And the party continues! British author, Edward M. Grant, stopped by to share his past NaNoWriMo experiences and what he hopes to accomplish this year.
-Name: Edward M. Grant
-Blog/Website Address: www.edwardmgrant.com
-Tell us about you:
I grew up in Britain and studied Physics at Oxford, but I moved to
Canada several years ago. I make a living in IT and in the UK I spent
about a decade working on indie movies in my spare time, and only really
returned to writing fiction when ebooks made self-publishing viable;
every time I thought about finishing a novel and sending it out the
prospect of waiting years for agents and publishers to reject it left me
looking for better things to do with my time.
Lately I’ve been too busy writing to do much for hobbies, but in the
past I’ve been a VIP at several space shuttle launches, traveled all
over the world, climbed Mt Fuji and visited ground zero of a number of
Over the years I’ve written various short stories, a lot of unproduced
movie scripts and some magazine articles. I co-write an indie vampire
movie which was shot in 2006, but it didn’t come out as well as we’d
hoped. Right now I’m doing a final tidy on a novelization of the first
horror movie script I wrote back around 2001 and hope to have it
-If you’re a writer–professionally speaking–what is your “normal
novel” pace? Given no restrictions on time, how long would you say it
takes you to write 50,000 words?:
I’ve been trying to average 1,000 words a day all year and I’ve come
fairly close to that but unfortunately the words are spread across about
half a dozen novels and a few short stories rather than all in one
place. So on that basis about two months, though I’d normally be
revising a previous novel at the same time.
-This isn’t your first NaNoWriMo…tell us about your first time?:
That was ‘Petrina’ in 2006, which I’ve just started revising to
self-publish sometime next year; I was roughing out a series of five SF
novels when my girlfriend suggested doing NaNoWriMo because she and some
of the people she worked with planned to do it, so I thought I’d write a
separate novel set in the same universe with some of the same characters.
It was a useful experience because at the time I had several
part-written novels that I had abandoned but had never completed a first
draft (oh my God, all those words in one story!), so it gave me an
incentive to do so. Fifty thousand words seemed daunting at the time,
but I’d managed to write feature-length movie scripts in a couple of
weeks so it wasn’t as daunting as it would have been a few years earlier.
-Since there is an end goal–which makes you a “winner”–did you win and
reach 50k in your past NaNoWriMo’s? How many words total did you write
(more or less or dead even)?:
To be honest, I’ve never been that worried about actually completing the
story that month, so I just aim for the 50k words and call it done once
I pass that. Every NaNo novel I’ve written has a beginning, middle and
end, but also a number of places saying ‘[stuff goes here]’ or ‘[The
magic hamster arrives and saves the weasel princess]’
I see it more as a way to write a detailed outline than a complete novel
with all the words in the right places. For example, ‘Petrina’ ended up
around 65,000 words after I went back and wrote the parts I’d left out
and I wouldn’t have managed that extra 15,000 words before the end of
-NaNoWriMo is a lot of work, so we all want to know, what initially
inspired you to join the writeathon movement and then, what has kept you
coming back for more?:
I work best with deadlines, so having a simple deadline (50k words by
the end of the month) is a good incentive to get something written. I
have a ton of ideas stashed away that I’d like to write and so it’s a
good excuse to pull one off the list and write it.
-What were some of the things you taken away from past NaNo’s? Any
lessons you’d pass on to a newcomer and things you’d personally do
different this year?:
Mostly that it showed I could sit down and get a story pretty much
written in far less time than I’d imagined. The downside is that it is
just a very rough draft so you really need to revise it into a readable
story if you want to learn as much as you can from the process. Having
proven I could write the words I’ve learned a lot since from revising a
story to make those words worth reading.
I always made a rough outline before I started so that I’d have some
idea of where I was intending to go, but I didn’t always follow it; I
would say that helps because you don’t waste too much time thinking
about what should happen next and can concentrate on putting the words
down. In addition, if I realised something needed to be fixed I’d
normally just put a note in the margin rather than spend the time to go
back and rewrite it then.
One idea I like but have never used in Nano is the ‘snowflake method’
(there’s a web page of that name) where you start with a very basic
outline of the story and then expand it in multiple stages until you
have a very thorough outline. If I was starting from scratch this time
I’d probably give that a try.
-What happened to your story–did you publish it? Junk it? Still
working on it? (this is the place where it is A-O.K to mention a
published book, if that book came from NaNoWriMo’s of the past):
I have five and at the moment they’re waiting for me to get around to
revising them; I think at least four of them are worth further work.
Hopefully ‘Petrina’ and ‘Highgate Horror’ will be out sometime next year
along with the new Nano novel.
-What do you think your biggest personal challange will be when it comes
to NaNoWriMo this year?
Time, I think. When I first did Nano I was single (well, my girlfriend
was on the other side of the Atlantic) and living in a log cabin so I
could start as soon as I got back from my day job and finish at 4am if
need be. Now I have to deal with cooking and mowing the lawn, and I’m
on-call for my day job for part of the month so hopefully no disasters
-Since you’re obviously back for more–tell us–what prep work have you
done for 2011 NaNo? Do you have a strong plot mapped out? Character
development? What are you current plans?:
I’m deciding between two stories, both of which I have as half-written
screenplays; hence I already know the characters, the beginning and the
end but I need to figure out the middle. One was written to be a really
cheap indie horror movie with a few people in a warehouse and plenty of
gratuitous sex and violence, the other is a war movie which would
require more research. I’m tending toward the war story but I hope I
have enough time for any research I have to do while writing it…
otherwise there may be more ‘[things go here]’ notes than usual this time.
-Do you plan to keep working on this book/novella/script post-NaNo?
I’d like to get it finished and published before Christmas, but I
suspect I won’t make that deadline if I go for the war story.