The Nano Question

This year is the second in which I have attempted National Novel Writing Month. And the question is: is this a good idea? Many people are pro-Nano. Others, including the venerable Maggie Stiefvater, are not. Both sides have good arguments: it is important to keep pushing when writing fiction, because otherwise you'll never finish. But, like La Stiefvater, I like to take time and work out problems with particular scenes before moving on to later parts of the story. Otherwise, things go very, very wrong.

Which is actually why I'm doing NaNoWriMo again this year.

See, last year, I took a pretty promising story idea and ran with it. And halfway through it became clear that the idea was not long enough for 50,000 words of its own.

So, because I was pressed for time and sleepless and tired, I added a time-travel subplot. To a speakeasy romance.

It was, as you can imagine, a complete disaster.

But there was value in it. I learned that outlines are my best friend when it comes to first drafts. I also learned that if I just keep pushing and don't stop to edit, I can put down sentences with true things that surprise me. Things I never knew I thought, with images that remain striking. I live for these gems, when they deign to appear.

So this year, I worked out a detailed, synopsis-level outline. I know all the moves the characters make, and why. And already there have been a few moments