Tracy S. Morris

Quirky Mysteries, Screwball Fantasy and Sassy History

Melanie Fletcher: On Turning Off Your Internal Editor

Written By: Tracy - Nov• 08•11

Melanie Fletcher is an author in the style of the Renaissance Masters. That is to say, when she’s not spinning a good yarn, she may be spinning yarn. Or thinking up slogans for t-shirts, crafting plushies, podcasting or making miniature doll houses. You can purchase her jewelry or her plushies through her etsy storefront. You can find her fiction through her website

November is a pretty stressful month with Thanksgiving and Christmas looming. Why participate in Nano with everything else going on during this time?

Even though it’s smack in the middle of the holidays, I like doing Nanowrimo because 1) it’s good practice in speed drafting and turning off that annoying internal editor, and 2) I have friends who are also doing it, so it’s fun to hang out with them and commiserate about hitting our daily word limit.

I know there are writers out there who think, “Bah, I manage that kind of wordage every month — I’m not going to participate in some gimmicky event.” And that is perfectly dandy for them — after all, you don’t get to be a pro writer unless you can chunk out a certain amount of wordage per day. For me, however, I like the sense of camaraderie generated by so many people all doing the same thing that I’m doing. Writing is wonderful, but it’s also a lonely business — you’re on your own for large chunks of time while you’re working on a story or novel. So there’s nothing wrong with coming together one month a year and participating in a community that is guzzling caffeine by the boatload and moaning about idiotic minor characters taking off on their own stick AGAIN.

How many years have you done Nano? Why keep doing it?

I’ve been doing this on and off since 2003. I haven’t won it every year, but I keep doing it because it’s fun and a good way to get half of a novel done by the beginning of December. And I don’t have to clean the house for a month. That’s nice.

Have you ever had any of your Nanowrimo work published? If so, what?

Not yet, but A MOST MALICIOUS MURDER is a Nanowrimo novel and I will be sending that out in November to publishers, so all available tentacles are crossed for that one to sell, please.

Once you finish a novel, then what? (revising, rewriting, etc.)

Well, let’s be honest — the Nanowrimo goal of 50,000 words isn’t a novel. It’s half a novel, which means you still need to chunk out at least another 50K before you can sit down and start the polishing process. Once you do have your full wordage, however, then you need to wade back in with what Elizabeth Moon calls the editorial machete and start carving that mass of words into readable shape.

I know of a few writers who can compose in their head and then lay it all out perfectly on the screen, with minimal need for revision. I hate them and wish they would die. No, not really (love you, Rachel!), but once my internal editor is shut down I often wind up spewing the most amazing shit into the document, and need to clean it up during the editorial process. By now, however, I’ve been writing for long enough that I can feel in my head when something needs to be rewritten, pruned, or chopped entirely — I’ve compared the process to 1970’s string art. When you’ve got a wandering plot point or an insufficiently developed character, it’s like having a pin drop out of the black velvet board, and suddenly you’ve got strings flopping all over the place and you can’t see the boat you’ve been trying to create for the last five hours, and your fingers hurt and you’re pretty sure at least one of those pins is somewhere in the carpet and you just want a beer, all right?

But when you anchor all of those pins tightly, and wind the string around them just so, your tall ship springs into 3-D life and suddenly you have created art. Of a sort. Okay, that’s a bit of a belabored metaphor, but you get what I mean. Tl:dr — most everyone’s novel WILL need revising, so just grit your teeth, figure out what method works best for you, and do it.

If someone is thinking of participating in this event, what advice can you give them?

The earlier in the day you can hit your word count, the better. Don’t worry about cleaning the house for the month — that’s what spouses/children/roomates are for. You can diet later. There’s nothing wrong with bribing yourself. Drinking and writing don’t usually mix all that well, but I’ve found that a glass of absinthe doesn’t hurt. If your eyes start hurting, take a break, and then take a look at your ergonomics. If you have a emergency, screw the writing — real life comes first (by emergency, I mean a bleeding loved one or rescuing someone who’s stranded in a biker bar — watching a Very Special Episode of The Jersey Shore does not count).

What do you do to stay motivated and keep meeting your daily goal? How do you push through to the end?

Fear of public humiliation usually works well with me. That, and acid, scorching jealousy.

What are you working on for your NaNoWrimo project this year?

I’ll be working on my novel PROMETHEUS BRIDE, which is a retelling of FRANKENSTEIN from Elizabeth’s point of view because man, she was a chew toy in that novel.

 What have you had published most recently?

My latest sale was “A Touch of Ginger” in LADIES OF TRADE TOWN (Harp Haven Publishing, ed. Lee Martindale).

 Anything else?

If you don’t win Nanowrimo, you don’t win. The important thing is that you have more words on the page than you started with on 11/1/11 — just keep adding to them, and eventually you WILL have a finished novel. And try to shower at least every other day, if only for the sake of the people around you.

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