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Participant, but not winner. Maybe next year.

November draws to a close and I must haul myself out from The Zone and take a look at what I’ve achieved. Well, I’m not a winner. That 50,000 word count was a summit I couldn’t reach.

On the other hand, a month’s worth of wordcount has left me with the barebones of a novel draft coming in at just over 30,000 words. In addition, I’ve kept up with my daughter’s education, so she’s not entirely feral. Points for that. I’ve still got a marriage and in a little while I’m going to remind Steve of just that fact. Heck, the rest can wait.

"Do I smell a plot?"

I’ve done my best not to rewrite as I go. More points. I have written every day, and only indulged in a couple of funks – nothing a few beers didn’t fix. I’ve organised myself into something that resembles a routine. I should have done that years ago, but it still bears mentioning. Finally, I can now confidently categorise my story in three nifty words. Boiling 30,000 words down to a measly three might appear counter-productive, but what it means – to me – is that when I throw the murky bathwater out, I’ll still have the baby.

So, next time I’m asked “What are you writing?” I don’t have to waffle, I can answer: “I’m writing a Taoist Urban Fantasy”.

Story outline: know thyself, then kick-ass.

Now, I’m fairly confident that there’s very few outside the geeky parallel world in which I exist, who would understand how these few words enable me to envisage the essence of my novel in just the same way as a haiku might capture the concept of nature – and fewer still who’d care. The point is, it doesn’t matter if nobody else “gets it”, so long as I DO.

And I do. Those few words enable me to direct character, voice, plot and magic system into a coherent whole. Moreover, I’m looking forward to writing it. My dragon-story has finally been revealed, and now we can kick-ass together.

Knowing what your story is about, and knowing what your story is are two different things. It’s taken me a while to crack that concept, and it is something of a novel breakthrough. Thanks NaNo!

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