Writing “Syndrome” the sequel to “The Mentor” during the NaNoWriMo

The National Novel Writing Month is almost over and I must write only 1,663 words to meet the quota of 50,000 words of a novel written in 30 days.

Some people might think that writing so much in a month is something exceptional, that those who participate in this competition (against themselves!) close themselves at home for a whole month. The truth is that the daily quota of words is not prohibitive. We are talking of 1,667 words, which, taking into account that a writer usually does writing sessions of about 2000 words (the average length of a scene), is an absolutely normal goal.
The real difficulty of NaNoWriMo is not write 1,667 words in a day, because if you know what to write you can do it in a time ranging from one (when you’re really inspired) to three hours. Or maybe four, if you are not in a hurry.
The real challenge is to do it every single day.

This is what the NaNoWriMo teaches: discipline for your writing.
The purpose is not to reach the end of the month with 50 thousand written words, nor write 10,000 words every six days. The purpose is to write every day with an average of 1,667 words per day. If you fall back a little (i.e. you’ve written a little less than you should), one day you can write a little more to catch up, but the mistake is instead think that you can write a lot for one day and then take a break for one day or more. If you break the rhythm it is damn hard for you to resume it.
The NaNoWriMo teaches the writer how to create a writing routine that has to be repeated every day, without making big differences with Saturdays and Sundays, because creativity doesn’t know holidays, indeed it must be nourished and encouraged consistently so that writing is no longer a task, but becomes something that you’re looking forward to.

And so the first few days of NaNo (as it is affectionately known by the participants, the wrimos) are difficult because our mind tends to reject what it perceives as obligation. But, as you go along, as you enter the story, as the characters become (or become again in case of a book in a series) part of you, the obligation becomes desire to do that thing that seems the easiest among the many commitments of your day and only completing it gives you the charge to take care of the rest.
And then you go to the next level. Desire becomes need.

You wake up and your first thought is the next scene you have to write. And you have no peace until all those fantasies come true, put in black and white, giving you a bit of truce, at least until the next day.
When you reach this result, it means that you are facing this challenge in the right way.

And it is since November 2013 that I write (or rewrite) all my books during the NaNoWriMo and the two sessions of Camp NaNoWriMo (April and July), and then I go on, for those longer than 50,000 words, trying to keep the same pace.
Well, I can assure you that it works.
Although at the beginning of each session I feel like I’m abusing myself, in a few days writing my quota of words becomes the cornerstone sustaining my whole day. Once those words are written, I know I have done my duty and I deal with other commitments with more confidence.

But let’s talk about what I’m writing.
The book with which I’m attempting the competition this year is “Syndrome”, the sequel to “The Mentor, which was the first book I wrote as part of a NaNoWriMo exactly three years ago (in 2012).
It was a real experiment, because at that time I was writing the “Red Desert” series and I was completely immersed in science fiction. I felt the need to change and try my hand in thrillers. At that time I never imagined that after less than three years that same book would become an Amazon bestseller in the USA. Indeed, I had no inkling even less than eighteen months ago, when I published it in Italian.
Just because it was an experiment I had imagined it as a standalone novel. But as it has an open ending (like all my books), after the subsequent events (the excellent sales, the contract with Amazon Publishing for the publication in English), I started to think that maybe what I had sown in that novel could bring to write a sequel, or rather to write two of them.
Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about a trilogy.

So last spring I wrote a rough outline of “Syndrome”. I had already decided that it would become a novel this November, despite I did not even know for sure how things would go with the English edition and being well aware that it was a risk, as all sequels are, because in order for a reader to fully appreciate “Syndrome” they must have read “The Mentor”. But I had quite clear ideas about the story, the characters were pressing in my mind to get back into action and exciting new developments made their way into my mind.

Finally, a few days before the start of the month, I picked up that outline, I arranged it and on 1 November I got in front of the blank page to start this new adventure with Detective Eric Shaw, head of a forensic team from Scotland Yard, a character who, despite having the attitude of the good guy, because of some people (especially one!) and events of his life that he cannot entirely control, is found to play an almost anti-hero role, with good intentions, but definitely unorthodox methods. His balance collapses at the end of “The Mentor” when he makes a decision, the consequences of which are destined to haunt him in the future.

And that future has arrived in “Syndrome”.
Two years after the events of “The Mentor” (the story takes place in June 2016), while Eric struggles unsuccessfully to regain control of his life, new events, linked to two intertwined cases involving him not only as a policeman and criminologist, change again the course of his life, against his will, making his resolution way more and more complicated. “Syndrome” is the story of this struggle, the result of which will only emerge in the final scene. But throughout the book you will see the evolution of a character, who, after losing their certainties (in “The Mentor”), is building new ones and unknowingly is laying the foundation of a new Eric Shaw, which will emerge in the last book of the trilogy.

By the way, I’am almost done with the NaNoWriMo, but Syndromewill be longer than 50,000 words and also than The Mentor”, so if you liked the latter, there will be more to read next time!