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My NaNoWriMo Went Well: I Didn’t Finish It

So, how did my NaNoWriMo go this year?

Not too bad, considering I haven’t met the goal. 

I knew from the start. It was not going to be easy. My working schedule has been crazy since I went back to work in mid-September, and I knew it wasn’t going to be better in November. But I still wanted to try, because I planned to work at The Frozen Maze, with hope to finish revising it and start posting it on the blog come January. 

I had you guys wait far too long.

The start of the month wasn’t too bad. I was behind from the beginning, that’s true. I spent a lot of time reacquainting myself with the story, but I was having a great time getting back in the swing of things. The long stop seemed to have done a lot of good to my ideas. I had stopped working at the story last spring, right before the pandemic started, having troubles with Klaus’s story arc to the point I couldn’t write the end of Act II even if I knew the basic plot. 

I read through the entire material I had: the episodes on the blog, the second draft of half of Act II and the first draft of the rest of the story to the end. And let me tell you, while up to the end of Act II (the Schneedorf episode) things stayed together, Act III sounds like a different story.

  • In the background of the picture, there's a green labyrinth. On the front, there is a closeup of a young woman in a white dress. Her face is not visible, we only see her neck and décolleté. On the side appears the title: "The Frozen Maze"
  • The picture shows a collage of images that create an atmosphere of mystery. It includes a closeup of a young woman in a vintage gown (probably from the 1930s) and a stone pedestal in a darkened, rainy garden holding a bunch of red flowers.
  • The picture shows a collage of images that create an atmosphere of mystery. It includes a closeup of a young woman with a 1930s look and a picture of a grand mansion in the fog.
  • The picture shows a collage of images that create an atmosphere of mystery. It includes a picture of a young man with a 1920s look and a picture of red and yellow fallen leaves.
  • The background of the picture shows a dark forest with deep hues of green. The front is a green sheet that makes some of the background visible, and text is on it.
  • The background of the picture shows a dark forest with deep hues of green. The front is a green sheet that makes some of the background visible, and text is on it.
Sometimes, you can win #NaNoWriMo even if you don't win it Share on X

I realised I have to rework the last part completely, but then something good happened: I came up with a brand new character arc for Florian. It isn’t totally different. The essential plot points are still the same, but Florian’s motives are new and a lot more satisfying than they were in the old idea. 

I don’t know about you, but I adore this character. I wanted something better for him, and I think I have it now.

Took a lot of time, but I was happy with what was happening. 

In the second week of NaNoWriMo, I was behind but planning to catch up, when my boss told me there was an emergency at work (a project had to be delivered in a matter of days) and I needed to work overtime the entire week. 

I knew then that I had zero chances to finish NaNoWriMo.

Can’t say I took it happily. I really wanted to finish my revision, and now I knew I wouldn’t. But after a couple of days of very bad humour, I decided to readjust my goals and aim to at least finish editing Act II up to where I wrote it and write the first draft of the rest. 

I did edit up to where I wrote last year. In the final chapters of that draft, I had an epiphany that gave me a totally new idea about the central theme and put in place a lot of elements that I thought were loose. Yet when I came to the last chapter I had written – the beginning of Klaus’s arc in Schneedorf – I stopped. Once again, I wasn’t sure where I was going, motive-wise, and I felt uncertain. 

[huge_it_gallery id=”18″]

So I did what I do in these circumstances: I worked on the story structure. I wrote a 7-point structure sheet for Ingeborg, Elsie and Klaus – and there I knew. There was a plothole! That’s why I couldn’t write past that point. 

I’ll be honest, I was quite shocked. Plotholes don’t frequently happen to me, and I never imagined there was one in The Frozen Maze, but I couldn’t write the last couple fo steps of neither Klaus’s or Elsie’s sheet, and that could only meant a plothole prevented me to. 

Fun, right?

I didn’t know how to solve the hole. I really didn’t. Still, I felt the solution was already inside the story if I could find it. And so, I stepped away. I know that when I look too closely to narrative problems, they tend to elude me. Besides, it wasn’t difficult to step away since I spent most of my days at work. 

But then, it happened. One morning, as I lay in bed waiting for the alarm to go off, the solution for Klaus’s arc came to me from Florian’s arc and from that epiphany I had while working at the old draft. 

Truly, you never know where the evolution of a story can bring you. 

THE FROZEN MAZE by Sarah Zama - A Snow White Retelling Set in 1920s Germany - Index

So, this is where I stood when NaNoWriMo ended. 

My plan now is to try and finish drafting the rest of Act II and still aim to resume posting sometimes in January. Don’t lose hope on me. I am going to finish this story!

What else I’m planning

LIVING THE TWENTIES by Sarah Zama - The 1920s were years of passage. WWI had destroyed the old world. In the 1920s, people desperately tried to understand what kind of world they were living in now.

But I’ll work to something else in December: Living the Twenties, the ebook. 

As I may have mentioned before, I want to publish in ebook form all of my AtoZ Series and Living the Twenties seems to be the perfect starting point, if I can publish it before this year is over. It’s how it makes more sense. 

I’ve already revised the entire book, adding many more sections and enlarging the ones that are already on the blog. It will be a longer text, with more information. So, yes, not really the same thing you can read on the blog. 

I now need another revision. Then I’ll have to find a proofreader. Then I’ll be quite ready to go. 

So, there you have it! My plans for the end of the year. 

What do you think?

And what are yours?


  • JEN Garrett
    Posted December 2, 2020 at 23:12

    I didn’t NaNoWriMo this year, but I feel just as you do about November. I feel like I’ve won, even though I haven’t met my goals (yet).

    • Post Author
      Posted December 2, 2020 at 23:36

      Sometimes I think the important thing is to move towards those goal. Maybe slowly (slower than we’d like), but still moving.

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