMo 2015: So How Did It Go?


As I’ve said previously, my chosen Camp NaNoWriMo project was to take real action on one of my New Year’s resolutions and do some proper editing on one of my novels – The Night Soldiers, a vampire action-adventure originally written for NaNoWriMo 2011. Having decided to go with the suggested rule of 1000 words for every hour of editing or research, I set a target of 30 hours. Yes, July gave me an extra day to play with, but I was hoping to ignore it.

The project began pre-July, with determining just what I wanted to address – going over the major issues before analysing the smaller ones. So I read through my first draft, identifying plot holes and areas that needed more research, which I hadn’t been so concerned about when carelessly typing out the story back in November 2011 – it was my third NaNoWriMo and I was just having fun.

There was certainly plenty of online research for this project, on some pretty random topics:

  • Hand-to-hand combat and defensive techniques
  • Catholicism (the main character is a Catholic)
  • The Royal Marines
  • How the human eye might be modified to enable improved night vision (part of the vampire transformation)
  • Real-life superheroes in Britain and what they tend to do
  • Gun laws in the UK
  • The Fourth Parachute Brigade who fought in Operation Market Garden in World War 2

Once I had an idea of the specific points to improve, and a better overall structure for the story, I was able to begin the process of slowly making my way through it. Some parts were just polishing; it’s interesting to see what my writing style was like four years ago, and how I’ve unconsciously improved through simple experience. Other times, I had to delete a section because it didn’t fit with the new draft, and write a new one. When I began, the draft was around 53,000 words; in between adding, deleting and polishing, I’ve increased the word count by about 12,000 so far.

Unfortunately, as usual, I ran into real difficulties around the two-thirds point. There were a few days where I didn’t do anything at all. Part of it was tiredness from work and the like – and part of it, I confess, was being severely distracted by playing Mass Effect 2. Curse you, Commander Shepard.

I reached a point where I’d given myself quite a mountain to climb, but I was still close enough to the target that I couldn’t justify giving up. So I threw myself into the last few days with all the determination I could muster – and tonight, having used the 31st of July after all, I succeeded in hitting the 30 hour mark!  And so, despite this being an unconventional NaNoWriMo, I feel like I’ve achieved something, so I am counting it towards my separate New Year’s resolution of completing two NaNoWriMos this year.

The project is not finished; I went through somewhere between one third and half of the story. And I’m well aware that even the end product of this first editing process is not going to be anywhere near final. What I’m really doing is taking the original idea, which was presented in a pretty messy fashion for NaNoWriMo purposes, and rebuilding it into a better foundation block from which smaller details can be whittled at, to create a good story. It’s certainly been a worthwhile experience – but 30 hours hasn’t been nearly enough to actually complete it. So even with July over, I must continue, on top of everything else I’ve got planned – including deciding on the November NaNoWriMo!

About R.J. Southworth

Hi there. I've been blogging since January 2014, and I like to talk about all sorts of things: book reviews, film reviews, writing, science, history, or sometimes just sharing miscellaneous thoughts. Thanks for visiting my blog, and I hope you find something that interests you!
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