Stick With What Works

NaNoWriMo Sidebar


Okay, that title is completely a lie — but after taking a genre risk over the summer, I wanted to get back to something I feel relatively comfortable writing: hello, sci-fi.

My first NaNoWriMo victory was a sci-fi story. In the years previous I had tried out early-20s ennui, romance, mystery, and urban fantasy. And my results were:

  • Ennui (2005): I wrote about 1500 words on day one before I got bored with myself.
  • Urban Fantasy (2006): This was my best failure, at around 27,000 words. It was a vampire story set in Alaska; there were underground facilities and hierarchies and if I ever find those notes, I might take a stab at it again. But I eventually lost the plot, and when we had some family issues, the novel died. (Edit: I just found out that I apparently still have these files. Three of them.)
  • WTF? (2007): I don’t even remember this novel; I just found the file and discovered my years/genres were off. I at least know I wrote it, because I can hear myself in the words. I’m about to go read this. (I think it may have been a thriller/body horror? There are clearly scientists, orphanages, and conspiracies. I had just turned 21 in 2007 — I drank a lot. I blame that for this lack of memory.)
  • Romance (2008): I actually didn’t think I wrote anything for NaNo 2008 — as you can see in my image — but I just found a document called “NaNoWriMo 2008.” It’s 3/4 a page, and was obviously being set up as a Bad Girl/Good Guy romance.
  • Mystery (2009): I made it 10,000 words (and a very complex mind-map) in before my computer died. In 2009, I learned why Baty always reminds Wrimos to backup, because I had not.

In 2010, I wrote a sci-fi story and managed to finish it just before we had to drive up to Wisconsin on a family emergency, and I’ve been incredibly pleased with it.

In 2011, I wrote a differently flavored sci-fi story, and it was terrible (though fun to write) and finished way in advance because the Internet was out at my apartment and I had nothing better to do.

Over the summer I wrote fantasy in both months of Camp NaNo (same story). I finished them, and then realized they were all wrong, that I had been approaching my plot from the wrong angle, and I needed to start again. Ugh.

Thing is, the success has nothing to do with the genre, and everything to do with the community. We had also moved to Lawrence. Manhattan’s region simply wasn’t very organized; we chatted in the forums, but group meetings never seemed to get off the ground. I’m not even completely sure that we had an ML.

Lawrence, on the other hand, is strangely well organized, and having the support and accountability that comes with a group makes all the difference.

So this year, I’m tackling another sci-fi idea I had laying around: an near-future where rich people have hovering limos, which their chauffeurs race for money and prestige when they all congregate at big social events. It’s going to be cooler than it sounds.

And I’m gonna do it with a cool group of writers. Because they’re awesome.

Crash: Feels

Ashley M. Hill found her voice in science fiction when her curiosity about technology coupled with the lifelong urge to tell stories. Her interest in social and feminist issues shapes how she approaches the genre. She's pursuing computer and network repair for her day job.

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