The Journey to NaNoWriMo 2013: Have the Courage to Take Risks

Writing a novel is tough enough. Writing a good book is hard. Writing a great book is harder still. Time and time again, I watch hopeful NaNo participants tear themselves to pieces because they want their 50,000 words written haphazardly in 30 days to be something great. Many of them don't look beyond the here and now to the hard months of editing ahead to turn a bad book into a good one, or a good one into a great one.

Sure, there are people who can crank out a great novel first try. Let's face it, people. Those individuals are rare. You probably aren't one of them, even though you like to think you are.


And yes, I've been there, done that. Especially when I was a newer writer. I liked to think of myself as the next best thing to a good cup of hot chocolate. Right. I'm not, and now I'm among the first to admit it. That wasn't always the case.

So, what does this have to do with NaNoWriMo 2013 planning?

We've established that we're probably not going to write great novels. Those things (usually) take work. With this in mind, I'll move to the main subject of conversation:

It is okay to take risks in your writing.

Go ahead. See what happens if you do something mean to a character. Go ahead. Pursue those political themes you're afraid to talk with your friends about. Got something to say about religion? Go ahead. Write about it.

NaNoWriMo 2013 isn't about writing material suitable for publication. It's about sitting down and writing a novel. Sure, you may end up cutting out all of these controversial things as you plan on rewriting and editing your novel. But, for the month of November, forget about being politically correct. Instead, tell your story.

Sometimes, those risks can pay off. Sometimes, they'll upset your readers.

I'll take a moment to discuss my debut novel, The Eye of God. When I started writing this novel, I wanted to experiment with all of those politically-incorrect mashups. I wanted to pursue what-if questions not acceptable for polite company. I wanted to see what would happen if I had a society that wasn't very nice.

I turned to history. Because, well, history isn't very nice. I turned to real religions. Also, I'm sad to say, often not very nice.

I had already created the world I set The Eye of God in. Also, in many ways, not very nice.

I took some risks. I portrayed women in a realistic fashion for the type of society it was. A society dominated by males, in a world where viciousness, blood sport, and Arena combat is a way of life. I created a society where men ruled with an iron fist, and women and slaves did what they had to for survival. Women of power hold their heads low and manipulate their men. Men of power either don't notice the action of their women or choose to ignore it.

Female slaves face a very harsh reality, based on the history of our own Earth.

I had the courage to take the risks. I've seen blow back, especially from women. Why? Because I didn't pull the punches or sugar coat the reality of these women.

I decided to take a risk, and give these women a chance to truly rise above their station. Will these people become anymore than trophies and objects? If you're following the series, you'll find out.

It takes a certain amount of courage to write, without care of the consequences, of a culture that doesn't value their women. It's not a society I'd like to be a member of, to say the least. It takes a lot of courage to stand in the outgoing tide and while hoping I don't get swept away in the backwash. But, I took the risk, and I think the consequences of my risk are going to make the entire series worth even more, as these women try to become something more than they are now.

These women have mountains to climb, and they're starting in the very depths of a feminist's hell.

What risks will you take this year when you write your NaNoWriMo? Taking risks is a great way to grow as a writer, to learn more about your characters and yourself, and to have the chance to turn a bad story into a good one, or transform a good one into a great one.

In the month of November, remember that it is okay to take risks. You may not keep the edgy material in your finished novel. You might swallow back your trepidation and keep it, expecting the fallout. But, have the courage to take risks.

You might be surprised to find where your risk taking will carry you, you have the courage to take them.

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